I have a friend who is an inspector for OSHA – the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Say what you will about the silly OSHA regulations (and he has a lot to say about some of the stuff he’s required to enforce), but he does clean up some workplaces that any reasonable person would call “deathtraps”. I asked him once why people would voluntarily work in those companies; didn’t they value their safety enough to work in a place that wouldn’t expose them to death or dismemberment on a daily basis?
He shrugged his shoulders and said “I guess they need the jobs.”
His statement came flooding back to me as I contemplated the horrific mass murder that occurred in my own state of Oregon on Thursday. At Umpqua Community College (UCC) in Roseburg, a logging town in the southern half of our beautiful state, ten people were killed and several were critically wounded by a killer who used a gun to do his despicable deeds. I have friends and relatives in that town who had connections to the victims.
As I write this the details are still emerging; the local Sheriffs Office is being careful to release only information they’re sure about. What we do know is that UCC, like most colleges in the state, was a posted “gun free zone” — the courts having given public colleges the option of prohibiting legal concealed carry in their buildings on campus. (This was a decision which seems to fly in the face of our state’s preemption law and is, I’m told, being appealed.)
Now whether they can or cannot prohibit the general public from carrying on campus, most of our public colleges and universities have clauses in their student handbooks (which the student agrees to follow when they register for classes) that forbid the carrying of otherwise legal concealed weapons. If the student wants the education, he or she must “voluntarily” surrender their right to efficient self-defense. People need diplomas.
See the connection? We all have things we need and want, and not all of them are compatible with defensive firearms.
Many people work in companies which forbid lawful concealed carry; many people go to entertainment events which bar them from having a defensive firearm on their person or worship in congregations which do likewise. Still more get on an airplane after being searched for any sort of weapon, not just guns. We do these things because we decide, ahead of time, that the value of doing them exceeds the risk we take. The trouble is that many times we don’t do anything to compensate for that risk.
If you’re a regular concealed carrier, there are going to be lots of places you can’t take your gun; you’ll then have a choice to make. Whether the choice is voluntary or “voluntary”, you can’t let the lack of a firearm reduce your options to zero even in the face of, or perhaps especially in the face of, a mass murderer.
I’m not talking about studying martial arts for decades to become a black belt, either. What I am talking about is a resolute decision, made ahead of time, that you will not go quietly into the night when faced with the possibility of your life being ended by another. Whether it’s fleeing the scene or improvising a weapon for a response, you need to decide now that your life is worth living and that you won’t let anything keep you from protecting yourself (or your loved ones.)
Too many times after an event such as this people lament “if only one of the good guys would have had a gun…” What do you do when you can’t have a gun — do you stop being one of the “good guys”? I certainly hope not! It’s your thoughts, plans, and attitudes that keep you safe, not your gun. The lawfully carried firearm just makes their implementation more efficient.
Have you ever considered what weapons you can carry in non-permissive environments, or are you fixated on just your firearm? Take away the gun, take away the knife; what do you have on your person, or what could you have on your person, which would give you an advantage — no matter how slight — on an attacker?
What items in your non-permissive environment might be pressed into weapons? Have you thought about what you’d do at work if a disgruntled employee (every company has a few of those) decided to take out his aggression on his former workmates? Have you thought about escape routes, places to barricade, and things that you could use to disrupt an attack — and what you’d do if someone else’s disruption provided you with an opening to act?
During the coming days and weeks we’ll see calls for more gun registration as the only sure cure for these events, and at the same time insistences that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Both are dangerously myopic.
The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy (or gal) who decides not to be a victim. The tool is immaterial. My best friend, who has lived through this kind of violence (and is a solid trainer in his own right) has a saying that I’ve adopted and repeated many times: don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you CAN do!
Words to (quite literally) live by.
And read my blog for free!