Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Not a Badge, Not a Cape

File Under: With Both Barrels

A permit to carry and conceal does not grant you the power of police, judge, jury, and executioner - and it does not make you invincible or infallible.
The following video is a thought-provoking statement on responsible concealed carry from a veteran.  It never ceases to amaze me how after shootings, such as those that occurred in Newtown, when all the shooters are dead that even the authorities are confused on the number and identities of the shooters. Yet, non combat-trained individuals who have never exchanged gunfire in the defense of human life are able to speak so confidently and eloquently about being heroes in a dynamic, chaotic shooting situation.

Owning a firearm and carrying a firearm, merely exercising your crucial Second Amendment right, are weighty responsibilities.  However, drawing and using your firearm are among the heaviest decisions - decisions that cannot be made lightly, cannot be taken back, and will have far-reaching permanent consequences to more than just you and your target.  The line between protecting yourself and protecting the innocent is fractious.  If we did not believe it was necessary we would not have such things as soldiers, police, or child protective services sewn into our society - we would not have social compacts at all.  Some people don't have to be preoccupied with their own safety in their day-to-day lives; judges and politicians for instance, have others dedicated to their protection.  Others, like teachers and parents, do not have armed bodyguards within shouting distance should a crisis arise.  One cannot judge what decision another person makes in that situation when after decades of this problem we have come up with no strategic or tactical solutions to violent crime other than to rob individuals of their last ditch means of mounting an effective personal defense.  It is sad to note that during the shootings at Fort Hood, a military base, until the police showed up the only individual with a firearm was the shooter.  Two individuals chose, despite being unarmed, to try to stop him (one by charging him, the other by throwing a chair) and for their valor they lost their lives.  Did they make the right choice? Would things have turned out differently had they sought shelter or evaded? Would they have stopped him early in the conflict if they were armed? These are unknowns.  I like to think their actions bought time - time for a potential victim to get away, time for someone with a firearm to arrive, time for the shooter to stop.  In the end, the individuals with firearms ended the killing as they were trained to do.

Teachers and parents (or just about any other civilian) are not trained to respond to these type of threats; and as long as the debate on gun-control continues, it does not look like states will provide school administrators with funding for concrete preparedness training of real worth.  In the example of a school shooting: Do you know how many shooters there are? Do you know where the shooters are? Do you have the right equipment to defend against and end the threat? Have the shooters implemented any booby-traps? Are police, uniform or undercover, on scene?  The variables go on from there.  Are you going to abandon your loved ones to go hunting down a shooter?  I seriously doubt it.

The above interview with Nick Meli, the citizen who confronted the Oregon Shopping Mall Shooter, helps to illustrate that the decision to use or not use your firearm in a defensive situation is not a simple one.  In a crisis, the best thing you can do to start saving lives is to protect yours first and foremost, then see what you can do to either hunker down and avoid the danger or usher you and your family/friends to safety.  By doing that, you have automatically saved lives.  Once you've accomplished that returning to the danger zone, where you have no idea what's happening, to try to become a living or dead hero has an equal chance of doing harm or good.  Heroism is wonderful; certainly makes for inspiring stories and grateful families.  However, what saves more lives day-in and day-out is proper training, preparedness, alertness, wisdom, and decisive action.  Perhaps that is the stuff of which real heroes are made.

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