UPDATED COMMENTARY: Ready, Aim, But Can You Kill?

By Joseph J. Honick

In the aftermath of the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech that had a madman slaughtering more than 30 victims, it was bound to happen that some of the gun folks would suggest more would have survived had there been other gun toting students, faculty et al around the campus.

Guns for all got major play at this week's National Campus Security Summit. One security expert said faculty and students should have access to guns. That is the dumbest thing that I have ever heard, and I have been trained to fire just about anything.

When I heard these foolish suggestions, I was reminded about a conversation I had some years ago with my doctor. When we finished the medical part of my visit, he blurted out, "Joe, I bought a gun yesterday."

More than a little surprised, I asked why he had done so and why was he telling me?

He knew of my military service and particular training and thought I might be useful with some instructions and other advice. He also told me the reason he got the gun was because of a Halloween home invasion by two masked and costumed men posing as trick-or-treaters.

After they broke in at gunpoint, they took the doctor's wife and daughter upstairs while demanding money and other things from him downstairs. Despite the threats of bodily harm to his wife and daughter, the thugs fled when given a substantial amount of money.

The idea that gun- toting ordinary civilians who might have had some target practice could be trained killers not only would be ludicrous; it would be tragic.

Believing a weapon would protect him and his family in the future, he easily was able to purchase an automatic and ammunition.

When he finished his story and asked what I thought, I told him I had a series of questions that he had to be prepared to answer. First, had he ever owned a gun? Negative. Next, was he willing to take some training and would he be willing to take the time to maintain the weapon regularly? Sure he would.

And would he keep the weapon in a secure place where his kids couldn't find it easily? Of course he would

After a few more questions, I said the final one was the most important: was he prepared to kill a person in a split second without thinking about it?

That stopped him. If he even had to think about that question, it was enough reason to get rid of the gun before he hurt himself or his family in a crisis.

The reality is that those most experienced in handling weapons under pressure and are constantly trained to respond with lethal force in an instant have to confront that last question all the time should they have to put their training into action. And they often suffer some real psychological trauma afterward, whether they were military or civilian police officers.

So the idea that some gun toting ordinary civilians who might have had some target practice and might even know how to clean their weapons could be trained killers and accurate as well not only would be ludicrous; it would be tragic. Add to this the idea of the gun being securely hidden where the kids couldn't find it, and how it could be instantly produced if needed, the discussion was over with my urging him to get rid of his new sense of artificial security. He did.

There are those reading this who will mutter something about wimpy liberals and other such nonsense. The fact is guns and bullets have no respect for politics and philosophy any more than nervous gunmen have for those who foolishly believe they can overcome a lifetime of peaceful behavior in an instant.

A lot of people like to talk tough, as with the College Republicans for the War who could never find a place to enlist to fight it and others who put on a big display of bravura. In the end, gunplay away from the firing range for recreation is best left to those whose work and training make it their daily responsibility.

And, no, despite all the training I had some time back, I do not keep a gun in my house.

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Joe, Joe, Joe! Dave Kinchen here: You and I both experienced military training, although neither one of us has seen combat. I think the National Rifle Association presentation on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, made some excellent points. I especially liked the comments that we guard money, we guard the President, that Congresspeople are protected by armed Capitol Police Officers and that airports are guarded by people with full automatic rifes, not the semi-automatic ones erroneously called by the news media "Assault Rifles." Your passage of the home invaders posing as trick or treaters may be true, the horrific violence perpetrated by more recent home invaders in New England is probably more typical.

For the transcript of Wayne LaPierre's speech, click: http://home.nra.org/pdf/Transcript_PDF.pdf

Full disclosure: I'm an NRA member and a member of my local gun club in Texas. I'm a target shooter who enjoys what is an internationally recognized -- including the Olympic Games from the start, both winter and summer -- sport: target shooting. Here's a selection from the NRA presentation:

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"The only way to answer that question is to face up to the truth. Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones. They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them.

"And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.

'How have our nation's priorities gotten so far out of order? Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security.

"We care about the President, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by armed Capitol Police officers.

"Yet when it comes to the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family — our children — we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of this world know it and exploit it. That must change now!

"The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn't planning his attack on a school he's already identified at this very moment?

"How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame — from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave — while provoking others to try to make their mark?"


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Dave Kinchen, again: I might add that there are tens of thousands of unemployed veterans from our ongoing wars in the Middle East. They would make excellent guards for our schools. We can cut a lot of useless stuff from our military contracts, organize the veterans, with the help of the various veterans' organizations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, and with the help of the internationally recognized NRA and Camp Perry training, start to solve a problem that the Kumbaya types of the far left -- bleeding heart liberals, if you will -- conveniently neglect.

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