By Ernest A. Canning on 2/10/2013, 4:56pm PT  

The still unfolding events surrounding the murderous rampage that has allegedly been carried out by Christopher Jordan Dorner, a former LAPD officer who has vowed to take revenge for his 2009 job loss by killing other officers and their families, while tragic, provide a teachable moment.

The notion advanced by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that safety can be insured if law abiding citizens simply take up arms or by adding armed police inside our schools is nothing more than dangerous nonsense.

In this instance, as two people who had nothing to do with Dorner's rampage were mistakenly shot at dozens of times by police officers wrapped up in the manhunt, we saw what can happen when fear is added to the equation...

Fear + guns = tragic, oft fatal consequences

At 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Feb. 7, Torrance police officers mistook the blue Toyota Tacoma pickup truck depicted in the photo (above) as Dorner's gray Nissan Titan

As the truck slowly rolled down a quiet residential street, at least seven officers recklessly opened fire, not only striking the truck, but nearby homes, cars and trees. The Torrance police officers, whom LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck said were operating under "incredible tension," fired without warning or commands, injuring the two occupants of the truck, 71 year-old Emma Hernandez and her daughter, Margie Carranza, 47, who were in the process of delivering Los Angeles Times newspapers.

"How do you mistake two Hispanic women, one who is 71, for a large black male?" said Richard Goo, 62, who counted five bullet holes in the entryway to his house.

Obviously, they didn't. Fearing for their own safety, the mere sight of the slow-moving truck was enough to trigger the barrage of, according to the LA Times, "between 20 and 30 rounds...Neighbors, however, suggested there were more shots fired."

Long before serving in Vietnam, I learned the potential for fatal consequences when gun ownership and fear are combined.

The year was 1959. I was eleven years old. So was my friend, Louis, who lived in a house on the next block with his mother and younger sister. His father, who was serving in the U.S. military overseas, was rarely home.

During the sweltering summers in the San Fernando Valley, Louis sometimes liked to sleep on his back porch. His mother, made nervous by the fact that her husband was usually away, kept a loaded gun in their house.

One night, she awakened to the sound of someone moving on the porch. She grabbed the gun and opened fire. It wasn't until after Louis fell that she realized she had killed her son.

Gun ownership claimed two victims that night: Louis and a grieving mother left to live out her life knowing that she had taken her son's life.

A gun is not a shield

Dorner allegedly exchanged fire with an armed LAPD officer who was fortunate that the bullet fired by Dorner's rifle merely grazed his head. Two other Riverside officers were also armed, but that didn't prevent both of them from being shot while sitting at a red light inside their patrol car. Tragically, one of those two officers died.

Almost daily, we are bombarded by stories of gun-related homicides, including numerous instances of mass murder. Yet, stories of armed citizens preventing these tragic events by way of guns used in self-defense are almost as scarce as hen's teeth.

What we do see, in events like these, is the danger that can arise for everyone within range when bullets fly and nerves are shattered. The chaos of battle and the palpable fear that comes with it can impair the judgment of even highly trained law enforcement personnel --- a danger that is enhanced, not reduced by widespread, civilian possession of firearms.

The financial incentive behind the "more guns make us safe" canard of the NRA --- the propaganda arm of the weapons industry --- is understandable. The fact that so many Americans have permitted these shameless propagandists to manipulate their fear is not.

Courage does not come from buying firearms. It can be found only in those who stand boldly against the insanity of a heavily armed America and against those who choose to willfully misinterpret the 2nd Amendment.

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Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). Follow him on Twitter: @Cann4ing.

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