Trigger happy? 乱开枪

2024-03-01 12:54:12

Reader question:

Please explain “trigger happy” in this sentence: There are a lot of trigger happy players in the NBA.

My comments:

True. Maybe too many.

There’re a lot of basketball players who are reckless shooters, who just like to hoist the ball up, near the basket or far.

That’s the trend in basketball around the world, actually, not just in the NBA, which stands for National Basketball Association, the pro league in North America, i.e. the United States and Canada.

Trigger happy players just like to shoot, like they’re shooting at a target in a shooting range, pulling the trigger at will and really enjoying themselves.

That’s what “trigger happy” means originally, trigger referring to the trigger of a shot gun or a rifle or a machine gun.

At the shooting range, you can imagine shooters enjoying an adrenalin rush while they hit the target repeatedly. That’s probably the origin of trigger happy – people feeling happy or excited whenever they pull the trigger of a firearm.

In our example, shooting a ball at the hoop (basket) is likened to pulling a trigger, and those players who do it a lot are trigger happy shooters.

Although the aim of basketball is to shoot and score (by dropping through the hoop), it’s not always a good thing to have too many trigger happy shooters on a team.

Trigger happy shooters often shoot too much, even when the chances of scoring are not great – when they’re closely guarded, for example. In this case, they should exercise restraint and pass the ball to a teammate.

Indeed, “trigger happy” as an idiom also has these negative connotations. If a player is considered trigger happy, they’re considered, at least to some degree, reckless and irresponsible.

Imagine a literally trigger happy policeman in American cities, for example. They may shoot at the slightest provocation and get people killed in consequence, which they apparently have done from time to time, especially in the past.

Things are changing for the better but police brutality in America is still very much a thing.

It’s real.

Anyways, I just want to point out that for a player to be deemed trigger happy implies that he or she is, maybe, careless and impatient.

In other words, they shoot too much and not always at the opportune times.

And that’s putting it mildly, of course. I don’t want to put it too severely because playing basketball is not a matter of life and death.

So, just be trigger happy and take it easy.

All right, and here are media examples of “trigger happy” in the figurative sense:

1. Denied, at least for now, congressional approval for his promised border wall, President Trump has asserted he has “the absolute right” to declare a national emergency, threatening to build the wall by executive fiat. And while the courts will need to sort out whether he can use these powers to work around Congress’s power of the purse, Trump is right that he has immense authority to do just this sort of thing – and Congress is to blame.

The presidency did not acquire vast emergency powers overnight. Well-meaning post-Vietnam reforms and decades of congressional myopia have made declaring a legally dubious national emergency a plausible gambit. If Congress wants to find the source of Trump’s emergency powers, and by extension, a way to curb them, lawmakers should start by looking in the mirror.

The first modern national emergency began 86 years ago. In his first inaugural address, Franklin D. Roosevelt, confronting the daunting task of a banking crisis and the Great Depression, sought to take immediate action by asking Congress “for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis – broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.”

The next day, Roosevelt used a defunct emergency law from World War I to declare a national bank holiday and waited for Congress to validate his truly unprecedented measure four days later. In an emergency session, the House voted to give the president sweeping economic powers in only 38 minutes. A more pensive Senate took the next eight hours to approve the Emergency Banking Act, which the New York Times reported as “Roosevelt Gets Power of Dictator.” Herbert Hoover likened Roosevelt’s bank holiday to the Reichstag fire that enabled Adolf Hitler to assume dictatorial power in Germany.

Roosevelt’s emergency declaration launched a decades-long trend of Congress passing laws authorizing the president to take extraordinary steps after declaring a national emergency. Combined, these statutes gradually accumulated into an immense legal framework. While some individual emergency laws were insignificant, allowing the president to, for example, requisition watercraft, others were far more imposing, such as those that authorized the president “[to] organize and control the means of production,” “assign military forces abroad,” “seize and control all transportation and communication,” and “in a plethora of particular ways, control the lives of all American citizens,” according to a Senate committee report.

Not until Vietnam, when Lyndon B. Johnson took the Tonkin Gulf Resolution far beyond its original intent and Richard Nixon bombed Cambodia without congressional input, did Congress reckon with the scope of what it had created. As Congress debated the War Powers Resolution and investigated the Watergate scandal, Sens. Frank Church (D-Idaho) and Charles Mathias (R-Md.), both leaders of congressional opposition to Vietnam, led a bipartisan committee to assess and reform the president’s emergency powers.

Church and Mathias discovered 470 emergency statutes, which, they concluded in their committee’s report, “taken together, confer enough authority to rule the country without reference to normal Constitutional processes.” Church remarked that these powers “were like a loaded gun lying around the house, ready to be fired by any trigger-happy president who might come along.” These laws, he argued, were a “blueprint for a dictatorship,” and Congress itself had sketched it.

Theoretically, the president was limited because he could wield these powers only during a declared national emergency. Shockingly, however, the senators found four existing national emergencies that a president could draw on at any given time: Roosevelt’s 1933 national emergency during the Great Depression, Harry Truman’s 1950 proclamation during the Korean War and two declared by Nixon. This meant that in 1973, a majority of Americans had spent their entire lives existing in a state of emergency, although practically no one knew it.

- Trump can declare a national emergency to build his wall – and that should scare us,, January 23, 2019.

2. Fans may have rooted for Katniss and Peeta to end up together in “The Hunger Games,” but Jennifer Lawrence – who played the heroine Katniss Everdeen in the film adaptation of the book series of the same name – was a little less loyal. “I think I was [on team] Gale, until he started getting a little too trigger-happy,” she told Seventeen of her choice of love interest for her character. “Or maybe first Peeta and then Gale, or Gale then Peeta? I went back and forth a lot!”

In real life, though, she doesn’t seem to have harbored any romantic feelings for her co-stars, Josh Hutchinson, who played Peeta, and Liam Hemsworth, who played Gale, respectively. According to Lawrence, her relationship with them was – and still is – completely platonic. “Josh and Liam are really great friends too. They are hilarious and sweet. They are like my brothers,” she continued. “Josh and I were neighbors and every time I would come in late I would go bang on the door and wake him up and we’d all hang out.” Hutcherson, however, admitted to Glamour that, while he and Lawrence were just friends, he understands that when it comes to relationships between a man and a woman, there’s “a natural inclination to want more.”

As for Hemsworth and Lawrence? Well, let’s just say that things were a bit more complicated for the two of them.

- Did Liam Hemsworth Have A Fling With Hunger Games Co-Star Jennifer Lawrence?, April 11, 2023.

3. Wednesday night was certainly eventful for the Phoenix Suns. Isaiah Stewart’s bizarre physical outburst towards Drew Eubanks (that had the Detroit Pistons big man arrested) set the tone for the game, with the referees trying their best to prevent the game from snowballing in an emotional sense. It’s not a stretch to say, however, that the referees may have overcorrected, especially after they became too trigger-happy in ejecting Devin Booker from the game.

If Booker did anything to warrant an ejection, then the timing of his disqualification from the game would not have mattered. But the Suns star received two technical fouls in quick succession for saying something to the referees. It wasn’t like he was overly emotional in his protests over a call. This was what surprised Kevin Durant the most.

“He was talking to me. And then I guess he said something that ticked the ref off. They was trying to just let us know that they [were] gonna control the game and I can see it from their perspective, but I just think that was too quick of a tech, both of them,” Durant said in his presser following their 116-100 victory over the Pistons on Wednesday night, via Trevor Booth, Suns beat reporter for ClutchPoints.

Indeed, Devin Booker did not look like he was guilty of an infraction that warranted a trip to the showers after just five minutes and 24 seconds of game time. The Suns star looked like he was yelling at a fan when referee JT Orr ejected him from the game, so it’s not too difficult to see why the Suns became irate in the aftermath.

- Why Devin Booker’s early ejection surprised Kevin Durant,, February 16, 2024.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣  编辑:丹妮)