The National Rifle Association spokesmen say that only “a good man with a gun” can beat “a bad man with a gun.”

I thought of that last week when the former American SEAL and sniper Chris Kyle was shot to death by a troubled veteran soldier.

Historically, the gun was the “equalizer” in action, the factor that meant that “good man versus bad man” was a meaningless argument when armament was added to the equation.

Medieval fortresses and mailed armor became obsolete overnight when gunpower, guns and cannon were invented. Guns killed knighthood.

Guns in anyone’s hands — good, bad, clean, dirty, moral, immoral or whatever — kill. Guns are equalizers that have the capacity to pull us all down in the dirt, the gutter, the grave, unless managed, disciplined, ordered and treated as the lethal tools that they are.

We are not labeled “good” or “bad” when armed or not.

We are human and given to error at any moment. Good men can be outgunned, outthought, outperformed by the other or “bad” man.

The difference is the power the gun gives to eliminate the morality of the conflict in favor of the lethality, speed and finality of the gun.

It is ironic that the American Sniper died trying to help a former soldier with gun “therapy” and himself became a senseless victim of a former good soldier who temporarily became a “bad” man.

How useless these labels and how terrible the NRA lie that bad men will be beaten by good men with guns.

Ed Knox is a resident of Brunswick.