I am alarmed at the frequency of mass shootings in this country. I wrote this post previously:
It’s sad that Tom Tomorrow’s job has been made that much easier – all he needs to do is re-run that cartoon every so often.
As the cartoon suggests, whenever a mass shooting occurs, I hear the arguments that if more people in the theater, school, nightclub, etc., had guns, the mass shooting would have been stopped with no loss of life, except, possibly, the shooter.
Let’s picture the scenario. We’re at a busy night club. It’s actually a cowboy bar. Texas allows open carry, so it is a good bet that many patrons will be carrying. A miscreant enters, intent on shooting as many American infidels as he can.
As he enters, he realizes he will not get past the bouncer without being stopped, so he charges past, pulling out his Uzi in the process, ready to mow down innocent partiers.
Joe, a beefy-looking dude who is a supporter of open carry, sees the bad guy and yells, “Gun!” Instantly the house lights go on, the music stops, and 20 men and women on the dance floor have their weapons trained on the bad guy. Realizing the futility of his situation, the gunman drops his weapon and puts his arms in the air. The crowd holds him at gunpoint until police arrive to take him away. Afterwards, the party continues, with the patrons congratulating each other and singing “God Bless the USA.”
Great story, huh? Let’s let it sink in and see how masterfully it was pulled off.
OK? Ready to go on?
Now, let’s see how many ways this scenario is unlikely to happen as I just wrote it.
First, there is the notion that many people will be packing. Question is, will they be carrying all the time, or will they leave their guns with their friends while they do the Texas Two-Step? It’s likely many will be carrying, but I suspect not all.
Will the shooter be stopped at the door? Possibly, but since Texas is an open carry state, it’s possible the bouncer won’t care or even notice that he has a gun.
Will the patrons identify the gunman and draw before he can do any damage? It’s not likely. At Columbine, there was an armed marshal on site, and before he even knew anything was happening, several children had already been killed. At Pulse nightclub in Orlando, patrons first thought the shots were part of the music, then others thought it came from firecrackers. Again, people died before anyone realized anything was going on.
Will the music stop suddenly and guns be drawn quickly and effectively? It’s not likely the music will stop right away and the house lights would come on. People would probably not have the immediate presence of mind to do that. If they realized there was shooting, their first inclination would be to duck and hide, not to run to the light switch.
Remember, shooting is starting in a dark nightclub with loud music. Will all the gun-toting patrons know exactly who was shooting and properly draw their weapons? Police officers, who have been in training, have to navigate a Hogan’s Alley type obstacle range, where they must shoot criminals quickly, but must not harm any civilians. I’ve played video games that simulate Hogan’s Alley, and even though I didn’t shoot any civilians, I wasn’t able to get the criminals on the first shot. My accuracy was off. The actual Hogan’s Alley exercise is done with no other people in your way, and with no distracting lights or noise. It is still extremely difficult.
Now picture the scene a bit differently. A gunman pulls out a weapon. Amidst the loud noise and flashing lights, some patrons, certainly not all, realize something is going on. Remember, these people very likely have less training than a police officer, the room is loud, the lights are distracting, and a sense of chaos is starting to spread.
Will the patrons pull their guns? Will they be able to keep the gunman immobile? Will they be able to find the gunman? Will they accidentally shoot someone else, or themselves? Will they freeze in their tracks?
The situation is suddenly a lot less heroic, but is much more likely. The presence of guns did not help the situation; in fact, it is easy to see how it could make the situation a lot worse.
People who advocated arming more people will no doubt say my second scenario is far-fetched. They may even try to poke holes in it. I believe with calm, honest reflection, you will see that the chaotic scenario is much more likely than the successful one.
To me, still, the best way to keep the situation from happening is to keep the shooter’s gun from getting into the mix. Prevent him from getting a weapon in the first place. Or, in the words of Joshua from WarGames about “Global Thermonuclear War:” “The only way to win is not to play.”