Guns are a tough subject. The gulf between those who own them and those who want them gone is about the same as between those who support and those who oppose abortion. Still, I’d like to spend a few words on one aspect of the topic.
You have to go back a ways to find this one, but it happened.
Several years ago, an individual who couldn’t hack the program and who’d flunked out of the Appalachian Law School grabbed a gun and decided to vent his anger. He killed three people and injured three others.
His rampage ended, according to the story I read back then, when several students subdued him.
In other stories, it was reported that “students overpowered a gunman,” students “helped subdue” the killer, or “the gunman was tackled by several male students before being arrested.”
I remember thinking that these were some gutsy students - an opinion that remain unchanged even when I learned what had actually happened.
When the shooting started, two students ran to their cars and got their guns. Then, along with another student, they approached the gunman. Seeing the armed students coming, the gunman dropped his firearm. The students then overpowered him without firing a shot of their own.
As regards this incident, the New York Post reported that, “out of 280 separate news stories in the week after the event, just four stories mentioned that the students who stopped the attack had guns.”
The fact is that there are many other instances wherein firearms are used to stop or prevent mayhem from occurring. What’s distressing, however, is that when such incidents occur, you seldom hear about them and that’s not good. It’s not good because without such facts, it’s hard to form a reasoned opinion.
I know that many of you don’t like guns. I know that there are some among you who think gun owners are nothing more than armed Neanderthals. Fine. If you’d like, we can sit down and have a healthy debate on this topic since I know that the vast majority of gun owners are extremely responsible individuals with a deep regard for safety and an abiding respect for the law.
What actually brings me to this topic, though, is the fact that - following a shooting at the recent Folklife Festival - Seattle’s Mayor Greg Nickels signed an executive order asking all departments to come up with a plan to ban guns on all property owned by that city.
What stands out in my mind is that, if you look at all of the shootings that have occurred in “Gun Free Zones,” it’s obvious that the rules are obeyed only by law-abiding citizens (aka: victims) and are completely ignored by criminals. Were it otherwise, we could easily expand upon such ideas and simply post signs everywhere saying: “No crime beyond this point” and what a wonderful, fear-free society we’d all then have.
It’d be great if we lived in a world wherein people intent on perpetrating acts of violence weren’t present. It’d be great if we lived in a world wherein protection for all was only seconds away. It’d be great if we lived in a world wherein, when confronted by goblins, each of us knew with certainty that we could turn them away on our own.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a world and protecting ourselves sometimes requires a lot more than harsh words, flinty stares, or - in other cases - asking for mercy from our assailants.
Even with what’s out there, though, most individuals opt to never carry a weapon of any kind. It’s a personal choice that I respect because to arm oneself for self defense is a tough proposition. It requires thought, a moral decision, commitment, courage, and, yes, training.
The thing is, there are those who do choose to legally carry a firearm. Perhaps such individuals transport large sums of money. Perhaps they or a member of their family have been beaten or worse. Perhaps they’ve been threatened by someone they consider dangerous. Perhaps they’ve simply chosen never to be a helpless victim.
For whatever reason they choose to do so, I fully support, understand, and applaud their choice because the thought that such legally armed individuals might be present when some crackpot snaps gives me far more comfort than any useless sign telling me that I’m entering a “Gun Free Zone.”
I just wish that I could honestly believe that Mayor Nickels considered any of the above before proposing yet another feel-good, do-nothing fiat that will have no tangible effect whatsoever on the goblins walking amongst us.
Biography - Larry Simoneaux
Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.