“University of Idaho officials say at least one police officer knew of alleged gun threats against a graduate student before she was shot and killed by a professor she had been dating,” huffingtonpost.com reports. “Katie Benoit [above] complained to the university in June that professor Ernesto Bustamante had threatened her with a firearm three separate times during the relationship. Moscow Police Chief David Duke said Friday he was unaware of gun threats until after Bustamante shot and killed Benoit on Aug. 22 and committed suicide. On Wednesday, Duke said the officer on the assessment team reported after the shooting that the team had brief talks about gun threats.” Now what does that tell you?
Nothing much, actually. Anyone who thinks that it’s the police’s job to protect them is woefully, in this case fatally, mistaken. Sure the po-po are handy when public violence is brewing. But when it comes to more “intimate” attacks—muggings, date rape, robbery, domestic violence, etc.—fuhgeddabowdit. The cops are there to secure the scene. Do the paperwork. Clean up the mess.
In the Benoit case, it looks as if the cops failed to clean up a mess or three, enabling a much bigger mess. That said, Monday morning quarterbacking is unreasonably easy. Philip K. Dick’s precogs remain fictional. And although gun control advocates advocate erring on the side of confiscation (always), I’m down with that innocent until proven guilty thing.
I digress. My main point: you’re on your own. It’s up to you to protect yourself from violence, both in terms of prevention and reaction.
In some cases, you can and should see it coming. With all due respect to Ms. Benoit (who didn’t deserve her fate), if someone threatens you with a gun it’s a pretty good indication that you shouldn’t be hanging out with them. The same is true if someone threatens you without a gun. In fact, you should take all threats seriously.
For example, there are plenty of nasty drunks: people who tie one on, get aggressive, sober up, apologize, blame the booze and swear it will never happen again. Best policy? Forgive but never forget. And then avoid like the plague. In all cases, the bottom line remains the same: you are the threat assessment team for yourself and your loved ones.
I reckon it’s best to operate from the perspective that there’s always some sort of lethal threat out there somewhere—no matter how statistically insignificant. I’ve seen enough of the world to know that bad shit happens, sometimes at random. Carrying is no big deal so why not have a firearms-related plan C (after avoidance and running away)?
From that ballistic baseline you can ratchet up your situational awareness, and then change your avoidance behavior and/level of preparedness according to environmental conditions.
The Brits say (and I repeat frequently) that it’s the bus you don’t see that kills you. Ah, but most people don’t get hit by a bus. They’re trained from an early age to look both ways before they cross the road. BUT tourists in the UK are not used to looking right then left; more than a few don’t adjust their behavior to match their changed circumstances. Splat.
Don’t let that be you.