If I Only Had a Gun

OK, since the President and #NRA are continuing to push the ridiculous idea of a “good guy with a gun,” it’s time to share “If I Only Had A Gun” from 20/20. It’s sadly several years old, but it makes the crucial point aabout how the average “good guy with a gun” cannot possibly be expected to stop bad guys.

I used to post this after every mass shooting. The past few years, I stopped because of my growing cynicism that anything would ever change. But we are taking these issues seriously again, thanks to #StudentsStandUp . And since the President is, this morning, pushing the “good guy with a gun” falacy again, it’s time to share this video again.

I strongly urge you to watch and share.


And even further…If YOU believe you are a “good guy with a gun,” please understand this truth: Unless you are training weekly, to the level that cops do, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO STOP A BAD GUY WITH A GUN.

Basic human biology, psychology, and physiology tell us that you will freak out, and be unable to respond. You will lose the skill…

“Even police officers, if they don’t continually train,” says the cop in the video, “it’s a perishable skill…”
You LOSE your abilities to respond in as little as a month.

BTW, this is exactly the same physiology that applies to regular exercise too…and, people who don’t regularly train also routinely overestimate their physical health and skills in exactly the same way so-called “good guys with guns” overestimate their ability to save the day.

We watch the Olympics and say “I could do that…I could skate like that…”

No. No, you can’t.

You are overestimating your skill.

Please understand what I am saying. I am NOT saying you are “bad” or flawed for not being able to do this. This is not a moral judgment on your character. This is about basic human behavior and biology, and what happens to us in situations of stress. It’s not your fault you cannot be a good guy with a gun…very few people can.

The shooting in Florida shows us this in a tragic way. The school officer on duty apparently failed to engage the shooter, even though…I trust…he trained regularly.

You see, even those who DO train can fail. Remember: for every successful downhill run, there are dozens of horrible crashes.

What you see on TV with Olympians is just the tip of the iceberg.
What you see in action films with Vin Deisel, or the Marvel Universe, is a myth.

So, to push the point again, unless the “good guys with guns” are training regularly, every two to four weeks, their existence is a myth. They are no more real than the unicorn.

The best choice for reducing school violence and mass shootings, the quickest way to success, is to reinstate something similar to the “assault weapons ban” of the Clinton years.

In the past day, the head of the #NRA has claimed the right to firearms comes from God. I have no idea how he makes that claim, since firearms were invented milenia after the Bible was written.

A better Biblical reference is Jesus, who chastized his own follower for pulling out the gun of his day (a knife) at a crucial moment in the Garden of Gethsemane.

What JESUS says (and I believe Jesus was/is God…) is:

“Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”

I would love to hear how Wayne L. reconciles THAT teaching from Jesus the Christ….

Since Wayne brought up “fundamental rights,” let me point out the obvious. We all have an even more basic right than limited right to guns:

Our most sacred rights in our country is the right to move about freely, without fear of being shot or killed.

The students from Florida are making this point poignantly this past week. What Trump and the #NRA call “soft targets” is what the rest of of us rightly call “ordinary life.”

It’s the reason the recent mass shootings take place in places like concerts, churches, schools, movie theaters, etc…

Because, in order to live your life in these places, you have the right to NOT be hypervigilant…to NOT be on edge….to NOT have to constantly be in fear and reactive.

Nobody in any of those shootings had made a mistake the day those shootings happen. You have the right to go see “Black Panther” without fear of being shot. You have the right to attend a country music concert, or a gay nightclub, without fear of being shot. You have the right to close your eyes in prayer –to passively breathe in and out and center your mind and soul– at your church, synagogue, or mosque, without fear of being shot.

I have the right to sit here in this coffeeshop on Greenville Avenue this morning, writing these words, without fear that a gunman will burst through the doors and shoot us all down.

This, friends, is our most fundamentalist right as Americans. This, friends, is what Makes America Great. This, friends, is the freedom that the #NRA and its minions is taking from us, through their unwillingness to support sensible regulation of firearms in our nation.

Not only do you have this fundamental right, the truth is that a world where we are all hypervigilant “all the time” would be a world filled with adrenaline and cortisol. We would all literally be turning on each other all the time, and make ourselves sick in the long run. (excess cortisol and adrenaline can make you sick, in case you didn’t know…)

The truth is this:

It cannot exist.

That’s not because *I* say so…that’s because of the basics of human biology and behavior. Their views can only be accepted if you believe the Hollywood myth of the invincible action figure.

The fact that this world is a myth, as proven through this 20/20 video, should point us in another direction. We are not safe in our country, we have more deadly and more frequent mass shootings than any other country, beacuse we have more…many times more…unregulated guns floating around.

It’s time to speak honest truth to each other about these issues. And that truth leads me to repeat the follow, once again:

I’m not coming for your guns.
But I am coming for “assault-style” weapons.
And I’m defintely coming for the NRA.

Not with violence.
With hard truth, and love.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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