Time passes, and we have another horrific mass shooting. Pick a year, pick a month, pick a state. The most recent one (Uvalde) found the Attorney General of Texas commenting, “… I’d much rather have law-abiding citizens armed and trained so that they can respond when something like this happens because it’s not gonna be the last time.” To some, this might seem ridiculous right off the bat, end of story. But, there’s something to this idea. A few years ago, I was doing field work in Mississippi, and it was not long after one of the church shootings in the South – the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, I think. I was working with a few “local support staff.” (Details need to be vague due to the nature of my work.) Sharp guys. Veterans, who served in some pretty sophisticated roles. While I shouldn’t/can’t say how we got on to the subject of carrying firearms in public, the subject came up. And, at least one of the individuals I was with made the same point as the Attorney General – if he was in that congregation, with his firearm, a lot less people would have died. (Beyond the scope of this comment is how I gained an understanding of the culture of firearms in the South. It’s a totally foreign mentality to us New Englanders, and it takes an experience like I had to see the other side.)
From the perspective of someone who carries a firearm just like we all carry a cellphone, the logic of the Attorney General’s comment is evident. To my Mississippi colleague, it makes total sense. And, I can’t disagree. What if we allowed our teachers, our pastors/rabbis/[religious leader]s, or store managers to carry a firearm and be trained on how to defend themselves and those around them? We might actually save lives. But …
Then what? Those that are committing these atrocities will see the need to “elevate their game” in order to accomplish their horrific objectives. In other words, we’re now in an arms race. These disturbed individuals will move past using firearms. They’ll be looking to explosives, chemical-type weapons, suicide drones, who knows what. And our armed teachers/pastors/rabbis/[religious leader]s/store managers won’t have a chance. People will die. Until our teachers/pastors/rabbis/ [religious leader]s/store managers/students/worshipers/shoppers/… starting wearing body armor and hazmat suits. And our schools and churches and stores have artillery batteries integrated into their architecture. We’ve transformed our communities in war zones. Some hyperbole aside, you get the idea.
So while I can appreciate the sentiment of the Attorney General of Texas, I don’t think it’s a viable solution. Our country has people who suffer from mental illness. I’d imagine all countries do, but I can’t really say (and I don’t feel like adding it to the list of crap I need to Google). It would seem the problem is that, in our country, those with mental illness can obtain deadly weapons. I say “mental Illness,” because anyone who would walk into a K-4 elementary school and just start killing children cannot be of sound mind. Maybe he was filled with rage, with profound anger. He wouldn’t be the only one to feel such deep, destructive emotion. But, people who feel this way don’t go out and kill 19+ children. A mentally disturbed person does.
What’s the answer, you may ask? That’s beyond the scope of this comment. 🙂