“I’m not going to say we don’t appreciate the cell phone videos that we have gotten on so many occasions that have helped us solve crimes. But it makes people so incredibly vulnerable to crime. And the inattention, which creates this tremendous vulnerability to people, is just something that’s so easily corrected.” That’s San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr reminding San Franciscans that when they’re out in public, they’re, well, out in public. With all the attendant risks that entails. This, in the wake of a shooting last month. Nikhom Thephakaysone pulled a .45 on a crowded commuter train and pointed it across the aisle . . .
“These weren’t concealed movements – the gun is very clear,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “These people are in very close proximity with him, and nobody sees this. They’re just so engrossed, texting and reading and whatnot. They’re completely oblivious of their surroundings.”
Thephakaysone didn’t shoot on the train. He got off without disturbing anyone because all the other passengers were heads down, absorbed by their electronic devices. It was only later that investigators noticed him drawing the pistol when they reviewed the train’s security video. They were investigating the (apparently random) murder of Justin Valdez about an hour after Thephakaysone got off.
“When you used to go into a public place, you assumed everyone was in that place with you,” said Jack Nasar, an Ohio State University professor in city and regional planning who specializes in environmental psychology. “What happens to public places when everybody is talking on a cell phone? Everyone is somewhere else.
Yes, this is what happens to people who are bored and absorbed by their iPhones. It’s also a symptom of what happens to people who are unarmed, people who have given over the responsibility for their safety to someone else, either by choice or, in enlightened places like San Francisco, because their right to armed self defense has been legislated away.
Can a law abiding citizen who’s packing a gun lose himself updating his MyFace page or in a game of Angry Birds? Sure, they’re human, too. But as most people who carry concealed can tell you, when you pack heat, you tend to be more aware of your surroundings. Do the People of the Gun who carry tend to be the vigilant type, or does carrying a gun raise your Spidey senses? Does it really matter?