I do want to say a little about guns, though. And that is this–guns are not magic. Even if you have a gun, it’s no guarantee that you’re more likely to survive the evil intentions of a mass murderer than anyone else. There are lots of logistical reasons for this. You might keep your gun in your car. You might keep your gun in your purse locked in your desk and you are at the copier when a gunman bursts in. He might shoot you before you have a chance to pull your gun. You might be low on ammunition or out of ammunition that day. Your gun might jam. In a crisis, you might be a bad shot.
But the most important thing is that, even if you are armed to the gills, the gunman has an advantage over you–and that is that he has already decided to kill people that day. It’s one thing for us to sit here and second-guess what might have happend or what the people who were shot could have done differently (in other words, victim blame) if only they, too, had been armed or what we would have done. But the truth is that, in a crisis situation, your instincts kick in and you are not in complete control of yourself. Most of us do not actually know what we would do.
You might think, “If I had a gun and someone pointed a gun at me, I would pull out my gun and shoot them,” but the truth is that you cannot know that. When you are faced with a situation like that, you may find that you have completely forgotten that you have a gun and your ass is trying to find a way to break windows and jump for your life.
And, frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that. People who carry weapons for a living–troops and police–have to go through extensive training in order to basically reprogram themselves so that, in a crisis, instead of their first instinct being to run and hide, it’s to point and shoot. And they have to continue that training.
Why? Because the government knows that handing a person a gun and teaching him how to shoot it doesn’t magically transform them into someone who can, when hearing gunshots in another part of a building, instinctively walk towards the sound of gunfire, not away from it.
There’s a reason we call people who risk their lives to take down killers “heroes” and that’s because they are unusual.
It doesn’t mean that the people who couldn’t do that are somehow responsible for their fates. Guns or not.