Who Exactly Are the
“Good Guys” with Guns?

Another Shooting, Ignited with Concern…

One week after the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut – killing 20 children and several adults – the executive vice president of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, finally declared that he “had the answer.” What follows is his entire speech as broadcast on television.

“The answer to bad guys with guns is good guys with guns,” he confidently said. That was it.

That’s his answer to the horrific acts of violence we are enduring in America.

This approach, where you feature two opposing concepts or views in a single sentence, creates a blind dualism that cannot be integrated. This is true for much of the world we live in today. Simply spend a few minutes reflecting on what is going on in the Middle East, the killings by ISIS, the political battles here in America and elsewhere, and the endless oppositional views on multiple issues.

Furthermore, the National Rifle Association (NRA) with more than five million members claims that the right to bear arms is an inalienable right of the individual American citizen guaranteed by the Constitution. This refers to the right to acquire, possess, collect, exhibit, transport, carry, transfer ownership of, and enjoy the right to use arms as stated in the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

Implicit in this meaning is the right to shoot to kill.

Just days ago now, I am heartbroken to say that we’ve experienced the massive killing of 49 innocent individuals in Orlando, Florida, by a man who is anti-homosexual – though seems to have been struggling himself with his own homosexuality – and, well, he is connected to ISIS as it turns out as well.

Is he the “bad guy” with a gun that the NRA VP spoke so glibly about?

When will we ever learn?

We need first to remember the pain and suffering of those who lost loved ones. Let’s each of us send them our care and openhearted support.

In my view…

In order to reduce and even eliminate the impulse to act out against one another, we need to have an emotionally developed independent and individuated self, a self that is grounded, present, open hearted and self-compassionate. It is vital to know that the emotion of anger occurs really rapidly in our soma and when it does, we want to take action. We need to have awareness of our emotional and somatic reactivity, otherwise we are blindly dependent on our own sense of being violated.

Awareness of our Enneagram character structure and of our reactivity also allows us to develop personal Acceptance, as we all need more than an independent or separate self; we need a self that is open-hearted and kind, which does not mean we condone, capitulate, or concur with our own unwanted behavior or that of others. This is what we mean by Awareness and Acceptance, two of my five As for personal growth, needing to go hand-in-hand. I believe this is what the world needs, and not more guns.

Remember that violence is often socially approved, a great example being capital punishment, which says that it is O.K. to take another’s life, depending on what we dictate at any given moment is wrong or right.

When we adopt the first two “As” and live by them, we can imbue our children with these “As” and all those in our lives. Nothing is more crucial. And the other three “As” create ways for the first two “As” to come to fruition – Appreciation for what is positive, Action that gives us choice, and Adherence to this essential process is what’s required each day of our lives.

This notion of “good” guys having guns to shoot and kill the alleged “bad” guys is long beyond the past-due date and nothing but utter nonsense. And add this to the problem at hand: How do we decide who are the good or bad guys? Are the Christians good? Or, are the Muslims good? Is the young, troubled teenage boy who shoots his classmates the bad guy? Or, is the teacher that is now forced to shoot this under-age boy, because he’s been equipped with a gun on the school yard, the good guy? Is the teacher now the gun-carrying good-guy hero? Or is he really another confused, traumatized player, now holding a gun, in another horrific tragedy?

What is your view?

Why are we still dividing the world into good guys and bad guys?

How can we continue to be so blind, so unknowing?

What do you think the answer could be?

Is capital punishment another aspect of the dilemma?

Why are we still creating a world where good guys can kill bad guys?

What do you think of the right to bear arms?

How can we possibly end gun violence (and so much hate) in this country?


To learn more about Dr. David Daniels’ thoughts on violence within the country and its damaging effects on our personal humanity, check out his book Violence and the Struggle for Existence.

24 Responses to “Who Exactly Are the
“Good Guys” with Guns?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I, too, am appalled by these disasters. However, I don’t think the answer lies in disarming law-abiding citizens. I have not heard any discussion about the reasons that our fore fathers decided on the inclusion of the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution. They seemed to have been wise. I believe the whole discussion, as it is now, is more ” loaded” (excuse the pun ) than it needs to be.

    We have the affirming force and the denying force. The answer needs to be found in the third force. Most of us are usually blind to this. Third force always brings forth a new birth. In this situation, I don’t know what it might be. Perhaps someone does. Clearly, we are stuck in polarization.

  2. Thank you for this statement. I release that the issue of guns and violence is more complicated than I expressed. I just wanted to bring forward the polarity that can exist, and does exist, regarding gun use. I appreciate your thoughtful analysis. Warm regards, David

    • Horm Earm Teng says:

      Thank you, Dr. Daniels, for reading and publishing my comments.

      I only hope that better solutions for social and individual problems can be found without the use violence, be it physical, psychological, or any other forms.

      Horm Earm

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear David,

      Thank you for your wise, compassionate article about gun violence in this country. I agree fully with everything you said. The important question is “How do we diminish/end our culture of violence?”

      I am troubled by violence I see in so many places
      not just in frequent mass killings,but also in:
      Rage & great lack of courtesy on the road
      Violence in all forms in the media, video games, etc.
      Abuse of women, children & animals
      Hatred/fear of “the other” in all forms
      Capital punishment & huge incarceration rates
      “Culture of narcissism,” where the more attention
      we pay to ourselves, the less we pay to others and the “common good.”
      And on and on.
      I wish I had more and better answers. Certainly movements like the Enneagram community, mindfulness meditation and every individual who is more self-aware and compassionate, matters & creates a ripple effect for a kinder, more compassionate, less violent world.

      I’d focus on our children, all our children, beginning with compassionate care of pregnant women and certainly universal, free, high quality pre-school for children which included parent education/support.
      That requires well educated pre-school teachers, reflective of the communities where they work and
      & good salaries to attract and keep the best.

      Also, I feel we need to focus on vulnerable young men, particularly those growing up in poverty in single-parent families with no good adult male role models. The approaches and programs need to be generated within those communities, an inside/ within approach with outside support, financial and otherwise.

      There are no quick fixes and easy answers, yet we need to begin NOW. And as the saying goes, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

      Marilyn Bowles

      • HI Marilyn, Thank you for this thoughtful and deeply meaningful response. We need to keep hope and all remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. And the first step is really in addressing the issues of how we treat children, the suffering, and the poor. You might want to read my article on greed in the articles section of my website. I hope many people will read your note. Warmest regards, David

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wayne’s simplistic answer is a marketing slogan – the NRA’s views are much deeper and based on a love of tradition (Constitution) and protectionism. As a long time former employee of NRA who now disagrees with them in much – they believe deeply in protecting life – yet unfortunately from behind walls both psychologically and physical. Love of fellow man can be present in many of them – but it is often withered and weakened due to dualism. While awareness and Enneagram work is an interesting solution for long term – I think NRA members are looking for an answer as well, and too quickly settled on a definition of good. Protecting one another from harm is a virtue, and the protectionist sees lack of prepared self-defense as abdication of duty and ammoral. To reach a more humane norm and holy ideal, anti-gun believers must also love the virtue of the protectionist and work toward a higher spiritual value together. Let both the values, justice and mercy, grow.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I realize that many of the gun supporters are working from a more simplified basis. We don’t need adult weapons. And in my view, we need to more deeply understand our own motivations, e.g., is fear a substantial underlying motive?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dr Daniels is so right, that I will give an example from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka being one of the leading countries in the world when it comes per capita alcoholic consumption. Why is it so high? Because people consume more. Why do they consume more? Because use they find a liquor shop (government authorized) in every corner of a city street.

    I see parallels in two scenarios. Sometimes you miss the answer when the solution is so simple (a no brainer).

    • Anonymous, Thank you for your comment. Yes, we make guns so available, so much so that it is like you say as is what happens with alcohol. Warm regards, David

  5. Anonymous says:

    Dear Dr. Daniels,

    I applaud your condemnation of dualistic thinking and your understanding of global phenomena that combines both an individualistic psychological perspective with a social analysis. However, I disagree with how you understand some acts of violences necessarily justifies other acts of violences, as well as how your article implicitly suggests that increase in individual awareness will be a sufficient cause for changes in socially approved violence.

    On how some acts of violences justifies other acts of violences, you used capital punishment as an example. I concede, that the perpetuator of violence in both the case of capital punishment and ISIS killing have world views that they are acting upon some kind of goodness. However, the context in which this goodness is acted upon is different. Capital punishment, while condemned by human rights activist around the world, are nevertheless legitimate acts done by governments. This form of legitimacy becomes meaning for the people involved and the people who become exposed to such killing. In contrast, acts of ISIS cannot be seen as ‘legitimate,’ at least in the typical political science and political philosophical sense referring strictly to governments taking care of her people.

    When you simply draw an effect of causation between capital punishment and other acts of violences, you are simplifying not only the social complexities of each act of violences, but also simplifying human thought processes – effectively suggesting that human beings are unable to perceive the different social meaning of violences under different circumstances. I question if these are valid assumptions.

    On the implicit assumption of self-awareness as a solution to violences, there is either another unjustified reduction of social meanings with individual meanings (aka methodological individualism), or a complete denial that violences need not necessarily be acts of impulse, but also can be carefully mediated acts.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Horm Earm

    • Yes, Anonymous, gun laws and violence are complicated issues. I am simply making an effort to get to core issues about violence, killing, and the underlying fear and anger. Warm regards, David

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am an Australian and I am horrified that automatic assault weapons can be in the hands of non-military personnel in the US. There is no context in which it is okay for a civilian to use this sort of fire power and it is terrifying to think that an angry or mentally disturbed person can use these weapons to vent.

    We had the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 and our then Prime Minister John Howard had the courage to ban automatic and semi-automatic weapons and people were paid to turn them in. It was a tremendous relief and I wish the US would do something similar.

    People can be blinded by their belief that they are “right.” We tend to create in-groups and out-groups, good guys and bad guys, it seems to be hard-wired. Therefore, it is crazy for these weapons to be so accessible. Forget the profit motive, focus on quality of life and ban them!!

    • Hi Anonymous, Thank you for this thoughtful comment. The whole issue of violent is complex and resolving it is a process. We all need to recognize our anger and how it covers, hurt, pain, and shame. And your prime minister took a positive step in my view. We all need to keep working at getting to the core causes of violence. Warm regards, David

  7. Anonymous says:

    Do anyone know what he meant by “good guys with guns”? Does he mean that the good guys will go out and shoot anyone they think is a bad guy? Mass shooting of bad guys by the good guys?

    In Sweden where I live, the shootings have increased since illegal guns started to find their ways to the different gangs. The only way to stop these meaningless killings is to stop guns. Violence create violence. It is hard to change the world we live in today but maybe, just maybe, we can start locally.
    I think the answer to bad people with bad thoughts and feelings is good people with good thoughts and feelings. The help will never be “just kill the bad guy” and it will be over with.

    All the money spent on guns and all the money it costs to protect us from guns and all the energy and grief spent on these killings, instead, if we could use it for helping people. People need good relations, people need a meaning in life, a goal. People need to feel appreciated and loved. That will take time and a lot of hard work, work that I believe most of us are willing to take if it will keep us from losing anyone close or feel the grief and energy from others that lose their friends or loved ones.

    It´s a high mountain to climb and a long road to walk, but everything, like most of us know, starts with one step. Even if it is a baby step.
    How and where do we start?

    • Thank you Anonymous, What a deep and meaningful response you provided. And yes climbing the mountain to end violence is very huge. As I have said we all need to take the first steps. Warmest regards, David

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dear David, thank for promoting dialogue during this dark times. Most of your readers know a bit about ourselves. This leads us to the reality of being somehow connected, which makes us responsible for each other. The bond leads us to care and to want to expand into getting to know one another, perhaps joining the particular CLUB we belong, from Types 1 to 9. Would love to read what other Social 9s have to say. There you have potentially 27 clubs growing every week until we decide to call a universal symposium to presents our discoveries and concerns
    – Greetings, Patricio

    • HI Patricio, Thank you for your meaningful comment. The greatest cause of violence in my view is the distress associated with a lack of bonding with others. When we understand each other and bond properly, we will reduce violence. And again, understanding with an open heart does not mean concurring or capitulating with the other. Warmest regards, David

  9. Anonymous says:

    Most of these “Mass Shootings” are a Psy-op conducted by rogue elements in our government and “Crisis Actors” who are becoming rich selling out their country. I suggest that you read “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook” and “Nobody Died at Boston Either” by Jim Fetzer and Mike Palecek, which are two books that are well researched and document the fakery, bad acting, and lack of evidence that anybody died at these events, except the two victims, one murdered by police and his brother who was put through a Kangaroo court that openly violated most rules of the law. For an update, type “Orlando Shooting Hoax” into your browser and check out the “Crimes of Empire” blog for a reality check.
    Drew Lewis

    • Hi Drew, I find it useful to consider all the possible meanings ascribed to killings. Personally, I find the concept that all of this mass violence is based on “fakery, bad acting, and lack of evidence.” This is difficult to believe. I think we need to allow in and try to understand all the views and keep open. So thank you.
      Warm regards, David

  10. Marjorie Yasueda says:

    We can start by realizing there is no other. We are the other. In the United States there are more than 50,000 incidents of gun violence including 32,000 deaths. More than 20,000 suicides are committed yearly by gun. I hope it isn’t a competition, but right now death by auto accidents and death by guns is tied neck and neck. I suspect that death by guns will win this particular race. Personally, I do not believe in capital punishment. I believe that I do not have the right to take someone’s life. We can start by limiting access to guns — other countries have done this and have been quite successful. We can outlaw the sale of automatic weapons — no one needs an automatic weapon. We can have a buy back program — this worked well in Australia. I have read various interpretations of “the right to bear arms” and have decided no one has that right. We need to remove the guns from the equation– limit gun sales, have background checks, register guns and stiff penalties for violation of gun laws.

    • Thank you Marjorie, What you say is so so meaningful. I wish everyone would read your comment. I would simply assert that ending violence is a process in which the use and approval of guns is part of the process. At deeper levels are issues of lack of bonding, pain, shame, etc. We are all humans, not just good and bad humans (guys). With much regard, David

  11. Anonymous says:

    David…I have a somewhat optimistic view of what is happening (yes, my 7 character structure is at work)…but beyond that, I see all this as a coming into consciousness of a deep collective shadow that we have papered over with “niceness” and civilized/politically-correct behavior. I feel that Donald Trump is so popular because he shows us all the raw nature of the unhealed egoic self in full view; it is very ugly and he is a living personification of this shadow. As shadow elements arise in consciousness to be integrated and healed, it looks horrible…and is horrible. But maybe, if we can see that we all have a little Donald Trump in us, we can begin to do the work of acceptance and healing.

    • Hi Anonymous, Well thank you for your thoughtfulness. And as a Type 7, you are dealing with the more painful aspects of life as you point out your reactions to Donald Trump. And of course, as a good Type 7, you will always have the positive possibilities of life embedded in to your personality structure. Warm regards, David


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