Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not those of St. George News.
OPINION – A number of questions are being raised following the highly publicized Florida shooting case in which a neighborhood watch member shot and killed a young man. As is the case in most highly sensationalized stories, a great deal of effort is being put into placing the blame in a politically advantageous manner.
Race baiters have been quick to blame racism while gun control advocates are blaming easy access to firearms and laws that don’t require a person to flee before using deadly force in self-defense. Tragedy too often spells opportunity for those who wish to draw attention to either themselves or their pet causes.
But beyond the political posturing, there is a valid question raised by the incident: Do firearms in the hands of private citizens still have a place in civilized society?
The answer to this question requires greater context than a simple “yes” or “no” response. It requires an acknowledgement that human nature has remained remarkably consistent throughout the history of mankind.
As human beings, we have just two basic methods of conducting our dealings with one another; we can use persuasion or we can use coercion. When we need someone to do something, we can either try to persuade or we can force him or her to do our bidding, it’s that simple. When someone uses coercion in a criminal or aggressive manner, the only way to effectively counteract that compulsion is through having our own ability to employ equal or greater force.
Since not every person possesses the same physical strength or defensive skills, an equalizer that creates a parity of force is required. In our day, the personal firearm serves that purpose.
Writer Marko Kloos explains why this is so:
“The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year-old gang-banger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.”
The firearm serves the purpose of removing another person’s illicit force from the equation by negating it. Those who use persuasion to accomplish their goals are not limited in their interactions. Coercion is useless against those who hold the ability and the will to resist it. A moral and just society would never abandon the weaker to the predations of the stronger. But there are two fundamental considerations that must accompany the decision to defend oneself with a firearm.
The first one is the realization that skill at arms is not an innate quality; it must be learned. Too many gun owners mistakenly believe if they are confronted by a life-threatening situation that they will somehow rise to meet the occasion. In reality, when faced with a highly stressful situation, we’ll tend to do only what we have consciously trained to do ahead of time. With no prior thought or training as to what to do, we tend to revert to a default setting of incredulous disbelief of what’s happening before us.
Defensive firearms training is where one gains the indispensable skills of firearms handling, tactics and mindset required to prevail in a deadly encounter.
The second consideration is the necessity of situational awareness regarding what is happening around us. Maintaining a heightened awareness of the actions of others is not the same thing as living in a state of grim-faced paranoia; it’s about having the wherewithal to recognize potential trouble and to steer clear of threats before they are unavoidable. It’s also about having the proper tools to solve problems when necessary.
This mindset of personal responsibility is increasingly rare today when a majority of the population naîvely believes that laws alone are sufficient to protect them from predatory behavior. Unfortunately, too many people have allowed a bureaucratic nanny state to convince them that they are either unable or unworthy to shoulder the responsibility of protecting themselves.
Firearms play a respectable and necessary role within a civilized society by placing a check on the power of those who would rely upon force alone to accomplish their goals.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.