‘I Hope He Isn’t One of Us’: When ‘Good Guys’ Go Bad

TheGunBlog.ca — I’m crying again. Four people were shot dead this morning in Fredericton, New Brunswick, including two police officers. No other info yet. I want to vomit. I want to comfort the families. I want to protect the people I love. I want the killer to pay. And I hope he isn’t one of us.

Back in the old days, before I cared about “political messaging” and when “optics” were devices mounted to a gun to aim at the target, killings were ordinary bad news. Nice factoid, sucks for the people affected, nothing to do with me.

I briefly doubted that response after the slaughter on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue three weeks ago. A reporter asked me early on: If the murderer had a firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL), how would that affect the gun-rights movement, “the cause,” as she put it.

How would it reflect on the 2 million Canadian men and women with PALs?

I told her it wouldn’t affect the movement or the cause or the community. Murderers have nothing to do with us.

What if the butcher of Fredericton has a PAL?

Nothing to do with us.

My Community, My Cause

The movement or community I feel part of doesn’t say “gun rights for all.”

It’s more nuanced and makes for a lousy slogan on a bumper sticker. It has a lot more to do with justice, sound policy and how to treat honest people than with regulating objects. Maybe something like, “Maximum freedom, respect and rights for ethical and responsible individuals, including the freedom to use any thing for any legitimate purpose, such as protection, collecting, education, hunting, work, play and sport. Bad people get zilch.” (Notice it doesn’t mention the word “gun.”)

As a slogan, “gun rights” is totally inaccurate, but it sounds better.

Phase 1: Emotion

Every time there’s a homicide by bullet, a whole bunch of us in Canada feel a range of emotions: sadness, rage, fear, helplessness, hate, blame, desire to assist, desire to avenge, etc.

At some point some of us think: “I hope he isn’t one of us.” It’s a pre-emptive emotional shield against reactionary fingerpointing.

  • Muslims: “I hope he isn’t one of us.”
  • Blacks: “I hope he isn’t one of us.”
  • Whites: “I hope he isn’t one of us.”
  • Arabs: “I hope he isn’t one of us.”
  • Christians: “I hope he isn’t one of us.”
  • Domestically Sourced: “I hope he isn’t one of us.”
  • Foreign Sourced: “I hope he isn’t one of us.”
  • PAL Holders: “I hope he isn’t one of us.”

Nobody wants to include a murderer in their “us.”

We want to blame a scapegoat, and the scapegoat can never be “one of us.” We invent ways to make them “other.” For ourselves, and for the finger pointers.

It’s gotten worse lately as people manufacture identities and twist events. They want to blame and shame, spin complex issues in a tweet or a meme to promote narrow political interests. (I do it, too.) Right vs. Left. White vs. Dark. Straight vs. Gay. Male vs. Female vs. Unlimited Genders. Pro-Gun vs. Anti-Gun, Us vs. Them.

Phase 2: Reason

After the waves of emotion: reason, discernment, nuance.

I know that the individual doesn’t define the group. “One bad apple doesn’t spoil the bunch.” It’s wrong to punish a good group for the actions of a single bad apple, or even a few bad apples.

  • When a Muslim murders, we don’t blame all Muslims.
  • When a Jamaican murders, we don’t blame all Jamaicans.
  • When a driver murders, we don’t blame all drivers.
  • When a journalist murders, we don’t blame all journalists.
  • When a PAL holder murders, we don’t blame all PAL holders.

Zero Guilt, Strong Response

Even if someone looks like me, worships my god and shares my interests, if they do something bad, it has nothing to do with me. I have zero responsibility for their actions and feel zero guilt.

You might blame me and my community and even try to pass laws against us because you’re looking for a scapegoat. But don’t expect me to go along. Expect a strong response.

Paperwork vs. ‘Good Guy’

Legal firearm owners as a whole are almost always “good guys.” Almost.

  • The deadliest shooting in Canadian history was committed by a person who had the paperwork to acquire their firearms legally.
  • A tiny handful of PAL holders use the right paperwork to buy guns and ammo, then resell the gear on the black market to people who want to harm us.
  • At some point in the future, other murderers and terrorists will have acquired their equipment using the right paperwork.

They may have the paperwork, but they aren’t good guys. They lied, cheated or fell through the cracks. They aren’t part of my community. They aren’t one of us.

I want the law to come down hard on them. I want it to crush them. In some cases, harder.

The instant anyone intends or acts to directly or indirectly harm innocents, they’re done.

At that point, even with the paperwork, they aren’t responsible, ethical firearm owners. They aren’t part of my community.

They aren’t one of us.