Dispatch from the gun culture

gun cultureYou’ve no doubt heard the refrain that good guys with guns are necessary to protect us all from bad guys with guns. This statement almost always comes up to justify guns everywhere – schools, churches, in the hands of children and the blind. But did you ever wonder about what happens when the good guy has a bad temper? Maybe this?:

Edwin M. Hipp was charged Friday with second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Arnold police say Hipp shot his wife, Irma Hipp, 82, twice early Thursday morning in their home in the 3400 block of St. Martin Drive.

Charges say the couple argued and that Irma Hipp retrieved a handgun from a living room recliner. Edwin Hipp told police he took the gun from her and shot her once in the abdomen, then put the gun to her neck and shot her again.

Don’t you imagine that the handgun that Irma Hipp pulled out was meant to protect the Hipps from potential bad guys like burglars? Of course, based on the brief newspaper report, we don’t know much about what happened. We don’t really know why there was a gun in the recliner. We don’t even know if Irma was the initial aggressor or if she was defending herself.

Most of all we don’t know if Irma’s husband and murderer was ever really a good guy. But then how does anybody know who the good guys are? You can weed out some bad apples with background checks, but the issue of good guyness is a lot more complex than the presence or absence of a criminal record. You can be good guy with the best of intentions one minute and, with enough provocation, a raging lunatic the next. And it doesn’t help things if you have a gun close at hand, tucked into the side of a recliner perhaps, when your secret bad guy gets the upper hand.

2nd Amendment delusionists seem to agree that we can’t always know who’s a good guy. But they also propose that the solution is to make sure everyone is armed and hope that some kind of parity will result – good guys will balance the bad guys at any given time, and that if you’re a good guy today, you will not decide that because you have a gun in hand, you have the right to fire it at whomever annoys you.