What I learned from firing a gun in self-defense

Brian FosdickTo begin the column I feel I should note that I wrote this article after the Sandy Hook shooting. I purposely waited a month to show some sympathy and respect for the victims. This column was never meant to run after the shooting in Texas, however, it is becoming increasingly obvious to me that if I keep waiting a month after every shooting, I may well never have the chance to share my story.

At some point, remaining silent in the face of tragedy becomes worse than acknowledging it and trying to end future tragedies of the like.

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I came from a hunting family that kept quite a few guns around the house, and I was taught how to use a gun from the age of four. I had a good understanding of how dangerous the weapons could be.

When I was seven-years-old I was forced to shoot someone in self-defense.

A man had broken into our house through the garage window, and my mother and I were holed up in a back room scared to death. The situation was already out of control and when your back is put up against the wall, you stop thinking logically and having a gun acts more like a threat than as a mode of protection. When he kicked down the door, I was sure he was armed and I was ready to pull the trigger.

I ended up taking the shot.

The gun I fired was a low-powered rifle and did not inflict any serious injuries, but it stopped the invader’s advance; though not for the reasons you might think. I ended up shooting my father.

To this day I have never been told whether or not my father was armed upon breaking into our house after violating his restraining order.

What I will say is this: I would give almost anything for guns to have not been available to either of us. They served to create an atmosphere of fear and paranoia and they led me to do something I regret more than anything else in my life.

There is no heroism in shooting another person no matter how threatened you may feel. You will not feel like you saved yourself or others, even if you did. It is a psychological toll you will have to carry around for the rest of your life.

The reality of the situation is most people cannot bring themselves to shoot other people even when they are threatened. The book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in World and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a required text in the FBI academy and part of the curriculum of West Point, even goes as far to explore how unlikely it is for trained soldiers to shoot at other people. Ordinary American citizens are not programmed to turn off their senses and just shoot, and only under extreme duress was I able to take the shot.

The lesson of my entire story and the research I did following it came down to one thing: giving people more guns will not help solve our gun violence situation. It will help perpetuate violence and create an air of fear, and it will not solve the root of the problem. Shooting my father did not change the fact that he was a chronic alcoholic with bipolar symptoms and had easy access to guns. It will not cure people who find it in themselves to go on mass shootings.

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If you want to change the history of America’s gun violence, support mental health care. Support more thorough background checks and greater restrictions on the guns people are allowed to have. I will respect others’ rights to hunt, but I will not respect the right of everyone to own guns. There are a lot of people who should not own them.

From a person who has been involved in a self-defense shooting I can say with confidence that whether or not you believe in the Second Amendment, it’s time to re-evaluate how easily guns are distributed in America.

On December 14, a school attack happened in both Connecticut and Henan province in China. In America, 27 children were killed. In China, 23 children were injured with not a single death. The only differences were the gun laws in each country and the weapons used. It is time to consider that more guns may not be the solution to gun violence, and that it may indeed be the problem.