Uvalde, Buffalo shootings expose ‘good guy with a gun’ myth | The report

From white-hat cowboys in movie westerns to fictional private detectives in trench coats smoking cigarettes, the armed hero has been celebrated in American popular culture as the ultimate weapon in a central battle between good and evil. . In real life, the idea was promoted as a response to mass shootings: In 2012, after 20 children and six adults were shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the CEO of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, expressed his solution.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said at the time. After the Uvalde, Texas massacre, in which a gunman killed 19 elementary students and two teachers, calls were made by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other Republicans to arm teachers – an idea vehemently rejected by teachers’ unions – and add more gun-carrying security to schools.

“We know from experience that the most effective tool to keep children safe is armed law enforcement on campus,” Republican Ted Cruz, a junior senator from Texas, told reporters. Paxton, in an interview on Newsmax, said that since “first responders usually can’t get there in time to prevent a shooting… I think you’re going to have to do more at school because it usually involves very short periods of time, and you have to have people trained on campus to react. »

For these lawmakers, more guns are needed in America, where the number of guns exceed now the number of people living in the United States. Just hand them over to the right people — the “right” people — and bad shooters will be stopped in their tracks, they say.

It didn’t work in Texas, where armed law enforcement at the scene after the shooter shot his grandmother couldn’t prevent the bloodshed. The school also has a school resources officer, although authorities said Thursday that the officer was not on site at the time (after previously saying the officer was). Texas authorities this week issued accusations that those trained to respond to such incidents failed to act quickly enough, which may have cost lives.

It didn’t work on May 16 in Buffalo, where an armed, off-duty security guard and former police officer was unable to stop a gunman during an apparent racist rampage. The security guard, along with nine black supermarket shoppers, were killed.

It’s also not a common finding in previous active shooter episodes, according to the FBI. From 2000 to 2019, 119 of 345 active shooters committed suicide, the bureau said in a long trend report. Another 119 were apprehended by police, 67 were killed by police and five are on the run. In only four cases have citizens killed the shooters – and none of those four cases happened in an educational setting.

Photos: Mourning the Texas school shooting

The last two years show a large increase in active shooter incidents, but similar trends regarding the role of armed “good” citizens. Of 103 shooters, 54 were apprehended, 18 were killed by law enforcement, 18 committed suicide and six were killed by civilians, the FBI reports.

“Unless you put a SWAT team in every school, 24/7, what exactly do you propose to do? says Mike Lawlor, a professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven, who previously served as Connecticut’s undersecretary for criminal justice policy. Even with trained law enforcement on the scene, “they were overwhelmed by this kid who was wearing a body armor and had an AR-15 assault weapon,” notes Lawlor, who as a lawmaker for state, drafted the state’s “red flag” firearms law authorizing firearms. be refused to persons considered dangerous to themselves or to others.
When the forces of order react almost immediately, the shooters were nevertheless able to kill many people before being arrested. In August 2019, a gunman opened fire in downtown Dayton, Ohio, and police ‘incapacitated’ him 30 seconds after he fired his first shot, police said. authorities at the time. But because the shooter was armed with a high-capacity magazine, he was able to fire dozens of rounds quickly, killing nine people and wounding 27.

The FBI reports do not detail the shootings of civilians trying to save others, but mistaken for the original shooters. But there have been incidents where a “good guy” has perished for his efforts to defend himself or others against an active shooter. In Alabama in 2018, Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. – hailed as a hero by people who said he took out his gun to protect them after gunshots rang out in a mall – was himself shot dead by police who thought Bradford was the author.

The romantic notion of a vengeful ‘good guy’ is rooted in American pulp fiction and detective fiction, says Georgetown University professor Susanna Lee, author of the book “Hard Crime Fiction and the Decline of Moral Authority.” Characters such as Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe — who always shoot bad guys and never miss — fuel the myth of being both invulnerable and virtuous while carrying a gun, she says.

“It’s something particular to American fiction, the romanticized notion of the single, armed man,” Lee says. “And that’s uniquely American on a second level – that is, Americans are uniquely not only willing but eager to mix fiction and reality.

“The fiction is that having a gun is an extension of strength, confidence, and self-control. But owning and using a gun is actually men who feel fearful, inadequate and vengeful,” adds Lee.

“Unless you put a SWAT team in every school, 24/7, what exactly do you propose to do?

Arming teachers or other civilians may or may not stop further tragedies, says Pete Blair, executive director of Texas State University’s Advance Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center.

“From a theoretical point of view, this could deter attackers, knowing that there could be someone who is armed and who could fight back,” Blair said. But these people must be properly trained for this task, he stresses.

“They need to be aware of how to behave, so as not to stand there with a gun in their hands” and confuse the police responding to the scene, and they “should comply with all commands from the officers,” said Blair said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed legislation in 2019 to allow more teachers to have guns in schools. The measure was in response to a 2018 mass shooting at a school in New Mexico. At least 28 states allow staff or teachers to carry guns on campus under certain circumstances, according to a Rand Corporation report.

But the “good guy” teacher with a gun is being opposed by the National Education Association and many educators themselves.

Aaron Phillips, a first-grade teacher in Amarillo, Texas, calls the idea of ​​arming teachers “ridiculous” and even more traumatic.

“On a day-to-day basis, I’m tasked with helping children learn — and learning through the traumas and crises they experience in their daily lives. I’m supposed to nurture them,” Phillips says.

“If the absolutely horrible happens, I’m supposed to take a gun and take a life – a life that will probably be another child? It’s insane to think that’s a solution,” Phillips says.

“Our jobs are hard enough already,” he adds. “We don’t need to teach like we’re in a war zone.”

For Uvalde students and parents, the war zone has already claimed their school.

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