Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Self-defense against suicidal killers

December 12, 2007

Mass shootings are becoming so regular that they are now a routine part of American life. There are almost always certain common factors. You always find one or more disturbed young men who wish to commit suicide in a way that will guarantee media immortalization. You also need a place where guns are prohibited, like a church, school or shopping center. These draw the killers like magnets.

We will never have the resources to provide police protection for all the soft targets. We will never get the media to stop turning killers into celebrities. It is unlikely we will ever get Hollywood and the video game industry to stop glorifying violence in ways that appeal to young men with money to spend. Trying to prevent access to guns is a losing proposition. As history has shown, someone who has made the decision to die is not going to flinch at the prospect of stealing guns wherever he can find them.

Media analysts seem blind to the obvious pattern in these violent attacks, but the recent violence at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs may give them a clue. In this case the attacker was quickly shot by a church member, Jesse Asssam, who had volunteered to provide armed security. Using her licensed, concealed handgun, she was able to end the attack in the early stages, saving many lives.

Contrast this to last week's attack at Omaha's Westroads Mall, where the deranged attacker was allowed to kill freely until he finally chose to end his own life. The difference is striking, not only in the number of victims, but in the message it sends to other lunatics who may wish to end their tortured existence in a way that enshrines them forever on television and the Internet. There is no glory in being shot down by a church member.

This example should be examined by everyone who has responsibility for any facility that would attract suicidal young men or homegrown terrorists. This includes churches, schools, office buildings and hospitals. Now is the time to take a survey of your employees, adult students or congregation. If you are willing to accept help from the police, why not your own people? You will find that some of them are not only quite competent with a handgun, but are willing to put themselves in the line of fire to protect innocent life. Look for the ones who already have a concealed handgun license and especially those with military or police experience.

Screen them carefully. If you would not trust them to protect your loved ones, pass them by. Help your volunteers obtain additional training. Make them part of an unpublicized security team that discusses likely threats and ways to respond. This would provide real security, not just feel-good fakery, with little or no expense.

Do this quietly, since those who don't believe in armed defense will respond with their usual strawman arguments. They'll say you want to give guns to everyone, even minors and incompetents. They'll say that fighting back makes things worse. But most of all they fear that people will be empowered to stand up in their own defense.