Flooding the Country with Ignorance

Maybe it was a challenge to see how many non-truths he could pack into one article, but Eric D. Snider’s diatribe about guns in movies at the Film.com website is filled with them. Of course, I never miss the opportunity to be informed about the American gun culture by a “prolific film critic,” especially when that same critic believes that the NRA (National Rifle Association) is dedicated to “flooding the country with guns.” And this comes in the very first paragraph. I knew I was in for a real treat of objective wisdom, for sure.

One of the most stupefying (I can’t say “the most” without qualification because there are so many potential candidates making it difficult to pick just one) comments by Snider comes in his second to last paragraph. I will quote it in full:

Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the NRA, is famous for this declaration: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Like most bumper sticker wisdom, this is nonsense. It would be more accurate for LaPierre to say: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy — sober-minded, with steady nerves, who has had sufficient training and practice — with a gun.” But that’s not as catchy.

He’s right, of course; it isn’t as catchy. But in his revision, Snider quotes LaPierre’s original statement in full, adding a short phrase to help define what “good guy” means. In other words, Snider proves that LaPierre’s statement is not really nonsense after all—it was simply lacking clarity. While Snider pats himself on the back for really “sticking it” to the NRA vice-president, LaPierre simply smiles and says, “Yes, I agree. In fact that’s exactly what I meant by ‘good guy.’ Thanks for making my point.”

Snider’s convoluted logic actually showed up earlier in his article when he made this profound observation: “The idea that mass shootings [like the Aurora movie theater massacre] mean MORE people should carry guns, to defend themselves and others against future shootings, is not based on reality. It is based on movies.” No, it’s not. Maybe when your job is to watch and review more than 300 movies a year it is, but not for the average working citizen. The idea that more gun-carrying by more people helps to prevent mass shootings is based on statistics, logic, and empirical evidence, not on Hollywood entertainment. But Snider’s entertainment-soaked argument against more guns doesn’t stop here. He continues:

In movies… the hero — whether he’s an everyday joe, a cop, or a costumed vigilante — usually takes the perp out. But in real life, a good citizen with a gun shooting at the killer in a dark, smoky, chaotic movie theater would have been much more likely to hit an innocent bystander. Someone with training in this sort of thing (an off-duty police officer, for example) might have done better (and would have been trained not to fire unless he had a clear shot). But not the average person, no matter how well-intentioned. Buying a gun does not automatically endow the purchaser with excellent marksmanship and steady nerves in high-pressure situations.

Umm, yeah. And I’m sure not “having a clear shot” is what makes most mass shootings less deadly than they could have been. What kind of nonsense (the real sort this time) is this? The “real-life perp” in Snider’s example above (complete with smoky theater), is supposed to be allowed to fire at will at “innocent bystanders,” while the “good citizens” are to wait quietly for their turn at becoming bullet fodder because they can’t seem to find a clear shot. Seriously? So the potential aggravation of not having the right angle to ventilate the bad guy’s head—thereby ending the carnage with one final kill—is what Snider tries to use to convince himself (and his readers) that no one should be permitted to carry a gun (except the perp of course, but that’s different)? Apparently so, because two paragraphs later, Snider says this:

In real life, the prospect of shooting another human being — even one who is in the act of harming others — is daunting and terrifying. Which is at it should be! We SHOULD recoil at the thought of taking a life! We SHOULD want to exercise every other option before resorting to that one! It’s what makes us civilized. This attitude of “Well, if everybody is armed, you can just shoot whoever acts up” is decidedly uncivilized.

Yes, it’s uncivilized and barbaric. Yes, it’s daunting and terrifying to kill another human being. Yes, we should think of this as the last option. But no one in the theater that night was legally allowed to exercise this “last” option. Does Snider believe it was merely coincidence that the Aurora shooter took his rampage to a movie theater instead of a police station? And Snider’s childish dismissal of the whole argument as being one of “shooting whoever acts up” is not only dishonest and disingenuous, it reveals a complete lack of integrity on his part. Murdering dozens of people in cold blood is far beyond “acting up” and Snider obviously knows this. He is the very thing that he accuses the NRA of being: flippant and unreasonable. For someone who supposedly holds a degree in journalism and used to be a newspaperman, he is a sorry excuse for a journalist. The voice of the blood of the Aurora and Sandy Hook victims cries from the ground against his deceit and utter gutlessness. Shame on you, Eric D. Snider. Shame. Stick to writing about the flickering lights on the screen and leave the public policy to the grown-ups.