When Seconds Count, Help is Minutes Away
OPINION -- A firework. No, a gunshot. Another. And another. Screaming, pounding feet. Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum. People run past. P-taff, p-taff, p-taff. Are the gunshots are getting closer or farther? Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum. You don’t know if the shooter is long range or short range capable. The only thing you know is terror is here on your doorstep.
With mass shootings on the rise, it’s not a surprise to me that I can imagine how a shooting would progress in my home, workplace, or college. In fact, as a conservative on an increasingly liberal campus, I have no choice but to analyze how someone can attack and injure the people at a conservative events. AntiFa grows in power in liberal atmospheres, and many young conservatives feel endangered and require protection from violent protesters. As DCR’s political director when Milo marched at UC Davis, I was positioned way ahead of the group, completely prepared to warn and defend the people attending the march. Like the saying goes, when seconds count, the police are minutes away. When the police are minutes away, how I use each second matters.
What is the best outcome in a mass shooting? Some, including me, would say the best outcome is that it never begins in the first place. However, we see that mass shootings do occur and are likely to continue. Thus, the next best outcome is that the person injures the least amount of people before being neutralized. This can be done using many good techniques, but most people agree that the guns are currently the most effective tool to stop a killer. While typically the police or the gunman himself take that shot, when seconds matter, the police are too many minutes away. The best preparation for a mass shooting is that the law-abiding citizens threatened also carry guns or weapons that can be used to subdue the shooter.
How can we distinguish law-abiding citizens from mass murderers? A simple background check and training should be sufficient vetting for someone to obtain a concealed carry permit. Mentors, instructors, and physicians involved with the patient should also be allowed and encouraged to report suspicious behavior or prescribed medications to the background system. Involving the very people threatened by a possible mass shooter gives them a good reason to report valid, useful information. Generally speaking, this system should also encourage more law-abiding citizens to obtain concealed carry permits and utilize them. This creates environments in which mass shootings kill only a few, and where concealed weapon holders can stop robberies, knife attacks, and mass shootings. Typically, mass shooters are looking to kill the most amount of people, and if they are only able to get 2-3 shots off before they are subdued, then that is the next best outcome. However, environments that could potentially contain citizens with a concealed carry will create the belief that mass shooters will not inflict a lot of harm. Thus, empowering citizens to defend themselves has a dual purpose - to prevent the shooter from harming more people or from attacking at all. Recall, our best outcome is that the killing never begins.
However, there are the cases in which the shooter is inaccessible, such as the Las Vegas shooter. The mentally ill people who perpetrate these crimes are not necessarily dumb people. They can create evil plans that find weak points in security. Gun-free zone? Who then will kill the shooter before he shoots an entire classroom or an entire building of people? Open-air gathering? Why not shoot from a faraway place? Unfortunately, while we cannot account for every potential failure point, we can enable everyday citizens to be more prepared. We cannot possibly hire enough policemen to protect every social gathering, workplace, and classroom in the country. However, we can both enable and train common, law-abiding citizens to protect us.
In these mass shooter situations, it only takes one individual with the training, bravery, and proper weapon to injure the shooter well enough to cease the killing. Of course, there’s always a first for everything, and we can’t blame the policeman for their inability to predict the future. Perhaps if someone had come from a long range shooting range, they would have been able to reach their vehicle and stop the shooter from the ground. Perhaps the police should train for long range shooters in open air areas. Having the weapon and a trained individual to operate it would have been the best method of stopping the Las Vegas killer, and now that we know that, we can act accordingly.
How should we act, as simply everyday Americans? Take a concealed carry class. Learn the 4 rules of gun safety. You may find that you cannot carry a weapon yourself, for one reason or another. However, learning the material will not hurt you and should you chose to use it, will help you. Avoid gun-free zones where possible, and when not, be sure to have a heightened awareness about yourself. If you are able, obtain a concealed carry permit and frequently practice pulling the weapon and actively hiding it when walking, sitting, reaching, etc. Take it to the range and fire it, thus making yourself more comfortable with the action once you pull a trigger with a real bullet. Find an airsoft weapon similar to your handgun and practice basic techniques with that. Once you’re comfortable with your gun, take it everywhere with you. Be aware of your environment, and mentally prepare yourself to fire when needed. Carry it chambered, not just loaded, because you can’t predict the future, and you may need to use it faster than you can chamber it.
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As a public service announcement, the first thing to do in an active shooter situation is to get away. When not possible, shelter in an inaccessible place that provides adequate cover (such that could stop a bullet) or at the very least will not draw the shooter’s attention. Lastly, you have every right to defend yourself. Anything and everything is a weapon, so use whatever is on hand to your advantage. Know when to rush someone and when to run, and why. It is also a good idea to help those in need, such as helping them to safety or applying first aid in a hidden, covered, or safe location. The police’s initial goal is to stop any threats, and as such will not help people until every threat is neutralized. If you don’t feel comfortable owning a gun or shooting one, then don’t feel useless. Other talents, like a background in first aid or a calm mind to seal doors and find safe ways out are going to be life changing to those you help.