Indiana Daily Student

NRA breeding fear

The National Rifle Association will soon be host to a convention in Indianapolis. The event will be the biggest meeting organized by the city in 2014, according to representatives of Visit Indy.

You wouldn’t know it though, judging by how quiet the city has been in the lead-up to an event that, despite controversy, will nevertheless funnel a whole slew of cash into various pockets.

When the NRA comes to town later this month, they’ll bring with them thousands of people who will argue the only way to truly combat gun crime is to increase the amount of guns on the street.

Students for Concealed Carry just organized an empty holster protest on this campus, arguing they were being put in danger by laws forcing them to remain unarmed on campus. There’s little empirical evidence to support this argument, but it does seem appealing on its face. After all, if the average person were considering shooting someone, they would be much more likely to do it if they knew that person didn’t have a gun as well.

The problem is the people who contemplate shootings aren’t the average person.The way I see it, there are two — and only two — mechanisms by which an increase in guns on the streets could possibly reduce gun crime.

The first is deterrence.

Deterrence makes sense to you and I because we behave rationally. We’re concerned with our own well-being. The problem with deterrence is that when you’re not behaving rationally, it fails. Clearly individuals like Adam Lanza or James Holmes were not behaving rationally when they embarked on their respective killing sprees. It isn’t likely that they or those like them would have been deterred by the idea that someone they were about to kill might have killed them.

The second mechanism is the killing or disabling of an active shooter by an armed individual in the area.

When the gun lobby advances this argument they suddenly turn the entire population of the United States into military commandos capable and willing to take out an active shooter at the drop of the hat.

This expectation isn’t just theoretically unreasonable, it’s factually false.

Stories of active shooters disabled or killed by civilians don’t make the news because they are virtually non-existent. What’s more, if people were armed and attempted to disable a shooter, they’d likely end up hurting more people. There’s a reason professionals who wield firearms are highly trained to do so.

The average citizen can’t just pick up a handgun and effectively stop someone on a rampage.

Most of us live in overwhelmingly safe environments. Telling people otherwise — that their lives are constantly in danger — is not only wrong, it’s irresponsible.
Obviously the NRA has a right to exist and plan a conference in our capitol, but that doesn’t make their arguments correct.

drlreed@indiana.edu
@D_L_Reed

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