(As will quickly become obvious, this post falls outside “humour” category.)
It’s never a surprise, especially in the Donald Trump era, to see government policy constructed on myths created by television and the movies. But Trump is far from the only one to suggest a Grade 3 teacher with a handgun could take down an armed invader before any serious damage is done.
Even those who argue against it don’t seem to question the premise that this rescue scenario is both possible and probable. And it might be, but only in a movie about a school shooting that was thwarted by an open-carrying faculty member.
With its plethora of arms, many of them borne legally, how many mass shootings in the U.S. have been brought to an early end by a “good guy with a gun?”
Reality tells us that the would-be school hero would be as likely to hit a colleague or a few kids as take down an armed assailant. And in the unlikely event that the Grade 3 teacher succeeded, he or she, pistol in hand, might then be gunned down by the SWAT team.
In the real Wild West, no one calmly pulled a six-shooter and shot a gun out of an opponent’s hand while gunfire blazed. Gunfighters got as close as they could, sometimes close enough that the barrel discharge set fire to their target’s clothes. Guns were reasonable accurate; shooters were not, especially in the heat of the moment.
“Given the frenzy and confusion of a real gunfight, the participants involved were doing well if they even hit their opponent at all, let alone . . . in a fatal spot,” says Jeremy Agnew in The Old West in Fact and Film: History Versus Hollywood.
“It was not unusual for innocent bystanders to be killed or wounded.”
Agnew notes that in Wild West shows performers shooting at glass balls thrown in the air used cartridges that sprayed lead shot instead of bullets.
Trump, whose near-fatal heel spurs kept him out of the armed forces, would have no experience with modern-day “friendly fire.” Yet it’s estimated that almost one-quarter of U.S. battle deaths in the Gulf War were due to friendly fire. That’s what happens when soldiers for whom guns are almost parts of their bodies get involved in chaotic conflict.
So sure, let’s train Ms. Smith and Mr. Jones on the target range and then expect them to win a gun battle in the hallowed halls of education.
“That’ll learn ‘im,” exclaims Ms. Smith, standing over the fallen teenager and his AR-15.