True Fact: Fully Armed, Trained Sniper Murdered By Gunman

February 3, 2013, 10:18 am

The late Chris Kyle with one of his weapons. Photo credit.

Popular author Chris Kyle, a former sniper and Navy SEAL, was tragically  shot and killed at a gun range, along with a second man, near Glen Rose, Texas on Saturday. “Witnesses told sheriff’s investigators that a gunman opened fire on the men around 3:30 p.m. Saturday,” the Associated Press reports, “then fled in a pickup truck belonging to one of the victims….The newspapers said a 25-year-old man was later taken into custody in Lancaster, southeast of Dallas, and that charges were expected.”

According to the National Rifle Association (NRA) experts now littering our news shows, this should not have happened. Kyle should have fired back, successfully defended himself by killing the “bad guy,” and be here to tell the tale of why the “good guys” need to have guns.

Why does this story require attention? Because important as the Sandy Hook Massacre has been in energizing gun control, the “defense of innocents” narrative has its limits. As the NRA has so ably demonstrated, there is a fewer guns argument and there is a more guns argument to be made when the issue is the calculated murder of innocent children. However, when we look at confrontations between armed adults, in the overwhelming number of gun deaths in which both parties are armed, it’s actually the “bad guy” who wins. It’s not a Die Hardest XVIII scenario in which the aging but sexy hero, with a tight tee covering his AARP- ready torso, marches forward with slow determination and works his will on the bad guys with only a little grease on his cheeks at the end to show for it. And yet, this is what the NRA and its political Ship of Fools continue to sell us as an argument for the proliferation of weapons.

I never understand why journalists don’t call out the gunnies on the fantasy scenarios they spin out on teevee to justify the proliferation of guns. One man who was interviewed a couple of weeks ago on MSNBC, when asked why he needed a Bushmaster and more than ten rounds to defend himself, replied that ten rounds wouldn’t help you if you were defending your helpless family from an armed gang on a raging crystal meth high. This statement went completely unchallenged by anyone on the show.

Let’s hold the assertion about whether ten bullets would, or would not, be helpful against a vicious criminal gang that is randomly attacking the women and children. Let us first ask the good journalism question. It seems to me that a reasonable, follow up question on this left-leaning news show would have been: “When was the last time that a law abiding American adult has been in this position? Who is the last man or woman who successfully defeated a gang of violent crystal meth addicts trying to kill the family for no reason? Name one instance.” But peculiarly, I have never seen an interview with a gunnie taken in this direction, even though the answer would have to be: it happens in the movies all the time, dude, so it must be real.

Ronald Reagan, you may recall, used to tell stories about life experiences that, as it turned out, he had actually become acquainted with in a movie script years ago. He was the president of the United States, and people called him out on it. So where is the liberal press when we need them? Why don’t we call out these spokespeople for the gun industry who are trying to obscure the fact that the proliferation of guns isn’t about the Constitution at all, it’s all about the vast amounts of money made by selling guns to people who are being Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington in their minds. 

As it turns out (surprise!) fewer than 1% of gun deaths result from a successful attempt to defend oneself or a loved one. The research argues that, overwhelmingly, if you carry a gun, you are in the category most at risk to be on the wrong side of a gun homicide. If you are actively attempting to defend yourself with a gun, you are even more likely to be killed by a gun-wielding baddie.  See a report on this University of Pennsylvania study here. Feminists will not be surprised that women, according to this study at Johns Hopkins, are 3.5 times more likely to be shot to death by a violent partner than are men, and 40% of female homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner in 2007. More than twice as many women are killed by a partner than by a stranger.

Which leads us to yet another interesting fallacy propounded by the gun lobby: that women need conceal/carry permits to protect themselves on the street from rapists and muggers.  In fact, 2/3 of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim; 38% by a friend or acquaintance; and 28% by someone with whom the victim is intimate. Four in ten rapes occur in the victim’s own home; two in ten in the home of someone known to the victim; and only 1 in 12 in a parking garage (how many parking garage rapes are perpetrated by a friend offering safe passage to his or her car would be an interesting way to analyze this number further: see statistics offered by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), drawn from Department of Justice tables.)

Research also suggests that not only are women more likely to be killed on the street if they carry a gun, but that the only real use for this gun is to wear it openly when around friends and family, or when visiting the neighbors.


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