Thursday, January 13, 2011
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday that he wishes one additional person had possessed a firearm in Tucson on Saturday, presumably to use on Jared Lee Loughner.
"I wish there had been one more gun there that day in the hands of a responsible person, that's all I have to say," Franks said at a briefing, according to Politico.
The argument that more firearms would result in greater security -- especially in cases such as the one over the weekend -- has been a common argument for gun-rights activists, bolstered by headlines such as this.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) came to such a conclusion in a recent interview, claiming that "if there had been guns there for people to defend themselves with, perhaps the carnage could have been less."
But as William Saletan wrote for Slate, there is often a fine line between success and catastrophe. In this case, Joe Zamudio, the armed man (with no proper weapons training) who helped stop the shooting spree, may only have subdued the alleged shooter -- instead of shooting an innocent bystander -- by chance:
That's what happens when you run with a firearm to a scene of bloody havoc. 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. It happens even among trained soldiers. Among civilians, the risk is that much greater.
We're enormously lucky that Zamudio, without formal training, made the right split-second decisions. We can't count on that the next time some nut job starts shooting. I hope Arizona does train lawmakers and their aides in the proper use of firearms. I hope they remember this training if they bring guns to constituent meetings. But mostly, I hope they don't bring them.