In a predictable response to yet another mass gun murder, we are already hearing the loud cries that more guns are what was needed in the situation. Concealed carry is the solution, and all this death is actually the fault of "gun-free zones." That was Republican Nevada state representative Michele Fiore's argument, who wrote the following on her blog:
“I have said it before and I will say it again: I believe that an armed society is a safe society,” Fiore wrote. “Labeling a public place a ‘gun-free zone’ will not create a non-violent environment for citizens; in fact, it does the opposite. By creating this illusion, we, as a country, are putting targets on the backs of our children, our families and our selves,” she continued. “While the President has already used this tragedy to feed his anti-gun agenda by saying that these killings have become ‘routine’, what he fails to mention is the truly routine pattern of these terrible crimes is that they happen in gun-free zones. Places where people have been rendered defenseless by the government.”
But the fact is that Oregon does have a concealed-carry law, and that technically it supersedes the "gun free zone" requirement. In fact, there were multiple students on campus at Umpqua Community College who were in fact legally armed and carrying, including veteran John Parker [pictured above] who was on the scene and carrying his weapon. But Mr. Parker had various reasons for not drawing his weapon and charging into the fight. The first among them was that he very well could've have been a target for S.W.A.T. and a distraction from the real shooter. It's not like the "bad guys" running around with guns have a big sign that says "Shoot Me" pinned on their back. Police are going to think anyone who's armed is probably the bad guy. Keep reading.
In addition to Fiore we have these interesting sentiments from Tennessee's Republican Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey.
“While this is not the time for widespread panic, it is a time to prepare,” he wrote on Friday morning. “I would encourage my fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to think about getting a handgun carry permit. I have always believed that it is better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it. Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise.” ... “The recent spike in mass shootings across the nation is truly troubling,” Ramsey wrote. “Whether the perpetrators are motivated by aggressive secularism, jihadist extremism or racial supremacy, their targets remain the same: Christians and defenders of the West.”
Uh, yeah... way to play the "victim" card there, man. Nobody ever gets shot but Christians? Sure. Never mind the thousands of Muslims who are being massacred by I.S.I.L. in Syria and Iraq. That's obviously nothing to be concerned with. Anyway, let's listen to what someone who actually had a gun on the UCC campus has to say about it all. Video via Rawstory:
Parker explained that his military training provided him with the skills to “go into danger,” but said he felt lucky he and others didn’t try to get involved going after Mercer. “Luckily we made the choice not to get involved,” he explained. “We were quite a distance away from the building where this was happening. And we could have opened ourselves up to be potential targets ourselves, and not knowing where SWAT was, their response time, they wouldn’t know who we were. And if we had our guns ready to shoot, they could think that we were bad guys.” Parker noted that he was hustled into a classroom with other students by a professor who asked if anyone was armed. He said he raised his hand and said he would attempt to protect his fellow students if they came under attack.
The point is that Parker could have ended up like Jonathon Crawford. Or Tamir Rice. It's not like cops are going to spend precious extra seconds on the chance that he wasn't the shooter, even though he's white as was Dillon Taylor. There were other negative possibilities besides police mistakenly shooting Parker instead of the actual gunman. He himself could have been taken out by other concealed weapons carriers making the same mistake. Or the shooter might not have been alone, as was the case when Jared and Amanda Miller killed Joseph Wilcox, a concealed carrier who tried to intervene after they killed two police officers in Las Vegas.
The pair then migrated to the nearby Walmart, where a gun-carrying customer, 31-year-old Joseph Robert Wilcox, tried to take down Jared Miller. But police say Amanda [Miller] blindsided Wilcox and fatally shot him at close range, police said.
There was also the possibility that an innocent third party could have gotten caught in the crossfire. That was the case when Norman Williamson pulled out a gun in self-defense after shots were fired during an argument while waiting in line to see the film Godfather Part III. Ultimately, 15-year-old Tremain Hall was accidentally killed. Williamson told his story as part of a set of interviews done by NBC and played on Meet the Press following the shooting in Charleston earlier this year. Williamson's segment begins at 2:05.
Williamson: When I was 17, my friend suggested to me "Why don't you carry a gun? You need this." I held it, and then this gun became my security. I entered the movie theater with a group of friends, then another group of teens came in, yelling. Pretty soon an argument erupted between my group and that group, one of them pulled out a gun and fired it. I returned fire. I didn't think I was going to hit anybody, but I did it anyway. A little boy was shot, he died that night.
Williamson is still serving time in Sing Sing 25 years later, for reckless endangerment for firing his gun only after others had fired first. Police couldn't prove that his shot was the one that hit Tremain Hall, so he's not in prison for murder. He's in prison for firing the gun after others had fired their gun. Period. Just like Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot into her own ceiling to scare off her abusive ex. All of these examples show that there are clear downsides to many of the NRA's "hero with a gun" fantasies about concealed carry. If law enforcement is on the way to the scene, you can become a distraction to them, putting both them and yourself in danger. The actual shooter may not be alone, or may be able to take you out and obtain your weapon. You could also injure an entirely innocent person if you place yourself in this position without proper training and in coordination with law enforcement. None of these are optimal outcomes. Yes, there are stories of people using household firearms to defend themselves from intruders. In that circumstance, the homeowner has several advantages: They know the building and room layout, even in the dark, better than any intruder could, for example. It's not that concealed carry never works. But on a school campus with hundreds of people, any of whom may be a potential victim or a potential shooter, adding additional armed persons of unknown intent into that situation is again is not optimal. What Parker chose to do, protecting those in his immediate vicinity rather than charging across the campus with a hand gun to take out a sniper like Mel Gibson in this deleted scene from Lethal Weapon, was probably the best course at the time. He was dealing with reality. This is fantasy.