There is just one real and stark answer to the hand-wringing by media talking heads and politicians in the aftermath of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. You won’t hear it from them, so I’ll say it: if you find yourself facing a shooter in a public place, rush him quick!
The other thing we can do is grow up and face facts. Let’s ruminate.
Here’s a good place to start. Despite the complaints I have heard about our President’s haste to politicize this event in calling for more restrictive gun control laws, I think there is nothing at all wrong in him expressing his views, however disagreeable I find those views. Of course he was spring-loaded to point a juvenile finger of blame at Republicans, but that’s his style.
It is a very short leap from there to the left’s egregious hypocrisy. Obama’s hometown of Chicago has some of the toughest gun control laws in the country, and yet gun violence soars. Year to date, Chicago brings us 2,342 shooting victims, the overwhelming majority of shooters and victims black, but bear in mind that was through Oct. 4 and a few days have passed to pile on more bodies. I wonder why the Black Lives Matter movement is ignoring this slaughter?
Hypocrisy must be a powerful narcotic. Maybe that’s the key to rejecting facts to lean on political correctness. How effective do you think new gun laws would be in the ’hood where current gun laws are ignored and cash is the only background check required?
Here’s a fun question. How long do you think a politician would last after pushing the FBI to break down gun violence statistics between the ’hood vs. suburbs and rural areas? I don’t think ripping down the curtain on those concealed facts would be happily greeted in our mainstream media.
If that news ever did break free from its intended burial, I’ll bet it would just confirm what we already know in our hearts, that gun violence is highly concentrated in lawless areas. Applying tighter gun control to the broader law-abiding community will solve nothing and is a weak liberal excuse to take one more step toward ultimately banning guns.
Other than outright prohibition or confiscation, I don’t think a single gun law proposed in recent history would have stopped any of the mass shootings since Columbine. Gun-free zones didn’t stop them. Shooting back would have stopped them.
Let’s face an adult fact. Why is it that every problem begs politicians to create “solutions” with new laws and regulations? If a crook ignores bank laws to rob a bank, does that mean we need new bank robbery laws?
In our wussified culture, is it too much to ask for adults to recognize life comes with warts, wrinkles and the occasional crook or even evil sociopath with a gun? I wish it weren’t so, I have children, too, but some of us still know the government can’t solve everything for us.
Maybe if newspapers were still the dominant source of news there wouldn’t be so many mass shootings. Bear with me before you whisper to your friend that Garlock is nuts.
Newspapers used to be where we found news. Journalists were schooled on research, confirmation from multiple sources, getting the story right and tough editors. Well, most times.
If you and I had to read about the Roseburg shooting in a newspaper, we could delve as deeply as we wished in the story, and people too lazy to read wouldn’t even know it happened. There would be no agitation by repetition to whip up public emotion because reading a newspaper requires thought, not feeling. The shooting event would be a remote blip on our radar screen, and we wouldn’t be bothered with stupid ideas from politicians desperately confusing action with progress.
In fact, if newspapers were still king, we wouldn’t have the worldwide megaphone to deliver a sociopath’s manifesto, we wouldn’t have the TV frenzy of prior shootings to pump their expectations, and maybe the crazies would not be incited to shoot up public crowds in the first place.
Of course the reality is the world of news has rapidly changed. Venerable newspaper organizations with historic journalistic creds used to have foreign bureaus that mined the world for news. Now reporting staff is trimmed to the bone, foreign bureaus are long closed, and even stalwarts like the Boston Globe says it can’t afford overseas staff and will rely on the Associated Press. Oh, goody, one of the last wire services still alive in the U.S. leans so far left it no longer even tries to hide liberal bias. So much for reliable news.
You could argue it doesn’t matter so much because social media and TV news has exploded, and you would be right. A hundred channels are desperate for anything remotely resembling news as they scramble to fill 24/7 with pretty men and women and excel in setting news reports to music and a drumbeat. Our irrational shooters have a ready-made megaphone, with eager red carpet treatment if necessary, and their juicy if insane story is guaranteed to be repeated too many times a day to count.
TV news doesn’t have time to worry about things that were vital in the days of newspapers. Just two hours after the shooting started in Roseburg, I listened to the TV Fox News channel on satellite radio in my truck, shaking my head as Shep Smith, the one-man talent show who deftly mixes news with his drama style on the fly. Shep was lamenting the failure of authorities who could not provide an accurate count of the dead and wounded and which hospitals were treating them two hours into the event. In the world of TV, the immediate count trumps everything, treatment and policing and investigating be damned, and who reports first wins. Who got the story right isn’t even on the TV scorecard.
There is one thing TV could do well to discourage mass shootings. They could minimize reporting, refuse to show any video from the scene, and they could follow the example of Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, the chief law enforcement officer on the scene, who said neither he nor any of his officers would speak the name of the perp. They didn’t want to give him any publicity. Do you think the TV news wolves would give this restraint idea more than a half-second of consideration? Neither do I.
Finally, we come to the question of gun control. The Roseburg shooter had more than a dozen guns acquired legally. Moderate tightening of background check laws will do little, and the extreme measures required to have any real effect are politically dead before they are spoken, among both Democrats and Republicans. Whether you love or hate guns, radical gun control measures don’t have a remote chance.
So, we can’t rely on the insights or honesty of politicians, the TV machine makes mass shootings potentially worse and gun control attempts are not going to help. That leaves us stuck with life’s warts, wrinkles and the occasional evil gun-packing, publicity-seeking sociopath bent on taking as many of us with him as possible. What to do?
Well, it bears thinking through in advance, just in case one of these shooters crosses our path.
In the Umpqua Community College classroom, the shooter’s instructions were followed by victims getting down on the floor, then standing and responding to questions on their religious beliefs before he decided where to shoot them.
I’ve thought it through for this one and other mass shootings I have noted in the news. Whether I was concerned with myself or trying to shield loved ones, I wouldn’t want to wait politely for my bullet, or my child’s, while hoping for miraculous mercy, and I’m not sure life would be worth living if I found that mercy by patiently watching other innocent people murdered.
Far better to rush the shooter, making yourself harder to hit, taking the gamble that if he succeeds in shooting you, maybe the guy rushing behind you would take him out.
Would I have the courage? We’ll never know unless the time comes. But thinking it through now is best, since if the time does come I’d need to act very quickly, not take time to think.
Imagine a manly President telling the country repeatedly so every adult and even students know, “Don’t be led to slaughter like sheep by a crazy shooter. Get your mind straight in advance to do the right thing even when it is hard. Be ready to lead the way. Charge him immediately and count on the person to your left and right to follow you in. Put him down and take his guns before he can hurt one more person. If you fail and if you die, at least you will have died daring greatly rather than patiently and politely waiting for your bullet.”
On 9/11, United Airlines Flight 93 was hijacked and believed destined for impact at the White House or US Capitol building. A few passengers, having learned of the terrorist attacks by cell phones, boldly charged hijackers in the cockpit, unwilling to patiently wait for their fate, unwilling to let hijackers do more damage to our country.
From the struggle in the cockpit, the plane crashed into a reclaimed strip mine about 65 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and all aboard were killed. Those passengers dared greatly, and they did a great service for their country.
Think through all the mass shootings including Columbine. If adults and students were as spring-loaded to rush the shooter as our current President is to blame Republicans, a lot of dead people would have lived.
If I am ever faced with a shooter, I will know action is up to me, not the government, and my highest hope would be to live up to the example set by passengers on 9/11’s Flight 93.
[Terry Garlock of Peachtree City occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen. firstname.lastname@example.org.]