Natural Gunslingers

     Well, the time has come to talk about guns.  No, there has not been another mass shooting.  Yet.  It will happen again, soon, but that is not what I wanna talk about today. I am not here to talk about the ease in which we here in America can get our hands on weapons, and the numerous loopholes in the laws that allow that to happen without any type of background check.  I am here to talk specifically about handguns and their use.
     I do not hate guns, I do not want to take guns away from everybody, but I do think there need to be some changes in who can have access and who is allowed to actually carry a weapons.  I mean, who doesn’t love having a controlled explosion literally in the palm of your hand.  Shooting is a super fun, There is a big problem with guns that is rarely talked about.  Too many people have and carry handguns and they have little to no training.
     I live in the South.  There are guns all over the place here, everybody has at least one.  It is just the way it is.  It is very interesting to talk to people about guns down here.  The first thing you have to do, especially if you are passionate about other social equality issues, is to convince people you do not want to take guns away from them.  That is really hard to do.  If you wanna find that 10% of gun owners that do not support reasonable guns control laws, just come on down below the Mason Dixon Line. This is where you will find them.
     The second problem is actually a bigger problem and where you will get stuck.  Every gun owner down here believes that they are natural gunslingers who need no training other than shooting at beer cans while at deer camp.  That is a huge hurdle and where I usually get stuck.  They all think that they are sharpshooters that can shoot the wings off of a gnat at 50 yards with a snub nosed .38, and that they are so quick on the draw that they can clear their holster, aim, and take a shot before the guy with a gun pointed at them can squeeze a trigger.  They are all the best person to ever put their hand on a gun.  I think that they pose a huge risk.  There are not a lot of good scientific studies about gun violence because gun lobby has made it almost impossible to collect data on gun violence, but there are a few.  Those few that have been done agree with me, carrying a gun makes it more likely you will be shot.
     I believe there are two types of people who own guns.  There are those that know that guns can kill, hell they may have even been hunting and killed animals before, but they do not really know what that means.  They have done target practice, but on a whole they are not well trained.  Then there are those that understand that killing is final, it cannot be undone, and guns should be the very last resort to save life.  This group is much more likely to have in-depth training and practice.  I am scared of the first group, but I have no problem with the second group because they usually have the training necessary to be effective in a dangerous situation.  See, carrying a loaded gun around changes how you look at the world.  Group one tend be more aggressive while carrying, they believe they have the ultimate problem solver on them, and they think they will use it, and be calm and cool when they use it.  Group two tends to be aware that they have a dangerous tool and they know it can be useful in a narrow scope, but that drawing it should be the last thing they do.
 Here is the scenario, a group of people are in a small convenience store.  A man comes into the store to rob the place and he already has a gun out and pointed.
     The group one person reaches for their own gun because they believe that they can draw, acquire a target, and squeeze the trigger before the gun man starts to shoot.  As a result, the gun man shoots them, then shoots the person behind the counter, and shoots at others in the store before running away.  Why did this happen?  Well, there are few things that happen to the mind and body during situations like this.  The first thing that happens is adrenaline is dumped into the bloodstream.  This causes blood vessels to constrict, blood pressure rises, pupils enlarge, the body starts to burn sugar at an increased rate, and numerous other chemical reactions in the brain.  What does that mean in practical terms?  Fine motor control goes out the window and the hands start shaking making it difficult to quickly draw a gun and get on target.  When the pupils enlarge it causes more light to enter your eye, creating tunnel vision.  The peripheral is blurry and only what is immediately in front of the eye can be seen with clarity.  Time seems to slow and the brain has to make the decision of fight or flight.  A decision that can take up to a second before the body begins to move.  There is a reason why surprise is such an important aspect of combat.  Say the person from group one actually gets their gun out and gets it on target.  There is one more obstacle they would have to overcome.  The biological imperative to NOT kill a member of your own species.  We, as members of the animal kingdom, are hardwired to not kill other members of our species thereby preserving genetic material that is beneficial to the survival of our species. There is a reason the military dehumanizes their enemies by calling them anything other than people.  We condition our military members to not see the enemy as a person, to squash that bit of the brain that makes it difficult to consciously take the life of another human being.  All of these factors lead to the person who is ready to shoot, being the one who shoots first.  Surprise is on their side, and the group one individual just turned a non-shooting scenario into a bloodbath.
     Same scenario, but with the group two individual.  There is the same adrenaline dump, but instead of reaching for a weapon, this individual begins looking for a place to get cover, and assessing the situation to see if it is safe for them to even move.  Since the gunman is not shooting, the group two individual remains still, the gunman gets the money from the till and leaves.  Nobody dies.
Scenario two.  A gunman enters a store and starts shooting anybody he can see.
The group one individual remains in place, reaches for their gun and is shot.
     The group two individual immediately jumps for cover.  Pulls their weapons and returns fire from cover.  Possibly saving other lives in addition to their own.
     What is the biggest difference between group one and group two.  Training, real and actual training.  Group one might go to the range every now and again, hell they may go every week.  They might be able to hit the bulls-eye from 20 yards 10 times out of 10.  What they do not have is all the other training to make them effective.  Do they have hours of practice drawing their gun?  Have they trained when their arms are shaky and unable to do small things?  Have they had training and practice to mitigate the effects of adrenaline on the body and mind?  No they haven’t.  The group two individuals have.  The more training and practice you have with firearms, the more likely you are to respect the awesome, life ending power they have.  I have met many real gunslingers, men and women who live a life of violence and have used their weapons in life or death situations.  The practice daily to remain proficient.  Not just target practice, but practice drawing, reloading, moving and shooting, they do stress tests before shooting to simulate the effects of adrenaline on the body, and they are good at what they do.  They almost all fall into group two.
    Bottom line, if you want to carry a gun in the country you should have to take the time, and spend the money, to go through intense training.  Training that teaches not only the how, but the why and when of gun use.  Training that not only teaches, but practices and practices to enforce the training.  This is not a one week NRA course.  Pass this course, then you get to buy a gun.  If the training adds in those really large psychological profile tests, it could even possible cut down on the ability for mass shooters to get their hands on guns.
     I am aware that this type of measure will never be passed.  We cannot even get things like the gun show loophole closed.  It is just a fond wish that we required more training before we hand out tools of death. That is what a gun is, and tool made for the sole job of killing and we need to start treating them as such.

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