Cowards, Mass Murders And The American Public

17Dec12

Let’s be honest; we’re not surprised anymore. We’re no longer surprised when some pathetic, pitiful coward attacks a school or mall full of innocent men, women and children. Maybe we were shocked this time, but only because the victims were so young. These incidents have become so commonplace that when we see a headline or breaking news alert about the most recent mass shooting, we just shake our heads and say, “Jesus Christ, not again.” And wait for the next one.

This time the murderer outdid most others, and his victims were younger than usual. But all the other factors were depressingly predictable: an unstable man, semiautomatic weapons, helpless victims with no defense other than hope. As is often the case, the murderer committed suicide rather than fight the police or face justice. As usual, we see gut-wrenching video of parents crying out in unimaginable grief, police officers with heavy body armor and assault rifles maneuvering around a school as if it were an enemy bunker, and crime scene tape roping off areas where hidden dead lay.

And we see, in every case, calls from well-meaning people for something to be done, anything, to protect the innocent. They demand mandatory visitor sign-ins at schools, cameras, metal detectors, “gun free zones”, and of course, restrictions on firearms. These ideas and measures aren’t new, and aren’t effective (we’ve now learned that the Newtown shooter simply shot his way through Sandy Hook Elementary’s locked doors). After a mass murder, students or patrons are made to feel safer with expensive but empty displays of improved security. Those warning signs, cameras, new laws or metal detectors rarely improve safety.

Now I’ll ask you to put yourself in the shoes of an intended victim of an active shooter.

You’re having lunch with your family at a mall food court. It’s a pleasant afternoon, no different than any other day you’ve visited the mall. Bored, unarmed security guards on Segways patrol the walkways. You barely notice them as your family discusses your son’s upcoming school play.

Suddenly you hear a scream. You look toward the sound and see a woman running in terror. At first you’re just curious; you aren’t sure what’s happening. Then you hear gunshots. Rapid gunshots, six or seven in a row. Dozens of people are suddenly on their feet, running and screaming.

You follow your first instinct and drop to the floor with your family. The gunshots keep coming. You hear the high-pitched crash of tables and chairs being knocked over by fleeing shoppers. Looking under tables, you see motionless bodies strewn about the floor. Everyone you see who’s still on their feet is running. Everyone, except one person.

One pair of legs is walking slowly, with determination, turning back and forth. You can’t see the upper body above the tables, but with every gunshot, a shell drops by the pair of legs. You’re looking at the shooter. Your breath catches in your throat as you have a sick realization: he’s moving toward you. Toward your family.

Adrenaline saturates your blood. You force yourself not to panic because you know your family needs you now, more than ever. You grab your children and pull them close. A desperate thought crosses your mind, and you know it’s fantasy even as you think it.

Is someone making a movie or something?

Ten feet away, a woman and child are huddled under their table. The woman screams, “We’ve got to get out of here! Oh my God, we’ve got to get out of here!”

You look toward the shooter’s legs. They’re closer now, maybe thirty feet away. You stay silent, not sure if the woman is right. Should you get up and run, or stay where you are?

Near the shooter, a shrill voice shrieks, “No, please! Don’t shoot me!” The man answers with gunshots. Another body falls to the floor.

The woman ten feet away grabs her child’s hand, lurches to her feet and runs. A voice yells “Bitch!” and more shots are fired, four or five in no more than two seconds. You hear something heavy and soft slam to the linoleum floor. A child’s voice screams in terror. Another shot is fired, and the scream is silenced.

You look to the shooter. Less than twenty feet away. He takes another step in your direction. You don’t know if he’s seen your family yet, but if he hasn’t, he will soon. You close your eyes, say a prayer to your God, and make your decision.

I’d like you to ask yourself a question about the situation I just described: what measures could have protected you and your family?

Cameras? No, video just helps with the investigation after the fact. Metal detectors? Maybe they would have deterred the man from choosing that mall, but let’s be realistic. Malls aren’t going to put metal detectors at every entrance, they’re not going to become mini-airports with customers waiting an hour in line to get in. They’d lose all their business.

What about the “gun free zone” sign on the wall? That obviously didn’t work. People who plan on committing mass murder followed by suicide could care less about getting in trouble for illegally carrying a gun. Unarmed mall cops? They can call the police, but that’s about it. Gun control? As I heard a wise man say recently, “That genie is already out of the bottle”. Making new laws won’t eliminate guns already out there.

What about calling the police yourself? As a cop, I can tell you the phrase, “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away”, isn’t a joke. Unless one of us happens to be right there when the shooting starts, the first officers will arrive several minutes later to find many citizens murdered and one coward dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

So what is the only realistic defense available to you and your family? Armed, trained citizens. Hopefully, many armed, trained citizens. Armed citizens who can be anywhere, unlike the limited supply of police and security guards.

Much of the American public will have a knee-jerk reaction against this idea. People will say, “How can you expect a civilian to go up against some heavily armed, psychotic killer? Civilians aren’t trained for that.”

Maybe they’re not, but they’re there, with a gun. A half-trained guy with a weapon who is on scene and ready to take action immediately is worth more than a highly-trained SWAT team that arrives thirty minutes later. If you’re under the food court table watching as a murderer approaches your family, would you prefer to wait five minutes for the first patrol officer to arrive? Or would you rather have some fifty year old used car salesman with a concealed handgun license attack the murderer before he reaches you? I’ll take the car salesman over the cop, because the car salesman is there when I need him.

Aside from that, we should keep in mind that most active shooters aren’t well trained. No special training is needed to shoot defenseless people. We’ve seen evidence in many shootings that the murderers really didn’t know how to handle weapons. In Aurora, Colorado and Portland, Oregon, the shooters opened fire with military-style weapons and then had no idea what to do when the weapons malfunctioned. In both of those cases, they just dropped the rifles. One of the Columbine shooters used his very cool-looking, sawed off, pistol grip shotgun to kill one victim. When he fired it, the weapon recoiled, hit him in the face and broke his nose. This isn’t the mark of a skilled shooter. We shouldn’t act like active shooters are Delta Force ninjas. Many can barely operate a weapon, and all are cowards.

I’ve used the term “coward” several times, and I don’t think the importance of this fact can be overstated. These people are the epitome of cowardice. They don’t want to fight anyone; they want to murder people who can’t fight back. Shooting a bunch of unarmed people might take nerve but not bravery.

Typically, these murderers commit suicide as soon as they’re confronted. The Newtown shooter apparently shot himself as soon as he heard sirens. One of the Columbine shooters traded shots with a police officer outside the school, then ran away; both shooters shot themselves before police made entry. Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech murderer, shot himself as soon as he heard police officers enter the building. What is the likelihood that the typical active shooter will fold as soon as an armed citizen opens fire on him? My gut reaction is that it’s pretty high.

But people will still object to the idea of armed citizens responding to active shooters. Another issue that will be raised is, “If private citizens try to fight back against an active shooter, they might accidentally shoot an innocent person. So they shouldn’t try it.”

They’re partly correct. There is a chance a civilian could shoot an innocent person in the confusion of an active shooter incident. A highly trained police officer might make that mistake too (remember the recent New York City shooting?). However, you’ll have a hard time convincing me that’s worse than allowing a murderer to fire dozens of rounds into a mass of innocent people.

Let’s invent a series of seven hypothetical active shooter situations. In each situation, ten people are murdered. That’s seventy victims. Now, let’s inject an armed citizen into each situation. The armed citizens manage to stop the killing after three people are murdered. That’s twenty-one victims. Now let’s say the armed citizens accidentally kill an innocent person in every situation. That’s twenty-one victims killed by the murderer, plus seven killed accidentally by the armed citizens. Twenty-eight victims total, versus seventy.

Granted, this is a hypothetical. But I think it illustrates my point well enough. Even with a possible additional risk of friendly fire, it’s still better for armed citizens to respond to active shooters.

We recently heard a public sports figure claim that had he been in the Aurora, Colorado theater during that shooting, he would have preferred to have been unarmed rather than shoot back. This is because “fighting back would have just added to the carnage”. I cannot even begin to understand this thinking. A man walks into a theater and opens fire into the crowd with an assault rifle, and shooting back would somehow make things worse? Is it better to just allow the murderer to keep shooting innocents until the police show up, or he runs out of ammo, or gets bored and stops firing? What about the basic right we all have to defend ourselves, and our families? What about doing what any real, brave man or woman would do, stepping up to defend the defenseless?

Next objection: “We can’t tell civilians to fight back against active shooters. If there are two guys with guns running around, how are the police supposed to know who the bad guy is when they arrive?”

Fair point. We cops won’t know who the bad guy is when we arrive. But we do know not to assume that everyone with a gun is a bad guy. We train for that. We understand that we may encounter off-duty cops in plain clothes, armed civilians, security guards, even people carrying illegally but still trying to help. We may make a mistake and engage the wrong person. That’s the reality of lethal, armed encounters, and there’s no way to eliminate that risk. But that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t take action to defend themselves, their families and innocent people around them.

I’ve attended several Law Enforcement Active Shooter training courses, and was an assistant instructor for a few years. In addition to helping teach many classes, I also had the opportunity to participate in advanced training scenarios, and to play the role of an active shooter in numerous training exercises. I’m no expert on how to deal with an active shooter, and there are police officers who will disagree with me; however, in all the training I attended and instructed, I never saw a single reason why armed citizens can’t effectively respond to an active shooter.

This subject requires a 500 page research paper to fully explore, and I won’t inflict that on you. However, I’d like to leave you with some final thoughts.

We see pathetic cowardice from murderers in every active shooter incident. We don’t need to see cowardice disguised as virtue from the intended victims. Refusing to take action against a brutal murderer isn’t “exercising good sense”; it’s relying on nothing more than hope. We’ve seen that hope fail in tragedy after tragedy.

Someone once said, “Violence is rarely the answer, but when it is, it’s the only answer.” When a coward opens fire on a crowd of innocent people, new laws and passive measures have failed; immediate, massive violence returned toward that coward is the only answer. The only people who can inflict that violence are those right there, in his path.

My dream is that committing mass murder becomes too dangerous of a proposition for anyone to even consider it. My dream is that the American public stops putting responsibility for their own lives into someone else’s hands. My dream is that every useless loser who thinks he’ll “be somebody” by carrying out a massacre changes his mind, because he knows he’ll be shot down like a rabid dog within seconds of trying it. My dream is to see multiple armed citizens mow down every sorry excuse for a human being who tries to commit a mass murder. In the end, this righteous response is the only thing that will end the threat from these cowards.

Available in print and as an ebook from Amazon.com and Tactical16.com. Available electronically from iTunes/iBooks and Barnesandnoble.com.



78 Responses to “Cowards, Mass Murders And The American Public”

  1. 1 Fred Tepera

    Well stated and thought proking.

  2. 5 Michael Malone

    Chris, i couldn’t agree more. I wish I could have saved those kids in Connecticut!

    • These words come from a now-discredited author and speaker, but the words are still true:

      “On 9/11, millions of people watched video of planes crashing into the Twin Towers and thought, ‘I’m glad I wasn’t in one of those planes.’ But a very small number of people watched the video and thought, ‘Damn it, I wish I had been in one of those planes. Because I could have done something.'”

      We need more guys like you, who want to be there.

      • 7 B Carrillo

        Are you stating that Lt Col Dave Grossman was at some point discredited? Please expand upon this. When, and what were the circumstances?

        • Actually, I was referring to John Giduck. I went to one of Giduck’s presentations several years ago and he used that phrase. I wasn’t aware Col Grossman also used that phrase, and it’s possible Giduck was quoting Grossman. Giduck has been discredited, after he picked a fight with the wrong group of people and then filed a lawsuit to keep them from exposing his inflated credentials.

          Thanks for reading, hope I cleared up your question.

          Chris

    • John Giduck has been disgraced and discredited. His military “experience” consisted of flunking out of….err…failing to complete US Army basic training (endured only 58 days of training that 82% of all Army trainees actually reach graduation) and a series of one week commercial military style adventure camps in Russia. Grossman is a John Giduck apologist with a mutual financial interest who oddly teaches people about killing but has never killed anyone or even been in combat. It’s the ultimate manipulation of an audience that should know better – “I’ve never done something but let me tell you all about it…”. Would you take investing advice from someone that has never played the market? Of course not…yet people get taken in by LTC Grossman’s snake oil sales pitch every day.

  3. 10 Gina

    An excellent commentary. I’d only argue that it is not only our right to protect ourselves but also our responsibility. Emotions across the country are running high in the immediate aftermath of this horrific tragedy but hopefully people will realize that knee jerk reactions like more laws will not make us any safer than the BS we go through at airports does. The simple fact is you cannot legislate away evil, you have to meet it head on and fight it.

    • Gina,

      you are correct that knee-jerk reactions and new laws have little to no effect. Your last line, about not being able to legislate away evil, is a bit of wisdom that many people will never attain. Thank you for your comments.

      Chris

  4. 12 Gregg R

    You could not be more correct. I just told someone the other day we should arm our teachers and allow any teacher who is willing and can qualify to carry a weapon. Of course, they should receive regular training with the weapon and in active shooter scenarios. New anti-gun laws will not stop it. Banning guns will only disarm law abiding citizens. Criminals will always have guns if they want them.

    • Gregg,

      You’ve pointed out what seems to be the fatal (or maybe intentional) blind spot among those who support new gun control legislation. I would imagine many who support gun control also oppose laws banning abortions, in part because “women are going to find illegal ways to have abortions”. If that’s the case, why would they think gun control laws are effective?

      Chris

  5. 14 Angela

    I totally agree with your statements. Your scenario is scary because it is so true to life. I worry about my grand kids and the kind of world that will be greeting them when they enter adulthood.
    After talking about it for months, I just bought my first gun yesterday, although, I did not buy bullets…….baby steps for me. I would like to think that I’ll be brave and confident enough to use it if the time ever comes.

    • 15 Don

      Angela,
      Get training. It will help take the mystery and much of the fear away and allow you to start viewing the gun as the tool that it is. The strength and courage are there within you if you look for them regardless of the gun, the gun just allows you to be more effective.

      Congratulations on taking first your steps along this road. You have my respect for standing up and taking responsibility.

      • Angela,

        Please listen to Don!

        Don,

        Thanks for giving my big sister the kick in the ass she needed. You make a great point with statement about a gun simply allowing your strength and courage to be more effective. It reminded me of the Sandy Hook Elementary principal, who had the courage and strength to act but not the right tools. Had she been armed, this could have been a completely different story.

        Chris

      • 17 Angela

        You guys are too funny. I’m way ahead of you, (as women usually are where men are concerned), I signed up for classes BEFORE leaving the gun store. I plan on being experienced and much more confident prior to buying the bullets. As y’all already know, the last thing we need is a (complete) amateur gun owner with a loaded semi-automatic weapon. Thanks for the advice though.

  6. 18 Paul H

    I would disagree with one of your statements:

    “We may make a mistake and engage the wrong person. That’s the reality of lethal, armed encounters, and there’s no way to eliminate that risk.”

    There are two extreme options:

    1. Everyone owns a gun and is fully trained by someone like you.
    2. There are no guns available to anyone.

    Either of these two possibilities could significantly reduce the risk..

    Which is the best solution to move towards is what this debate is all about.

    • Paul,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Although I understand your point, I would disagree with you. Neither of the options you presented is realistic or attainable (as I believe you acknowledged by saying they were extreme). We will never have a completely armed and trained populace, and will never remove all guns from society. I don’t think we should be moving toward either of those extremes. We should encourage people to exercise their choice to arm and defend themselves; some would choose that option, some wouldn’t. Nobody would be forced. I believe enough citizens would choose to be armed, and have enough training to present a threat to a potential mass murderer, that most budding active shooters would decide against acting on their fantasy.

      I think the issue with your statement is the phrase, “either of these two possibilities”, because neither is actually possible. If I’ve misunderstood you, please correct me. I appreciate any feedback, whether agreeing or disagreeing.

      Chris

  7. Putting this on my Facebook page and on my gun page, U.S. Gun Owners Association on Facebook… Excellent piece!!

  8. And with your permission I will re-post on my blog… Let me know if that is acceptable, and with full accreditation to you of course..

  9. I’ll be sharing it my limited realm also, Chris. Because Fred posted it, and besides his good judgement, you’ve got an excellent piece here.

  10. 25 sabashimon

    Nicely stated friend,

    Shimon

    • Shimon,

      Thank you, I hope I got my point across. Are you Israeli? If so, I’d like to hear your perspective. We hear a lot about the Israeli experience with an armed population and how you respond to attacks.

  11. 27 Ellen

    I am trying to educate myself on this and understand, and appreciate your perspective. I realize that most people carrying are decently trained and responsible people and I of course appreciate the thought that in the case of a mass murderer on the loose, that a car salesman on the spot is much better than a SWAT five minutes away. What I am concerned about is the likeliness of my son being approached by a mass murderer and saved by the car salesman vs. my son being in the same class as the car salesman’s son, who on the 2000th day of the car salesman’s ownership and careful storage of the gun manages to get his hands on it and decides to show my son a trick, or a lesson, depending on how good friends they are. I have to say I’m scared at the thought of even more guns in our society because accidents happen. I read somewhere that if you own a gun, it is a higher chance that this gun will harm you or someone you care about than that it will save you. I don’t know if that is true, but I could see how it could be the case. I’m sure it’s not the case for people as well trained and conditioned as you, but I have a feeling you’re not the average gun owner. I wonder about the statistics of kids killed by mass murderers vs. kids getting their hands on a gun and taking their own life, or killed by their mother’s angry boyfriend. All that being said, I absolutely get the point of the benefit to a society to have weapon possessing and trained citizens, not only as protection against criminals but also as balance to government. There’s just a lot of questions going on for me and I don’t know the answer yet. I will keep reading, and thank you for what you have contributed toward my bigger picture.

    • Ellen, These are all good points and no doubt front of mind for those who hold similar views. That said, a simple license qualification, like a firearm proficiency course (and certificate) much like you need to get a driver’s license as a prerequisite to the grant of a gun license and of course purchase. Would not the world be a safer place with as many as can be found trained and proficient handgun owners/carriers?

      • Peter,

        I’m torn on the idea of people having to get a license to own a weapon, but I see the reasoning behind it. I’m all for right to carry after passing a background check and basic proficiency course though. Whatever the mechanism is, having more armed, responsible people on the street is a good thing.

        Chris

    • Ellen,

      I’ve heard the same statistics you have about gun owners being more likely to be harmed with their own gun than to use it for self defense. That statistic has been around for decades, and I don’t know where it came from or how accurate it is. But you’re right, it is a concern. I approach that problem this way: whether guns are restricted right now or not, people who shouldn’t have guns will still have easy access to them. Even if possession of any type of firearm was made illegal and police started trying to confiscate every gun everywhere in America, that process would still take decades (and would fail, the police would never get them all). That being the case, we know that for the foreseeable future we face the threat of being attacked by someone with a gun. Since we know for certain that threat exists, we should also acknowledge the fact that nobody is more responsible for the safety of you and your family than you are, and nobody is guaranteed to be there to protect you. Therefore, you should have the right and means to defend yourself.

      It is a complex issue though, and I commend you for considering all sides of the argument. I’ve experienced tragedies involving guns before, and have also seen them used legitimately for self defense. The unfortunate truth is that guns will always be misused by someone. And some responsible person with a gun has to be there to stop that misuse.

      Thank you for your comments and I hope to hear from you again.

      Chris

      • 31 Ellen

        Chris,
        Thank you for the comment. I’ve been getting updates via email on the activities on this post, and just want to let you know what a comfort it has been for me to continue to read your balanced and well thought responses. They continue to nurture and assure me, through the continued aftermath of this massacre and in general. I really respect your reasoning and my eyes are continuously opened. Thank you for bringing balance and reason to this tender debate.

        • Ellen,

          Thank you and I’m glad this has been a good learning experience for you. I wrote that post to educate and inform, but I also welcome dissenting opinions because I know I still have much to learn. My next post Monday will be in support of allowing teachers to carry, and I’d like to hear your opinion on that.

          Hope you had a Merry Christmas, and that you have a Happy New Year.

          Chris

  12. 33 Grant Huffman

    Chris,
    Excellent read. It was shared on an OU message board, big discussions about these issues. I am a teacher in an Ele school in an urban area for 23 yrs. I have guns and am going through CC, was planning before this situation. My heart goes out to the families, but if obama and the dems think MORE LAWS are going to do anything they are mistaken. Obvisouly we have reviewed our school’s “intruder” drills, but honestly the ONLY thing that would have stopped this COWARD is if a teacher had a gun and shot him. There is a district in Tx that has unknown staff that are CC. I think teachers can be trained just like police. Thanks for your insight.
    Grant

    • Grant,

      I’m glad you appreciated it, and hope more teachers come around to the mindset you have. Thank you for sharing it on the message board, and I’d love to hear about any feedback you receive. I would most people, especially those who tend to support stricter gun control, should understand that you can’t “legislate evil away”. The ONLY thing that can stop evil people from committing evil acts is the presence of good people who have the required tools and are willing to act.

      Chris

  13. 35 T Marie

    Good article, like many Americans wish I could have helped in Newtown, Colorado. . . I agree with the right to protect ourselves with guns and there are likely many solutions that must go into preventing further of these tragedies. This includes eliminating access to large rounds of ammunition and magazines where many shots can be fired, enabling shooters to kill maximum children in seconds. The NRA functions on fear, that the 2nd amendment is violated by any limits to weapons. I am from a family of sporting shooters, my father writes for a shotgun magazine, and none of us are members of the NRA because of its extremist views, hard line stance and inaccurate information shared on its website. This is unfortunate because the NRA also advocates gun safety and could be a leader instead of a barrier. I pray this will lead to meaningful dialogue and change.

    • T,

      Thank you for your comments. I personally don’t think the problem is due to sales of large amounts of ammunition, or to high-capacity magazines. I and many other people I’ve known have bought thousands of rounds at a time for training courses, and own high-cap mags for many weapons, and I don’t know that any mass murderers relied on huge amounts of ammunition or high-cap mags. While I understand your point, I don’t think the problem is that a murderer has a 20 round magazine instead of a 10 round mag. And off the top of my head I don’t know of any active shooter incident where the shooter fired more than about a hundred rounds (although there probably are, I just can’t think of one offhand). Anyone could legitimately buy that much ammo without raising any suspicion at all. I agree with you that some measures need to be taken to prevent these guys from getting weapons and ammunition, but I don’t think that would do it.

      Regarding the NRA, I don’t know that they function on fear, but like you I’ve had a problem with some of the statements the NRA has made. I do support their efforts in principle, but can also see the need for more flexibility on their part. And like you I would like to see them provide many more people with basic weapons safety and proficiency training.

      Chris

      • 37 T Marie

        Thank you for your thoughtful response. When I say that the NRA functions on fear, I mean instilling fear in its members, by implying that any form of regulation is a slippery slope that will lead to the demise of our second amendment rights. For the past few years (though maybe not in the past week), the main headings on the NRA webpage describe our government as a ticking time bomb that is waiting for an opportune moment to completely reverse our second amendment rights. Based on the facts of what my local leaders (I am in Pennsylvania), the president, etc have stated, this is inaccurate information. This instills fear in members of the NRA (which can help to promote membership and donations). This type of black and white argument is used as a debating point across a range of issues, and shuts down the opportunity of meaningful discussion. The NRA should be better than this!

        I have young, physically active children and am an active Mom in my neighborhood. Though your article is food for thought, I won’t be carrying. Gun safety was paramount in my childhood home and with my own family as my kids learn to shoot. I cannot assure that I can give my gun the respect and attention it deserves when I am grocery shopping, volunteering, at the park with my kids. Food for thought, though. . . Thank you.

        • T,

          The “slippery slope” point you made has been on my mind for years. Can any new gun control legislation lead us down that slippery slope toward total repeal of the 2nd Amendment? Possibly. Can reasonable gun control laws reduce violence without harming our 2nd Amendment rights? Possibly. After all, we have laws restricting ownership of fully automatic weapons and explosives, and that’s not considered a restriction on our rights. Where’s the middle ground? That’s a question I can’t answer.

          Today we hear prominent voices in the media calling the 2nd Amendment “quaint” or “outdated”. The comedian Daniel Tosh commented on one of his shows, “If you believe in the 2nd Amendment, you’re a f**king idiot”. So once the “intellectual elite” decide nobody needs a gun, how long before the people they elect start pushing laws reflecting that belief?

          I’m not part of the NRA, not because I disagree with everything they do but because I don’t like the idea of having any organization supposedly speak for me. For the same reason, I refuse to join any political party. But I give the NRA credit for being a consistent voice defending the 2nd Amendment. Do they need to compromise? Possibly.

          Maybe they feel the same way I do about gun control. If someone comes up with a law that actually works, and protects our 2A rights, then I could support it.

          Also, I support anyone’s decision not to carry a weapon, as long as it’s an informed decision. Yours obviously is.

          Chris

  14. 39 RJ

    Just found this posted on Snipershide.com. Excellent read from an old retired Top who has carried a gun for over 50 years.

    I am glad to see the media starting to discuss mental health issues and the stigma that prevents the individual or family from seeking help.

    Thank you for the time to take to write and the service you give our country.

    • Top,

      Thanks for your comments, and I’m glad you enjoyed my essay. I agree that we’re way past the point that we should have addressed mental health problems as they relate to weapons and public safety. Anyone who thinks the “answer” to mass murders is simple or one-dimensional is wrong; only addressing prevention doesn’t work when the attack begins, and only being reactive doesn’t stop it from happening in the first place. As my CO said, it’s a layered approach.

      Thank you for your service as well. I’m up for First Sergeant, and it doesn’t sound like fun.

      Chris

  15. 41 Jenna W

    Thanks for this great article. My sister is a police officer and shared it with me. I have never been against guns, just always more scared of them myself. I went shooting with my husband once and after one shot, I nearly dropped the gun and left in tears (I was also early in my first pregnancy at the time, which could have been a factor too!), but after we got married my husband decided to get a gun or two, just to protect our family and to “even the playing field” as he refers to it. I have always been in support of this, but never planned on owning one myself. However, after reading your article, you have made me look at things in a new light. Putting myself in that hypothetical situation with my daughter…. there really is no other option. Often times when I am out running errands, it is just me and my daughter and I can’t depend on my husband to be there to protect us with his gun. And if you are a father, you can only imagine that as a mother, there isnt a thing in this world I wouldn’t do to protect her and keep her safe.
    So sincerely, thank you to your article it has inspired me to pony up, put on my big girl pants and get to the range to practice, practice, practice and become more familiar and comfortable with a gun so that I can one day (soon) be a responsible gun owner and carrier. And not necessarily for my protection, but because I would do anything to protect my daughter.

    • Jenna,

      Thank you, and I’m glad to hear you say that you’re going to practice so you’ll be more familiar and comfortable with a weapon. I’m going to write another post about the importance of training, because unfortunately too many people decide “I’m going to get a gun, then I’ll be safe” without considering the importance of learning how to use it. That’s why I referred to “armed, trained citizens” in my essay, rather than simply saying “armed citizens”. A woman who is armed, trained and motivated to defend her children can be a huge threat to an active shooter, or for that matter to any criminal.

      Thanks again, good luck and please let me know your progress as you move toward this new goal.

      Chris

  16. 44 Hope

    Hi Chris. I just found you after someone shared your post on Facebook. Your writing skills are excellent! I even ordered your book via Amazon Kindle. Thanks for sharing the truth about the world we live in now. My husband, who is recently retired city cop, wasn’t one to carry around a weapon when he was off duty. But ever since the Aurora incident, he has been carrying one depending on the destination. I am proud of him, knowing he can and will protect me and others without hesitation. We live in a rural community and we have no expectation of rapid law enforcement response. I’ve never been a fan of guns, even afraid of them, but recently enrolled in a shooting course and plan on taking more training just to gain confidence.

    • Hope,

      Your comment is the second today that mentions the importance of training, and it’s fantastic to hear people not only talk about the easy part (buying a gun) but also the hard part (getting trained). If you ever do wind up in the middle of one of these incidents, the training and mindset will be, in a sense, more important than the weapon.

      During the Mumbai attacks, several Indian police officers in a train station that was attacked stood by and did nothing, even though they had rifles. Without training and will to act, weapons aren’t worth much. In the church shooting in Aurora, Colorado, an unarmed Vietnam vet moved toward the shooter, screaming and insulting him, and probably drew his attention from other potential victims. But without a weapon he could only do so much.

      To be capable of stopping an active shooter, you need a weapon, training and will. I commend you for making the decision to have all three.

      Chris

    • Hope,

      Also, thank you very much for buying my book. I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know what you think of it. I’m open to any feedback, positive or negative.

      Chris

  17. 47 Dave

    My sentiments exactly. I see sorry cowards when I hear of these shootings. The Newtown shooter picked the elementary school because he knew there would be no resistance, from teachers and especially not from the children. Just the possibility that he might encounter armed resistance would have deterred him. Thankfully he saved us the agony and cost of a trial and unlimited appeals that rub salt into the wounds of the families for decades.

    • Dave,

      I think you hit the nail on the head. If you’re looking for a place to carry out a massacre, what do you look for? A helpless population, and no chance of encountering resistance. Most of these incidents occur in upper middle class, suburban schools that don’t have problems with violence. Maybe that’s because an aspiring mass murderer knows he’s likely to encounter armed resistance at tougher, inner city schools?

      Thanks for reading my post and commenting.

      Chris

  18. 49 Angela

    Food for thought:
    How about arming our FIREFIGHTERS? A lot of them are veterans, they are trained professionals and fire stations are numerous when compared to police stations.

    • 50 Angela

      I noticed you didn’t respond to this………..In light of what happened in New York on Christmas Eve, this is sounding like a better idea. Firefighters are often the first responders for any type of emergency. Response?

      • Angela,

        Whoops, sorry I missed that comment earlier. In general, I support the idea of ANY qualified American carrying a weapon. But there’s a difference between those who carry to defend themselves (armed citizens) and those who carry to defend others (police). Allowing firefighters to carry weapons is a good idea; not ARMING them, but allowing those who choose to carry to do so. But it wouldn’t have helped much in the Webster, NY shooting. Firefighters carrying pistols would still have been at a huge disadvantage when ambushed from a distance by a convicted murderer with a large caliber, semi-auto rifle. If I were one of those firefighters I would definitely rather have a weapon than not have one, but the likelihood of the firefighters being able to effectively fight back is pretty low. Some situations demand a response by a well-trained, well-armed team of dedicated warriors.

        Again, I’d support the idea of letting firefighters carry, but for general purpose self-defense and in case they were in the right place at the right time to stop a mass murder. But I don’t think it would have helped them much in NY.

        Chris

  19. Finally some words that make sense! Our government is clearly going about this in the wrong way and I think your blog post is worthy of others on both sides of the argument reading! This post was sent to me by a friend of mind that is also a law enforcement officer with whom I worked with many years ago and have great respect for. I think it is time that people fully understand the 2nd Amendment, it’s intent, why it exists and the responsibilities that go with being an American. I live in Wyoming and more than 60% of the people you meet that actually live here have read it. Thanks for the thoughtful commentary…

    • Timothy,

      One of the comments I’ve heard repeatedly since the Newtown shooting is “you don’t need an assault rifle to hunt deer”. This shows a basic misunderstanding of the 2nd Amendment. It truly isn’t about hunting. I would like to see Americans recognize that, and understand the responsibility they have to defend themselves and their families. But based on much of what I’m seeing and hearing in the media, that isn’t going to happen.

      Thank you for reading my post, and for your comments. Stay warm up there in Wyoming.

      Chris

  20. Chris, until the public realizes AND ACCEPTS that the second amendment is there to protect all the rest of the rights enumerated in the Bill and the rest of the founding documents, they will continue to think we don’t need the second.

    Once a power removes the second, we have no way of stopping them from removing the rest of them, too.

    • Cary,

      that’s why it bugs me so much to see prominent people in the media talk about the 2A being outdated and obsolete. This country didn’t become free because educated men decided it should be; it became free through the use of force, and stays free through the use or threat of force. Once we become so out of touch with that reality that we ignore the need for force, we start to lose our freedoms.

      Chris

  21. 56 Jim Tattersall

    As someone with over fifty years of LE related experience from military LE to public and private LE, let me tell you that carrying a concealed weapon is no fun. Trying to keep it out of sight so no nervous nellie gets excited and creates a scene takes a constant effort..It does not make you feel macho or super special like a lot of people may think, it is a lot of responsibility to carry properly. I will be honest and say that I did not always carry off duty in the past because it is uncomfortable and you can never let down your guard to keep it concealed. Now, that is over, the many recent incidents of innocent people being killed in public places by lunatics have become numerous and not isolated incidents anymore. I always carry now because I could not live with myself if I was in a situation where I could make a difference and did not have the means to when I have the right to. As a retired law enforcement officer I have the right and responsibility to carry as provided by Federal law in all fifty states. You can imagine the responsibility that goes with this, just keeping a weapon concealed to prevent any embarrassment of being confronted by a law enforcement officer and explaining over and over again why you are armed and them proving you are legal to do so. There are those who think that carrying a weapon concealed is not necessary today, it is not for a lot of people who are not mentally and emotionally able to handle the responsibility but for those of us who are trained and willing to bear the responsibility, do not denigrate us, and be glad that if you are in a situation that requires armed response that may save your life or anther’s, be glad that we are around.

    • Jim,

      Something I tell people who ask me about getting a CHL is that carrying a gun is a lifestyle change. It’s not as simple as some people think. I’ve carried a pistol for almost 20 years, and it changes how you dress, where you go, how you interact with others in some situations, what you can do for recreation, etc. I’m not a drinker, but if I were I couldn’t go out drinking with friends while carrying a gun. I’ve been kicked out of a couple of places because I told security I was an off-duty cop and was carrying, and they wouldn’t allow anyone to carry in their business. As a minor nuisance, I can’t even get a massage at one of those little massage places at the mall, and I really, REALLY need a massage.

      Then there are the considerations of having a weapon in your home, especially if you have children. Many people consider buying a gun and don’t think at all about buying a gun safe. I have small children in my home, and I have to make sure my weapons are secured at all times.

      But you’re right, it’s worth all the minor annoyances. I know that should the unthinkable happen while I’m out in public with my family, I can fight back to defend myself, my family and the innocent people around me.

      Thank you for your comments, and your service.

      Chris

      • 58 sabashimon

        Your only mistake here Chris, IMO, is informing security that you are armed.
        Concealed means…..concealed.
        All the best,
        sabasarge

        • Shimon,

          No argument there, if I could have gotten away with not telling them I would have. Unfortunately, there were metal detectors so I couldn’t be sneaky about it.

          Chris

  22. 60 Denwood Butler

    Chris,

    I am sure you are aware of the following point, but this may give a few of your responders additional food for thought. Focusing on a single issue may expose your flanks to peripheral attacks. Be aware of the overall agenda of the left. As with most existing, pending and future legislation, this issue is not about “guns”, it is about “control”. The pros and cons of control are debatable, but do not make the mistake that the 2nd amendment is a solitary attack point. Given this broader prospective, each of us could develop a list of adjectives preceding the word “control”, which leads to a dependency on the State. Such dependency leads to votes, which in turn ensures the agenda remains on course. Many caveats accompany the above thoughts, so further discussion on this blog is encouraged.

    • Denwood,

      I’m not worrried about a small, conspiratorial group with an overall agenda to restrict freedoms. I’m worried about a huge mass of people who think certain freedoms must be restricted for the greater good. Those people, some of whom I know, aren’t thinking globally about how to turn America into a dictatorship; they’re honestly concerned with preventing tragedies, but don’t see that restricting freedom makes those tragedies more likely.

      After the Benghazi attack, before we learned that a video had nothing to do with it, one of my high school friends posted on Facebook that we need to punish people for speech intended to cause a violent reaction. My friend isn’t a communist and isn’t anti-American. He saw a tragedy (Benghazi attack), thought it was the result of free speech (“Innocence of Muslims” movie), and immediately thought, “We need to restrict movies like that, to prevent these tragedies in the future”. That’s what I’m afraid of, because those “good intentions” can have far-reaching negative consequences on our overall freedom. At the moment, a gigantic portion of our population has those “good intentions”.

      Chris

  23. 62 roge

    Makes me wonder if the staff, principle, teachers, cooks and maintanance workers besides, the secret service, at the school where Presidents children attend classes, are encouraged to be armed.(Mandatory)

    • Rogelio,

      A story came out recently on Breitbart.com that claims there are 11 armed guards at the school the Obama children attend. I don’t know if it’s true, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

  24. 64 Ron

    Chris,
    Well written article; as retired LE officer of 31 years, I agree with your opinions and your replies to your readers. Only another LE officer will understand completely what I’m about to say. “The general public doesn’t have clue to the amount of evil that lurks among us every day.”

    Now that I’m retired, I teach a concealed pistol license class. In the short time that I’ve taught classes; I’ve had two students return to tell me, that taking the class saved their lives and possible the lives of others. They told me taking the class gave them the knowledge and confidence of how to respond to an armed individual. In one case, the shooter had already killed two and wounded another two people. I’ve had other students tell me, just taking the class has given them the insight of how to look at potential dangerous situations and a have a plan in their minds.

    I mention the above scenario, so your readers may think about taking a concealed pistol class in their area. You don’t have to carry a handgun after obtaining a concealed pistol license, but the knowledge gain from taking a class may just save a life.

    • Ron,

      Obviously you’re mistaken. Carrying a weapon didn’t save your students’ lives; “adding another gun just makes things worse”. :)

      Good on your for encouraging and teaching people to carry. I’ve been meaning to get a CHL for over 10 years, just in case I quit LE work in disgust.

      Also, I’d like to read the account of your student defending himself in the incident you described. Would you have a link to info on that?

      Thank you for your comments, and your LE service.

      Chris

  25. I AM A RETIRED POLICE OFFICER FROM A LARGER CITY. I THINK EVERY ONE SHOULD CARRY A HAND GUN FOR DEFENCE. IT WOULD DISCOURAGE POTENTIAL PEOPLE FROM SHOOTING OTHER PEOPLE, LIKE HAS BEEN GOING ONE LATLEY. I WAS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT FOR 22 YEARS. I DO KNOW THAT THERE HAS BEEN POLICE OFFICERS KILLED WITH THEIR OWN GUNS IN A FIGHT. THERE HAVE BEEN POLICE OFFICER SUBDUED WITH THERE OWN NIGHT STICKS.
    AS A POLICE OFFICER YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL AND ALERT FOR A POSSIBLE ATTACK FROM ANY ONE.
    PEOPLE THAT CARRY HAND GUNS SHOULD BE TRAINED. I HAVE SEEN PEOPLE SHOOT AT SOMEONE THAT WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM AND MISS
    THE PERSON THEY WERE SHOOTING AT. I HAVE SEEN PEOPLE SHOT IN THE HEAD AND THE BULLEET BOUNCED OFF. I HAVE SEEN A PERSON SHOT THROUGHT THE HEART AND RUN A 1/2 A BLOCK BE FORE GOING DOWN.

    • Jack,

      I think you mean that all decent, capable people should carry, not that everyone should carry. I agree that more weapons in the hands of the right people is a good thing. I also agree that people need to be aware of the realities of a gunfight. Someone can take multiple rounds and still be not only alive but aggressive; someone can lose a portion of their skull and brain and still be awake and capable of shooting (seen that happen, and it freaked me out); someone can fire from ridiculously close range and still miss under stress, etc. Carrying a weapon does not bestow magical powers on anyone, and if they’re stupid about it they’ll just put themselves in more danger.

      Thanks for your comments, and your LE service.

      Chris

      p.s. If you don’t mind, can you switch the caps off? All caps makes your post a little difficult to read.

  26. I think you sum up two very important points. 1) This sense of superiority. 2) The hidden fear of action

    Part of this fear I believe has also been cause by the culture of the United States becoming a convoluted sea of litigation. We read all the stories about buglers getting trapped under garage doors and suing the door manufacturers, home invaders getting shot then taking the owner to civil court, some guy being sued because he broke someone’s ribs giving CPR. Everything is upside down.

    The lesson in the fable of the Good Samaritan is totally gone.

    No matter your views on religion, people have lost their sense of spirituality and sense of greater purpose. It’s not a good thing.

    There are no consequences for failure. Failure is how people are supposed to learn and grow.

    Lastly moral relativity has become a huge destroyer of rational, clear identification of good and evil that must happen in order for a society to exist.

    I’m glad I found your blogs. I might have to start writing again.

    • I read a lot of articles on the Huffington Post and I tried to read some on Mother Jones. HuffPo makes me mad, MJ makes me too sick to go on. Both have tons of articles justifying a cowardly fear of taking action. One HuffPo writer even said if he’s in the middle of a mass shooting, he doesn’t want ANYONE shooting back because that “doubles his chances of being killed.” I truly don’t understand that kind of cowardice. And it’s not just cowardice on a personal level, it’s cowardice they want to share with everyone in America.

      Agreed on the other points as well. I’m agnostic, but I believe in morals and principles far greater than myself. Those beliefs have helped me get through some tough times.

      I hope to see your writing sometime. Thanks for reading and commenting, and please comment as often as you wish.

      Chris

  27. 70 JimP

    “Typically, these murderers commit suicide as soon as they’re confronted…….”

    You forgot Jeanne Assam, at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs- the gunman had an AR, a handgun, body armor, a helmet, and hundreds of rounds of ammo…… but when Ms. Assam engaged him and managed to hit him in the leg with a minor caliber pistol, he checked himself out immediately: his fantasy world was broken because somebody resisted. He had them outgunned, and was near bullet proof in most vital areas, but could not deal with the fact that he was not “all powerful” from that point.

    The saddest part of this whole debate is that the folks that will not take any action to help in a situation like this seem compelled to take actions to prevent anyone who has the courage to do the necessary from doing so. Does that seem right to you? I can not wrap my head around that.

    JimP

    • Oh, I remember Jeanne Assam. One of the things that pisses me off is that her actions are usually dismissed by anti-gun people because she’s a former police officer. As far as they’re concerned, the fact that she responded as an armed citizen means nothing because of her LE background. They ignore the fact that she didn’t do anything an armed citizen couldn’t have done.

      And you’re right, I don’t get why some people who refuse to take action don’t want anyone else to take action either. That’s mind-boggling.

  28. 72 Corey Schachte

    I want to say thank you for this article. The chilling scenario illustrates a reality that many people never take into account.

  29. 74 Chris

    I love your quote about violence sometimes being the only answer. I understand and am well versed in the use of violence on a tactical level. The strategic stuff was levels above my paygrade, but I have a decent understanding of that as well. The choice to use violence is both tactical and strategic. Unfortunately it seem to be coming all to common place of a requirement as our society becomes more and more violent.

    • Chris,

      I think the problem isn’t exactly that violence is too commonplace in society. The problem is that criminal violence isn’t held in check by justifiable violence.

      Disease vaccines might be a good analogy. Imagine a disease was running rampant in society. Thousands of people were being killed or crippled by it. While this is happening, thousands of people with some medical training are holding vaccines for this disease. They could use the vaccines to stop the disease, but they’ve been told it’s not their job to do it. If they see someone with the disease, they should just call a doctor. They might even be sued if they improperly use the vaccine, even though not using the vaccine is doing nothing but leading to more deaths.

      We’re pretty much in the same boat with violence. The good guys way outnumber the bad guys, but don’t apply the means they have to stop criminals from running wild.

      • 76 Ellen

        I appreciate the disease analogy. Pretty much hits it on all accounts. We are trained not to use it, trained to defer action to specifically designated people, and are concerned we will get sued if we do what makes sense. It is a powerful statement that the “good guys” far outnumber the “bad guys.” I believe that’s true. I subscribed to this blog thread ages ago and appreciate all the views and points that have come up over time. Thank you.


  1. 1 concealed carry views as an LEO
  2. 2 gun links | Forlorn Mind

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