But, we can stop one terrorist… Right?

I am alarmed at the frequency of mass shootings in this country. I wrote this post previously:

Straight from the Source – Me

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.”

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3 thoughts on “But, we can stop one terrorist… Right?

  1. Let’s go again, Jim. 😉 First, your example is not a good one. While I disagree with any place that is a”gun free zone”, I definitely think that firearms and alcohol don’t mix. The law does not allow a person with a gun license to take the weapon into a place that primarily serves alcohol. So this example only fuels an ideology against personal gun carry, right from the start. You should have used a different example.

    However, in your example, what should happen is that the staff, such as bouncers and bar tenders, should be the only ones that are armed and active shooter trained, with armed employees scattered throughout the bar. These employees would not be allowed to drink alcohol. Should your Uzi wielding terrorist get through the bouncers at the door, other trained employees in the bar should be the ones that take him out as soon as possible.

    Now if we change your example to a restaurant. I think there would be a different outcome. Terrorist comes in shooting and folks hit the floor. If only ONE patron has a weapon, the chance of reducing casualties is greatly increased, and if more than one patron has a gun, the bad guy is taken out sooner. I carry into restaurants and other stores all the time. I am prepared to use my gun if needed. I have practiced with firearms my whole life and I am ex military. I have the experience. I think most people who get a license and carries a gun, are trained to use that weapon and practice with it often. Anyone who carries, does so for only one reason. To use that gun in an active shooter(or active knifer too) situation, to protect themselves and others. Or to protect themselves on the street or parking lots. If they aren’t comfortable in their minds about doing that, then they shouldn’t carry. Are there bad apples in the license to carry folks? Sure, but I don’t think there are many. Everyone I know who carries are well trained and prepared to use their weapons. When you create a scenario to make your points, please take care to make your example one that is possible and relevant. A bar example is not a good one.

    You say the best thing is to keep the bad guy’s gun “from getting into the mix.” Just how do you do that? Gun free zone signs on the door? Yeah, that will work. That just tells the bad guy that he can go into that place and there will definitely be no one to stop him. The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun. No guns and call 911? How many will die in the 10+ minutes it will take the cops to arrive? It only takes couple of minutes for the officer to arrive on the scene at Ohio state and 9 people were injured. If one student had a gun, as they can on Texas campus es, that number could have been reduced.

    “The only way to win is not to play?” The bad guy will not follow that idea. So I hope there is a good guy willing”to play” and stop him.

    My 2 cents again, Jim.

  2. Tim, I originally wrote this blog entry in response to the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. So, far from being a bad example, I think my example is right on point.

    In your restaurant example, don’t you think that if someone comes in and opens fire, that at least some people will be hurt and/or killed before anyone will be able to respond? Sure, a trained shooter will be able to take out a gunman, but not before he kills several people, unless he is watching the door and prepared to shoot. I wouldn’t want to eat in a restaurant where I’m greeted by a maitre d’ and a sniper.

    The way I would keep a bad guy’s gun from getting into the mix is to provide more checks at the point of sale. That includes requiring point-of-sale checks at gun shows. It won’t stop all bad guys from getting guns, but it certainly will be a start.

    One of my main positions in advocating stricter checks and waiting periods for gun purchases is not that it will reduce crime significantly. You’re right, if a criminal wants to get a gun, he will be able to get a gun. What a waiting period will do is reduce the number of opportunity killings.

    This may sound like a pie-in-the-sky position, but if even one death, let alone one massacre, is stopped, I think it will be worth the slight inconvenience for gun owners and purchasers.

  3. Hi Jim. I understood that this blog was written in response to the nightclub shooting, but again, the way that this situation could have had less casualties, is if the bar employees had been armed (didn’t drink) and active shooter trained, since the one area I don’t think the average person should carry a gun into is a bar.

    In the restaurant example or any other example of an active shooter, yes people are going to get shot when the bad guy busts in and starts shooting up the place unexpectedly. I don’t expect a licensed concealed carry person to be watching the door while he is eating in the restaurant in case a bad guy might come in. But that CC person can return fire and reduce the number of people that the bad guy does kill.

    What kinds of increased checks are you looking for at the point of sale? There is a background check done at the point of sale. It’s done at gun shows too. They did one on me the last time I bought a gun at a gun show. What other checks could help prevent a bad guy from getting a gun?

    If you required a awaiting period to purchase a gun at a gun show, you would effectively end gun shows. A person might go to a gun store and be ok with a waiting period, but not at a show where all the dealers are coming from all over the state. Then the dealer would have to send the gun to another dealer before the person who bought the gun could get it. That would kill gun shows. Slight inconvenience? That’s a pretty major inconvenience. The Ohio State terrorist used his car to ijurre and attempt to kill people. Shall we impose a waiting period on the purchase of cars? That was a crime of opportunity. I don’t mean to be facetious. But a gun is a tool like anything else. It’s use depends on the person using it. Not sure how you define an “opportunity killing”, other than maybe domestic violence. But even if you cut down on gun purchases, shall we impose waiting periods on knives, cars (both used at Ohio State) or baseball bats? They have all been used in opportunity killings, if I understand correctly what you mean by that.

    None of these things will stop the massacre. Those are usually planned well in advance and any waiting period would be useless. The San Bernardino terrorists purchased their guns well in advance in 2011 and 2012. Passed a background check too. Same for the nightclub shooter. I still contend that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun (or a car) is a good guy with a gun. So far, there have been no proposals that could have stopped either of those mass shootings.

    Again, Jim. A pleasure debating you. I hope I was respectful of your views.

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