If there is any glimmer of light to emerge from the mass murder last week at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, it is the story of Chris Mintz -- a 30-year-old Army veteran who was shot seven times after running towards the shooting scene to help. Mintz was not able to stop to the killer, but his courageous actions were justly heralded, and were reminiscent of the three Americans in August who charged and incapacitated a shooter on a train in Paris, France.
Despite how we understandably rally around these stories of individual heroism, we should not allow them to overshadow the deeper and disturbing fact that so many individuals fail to take action in defense of self and others when facing an attacker. To be clear, it is not simply a question of whether any one of us will rise to the occasion when faced with such an attack; for no one truly knows how they will react until actually facing such an emergency.
It is, instead, a disturbing truth that we have in many respects lost the collective courage of our forefathers; and have become in large measure a nation that encourages the role of the victim and the submissive, rather than the glorification and encouragement of individual responsibility in defense of one’s life and values. This is the inconvenient truth about Umpqua and other mass shooting events, and it has nothing to do with guns. It has everything to do with the transformation of America into a nation of victims. Our goal should be to reverse that trend; not play politics about “gun control.”
When President Obama stepped up to microphone last week to deliver The White House response to the Umpqua shooting, we did not need an advanced copy of the transcript to guess what he was going to say: “Guns” are responsible for this heinous crime, and “common-sense gun legislation” is the only way to ensure it does not happen again. While the President correctly noted also that “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” his focus on “gun control” is as irrelevant and unproductive as in his responses to earlier incidents.
It is not enough to justifiably praise Mintz for his heroism. Instead, we should be asking why, on a campus of 3,100 students, he was the only one daring to take on a single shooter. Why were there not dozens, if not hundreds willing to fight for their lives, instead of submitting in fear to a lone gunman?
It is not enough to decide that the President, the Congress, the courts, or even a bank is sufficiently valuable to warrant protection by armed guards, but that schools and military installations -- known targets favored by would-be killers -- are safer protected with nothing more than a nominal police presence and “gun-free zone” signs. Instead, why are we not demanding to properly train, arm and deploy police in schools, and encouraging our legislatures to seriously consider loosening prohibitions on licensed individuals being able to carry on campuses and military installations?
Finally, it is not enough that we know these individuals who become mass killers are almost uniformly cowards who often shoot themselves as soon as they are confronted by force, but we still teach our children and others to “cooperate” with them, or vainly attempt to dissuade them from killing the innocent. Instead, we should teach courage, individual responsibility, and the maxim that to defeat evil, one must meet force with force.
Where has our collective courage as a society gone? Why is submission, not defiance, the default mentality when designing “active shooter” scenarios? Where is our tenacity to fight for life, liberty and self-preservation that founded this nation? Have we been so thoroughly conditioned through submitting to TSA, NSA, DEA and every government agency under the sun -- and to teachers, school administrators and police who believe that an elementary school student who points a finger at another student and says “bang bang” is such a threat as to be subject to arrest -- that we have lost the ability to fight for our own survival without the aid of government “protectors”?
When politicians like Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton -- who all live safely and securely protected at taxpayer expense by trained, dedicated and well-armed federal agents -- tell us that “common-sense gun control” is the only way to keep the rest of us safe, they are not targeting guns; they are attacking our human right to self-defense. This is the one fundamentally American concept that gun owners understand perhaps better than so many others here and abroad: that individuals have not only a right, but a responsibility to fight for their self-preservation against harm.
The sooner we return to and adopt this principle as the guiding force behind our response to mass shootings, the sooner we will start to see a decrease in these incidents; and if not, we are doomed to continue dealing with them.