Some heartening news came from the tragic shooting in the Thornton, Colo., Wal-Mart that left three innocent Americans dead. It was that several shoppers in the store at the time of the shooting drew their own handguns and prepared to defend themselves and their loved ones from evil. They didn’t try to be the “Rambo” that all the anti-gun zealots predicted legally armed citizens would be in situations like this. They didn’t hurt anyone. And they were prepared to save lives if action became possible and necessary. These are the people who allow me to keep some faith in my fellow Americans.
So how were these self-reliant, empowered citizens portrayed by the media? Incredibly, they were described as being the cause for the “delay” in the five-hour investigation of surveillance video that led to the identification of the killer. It should be noted that back in the day it would have been a miracle to identify the suspect so quickly. Apparently, investigators had to follow each armed citizen through the store via video surveillance footage until the person could be excluded from suspicion in the shooting.
It seems a little dramatic to blame these fine folks for the entire five hours. It can be assumed that there was no camera covering the specific area where the killings occurred and some period of time would have been necessary to sort things out even without the unwashed masses being so brazen as to take measures to defend themselves. In the end, the killer was quickly captured by police as he drove on city streets. Everything ended as well as it could have under the circumstances.
Why are these people who were prepared to provide for their own safety not celebrated for being part of the solution and not part of the problem? It boggles the mind. Joseph Pollini, who worked as a New York City cop for 30 years and who is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the Denver Post that citizens carrying firearms “can very much complicate things.”
This is the same sort of silly arrogance I often heard from representatives of chiefs of police associations in various states when lobbying for the NRA in our never-ending fight to expand the ability of good people to defend themselves from violence. As a general rule, the big city chiefs of police from places like Nashville, Phoenix, and Milwaukee are nothing more than political shills for the anti-gun local elected officials who sign their paychecks. Most of them embarrass the good men and women in uniform, who hit the streets every day to do the real work.
During a hearing on a campus-carry bill in Tennessee’s legislature, the chiefs of police association there testified that there should not be any expansion of where citizens are able to legally carry firearms because police already have a hard time determining who the bad guy is at active crime scenes. The Association would apparently rather have all citizens kept defenseless to make the jobs of those in their department a little more convenient. These chiefs also said that more people carrying concealed handguns would increase the likelihood of an armed citizen being mistakenly shot by their officers.
Unlike those in blue who hit the beat every day, the hapless chiefs apparently don’t understand that cops can’t approach every call with guns blazing. The person they see with a gun when they arrive on scene could be a good Samaritan, an undercover detective from their own department, or a federal agent who lives 2,000 miles away.
Police work is complicated, dangerous stuff, whether in a jurisdiction with a dozen active concealed handgun permits or tens of thousands. Actually, it’s safe to assume the many law enforcement officers alive and well today because of the actions of brave permit holders would argue that these citizens make circumstances better.
It should be noted that there are approximately 16 million active concealed handgun permits in America today. Through the years, there have been tens of millions. Like with all of the other sky-will-fall predictions, the fear that armed citizens responding to active threats in public would lead to good people being shot by police has never materialized.
Law enforcement leaders in the big cities need to learn from their rank-and-file officers who largely support concealed-carry laws. They should recognize the great, national concealed handgun permit experiment for what it is—a truly stunning success. They need to stop complaining about the citizens who assume the burden and responsibility of carrying the tools necessary for providing their own safety.
An encouraging pat on the back is more appropriate. As more people seem to be realizing with each passing day, they have a duty to act as their own first responders.