So I’ve been thinking about the guy I watched get shot in front of my apartment a few weeks ago, and more specifically, about the guy doing the shooting. I’ve been running over what my buddy said about how most people who shoot each other in those situations are being driven by fear… it’s not about hatred or a love of death and killing or even of wanting to look tough (though I believe wanting to look tough is a symptom of fear and certainly played a part in the shooting I witnessed). My friend’s theory was that this guy purposefully missed the target because he was afraid of killing someone. So my thought is that the only logical reason to shoot at someone if you’re also terrified of killing that person, is if you’re scared of something else.
I think in this case, it was fear of being weak and vulnerable. The shooter thought that if he didn’t pull out that gun and “show off his big dick” as my buddy put it, he would be seen as an easy target for violence and he would be more likely to be killed or injured later on. In his mind, at least in the heat of that particular moment, he felt it was self defense. Sure, perhaps there was nothing immediately threatening him, but he felt threatened by that sense of weakness and the idea that someone could hurt him later if he did not make a preemptive strike.
When I look at it that way, this shooter doesn’t appear any worse than any police or military officers. They work under the exact same concepts. Police regularly pull guns on people without having any immediate threat.
I myself have had police point guns in my face at point-blank range. Once when I was an innocent bystander and once when I was arrested for marijuana when they knew I did not own any weapons. If I had made one false move in those two moments, I would not be here today, and after being through the experience twice, I know it’s tremendously easy to make a wrong move in that moment, because your instincts are telling you to go all John McLean on them and grab the gun and fight back, but your logic is telling you no, simply submit, and you have only a fraction of a second to get your decision making structure worked out or else your brains are going to be splattered across the sidewalk. When the police kill someone who makes a false move like that, nobody cares; they just assume it was their own fault for moving improperly.
I think it’s quite likely that the shooter has been through similar situations… or at the very least, he’s watched it on Cops. We’ve all been told that this kind of thing is necessary for a safe society.
So how can we really blame him for doing the exact same thing? He simply learned from the very people we uphold as heroes and from the general concept our society has that preemptive strikes are morally acceptable. What would charging him with attempted murder or reckless endangerment even do? It wouldn’t do anything to quell the fear that the next gangster might have in that situation, and in five or ten years when he’s back on the streets, how will it have addressed the deeper psychological problems that caused him to fire that gun? In the end, all the law enforcement and prison system will teach him is that he needs to show off an even bigger dick.