Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mass Gunfights Of Confused Citizens

It's a special day when Amanda Marcotte links favorably to a good William Saletan article, so I'll join the conga line.

It always seemed obvious to me that arming ordinary citizens in general would be a disaster, because some of the armed innocent people would mistakenly think they were in a Jared Loughner situation when they weren't and they'd accidentally shoot someone. The per capita mad gunman death rate is really small -- we're in a country of 300 million and it's not like these things are happening every hour somewhere. But how often does some ordinary citizen get firmly convinced he's in a Jared Loughner situation and he's got to kill a mad gunman? Don't know for sure, but in a country of 300 million, at least every hour seems like a good bet. If you saturate the public with concealed handguns, you get a lot of confused citizens killing other citizens whose behavior they misinterpreted.

The real horror hadn't occurred to me -- what if you iterate this scenario? Saletan:
In the chaos and pressure of the moment, you can shoot the wrong person. Or, by drawing your weapon, you can become the wrong person—a hero mistaken for a second gunman by another would-be hero with a gun. Bang, you're dead. Or worse, bang bang bang bang bang: a firefight among several armed, confused, and innocent people in a crowd.
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