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A connection between marksmanship and morality?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Ovid, Jan 8, 2006.

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  1. Ovid

    Ovid Member

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    What do you guys think about this quote from Jeff Cooper?
    It does seem that many badguys are poor shots, but I'm not sure if there is any direct correlation between being a good shot, and morality. Have most of the crack-shots that you have known been good guys?
     
  2. isp2605

    isp2605 Member

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    I think Cooper gets paid by the word and he couldn't think of anything else to write.
    In my career I've seen several truly bad, immoral people who were excellent shooters and weren't afraid to shoot.
     
  3. bermbuster

    bermbuster Member

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    He's right. It cannot be proven.

    Lots of BGs have self-control.
     
  4. torpid

    torpid Member

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    What's his opinion of Lee Harvey Oswald?

    (Or did I just open a messy can of worms?)

    .
     
  5. tellner

    tellner member

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    Colonel Cooper is an icon of the firearms training world. We wouldn't be where we are today without him.

    But he's wrong on this one unless you have a very peculiar definition of "morality" which includes Reinhard Heydrich and hitmen.
     
  6. Wllm. Legrand

    Wllm. Legrand member

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    I have the greatest respect for Mr. Cooper.

    We have even spoken together and corresponded, and I have been quoted personally in his "Gunsite Gossip", though you won't find it under the pseunonym used here.

    The assertion is a generalization that should be true. Sounds like Hume's Naturalistic Fallacy, that which ought to be true, IS generally true. But it is a fallacy.

    I used to think that "gun guys" were generally cognizant of the Constitution, American History, steered cleared of dogma, and when presented with factual evidence to the contrary, would revisit their long-held beliefs if they were found to be hooey.

    Ain't so. It's a disappointment, but that's part of the human condition.

    I'd swear by his "Art of the Rifle", however.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2006
  7. Molon Labe

    Molon Labe Member

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    I also have a lot of respect for Cooper. But unfortunately he is totally off base here. I have known people who were excellent shots, yet very untrustworthy...
     
  8. isp2605

    isp2605 Member

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    Here's an example of a guy I was personally familar with.
    Think back to about 1986 in Oklahoma. A postal worker goes "postal" and shoots and kills, IIRC, 14 co-workers and wounds others. I doubt Cooper would consider such a person of high moral character, at least I'd hope he wouldn't. Was he a good shooter? You bet he was. He was a member of the Oklahoma National Guard pistol team and was a pretty decent shot. I seen him shoot and had shot in matches with him.
    Or Charles Whitman? Didn't know him but he seemed to be a fair decent shot. Moral? Not by my standards.
    Or the guy who killed one of our agents and seriously wounded another before being killed by a 3rd agent? He was a heck of a shot. Seen him shoot. He was a prison guard (Sgt actually) and had a gun shop with a fairly nice range and was a Class III dealer. Was he a moral person? He was trying to hire a hit man to kill his wife. Not the kind of morals I was raised with.
    I could name a few more who I am personally familar with but the above are fairly well known examples. I think who ever the Col was quoting was trying to make a correlation to something and was reaching way WAY out there trying to make his point. That's one quip where the editors probably should have sent up the red flag. That didn't help the cause. I can see where the anti-gunners could use the Col's writing to say that the above listed, and how many more, were very good shots and even tho they were criminals the Col believes these criminals to be moral people.
    The Col has written some good missives and he's usually entertaining. This one wasn't one of his better efforts.
     
  9. dolanp

    dolanp Member

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    Does that mean assassins are good men?
     
  10. MechAg94

    MechAg94 Member

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    When you look at the average street punk who is after the easy money and doesn't want to work for anything, he might have a point. However, there are obviously quite a few exceptions.

    Also, condemning someone as immoral over one thing they did in their life may not always be accurate. It is probably true, but there are exceptions for everything.
     
  11. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    Or Charles Whitman
     
  12. McCall911

    McCall911 Member

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    I surely wouldn't want to bet my life on that foolish theory!

    As someone said earlier, are hired assassins moral? Are hit men moral? No, they're murderers!

    So, despite what some "gun guru" says, I'll keep up my morality and my shooting practice.
     
  13. Werewolf

    Werewolf Member

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    Cooper's whole argument re: marksmanship and morality is based on the assertion that good marksmanship is a function of self control. He seems to define self control as the ability to resist the temptation to do bad things. Bad things are a function of one's value system. One's behavior is defined by one's value system. Evil people have value systems and if they behave in accordance with that value system then they too have self control; thus Cooper's argument falls apart. Being evil does not automatically inflict a lack of self control on one and thus does not doom evil people to be poor marksmen.

    On the other hand I would assert that one's morality has absolutely nothing to do with one's ability to shoot accurately.

    Marksmanship is more a function of physical ability than anything else. The ability to shoot well is a combination of good hand/eye coordination, good visual accuity, good reflexes, physical conditioning, etc. It does take a certain amount of self control and a minimum of mental ability at a very micro level in time to be good but good marksmanship has little to do with the kind of self control that Cooper postulates is correlated with a good value system.

    Cooper was a hell of a marine and he does knows guns and how to use them. I've read about half of what he's written and IMO he should stick to guns because the rest of his world view is at best not mainstream and at worst severely flawed.

    Besides anyone who refers to himself as we when he writes and clearly means I (a correct - albeit archaic writing style) is not a little eccentric and is indicative of a somewhat warped view. ;)
     
  14. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    I believe real marksmanship—the abiding, passionate quest for accuracy—is primarily a mental rather than physical effort. I've experienced it these past few decades as almost a form of meditation, almost a pursuit of Zen-style insight, a means not so much of controlling oneself as transcending. I can't imagine much of that being accessible to someone whose heart is filled with evil.

    To be sure, plenty of good people are poor shots and plenty of evil people are good shots, but I've found a quality of plain old-fashioned kindness among bullseye shooters that's definitely out of the ordinary.
     
  15. WarMachine

    WarMachine Member

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    Some of the most terrible people to ever walk this planet have been VERY intelligent individuals who exhibited a great deal of self-control.

    Marksmanship has nothing to do with morality. Training, practice, understanding and natural ability are bigger factors IMO.
     
  16. outofbattery

    outofbattery Member

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    My favorite Cooperism is his assertion that bighorned sheep love peanutbutter sandwiches.

    Everybody has a favorite older relative,be it your grandfather or an uncle who happens to tell great stories and give advice.You don't take every single word as gospel or every bit of advice they give do you?
     
  17. losangeles

    losangeles Member

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    WTH! For all whatever his accomplishments, that's a pretty asinine thing to say.

    Geez I know a lot of bad guys who are excellent shooters. I know a lot of good guys who can't shoot a hill of beans. Hell I know good guys who can't shoot period. OK, maybe that's just me and that's not representive but geez, come on!
     
  18. losangeles

    losangeles Member

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    I bet Mahatma Gandhi was a bad shot. I bet Jesus couldn't shoot very well (if guns were available). I bet Hitler was a good shot, and so too Mussolini.
     
  19. pax

    pax Member

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    I think GK Chesterton had a more realistic take on it.

    pax

    The word good has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man. --G. K. Chesterton
     
  20. trickyasafox

    trickyasafox Member

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    thats only true in movies.
     
  21. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    Cooper has it partially right.

    Ask any street cop how often they get into a brawl with a genuinely advanced martial artist. Not often. The principle is similar to advanced shooters.

    This doesn't exclude cases where somebody with advanced skills (often military derived) "snaps".

    But those are rare as hell. When you study who really commits murder in the US, it's mainly "street scum versus street scum" (regardless of race, although the murders aren't equally distributed among races). And these "street scum" can't shoot worth a damn in conventional terms. The thing that makes them so dangerous is a complete lack of inhibition on killing so at close range with a handgun they're dangerous as rattlers and considerably faster, lacking any hesitation.

    I've had but one encounter with four of these loonies at once and I hope to God never again. I survived it only because they didn't have guns (two had hammers in case you're wondering and many of you know the tale).

    We know about the names of various exceptions to this rule mainly because they ALL make national news because they're so weird.

    Many of Cooper's students report back to him post-incident and he know doubt knows this "who commits murder" trend down pat.
     
  22. tellner

    tellner member

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    Yes and no, in particular "no".

    The other most common form of homicide in the US is domestic violence - most often after the victim moves out, just before the divorce or just before final custody arrangements are formalized. That's not just "street scum". That's people from every walk of life.

    Also, the original quote didn't talk about "lower class and working class people involved in criminal enterprises". He talked about "morality". And it doesn't wash. Having a legitimate job doesn't make you moral. And plenty of terribly immoral people never kill anyone directly. Successful sociopaths are everywhere, particularly in boardrooms and Congress.
     
  23. whm1974

    whm1974 Member

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    Every culture defines good and evil diffencly. What we see as evil, some other group of people will define as being good.

    -Bill
     
  24. IndianaDean

    IndianaDean Member

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    John Wesley Hardin was a fair marksman.
     
  25. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    Tellner, domestic violence murders are nowhere NEAR as common as "crook on crook" murders. The reason they appear to be more common is that each one gets major coverage.

    Talk to any street cop in a big city.

    The numbers are being hidden to a large degree because murders in the US are very strictly limited to certain demographics.

    An example of how serious the disparity is:

    In...damn, either 2002 or 2003, I can't recall offhand which, Vermont had six murders total. Washington DC had 262. Both have a population of about 650,000.

    A high percentage of the Vermont murders were probably domestic violence. Possibly all of them. But they're a relative fraction of the number of DC murders, almost all of which were gang related or drug crime related.

    Committed by people who will NOT visit a shooting range under any circumstances even if ranges exist locally - ranges that are full of cops and/or "wanna-be cops" such as the range workers or ex-cops who often own ranges or act as rangemasters.

    It's that "goblin class" that Cooper is very correctly worried about the most. And he's absolutely correct that if you can fight them at range, they're absolutely pathetic. Hell, they're no good at hand to hand either, for the most part...but they're so damned quick to kill that any weapon means they're lethal as hell.

    Good example:

    Years ago when he was younger and stupider, my kid brother was invited to an Oakland (California) rap concert by a friend. Sure enough a local gang tried to start a riot - they went around the upper walkway in a pack and were randomly rolling people down the stairs. Extensive metal detectors ensured everybody was disarmed but things were going rodeo regardless. My brother is almost as big as me; the friend he was with was bigger. Along with a couple of security guards they formed a "battle line" at one of the choke-points at that walkway and held off over eight times their number of gangbangers long enough to let their section clear out behind them, then fought a running controlled retreat making sure to back each other up and not let anybody get singled out and stomped to death. It was an amazing thing really that they pulled it off but the opponents were pure vicious animals and cowards to boot and couldn't stand up to even a hastily assembled opposition fighting in a coordinated fashion.

    That's the sort of dangerous street thug that commits most US murders. And they can't shoot any better than they can fight in a coordinated fashion.

    They'll kill you in a heartbeat though, on a whim, no hesitation, no remorse.

    You have to recognize that this level of snake exists before you have any change of standing up to them.
     
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