I hate the phrase “Good guy with a gun.”

It’s so obnoxious: “We need a good guy to stop a bad guy with a gun.”

First of all, adults don’t go around calling each other “good” or “bad.” When an adult insults an adult, they may prefer to use terms such asasshole, bitch, cunt, pedophile, moron. Adults can be nasty. But adults rarely get into a heated argument and call someone “bad.”  Good and bad are juvenile terms. Good and bad are terms we use to define morality in simple terms to kids and pets. “Did you steal a cookie before dinner? That’s very bad, Charlie.” “Hey Fido, who’s a good boy, who’s a good boy?”

Also, let’s assume we know the definition of good and bad as intended here. No human is simply 100% “good.” We all fall short of the Glory of God; in other words, we may not commit a mass shooting, but we’re an asshole in other ways. Who the right calls a “good guy with a gun” may have a speeding ticket he didn’t pay, he may have hit his wife before, he may have stolen an item from a gas station. We don’t know his moral compass. We don’t know what other crimes he committed in the past. Literally, he could be a bad guy with a gun, or to be more apt, a bad guy who happens to own a gun, where the gun is unrelated to his past sins/wrongs.

More, mass shooters and non-mass shooters can’t simply be broadly generalized as “good” or “bad.” Humans in real-life can’t be defined as characters in a Hollywood movie with a clear-cut protagonist and villain. Real-life doesn’t have a protagonist: there’s only potential villains and current law-abiding citizens.

One can’t compare “law-abiding citizens” and “criminals” as two separate classifications of humans as if comparing Koreans and Russians. Criminals are only criminals in the moment they’re breaking the law; before a criminal act, they’re a law-abiding citizens. After a criminal act, after the state has ruled on their case, they’re back to being a law-abiding citizen again. Criminal isn’t a perpetual state-of-being; it’s a temporary state of being, relative to what the person’s doing in the moment.

Under current American law, every person has the potential to commit a crime if they so choose. But those who own assault rifles are in a much more feasible position to commit a mass shooting if they so choose.

The resolution to preventing mass shootings is not determining whether gun-owners fit someone’s opinion of the ambiguous labels “good” or “bad.” The resolution is not determining if a gun owner has a psychiatrist’s diagnosis of a mental illness; that’s a commendable study when done under the pretense of studying the effects of mental illness, but completely inappropriate when attempting to prevent a serious pandemic of criminal mass shooting.

The resolution is simple: society removes guns from people, not bad, not mentally ill, not under 25, but people — all states of morality and all states of mental clarity. This serves as insurance to prevent any potential shooter. After all, car insurance is required for all who operate a car, not just those with bad driving records. With guns removed from circulation, a person who wants to entertain his thought of mass shooting would be inconvenienced. You can’t shoot someone with a gun if you don’t have a gun.

One NRA-supported slogan reads, “You can disarm people, but you can’t disarm evil.” That may be true.  But it’s a red herring fallacy.  Let’s worry about preventing evil later. First, let’s concern ourselves with preventing the “evil” from obtaining a gun. Preventing murder needs to be resolved as quickly as possible; there’s no time for a philosophy debate.

Mass shooters weren’t simply born “bad.” They were good, just as every other law-abiding citizen, up until the moment they decided to kill people. In other words, prior to committing a mass shooting, they were a “good guy with a gun.”

mediumbanguns (KeepSchoolsSafeDOTorg)


One thought on “I hate the phrase “Good guy with a gun.”

  1. I always hated it too. It’s such a black-and-white way of dealing with a problem that is incredibly nuanced and variable.

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