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How to live ethically

Perception and Action: Seeing Guns That Aren't There

It is easy for perceptions to be biased. And having a gun leads to a bias that puts innocent people at risk. Read More

Results of study do not lead to journalist's conclusion

Ordinary citizens who legally and routinely carry hand guns generally only have their guns in their hands in the privacy of their own homes or on a gun range. They certainly do not walk the streets with guns in their hands. Most of the time the gun would be securely stowed in a holster - out of sight. As someone in this category myself, I certainly do not suffer from seeing people with guns (or phantom guns) in their hands. Also, I do not even routinely think about people carrying a gun. The thought of holding a (real) firearm out in the public is alarming to me and I would expect there to be serious legal consequences for it even though I have a license to carry a hand gun. The journalist's suggestion that being a gun owner would increase the (paranoid) perception about others holding guns is unfounded. The study doesn't suggest that at all either. Invitation to journalist: Please take some gun safety courses and broaden your views. Thanks for considering my opinion.

WHAAT?! Journalist reports results of study as they are?

"Stereotypes, expectations, and emotions influence an observer's ability to detect and categorize objects as guns. In light of recent work in action-perception interactions, however, there is another unexplored factor that may be critical: The action choices available to the perceiver. In five experiments, participants determined whether another person was holding a gun or a neutral object. Critically, the participant did this while holding and responding with either a gun or a neutral object. Responding with a gun biased observers to report “gun present” more than did responding with a ball. Thus, by virtue of affording a perceiver the opportunity to use a gun, he or she was more likely to classify objects in a scene as a gun and, as a result, to engage in threat-induced behavior (raising a firearm to shoot). In addition to theoretical implications for event perception and object identification, these findings have practical implications for law enforcement and public safety."
http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/xhp/38/5/1159/

That's the abstract from the researchers' original article (link in the report too). I think Anonymous should read what it says (you may like to apply for one of many widely-available reading courses beforehand to help improve your reading skills).

Thus the conclusion isn't the journalist's one, it's the researchers'. The journalist is, in your eyes, Anonymous, guilty of merely being the messenger. Just as well he isn't in your presence otherwise you might have shot him. ;o)

As for your not waving your weapon about, I'm sure Mr Zimmerman wasn't patrolling the streets waving his one either. Nevertheless, he still managed to shoot dead the unarmed Mr Martin. Speaking for myself, seeing you or your fellow gun afficionados strutting about the place with any gun - holstered, in your handbag or otherwise - is alarming in itself.

PS did I not read somewhere that more cops are shot with their own weapon than with anyone else's - or is that just another anti-gun lobby myth, the result of poor research? (Isn't it amazing that it's only the anti-gun crowd who apparently do bad research?)

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Arthur Dobrin, D.S.W., teaches applied ethics at Hofstra University. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of more than twenty books.

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