After a mass shooting, the mainstream media fixates on motive. The People of the Gun are more interested in methodology. How was the slaughter accomplished? All observers wonder, what could have been done to prevent it? Here’s a clue: not gun control. Not in the case of the Sutherland Springs slaughter. And not in any other case, either.
But there are some important lessons to be learned. Lessons that should be familiar to many of our readers.
1. Life threatening violence can appear anywhere, any time
Sutherland Springs is a bucolic South Texas town. It’s nothing like Chicago’s gang-infested urban hell holes, where drive-bys and revenge killings are an everyday occurrence. Sitting in a small church on a blessedly cool fall Sunday morning, nestled in a community so small no one uses their turn indicators (’cause everyone knows where you’re going), none of the First Baptist Church’s parishioners had reason to suspect they were about to be slaughtered by a madman.
No reason other than the fact that madmen exist. Killers who strike at a time and place of their choosing, not their victims’. Killers who have no respect for human life or basic human decency. If you accept their existence and the existence of people who are more evil than crazy, you understand that bad things can and do happen to good people anywhere, any time. Nowhere is perfectly safe.
2. Carry a gun
For gun owners, there’s one important way to “cope” with the ever-present possibility of a violent attack: carry a gun. A firearm is the best personal defense weapon money can buy — but only if you have it with you.
I suspect the majority of the adults in The First Baptist church last Sunday morning are or were gun owners. As far as we know, none of them returned fire as the killer began his rampage. At the risk of offering a piercing glimpse into the obvious, if you don’t have access to a gun, you don’t have a gun. So have a gun.
I know. For most of us, the odds of needing a defensive firearm in our everyday life — in church, on the playground, at the gym, at home or work — are vanishingly small. But the consequences of not having a gun when we need one (or two) couldn’t be any more dire. So again, carry a gun wherever and whenever you can, regardless of the level of perceived danger.
3. Be ready to use your gun
Stephen Willeford was a lucky man. He left his house to confront the mass murderer with an AR-15 loaded with a single ammunition magazine, into which he’d hurriedly inserted an indeterminate number of rounds. When he faced the killer for the last time, after he’d run off the road, Mr. Willeford had only two rounds left.
Be that guy, but don’t be that guy.
Whatever firearm you carry, make sure it’s easily accessible, fully loaded and reliably functional. Where you take it from there — an extra mag, a backup gun, flashlight, tons of tacticool training — is up to you. But be sure to have the basics covered: access to a working gun and the knowledge necessary to use it.
Equally important, Sunday’s tragedy shows the importance of situational awareness, no matter where we are, or what we’re doing. Not paranoia. Awareness. Readiness. Because the sooner you launch a counter-attack, well, the estimable Mr. Willeford knows the score. “I just wish I could’ve been there sooner.” As do we all.