Shrink Think - Should I wear the Colt 45 or the Snubnose 38

  • Friday, August 1, 2014

A man with a history of violence shot his social worker in the head, killing her, and then shot and wounded his psychiatrist, Dr. Lee Silverman. This tragic event occurred on Thursday at Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital in Philadelphia. It led to the doctor drawing his own personal weapon and shooting the assailant. According to Donald Molineux, chief of the Yeadon Police Department, Dr. Silverman “without a doubt saved lives.”

What are we to learn from this? Is it a “win” for those that believe more people should carry concealed weapons? Doctors are generally motivated toward saving lives. In this case, carrying a concealed weapon DID lead to saving lives. Should all doctors carry concealed weapons?

Does this real life example underscore that it is a good idea for individuals to always be able to own and carry as a way to protect themselves? Would some say that this is an example of why we need stricter gun laws to prevent insane people from being able to acquire guns in the first place? Is it even possible, despite creating stricter gun laws to succeed at that objective? There was an instance in Charleston, S.C. months ago, where gun law existed that prevented mentally ill from purchasing guns. Yet, a mentally disturbed woman was able to purchase a gun and did attempt to shoot the headmistress of Ashley Hall School. Making gun laws stricter seems somewhat akin to making drug laws stricter. In other words, it seems unlikely to have the intended outcome.

Where does this leave us? We could surrender our lives. After all, if we are killed, we would never know how much longer we would otherwise have lived. Would that then really be a loss if we did not know how much older we could have lived?

Another option is to become trained lawful owners of weapons and better prepared to interrupt tragic events. We might still end up dead, but we might be remembered more as a hero who gave their life trying to save others, not simply (and “just”) a victim.

Owning a lethal weapon is not for everyone. The weapon brings with it a large responsibility. Once fired, the owner has to live with the consequences – morally and legally. Owning a lethal weapon is not recommended for the faint of heart, the slow minded, the philosophic debater or the guilt ridden. It should not be available to people with a history of violence or psychosis. Despite it not being the right choice for everyone, it is the right choice for many. For the many for whom it is the right choice, they should never be prevented from lawful carry. Rather, they should be encouraged to become proficient in the safety, handling and accurate use of their weapon. In reality, lethal weapons in the hands of trained proficient lawful people are weapons of defense utilized in the ultimate last but necessary circumstance. As such, when used in these circumstances, these weapons save lives.

As more people accept that lawful carry should be the responsibility of all qualified citizens, lawful citizens carrying weapons will become a deterrent to future new instances of violence. In Switzerland, where all males have traditionally been required to join the military and receive training in the use of firearms, there exists one of the lowest gun crime rates of any country. Until recently, these males were required to keep their military weapons.

As we move forward, let’s focus on how to make legal carry weapons more socially acceptable. Let gun manufacturers figure out how to make these weapons lighter, quicker to draw and increasingly safe. Making a weapon able to be fired only by its lawful owner would seem to be a nice step forward.

Now, when getting dressed for the day, will it be the Colt 45 or the 38 Snubnose.


“Shrink Think” is the pen name of John F. Abess, M.D. Dr. Abess is a psychiatrist in the medical community of Charleston, South Carolina. He enjoys practicing psychiatry and finds people fascinating. His creative outlets include writing and being a musician. His greatest treasure is his family. Dr. Abess is also a consultant to individuals and corporations. His website is www.abess.com

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