Friday, April 10, 2009

ABC 20-20 examines the perils of self-defense with personal weapons by amateurs


Tonight, ABC 20-20, with David Muir and Diane Sawyer reporting, aired one of its most powerful programs ever, and one which will not please the 2nd Amendment crowd. The one-hour episode was called “If Only I Had a Gun.” The show, however, says that the episode is not a debate about the right to bear arms. It shows what happens if an “amateur” decides to arm himself or herself.

The first portion showed a classroom (at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania) exercise with students, heavily protected in “armor”, must reach to a fake attack with fake weapons (more or less like paintball). The show demonstrated that ordinarily people, even those who have trained themselves on pistol ranges, cannot react quickly enough to respond to a determined attacker. Students (like “Joey”) cannot get their pistol out of their shirt. The explanations are physiological. Adrenaline takes over, and blood leaves the hands, and one cannot aim. Police and military are trained to re-condition their reflexes, and they lose this edge if they do not train regularly. Gender made no difference; many of the students and police officers were women.

The show moves on to show how kids play with weapons left around the house by careless parents, and airs a portion of an episode ten years ago. The same kids are interviewed ten years later, and some are careless with weapons, which they do not know whether they are loaded or empty.

David Muir then visited a gun show in Richmond, VA, where the “gun show exception” to background check and waiting periods applies. A brother, Omar, of one of the Virginia Tech victims agreed to see how many weapons he could buy with no questions asked, and the results were astonishing. A dealer even walked away after challenging the student to show identification, which Omar did not. He accumulated an arsenal, which would then be turned over to Richmond police.

This portion of the show has a text report by Naria Halliwell, “Easy Access: $5,000 and One Hour Buys 10 Guns: Omar Samaha, Whose Sister Was Killed at VTech, Found Out How Simple It Is to Buy a Gun”, link here.

Army Basic Training, for me in 1968, included rifle range with the M14. It would not make someone effective with hand weapons.



Nightline:

Tonight, ABC Nightline included a report on Hyundai, the Korean car manufacturer that was apparently the first to offer a 100000 mile new car warranty. They showed the non-union assembly line and say that they like the hire fast-food workers because they have to stand on their feet and multi-task at regimented jobs, and “have a good attitude.” I had a friend with a Hyundai in Dallas in the mid 1980s.

Update: Sunday, April 12, 2009

CBS 60 Minutes has a similar report on the Richmond, VA gun show here, with Lesley Stahl. Omar aslo appears in this report, which is very similar to the ABC report. But Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who helped push the assault weapons ban in 1994, also spoke to Stahl.


Watch CBS Videos Online



First still picture (mine!): from Richmond VA (park near Monuments, taken 3/31/2009); second: an electric car, not necessarily Hyundai (not sure what), from DC Auto show in January.

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