Sniper Down, Along With NRA Fantasy

Over the weekend it was reported that Chris Kyle, a US Navy SEAL and reputed ‘deadliest sniper in the world’ had been killed, along with another armed former soldier, by a third, while they were out for shooting practice.

It won’t penetrate the creative minds at the NRA that once again their argument about the defensive potential of automatic weapons, good guys over bad guys, has been buried with  a bloody bullet.  If a man with the best weapons training and deepest experience, with a weapon in his hand, can’t defend himself from a man with a gun, how on earth could anyone?  Whatever disagreement, or PTSD fueled anger had come up, had they not had such lethal weapons, the outcome would have been different — a black eye, a broken jaw, some knife wounds.  Two men would have had a chance to slow down the third. Not so with an automatic weapon.

Automatic weapons do not provide a means of self defense. They remove the possibility of self defense.

This is not to argue that Kyle and the others should not have gone out shooting, or not had weapons. Not at all.  Only to say that the argument that a good guy with a gun is the best protection against a bad guy with a gun doesn’t stand up to any real world experience.

His death is a sadness for his family and those he tried to help.  But in trying to help a man he knew to have PTSD  he missed the conclusion that a man who has a weapon and swirling ghosts from distant combat was a danger to others, and himself.

More at NYT

update: Eddie Ray Routh, the shooter, was definitely in the throes of PTSD.  He had threatened to kill himself and his family in September.

Former Congressman Ron Paul’s tweet, that ‘Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn’t make sense.” has been getting some nasty blowback.


The NRA of course, will not be impressed.  To add to the toxic carnival of deception and virulence Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, a right-wing public policy group, testified before Diane Feinstein’s Senate Committee that banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines was discrimination against women, who,  armed with such a weapon, achieved ‘peace of  mind’ and ‘courage’.  The story she cherry picked as an example of female self defense with such a weapon did not, of course, prove her point.

Ms. Trotter related the story of Sarah McKinley, an 18-year-old Oklahoma woman who shot and killed an intruder on New Year’s Eve 2011, when she was home alone with her baby. The story was telling, but not in the way she intended, as Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, pointed out. The woman was able to repel the intruder using an ordinary Remington 870 Express 12-gauge shotgun, which would not be banned under the proposed statute. She did not need a military-style weapon with a 30-round magazine.

And, in fact when you don’t just pick the cherry but eat the whole dish of experience, having a gun at home is very very dangerous.

The cost-benefit balance of having a gun in the home is especially negative for women, according to a 2011 review by David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Far from making women safer, a gun in the home is “a particularly strong risk factor” for female homicides and the intimidation of women.

In domestic violence situations, the risk of homicide for women increased eightfold when the abuser had access to firearms, according to a study published in The American Journal of Public Health in 2003. Further, there was “no clear evidence” that victims’ access to a gun reduced their risk of being killed. Another 2003 study, by Douglas Wiebe of the University of Pennsylvania, found that females living with a gun in the home were 2.7 times more likely to be murdered than females with no gun at home.

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