Taking A Life


Yesterday I had an ongoing Facebook conversation with some guys about Gun control. We went back and forth with our ideas, they had their opinions and I had mine. For the most part it was futile because neither side was going to budge on how we felt. But it did help me to remember other conversations I’ve had about the issue and brought to mind some things I think are important. Some of the things I’m going to write about may disturb some of you, so be warned.

I know a few people who have conceal and carry permits. Some are women, some are men. Those that I have talked to about it have said they do it for protection. If you live in a state where conceal and carry is legal the thing to remember about this is that anytime you are in public, there could be someone right next to you who has a gun on them. In a purse or pocket, or in a holster. Now, when people say they carry for protection I often wonder what they mean by that. Do they mean that they would be willing to use that gun to shoot someone when they feel threatened? And what do they mean by feeling threatened? The whole idea is if someone attacks you or otherwise puts you in grave danger you have the option of using the handgun to stop them. On the one hand, that seems pretty straight forward, doesn’t it? If you are about to be raped, you could use the gun to stop the person from raping you. There are many other instances of “grave danger” but I really don’t need to list them all. It seems reasonable to want to protect yourself. It does, and I totally get that. But I wonder how many people have ever thought about what it would be like to shoot, and possibly kill someone? And what about the aftermath? Has anyone given much thought to any of this?

Most Americans can thankfully say that they’ve never been involved in an active shooter event. Unfortunately that number is dwindling. However, never having been in that situation before, how do you know how you will react? Most of us have never even been in a situation where our lives are in danger. So truthfully we don’t know how we would do. I watched a video of a conceal and carry class where the class was in a room having their last day of training. Everyone in the class had their handguns in holsters and the teacher was up front. Suddenly a man burst in through the door and started shouting and spraying the room with bullets. What the students (all adults) didn’t know is that everyone had blanks in their guns and it was all staged. Of the three videos I watched with classes of ten to fifteen students each, only one student tried firing at the intruder. All the rest of them either tried to run or hid beneath the desks even though each of them had just been fully trained on how to shoot a weapon.

Have you every thought about what it would be like to shoot and possibly kill someone? In an active shooter event, most people panic. You can see that every time you watch a news report about one. People running wildly everywhere. And it makes sense. You don’t want to get shot so you run. The fight or flight reaction in humans is very real. But what would it be like to shoot someone? Let’s say you’re in the grocery store. Suddenly you see rapid movement to your right. You turn and find a person wielding an assault rifle and they start pulling the trigger. It’s one of the loudest noises you’ve ever heard. And loud noises are disorienting. And the “wrongness” of the situation, the complete shock of someone firing a weapon in a grocery store is also very disorienting. Suddenly, people are dying. The first thing you may be surprised at is the shooter doesn’t stand still like a target at the range waiting for you to shoot. But you reach into your pocket or holster, pull out your weapon and shoot the shooter. It’s quite likely you won’t kill them with one shot. That only happens in the movies. Most likely you’ll wound them and it will take time for them to die. Not much time. But they probably won’t die immediately.

When you recover from the noise the first thing you’re going to hear is the screaming. There will be lot’s of it because bullet wounds hurt. Badly. Bullets tear up tissue, and bone. they tear up organs and veins and arteries, and that hurts, a lot. Next will be the blood. Lot’s of blood, because bullet wounds bleed. Not only will you see it but you’ll smell it and taste it. It will permeate your sinuses. If you’re not the kind of person who can handle that, you’re likely to find yourself on all fours puking your guts out. No basking in the glory of saving the day. Just puking. And then the police come. There are interrogations. You may be arrested and you’ll need a lawyer. Many other things will happen in those first minutes and hours after the shooting that I can’t even think of. And neither can you.

Then comes the aftermath. You killed someone. The situation makes no difference at all. You killed someone. You took someone’s life away. Someone’s son or daughter. Someone’s husband or wife. Possibly someone’s father or mother. Yes, you may in fact have saved a lot of lives, but you still killed someone. Many police officers and veterans suffer from PTSD because of killing in the line of duty. And they’re the ones who are supposed to be doing it. They are trained to do it. How does the average person kill someone and then live with it afterward? Probably not very well. Not to mention your family. Families of those who have PTSD suffer right along with their loved ones.

I’m not going to state my views on this blog. What I think is important is for people to think about living with the fact that you killed someone. The reason so many suffer from PTSD after they’ve killed is that we are not equipped to handle that. Not at all. I’m not saying people should or shouldn’t protect themselves. I just think it’s vitally important to understand what you’re in for if you do and it’s probably not one of the things that are taught in conceal and carry classes. You will have to live the rest of your life knowing you killed someone. Can you do that? Could you pull the trigger in the first place? End someone’s life? Some people have, and they’ve saved lives because of it. It is impossible for me to say what you should do. Only you can do that. The question is, what happens when you discover that you weren’t ready for what happens afterward?

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