Two stories by this professor in the Psychology Department at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas illustrate some excellent points in defense of gun rights, and in support of practice, practice, practice. ~ Ed.
A Gun Person in an Academic World
I consider myself a touch of a rare breed in a couple of ways. I am a gun activist and supporter of the Second Amendment and am vocal about in a liberal arts college environment. Second, I’m not a dyed in the wool conservative. As a colleague put it: “You’re a strange breed of cat”. I am rather well-known for being a 2nd advocate and confuse folks who think I am necessarily right wing. Certainly, not as bloody internet battles attest to. One department member, in fact, defended me in a conversation she related. This causes confusion but leads to more credibility of my support of the 2nd. I get asked by clearly left leaning faculty about guns and several want to go to range and learn about guns. I am also clearly much more tactically trained than my most of my conservative gun buddies and the typical CHL. I’m the one that shoots IDPA while they punch paper sedately.
How did this journey start? I grew up in New York City. Personal firearms ownership was very difficult and I cannot think of knowing anyone in my immediate circle that owned a firearm. There was Uncle Jack who did go shoot pheasants and had a shotgun. I did spit out little lead pellets at his house when we ate his kill but that wasn’t really being a gun guy. My uncles did serve in the military. One was lucky enough to be a pilot at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 and another was one of the GIs surrounded at the Battle of the Bulge but they evidenced no interest in guns later in life. Nor did my cousins. I did really like toy guns and shooting a pump 22S on the boardwalk but that’s it.
I can’t say that we had the conceptualization of the 2nd Amendment as really being important. Perhaps it was an anachronism like the 3rd Amendment. Defending yourself against others was for fists. My dad boxed. I took a dilettante’s interest in Judo. I’ve thought about this a bit. Given the experience of the Holocaust, why weren’t we interested in personal defense? It is a cliché in the gun world to assume Jews should be ardent 2nd Amendment advocates. Several factors are in play. First, most of us didn’t come from a gun culture. When you don’t have a hammer or never used a hammer, then you don’t even know what a nail is. It didn’t enter our minds. As I said before, guns were tools of the government and we certainly knew that governments may not be our friend and why emulate criminals? It, on the surface, would seem that if we removed guns from criminals we would be safer. Getting our own guns – why? It seemed reasonable that the protection of a democratic (small D) state would protect our rights more than gun ownership. Civil rights legislation and lobbying got us some protection of our rights to employment and entry to education. My mother had to use a false name to get a job as her “Jewish” sounding name would have led to her being fired or not hired. Certainly, the 2nd Amendment didn’t seem a solution to this kind of discrimination. Legislation and social action seemed to work. When crime got bad, we moved to the suburbs.
My views on the matter changed dramatically as I aged. After graduate school and a post-doc, I moved to Portland, Oregon. Gun ownership was much easier but one needs a seminal incident to induce a personal paradigm shift. There were several. First, a student called me at home to tell me that because of a grade I had given him, he was going to kill himself on my front lawn (he had a drug problem which led to bad performance). Seemed reasonable that someone killing himself might take a whack at me and family. Of course, I called the cops and the school. So SWAT teams and bodyguards rushed to my place – NOT! The law said: “Well, when he shows up – call us!” Might they increase drive-by frequency on our street that night? Uh – no! The school – fill out a form – Monday. This is not cool. So we get out the tennis racket and ski poles to fight our lives. Nothing happened, though and the kid dropped out.
A second nasty incident also was formative. In between marriages (sigh), I was invited by a young lady to go to a Yo-Yo Ma concert. He is a dude that plays the cello, very exciting and quite the intellectual event (Yeah Right, but a date is a date). At that point in time, the Portland area was home to some virulent Aryan nation types. They had been trained by some California neo-Nazis to pull up to a minority, shout racial epithets and if the person responded, to jump out and beat them. They would claim mutual combat as a defense as the person gave them the finger back. An Ethiopian immigrant was killed in this manner, leading to sentences and a successful major lawsuit against these organizations. So, going from the parking ramp, to the concert – up pulls a car of these guys – they yell at me – Hey, Are You a Jew! Tactical Response – say no and run for the theater. Works OK but, you sure feel helpless.
Third, a good friend of mine was a professor of Eastern Asian history. Two things happened to him. First, his wife’s ex-husband did the psycho act. Second, he invited a controversial (leftist) speaker to campus. This was related to the Viet Nam war and led to some pretty frightening vandalism and death threats from what were annoyed ‘operators’ of that era. My buddy was a pretty good martial artist, big, Harley riding, scary looking, knife guy, etc. He decided it was time to buy a gun. He got a SW 640 – the stainless 38 SPL snubbie as a concealed option. He learned how to shoot it and practiced at a local range which was pretty upscale. Unlike Texas ranges I shoot at now where a cease fire is called for goats on the range and you have to step over fire ant hills, Portland ranges have coffee bars. We talked and I decided that it was time to be a touch more proactive in taking care of myself. So I tried it and I was hooked. Being a ‘scholar’, it seemed to me that one should study and I signed up for the NRA Personal Protection which would qualify me for a CCW permit. You could just have taken a two hour course – some of them were pretty crappy though. The admissions dean at my school did that (hey – another academic gun guy?) and the instructor demonstrated gun safety by blasting a 1911 over the heads of the class – oops! My class was quality and we shot SW 3rd generation 9mms. In our class, I was introduced to the great debates for the CCW permit holder:
1. A guy is stealing your VCR – should you charge down the stairs, racking your shotgun and then shoot him dead?
2. You are in Burger Barn and a robbery starts. A gun is pulled on the cashier and you stand up, bellow the warrior’s creed and open fire with your steely eyed dealer of death head shot marksmanship.
The instructors tried to make us thing about the pros and cons of various actions. This debate still goes on today on the Internet and in the world of FOF.
As a professor-type, I decided to read and study on the issue. I read gun books by gurus and scholarly books on the history of guns, gun rights and gun control. I became firmly convinced that the Second Amendment existed because of two core fundamental issues: The right of citizens to protect themselves from evil-doers and the right of citizens to be able to resist tyranny. Also, I as shot more, the sense of personal empowerment was different from most of my experiences before.
I also did not hide my new interests at work in Oregon. In class, I might casually mention that I shoot. I told my friends. While Lewis and Clark was a quite ‘liberal’ liberal arts school, I suffered no shunning or disdain from my colleagues. One reason is clearly that I’m socially liberal and was not seen as a conservative. I broke the mold of the gun advocate being a hide bound conservative (no offense to anyone). In fact, the students were quite interested. I taught an advanced statistics class and for our end of the semester celebration, the class went to the range. We rented guns and shot. This led to a major story in the school newspaper: “Glenn Meyer Leads Psych Majors Shooting”. The story described our outing in detail (the author was in class and went on to be a lawyer). It had a big picture of me in front of a group of humanoid targets with some nice COM groups. The story ended: “Lewis and Clark College had just been witness to the baptism of a handful of new gun enthusiasts. A day such as this I thought I would never see at L&C has materialized before my eyes!”
That year, I saw a job ad for Trinity University in San Antonio. Trinity was a good school and offered the possibility of a step up and I applied. I think firearms were crucial in getting the job. In the department, then there were two good old boys. Hunting and fishing were more important than the job to them. When I was interviewed – would I fit in? After all, to two TX boys, I was an alien – a New Yorker by birth. So, they asked me what I liked to do for fun. Perhaps, I like the ballet and reading obscure Victorian novels. I mentioned that I pistol shot a bit. DAMN! – a trip to their lease was arranged. This panicked a female faculty member who thought that I was bowing to their male dominance hierarchy and conforming to get the job. She fearfully wandered the halls, worrying that the good old boys would shoot the candidate. Anyway we went out to tactically deal with the dreaded beer can and jugs of water. The boys brought a Glock 23 and a 7.65 Luger. Given the people I’ve meet, I’m not a super shot but certainly I out shot the boys and I got the job.
Universities are seen as antigun pits of liberal weirdoes but Trinity and Lewis and Clark weren’t the case or at least were accepting. Arriving in Texas, I quickly found out that some faculty were gun types and at my instigation, we formed a solid group of shooters. We hunt together as three of them own contiguous ranch properties and shot together. I’ve gotten one of them to go to IDPA matches. Can’t get them to seriously train though. This is frustrating. Lots of gun rag talk about equipment but won’t do the tactical thing. I have a theory about that for another day. Why don’t people train? I do tease them with columns from Clint Smith about fat computer science range commandos.
Again, universities and guns – The University of Texas at Austin – home of hippies, leftists and God only knows what nightmares to the standard RKBA person led to another epiphany. When I got to San Antonio, I picked up a pamphlet on the UT continuing educations courses. Perhaps, there would be a course on wine, basket weaving, depressing cinema or farmhouse cheeses of America (TX does have a growing and well respected set of cheese artisans and I am expert in their selection). However, there was a course on handgun basics from Karl Rehn of KRTraining. Huh? So I signed up and now am the graduate of his Advanced Tactical sequences, NRA instructor course, and his guest instructors from Insights and OPS. From knowing these folks, I became involved in the now defunct Tactics List, met John Frazer of the NRA and got my name sent to Don Kates and was invited to the Academics for The Second Amendment Meeting where I met a large number of progun scholars. That led me be interviewed by the Newhouse Newspaper syndicate on the personality of gun owners. It was interesting that several locales of the paper printed factual versions of the story but the New Orleans paper had an inflammatory headline. Through Kates, I was asked to write several pieces for the Encyclopedia of Guns in American Society (ABC-CLIO ).
At the Academic for the Second Amendment meeting, I got to shoot some fully auto guns – great fun, silly NFA. I passed on the Joe Olsen’s 50 BMG as I was nursing a recovering broken wrist. A 50 AE casing from a pistol did bounce off the side of the lane and bop me in the head, even though I was far back. Ouch!
Through the Insights mailing list and my scholarly big mouth, I was invited to the NTI which I regard as a life changing experience as a gun scholar, shooter and citizen.
At school, I am overtly pro-RKBA. I mention that I shoot in class; I use Lott’s analysis of CCW laws and crime reduction for examples of experimental design in class. I designed a statistics tutorial web site for a major textbook company and used Lott in that. I have gun related posters in my office. I have corrected major introductory psychology books that I have reviewed when they wandered off factual truth regarding self-defense or violence.
We started a gun related research program. Our psychology students have to engage in research. While my core area is cognitive psychology and visual perception, I found students were really interested in the firearms research. We studied student and faculty attitudes towards firearms and started a long series of experiments on the effects of weapons appearance on jury decisions. Does your AR-15 influence a jury? Karl Rehn of KRTraining was a guest shooter in some of our video tapes that we used in the trial simulation. This line of study led to several papers at the American Society for Criminology meetings. This is the major meeting for gun related work and you can see Gary Kleck, John Lott, Don Kates, Gary Mauser and quite a few other progun researchers. Their work has been crucial in the battle for gun rights. While some folk really don’t like utilitarian arguments for the Second Amendment, the research is useful to convince folks. Just the other day, I got an e-mail from a Glock Talker asking for such reference for a legislative hearing. You can also see the antigun research and knowledge is power. Students are co-authors with me. One nice Jewish female student became quite the gun enthusiast and submitted a paper to the Psi Chi Honors Society meeting and won a prize of several hundred dollars. A copy of the award is on my bulletin board. Her parents took me out to dinner and gave me a gun book. I’ve found quite a few female students to be interested. Shocking to some, many of them are from a liberal background. One of my best works and gun believers was a gay woman. I think from observing them on the range that they feel the sense of personal empowerment that skill with a firearm gives them.
I found the school supportive. I managed to get them to send Ayoob’s LFI-1 course for research purposes. They funded me to go to the NTI. The campus cops asked me to be a terrorist/active shooter opponent for them as I mentioned before. A picture of me in tactical vest and carrying a firestick with the officers is on my door, next to the firemen raising the flag at Ground Zero / Iwo Jima pairing.
We are now starting or in the midst of two more research projects. The first concerns the role of race in DGUs (defensive gun use). The Diallo shooting generated a great deal of research about what factors may contribute to mistaken police shootings. While certainly controversial to the gun world, some studies suggest that people are more likely to make racially based decisions in a shoot/no shoot. However, this is with a college sample and generalization is difficult. One study with police found no effect of race. Another found that police were hesitant to shoot females even though they were at risk. We are looking at whether the race of a burglar or homeowner influences a jury decision about the righteousness of a DGU. Maybe it shouldn’t – but does it? Second, we are tooling up to study altruism in the gun carrying, trained population. 2/25/05 will be particularly relevant as in Tyler, TX a CHL lost his life to a rampage shooter while saving the life of others. The debate about intervention is clearly central to that incident.
I do not hide my gun rights advocacy. We have a school wide mailing list and we get into political discussions. Recently, a conservative friend of mine posted that the development of the Pink Pistols, Harvard Gun Club (http://kuznets.fas.harvard.edu/~volokh/guns.html) and Second Amendment Sisters (http://www.2asisters.org/) indicated that politically correct leftist domination of college campuses was on the decline. This annoyed a PC professor who denied it somewhat. Thus I posted:
“While it may not be common knowledge – the support for the 2nd Amendment is well known in some gay and feminist circles. There is a fairly well known gay 2nd Amendment group – the Pink Pistols. Several liberal arts colleges have branches of the Second Amendment Sisters. The literature on feminist oriented self defense literature is growing. I have a list of works that I used in a seminar last semester. I have heard presentations at conferences from the feminist proponents of the 2nd Amendment. Clearly in the feminist mode but their interest in the 2nd amendment usually flummoxes those of the left who see the issue as a totem for being a conservative loony or those of the right who think that those of the left who prefer passive victim hood and dance festivals when faced with oppression. Clearly the historical, sociological and psychological literature on the origins and implementation of genocide point to a passive population that is discriminated against and lacks the means of self-defense.
For example, the recent HBO film, Deacons for the Defense indicated how African-Americans defended themselves successfully. Oops, I’m into a lecture mode.
The fundamental idea that the populace needs to be able to defend itself from the extremes of government and the terrors of various radical groups (of various political, ethnic and religious persuasions) is a philosophical and moral principle that makes ramblings by the right about the left or the left about the right really irrelevant.”
This led to a PC response that included the following:
“……despite what I may misunderstand as Glenn’s apparent view of the Second Amendment as something that transcends ideology. “
“And why would you think you misunderstood me? Political elites of the left and right usually become extreme and impose their whacky tyranny on the common folk. The ideology of the tyranny may vary and lead to different groups being the tyrants. The result is the same if you are not the elite. Thus, the US is unique in some sense that a strong segment of the population does not believe that the organized forces of the state are the sole depository of the means needed to defend basic freedoms. That these segments are now spreading across the ‘ideological’ barriers that so consume activists, academics and pundits is quite a good thing.
“Certainly as a Jew on this campus, I have no doubt that factions of the left and right have little use for my small slice of the ‘ethnic/minority’ pie.”
This interchange is seen by the majority of faculty and staff, including my bosses. I received this reply from a female Art History Professor: “Glenn- I found your discussion illuminating. Thanks for taking the time to write about the issue in detail”
My PC colleague – who is a good guy – opined that maybe the development of feminist and gay gun rights supporters at Harvard, in other Boston gun clubs and elsewhere is being fueled by the current administration’s views. The observation is purely anecdotal and based on ‘gaydar’. And, IMHO, there is nothing wrong with that. The potential for the defense against tyranny is the goal. Whether your tyranny is my tyranny is for discussion protected by the 1st and 2nd! I recently went to a meeting of the Jewish faculty and students about an anti-Semitic incident and had the chance of talking about – guess what! Another Jewish faculty member and I have shot together. Now, not all see the light but slow steps are important.
The separation of identifying firearms with necessarily being conservative is useful. On some internet lists that is not seen and the correlation must be 1.00. Thus, the non-conservative gun rights advocate is usually denounced and told that such views are not welcome. I think that such discussions couched in terms of defending ourselves and freedom can be successful.
I recently taught a seminar on aggression. We discussed firearms usage as part. We read articles that discussed the history of gun rights, theories of violence, the downside of firearms, media violence, etc. Many of the kids were towards the left. I posed a question: If some folks think that abortion under Roe v. Wade is a fundamental right and that right was being taken away, would you take up arms to defend it?
Taking up arms would seem to be antithetical to our common view of the Brie and Chablis American Left (certainly, leftists do take up arms in other places but it is not part of the political correct mantra in the USA). The Democratic left is for the most part strongly antigun. One of my favorite, leftish students said that’s a stumper. Later, that week we had on campus, a noted Democratic leftish woman as a speaker. You would see her on the tube all the time. My kid put that to her as a question and the speaker was literally stumped. Another student in the class told me that she was dead set against owning a firearm; however one of our readings Gun Women by Stange and Oyster turned her thinking around.
At the end of the semester, our students have to present their research project. My lab logo as a picture of me taken at Karl Rehn’s AT class. I took the class just after having had an accident and broken my wrist, ribs and badly sprained my ankle. I have my arm in a cast up to just below my elbow. My ankle is one of those strap up boots. I am holding one handed a Desert Eagle and look like quite the warrior. All the students and faculty see it, every semester. The picture does make me look fat (which I am – sigh). I tell the class if I’m going to a match on the weekend.
Would I have such freedom in other places? I have met pro-gun scholars from other schools. A Canadian friend finds that he does have some negative social feedback. Others are respected at their workplace. I know that in Oregon and Texas, I had no problem.
What do our students think of gun rights? As a student project, we surveyed about 600 students in Oregon and Texas (at two liberal arts schools and two big state schools) about gun rights. This is certainly not a representative sample but given that liberal arts kids tend towards the liberal side, it is interesting. Note that this project led to several presentations at the Southwestern Psychological Association, National Council for Undergraduate Research and American Society for Criminology – not hiding my focus. Here are some interesting answers from the survey. These questions were asked Pre-NICS and there was no attempt to explain the pros and cons of each possible side of a question. Unlike most surveys, we asked more than just should guns be banned.
Do you think there should be a ban on private ownership of handguns?
Yes 31.7% No 68.3%
Assuming handgun ownership is allowed, do you think there should be registration or licensing of handguns?
Yes 96.8% No 3.2%
Assuming handgun ownership is allowed and separate from the issue of registration, do you think there should be a waiting period before one can purchase a handgun?
Yes 88.1% No 11.9%
Do you possess a handgun? Yes 10.7% No 89.3%9.
If not, do you feel that one day you might want to possess a handgun?
Yes 54.7% No 45.3%
Other more complicated questions indicated that the most important reasons for owning a handgun were personal protection or perhaps a security/LEO job. A large majority (70%) indicated that possibility of future government dictatorship was not important. I think that conceptualization comes when one studies the issue but it’s not on the radar screen of most folk. We think it is important.
So the majority is against a ban but wants some type of registration. This is an interesting aspect as most PC survey work simply asks if someone wants gun control and then interprets that as wanting total bans and/or confiscations. However, my student project was a touch more sophisticated and indicates that more than 50% will consider getting a handgun if they don’t have one now. You don’t hear that usually.
Remember though this is Texas and Oregon. More realistic surveys do handle this issue. When most Americans ask for gun control, they usually mean that criminals don’t have guns. Thus, they think checks and registration will prevent criminal access (they don’t know the literature, nor is it usually presented to them). However, clearly they think that law abiding citizens should have access to firearms. I had a conversation with an older African-American woman in a night class. She has a gun and sent her boy to Eddie Eagle class. However, she wants a law that stops the gangbangers in her neighborhood from having easy access to SKSs – a weapon of choice. That’s the conundrum that is not really dealt with in polarized political debates.
We did a similar survey of faculty. 52% were against a handgun ban. They were wildly in favor of registration. 20% owned handguns but 80% of the non-owners did not contemplate getting one. Parenthetically, there are lots of folks with the shotgun in the closet for BGs. One guy has had a pistol grip pump 20 gauge in his underwear drawer for the past 20 years, loaded but never fired (sigh). 2.9% have CHLs or CCW permits. That’s not far off from the state percentages in Oregon and TX – surprising.
Other faculty fun. I have had several colleagues want to go to the range to learn how to shoot. They want to know how guns work – they are shy about saying they want to feel the inner warrior – we will see. Male faculty are funny, sometimes. If you say that you are a shooter that challenges one’s position in the dominance hierarchy, esp. if they are not shooters. They have to tell me that they shot a gun or two. Two guys told me that they once shot a Colt 45 (a 1911) – and it DAMNED NEAR TORE THEIR ARM OFF. Both these guys are over 6 feet and big. I’m a midsized guy. I seem to have both my arms – and I’ve shot 1911s. What a surprise!
Thus, I think it is important, as said before, to have role models for the RKBA in schools. While controversial, I think it is important to separate the RKBA from necessary loyalty to one political viewpoint (currently the GOP). That’s what I see myself as doing.
As a scholar, there must be a reading list. So here we go.
Below, I’ve collected a list of things that I’ve found about gender factors in firearms, self-defense usage. When I could, I added a small summary. Basically, researchers find that gun usage or even strong self defense is seen as atypical for women and sometimes can be held against them in legal proceedings. The sets of books below are written from a women’s perspective on gun use. They are interesting to read. I’ve met Abigail Kohn and her book is great. She’s a shooter. McCaughey is a very strong advocate of women’s self-defense. She is a very theoretical feminist, so her paradigm is quite different from the social conservative paradigm that is common in the gun world. It makes the point that people can be strong from many political viewpoints. Stange and Oyster’s book is a neat one also. As I said above, this book turned around an antigun female student. I’ve met them also. Great people.
One thing about some of the books about guns by women is interesting. I think most of the books I list below are generally positive about gun usage. They have strong cases for gun use in self-defense and positive examples of their use. However, some of them – for example, Homsher and Kelly do express qualms about gun danger to society and present opinions from antigunners. This has led some male critics in the gun press to savage them and focus on their not so pro gun prose and some techy mistakes in the book. I wonder if this is because the male gun mind – if such exists – thinks in only a black/white, dichotomous world view about firearms usage. They are 2nd amendment purists and can’t see a women’s point of view about the harm that firearms may cause. This is an interesting gender split in cognitive styles.
One point in Kelly’s book is that she mentions that women she met in gun classes can be emotionally scarred by some sort of abuse and the trainer ended up in pseudo-therapeutic roles sometimes. I wonder if men trainers get this issue and are ready to deal with it?
Articles of Interest:
1) Barrow, R.L., & Mauser, G. M. (2002). Dangerous Women: feminism, self defense and civil rights. Retrieved September 30, 2002 from http://www.sfu.ca/~mauser/papers/women/Law-review-abstract.pdf
GM: Mauser is well known pro-RKBA scholar. I know him quite well. His article speaks to how laws deprive women of rights for self defense and the general issues of bias against women using firearms.
2) Branscombe, N., & Owen, S. (1991). Influence of gun ownership on social inferences about women and men. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 21(19), 1567-1589.
A survey of 39 female and 39 male undergraduates revealed that the subjects believed that women who owned handguns would possess masculine physical characteristics, although they were not perceived as losing feminine body attributes. Women who owned guns tended to be perceived as less likely to occupy female stereotypic social roles, while men who owned a weapon were perceived as more likely to do so. Men who owned a handgun were perceived as less likely to possess socially desirable male stereotypic traits, although women with a handgun gained in this respect. In a survey of 73 female and 78 male community members, the main pattern of outcomes was replicated. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2003 APA, all rights reserved
3) Branscombe, N., & Weir, J. A. (1992). Resistance as stereotype-inconsistency: Consequences for judgments of rape victims. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 11, 80-102.
Examined the hypothesis that females who use too many resistance strategies to avoid rape may be judged more harshly than those who use more moderate or fewer resistance strategies. Two experiments, involving 135 male and 139 female undergraduates, were conducted. Exp 1 featured a stranger-rape scenario, and Exp 2, an acquaintance-rape scenario. Results of both experiments supported the hypothesis. Victims who displayed low resistance were also judged more harshly than those who showed moderate resistance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2003 APA, all rights reserved)
GM: The authors conclude (Branscombe and Weir, 1992, p. 99) concluded that their results might suggest women not take strong defensive actions. So they said:
“Despite this, we are in no way suggesting that women should not attempt to prevent or resist victimization attempts. Rather, we have contributed to the literature indicating how cognitive processes influence judgments of victims.”
That’s an important point. She’s not anti- but pointing out the processes involved. Some folks don’t get it. They think if you have a negative finding about a gun or self defense usage – then you are some kind of anti gun zealot. I got that a bit with other study that in some circumstances gun type could be a negative in court.
4) Branscombe, N., Crosby, P., & Weir, J. A. (1993). Social inferences concerning male and female homeowners who use a gun to shoot an intruder. Aggressive Behavior, 19(2), 113-124.
Two experiments with 81 male and 81 female undergraduates examined the hypothesis that gender stereotypes influence social inferences about homeowners who use a gun to shoot an intruder. Male homeowners who shot incompetently were perceived more negatively than were men who shot the intruder with competence. The opposite trend was observed for female homeowners. The degree of acceptance of the notion that guns provide their owners with protection moderated the social judgments formed about homeowners who use weapons to defend their property. Subjects for whom the event is inconsistent with their attitude-based expectancies blamed stereotype-inconsistent homeowners more than gender stereotype-consistent homeowners, particularly the skillful female shooters. Subjects with relatively negative attitudes toward guns perceived the skillful female shooters more positively than the other homeowners. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2003 APA, all rights reserved)
GM: This is really interesting and I would think that lawyers and instructors should alert folks to this issue. We found a similar thing in our assault rifle study. Women using them in a DGU really were judged more harshly. The issue is NOT that you don’t defend yourself but be aware if you have to deal with cops, DAs and lawyers.
4) Dole, C. M. (2000). Women with a gun. In M. Pomerance & J. Sakeris (Eds.). Band, bang, shoot, shoot: essays on guns and popular culture (2nd ed., pp. 11-21). Needham Heights, MA: Pearson Education.
Dole (2000, p. 11) states: “Despite widespread support for strong images in of women in the media, main mainstream film viewers and academic feminists alike have hesitated to celebrate cinematic women with guns, even those who are upholders of law”. Dole reviews the societal values and attitudes that speak against positive aspects of women with atypical firepower. Even when women use guns, they must use them defensively – perhaps in a maternal and protective role – to be seen as consistent with gender norms.
Homsher, D. (2001). Women and guns: politics and culture of firearms in America. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.
Howes, R. H., & Stevenson, M. R. (Eds.). (1993). Women and the use of military force. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Kelly, C. (2004). Blown Away: American Women and Guns. New York: Pocket Books.
Kohn, Abigail A (2004) Shooters: Myths and Realities of America’s Gun Culture. New York: Oxford University Press
McCaughey, M. (1997). Real knockouts. New York: New York University Press.
Stange, M. Z., & Oyster, C. K. (2000). Gun women: firearms and feminism in contemporary America. New York: New York University Press.
What Makes a You a Victim?
These are articles discussing victim selection, the findings have penetrated into our classes but many don’t know the literature.
Winkel, F. W., McCormack, R. J. (1997). Victim precipitation: Some fresh evidence on nonverbally mediated perceptions of vulnerability. Crime & Law, 3(3), 219-225.
Curtis, L. (1974). Victim precipitation and violent crime. Social Problems, 21(4), 594-605.
Gunns, R.E., Johnston, L., Hudson, S. M. ( 2002) Victim selection and kinematics: A point-light investigation of vulnerability to attack. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 26, 129-158.
Stevens, D. J. (1994). Predatory rapists and victim selection techniques. Social Science Journal, 31(4), pp. 421-433
Lejeune, R. (1977). The management of a mugging. Urban Life, 6(2), 123-148.
A Selection of Scholarly Books on Gun Usage, Rights and Gun Control
These are major works on issues. Some are progun in orientation. Some have pros and cons. Most are reasoned though and that’s important to know the thought on all sides of an issue. A problem with folks can be a selection bias to only read what confirms what they think.
Jacobs, James B. (2004). Can Gun Control Work? (Studies in Crime and Public Policy) Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (October 1, 2004)
Kleck, Gary. (1991). Point blank: guns and violence in America, 1991
Kleck, Gary. (1997) Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Aldine de Gruyter, 1997
Lott, John R. (1998). More guns, less crime: understanding crime and gun-control laws Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. – Also see his Bias against Guns.
Kates, Don B. & Kleck, Gary. (1997). The great American gun debate: essays on firearms. San Francisco, CA: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1997.
McClurg, Andrew J., Kopel David B., & Denning Brannon P. (2002). Gun Control and Gun Rights: A Reader and Guide. New York University Press
Vizzard, William J. (2000). Shots in the dark: the policy, politics, and symbolism of gun control. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Being an Active Shooter
I was asked recently by my campus police department if I wanted to take part in an Active Shooter training scenario. The department takes firearms training very seriously and qualifies several times a year. I have shot with them at qualification and also have served on their search committees for new officers and promotions. Of course, I jumped at the chance. I prepared by reading up on ambush techniques and picking the brains of NTI and Insight list folks.
After Columbine and with the threat of terrorism, we now know that containment of threat tactics may not always serve. The officers on the spot may have to deal with, engage and search for an active shooter. For a campus department to train for such is exemplary.
My focus is on what happened and what did we learn from me being an active shooter? Here we go:
We ran five teams of three officers each into a nest of what would be offices. Basically the training officer wanted to practice entry. It was moi and another officer as the BGs – together or singularly. We had a fully auto paintball gun and a pump paint ball shotgun. Officers had paint ball handguns with numbers of rounds corresponding to their duty load. I never used the fully auto option on the gun. We had sixty rounds. If I were an active shooter, I would have an AR-15 with 30 round mags so the capacity was in line with reality. I would probably have a Glock of some sort as a handgun and a smaller hidden BUG. Thus, I carried an Airsoft backup pistol.
I wore a paint ball vest that simulated body armor. The site was a nest of interconnected officers with cinder block walls (cover), some teller like windows and internal passages. Many of our buildings are like that, with lots of good solid stone or brick cover. We had sound effects of gun shots, fog and screaming people. The responding officers had to enter through a doorway.
What we found out is that if we were aggressive on initial entry we had them. We set up so one person had them on initial fire and the second would get them in a crossfire. The first had an initial covered position or a surprise rush. We eliminated some teams completely. When we pulled back and let them form up, it was mixed. We got in some rounds, took some down and then were eliminated ourselves.
In the last on the first day, I was the lone BG. Discussing this with the training officer, we laid a table across the entry way, a couple of feet into the room, so it was not immediately seen on entry. The idea was produce a fatal funnel. The guys bunched up and I got two before the third responded with rapid fire that drove me back and I took a belly shot and a hand shot. I decided I was down and called it.
All were very positive. Some of them had not had significant FOF and found it very useful. I was declared a good BG. Some of the guys for the next day were SWAT certified and vowed revenge.
On the second day we varied off the entry level ambush. They had enough of that. We did various hostage surrenders, bystanders to be saved, find a nut (moi) who has given up but is in a hidey hole crying (but is still with guns) and other things that they had laid out in the lesson plan.
The last run was an entry for a team (one shift) that had not made entry against opposition. They were told that if they were under significant fire and had no reason to enter, they needed to back off. I was again, the lone madman but was specifically told to be aggressive by the chief. Entering a nest of offices is dangerous. However, the heat of the moment led them to enter. Specifically, the lead officer was annoyed at me because of previous clashes. That made him rash. Again, I set up an obstacle to delay a rapid entry and form another fatal funnel. I shot the first officer and the other two took reasonable cover. They did make a mistake as they forgot a passage way that I could control as they tried to flank me. I flanked them instead. Thus they were eliminated.
Things Learned by Me:
Tactically, I was pleased that my training as a civilian stood me in good stead. Use of angles, cover, aimed fire, backup guns all came to the fore. Shooting over the top of cover (I had to once) gets you shot in the head – ouch. I have to thank my previous FOF experiences with Karl Rehn, OPS, and the NTI for giving me an inner strength to face the attacks. I remember my first run at the NTI. I was sucking air like a bellows and not breathing. In ATSA village, I was vaporized in the bank robbery. Thus, facing repeated intense attacks from the entry teams, I knew I could do it. I remembered to breathe.
The stress inoculation of training is incredibly useful. Another point from training is to stay in the fight. I switched hands and guns, ignored painful whacks if it wasn’t in a seemingly lethal area. Aggression counts. I came away with a sense that even if faced with several armed opponents, in a life or death struggle, one could prevail or do significant damage to the other side. My ATSA village experience, esp. my team’s debacle in the bank, aided me in this.
What Did the Officers Learn?
The level of training varied. Some of them had SWAT training. Some just had standard LEO training. I think they took away:
1. Use of cover and avoiding the fatal funnel. The inability to get to cover caused many of the teams to have very difficult times. If this year’s NTI participants recall, we had some discussion of shooting at an opponent’s knee as it was visible/vulnerable. In one scenario, the officers were engaging my partner and lo and behold there was a knee and inner thigh coming around a door. I remembered my lesson and shot it.
Be prepared to take hits. In training, have a plan to get those who are seriously hit out of the fight. Let the teams deal with causalities and the shock of loss.
2. You really have to identify your targets. I was shot once when I was just a hostage. We had one officer throw open a door and just hose a stream of fire down the hall away as he saw movement. Whistles blew and he was stopped. He was reminded that this was a hostage rescue and he had no knowledge of targets and what was behind what he hit. In fact, he was shooting at nothing. Neither of us was there.
I think some officers needed clarification on the mission of FOF training. It’s not a game where you win by killing the aggressor. A win is having the best outcome from a law enforcement point of view.
3. Learn to negotiate doorways. Some teams pied really well. Others did not. That’s why this practice was essential for them. One officer crept up to the door of a room that I was in. I saw his long gun muzzle stick way out before I saw his body. I shot the barrel. In another instance, it was discovered that I was in a room behind furniture. Perhaps, verbal contact should have been initiated by the officers from behind cover? However, one officer decided to leap across the door way. He would have been getting a buttocks transplant in real life. I don’t think he appreciate the big pink paintball splashes on his tush. He was the guy who later acted rashly.
4. If faced with serious opposition armed with serious guns, do you withdraw and try to contain? We had the equivalent of semi-auto long arms; the officers learned whether it was wise to try to enter or back off and contain the situation. This is an interesting problem after Columbine. Either two of us were set up or one of us. We knew what we were doing. The officers heard what sounded like an active shooter. A couple of teams actually moved quite well tactically, pinned us and contained us. The best were two women officers.
5. The school has unarmed officers. They do parking tickets and the like. They were run through a scenario once. The rationale was that they might be with an armed officer who then gets shot. Should they pick up the officer’s gun and stay in the fight? They needed some gun basics: the four rules, use your sights, etc.
6. Leave your ego at the door. One rule of the NTI is NO WHINING. Without going into a long story, one officer who was self-proclaimed as an expert shot and tactician was rudely eliminated as he was the one who acted rashly. Needless to say, he did not take it well and still doesn’t several weeks later. There are reasons for such behavior – lack of personality strength to be able to learn from one’s mistakes, loss of face and position in a dominance hierarchy or perhaps realizing that he could be so easily killed left him in existential crisis.
I found being rudely eliminated at the NTI to be a learning experience but I’m not a self-proclaimed master tactician. Thanks to some NTI members for helping me sort this out. I wonder if training officers should look for such behavior and plan some debriefing.
Better dead in training then being really dead. I certainly learned quite a bit at the NTI seminar from my screw ups. I got blown up by a suicide bomber, shot in the fatal funnel and last took a chestful of Simmunitions from an MP-5 when I stupidly charged out a door.
That hurt. It drew blood as I just had a tee shirt over my fat belly and chest. However, the NTI rules were no whining or egos. One of my team mates caught a Sims round right in his check from that one weird shot the skirted the edge of his mask. Didn’t whine.
7. Little things:
a. Flashlight position – The FBI hold didn’t fool me. Bang
b. Being yelled at by police to surrender was intimidating.
c. Buildings – Do architects consider how wonderfully they set up ambushes with all those pillars and passageways? Should they?
The experience was very useful to me personally. I hope it helped the officers. It does make me worry that with the current attitudes in most of the country; at best officers will be playing catch up when such incidents occur. They will put their lives at risks. In reality, our school can’t defend against an active shooter quick enough to prevent 10’s of causalities unless it is pure luck that the shooter is spotted on the way in. If the BG’s are set and the first responders only have handguns to contend with folks using semi-auto long guns – the officers are in for severe difficulty. It is not hard to read about entry techniques and counter them.
First responders will have a terrible time if there is any competency in their opponents. Without individuals who are armed, the initial attacks will be killing zones for the BGs. Schools in the USA will never allow armed teachers for various socio-political and liability issues. If serious attacks were planned against schools, it would be a bloodbath.
We once had a discussion of the university response to a stalking incident with someone who potentially could be dangerous. We were told bluntly that the institution and risk management experts had calculated that it would be easier to pay off a faculty and family if you took some action against the school for non-protection than to pay off the stalker if he or she sued for harassment or an innocent if you accidentally put a round into such. Most companies have similar policies because of the potential liabilities.
It is a philosophical flaw in modern life that one must be a victim. I wish that Presidents, Governors, and legislators of different types might realize that a first line of defense against such actions starts with the armed citizen. It has been shown to be effective in shooting incidents here and abroad. Yes, the one teacher facing a squad is in a difficult situation. Faced with three active shooters, maybe not or at least you can seriously degrade them. Unfortunately, for some politicians, having firearms is about hunting with an O/U shotgun. I don’t expect to fight a team of terrorist skeet or geese anytime soon.
Glenn E. Meyer was born in New York City and is full professor in the Psychology Department at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He received his doctorate in 1975 and has written numerous professional articles and books in the areas of visual perception, cognition and statistics. He recently has been studying the influence of weapons type used in defensive gun usages on simulated jury decisions. A convert to the world of defensive firearms, he has been an NTI (National Tactical Invitational) practitioner and has studied with several well known trainers.