“Monsters shall always be with us, but in earlier days they did not roam free. As a psychiatrist in Massachusetts in the 1970s, I committed people–often right out of the emergency room–as a danger to themselves or to others. I never did so lightly, but I labored under none of the crushing bureaucratic and legal constraints that make involuntary commitment infinitely more difficult today. Why do you think we have so many homeless? Destitution? Poverty has declined since the 1950s. The majority of those sleeping on grates are mentally ill. In the name of civil liberties, we let them die with their rights on.”
–the late, great Dr. Charles Krauthammer
Last weekend, a good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy with a gun. And the good guy wasn’t a cop. What happened at a mall in Greenwood, Ind., on Sunday evening is the stuff of NRA bumper stickers. The problem, or one of the problems: It hardly ever happens that way. That can’t be denied.
But it happened that way Sunday evening. An armed citizen might have saved numerous innocent lives. That also can’t be denied by the gun control crowd.
After letting the story shake out for several days, and waiting for follow-up stories and better information (remember all the wrong things that came out immediately after Uvalde?) here are some thoughts on the latest:
• A 22-year-old man, armed with a handgun, took out the 20-year-old murderer who was shooting up a food court at the mall. From all accounts, the (legally) armed mall visitor took quick action, and without that action it is probable that a lot more people would have been murdered.
But there is no good news here, no matter what you might have heard on certain TV networks. Three innocent people are dead. Two others are wounded. And the dead murderer’s family is apparently searching for reasons why. There is no good news, really, just less bad news than there could have been.
• The mall killer was apparently armed with an AR-15, had another one hidden in the john, and wore a pistol. He had more than 100 rounds of ammo in various magazines. He “only” got off 24 shots.
That somebody armed with a handgun could out-shoot a man armed with a rifle raises this question: Isn’t this Citizen Samaritan exactly the type of person who should have permission to legally carry?
“He engaged the gunman from quite a distance with a handgun–was very proficient in that, very tactically sound and as he moved to close in on the suspect he was also motioning for people to exit behind him,” the local police chief told the press. “Many more people would have died last night if not for a responsible armed citizen that took action very quickly within the first two minutes of the shooting.”
They say he had no military training. No police training. But he had to have some sort of training. We are interested to hear him tell us where.
• The authorities say the family of the initial shooter said there were no indications that he was unstable. And news reports say he had nothing serious, criminally speaking, in his background. So a red-flag law might not have applied in this case.
So, monsters we will always have with us.
That doesn’t mean red-flag laws can’t help. Or that improving the way the country handles mental-health cases can’t help. For every one of these shooting stories–in which friends and families tell the cops they had no idea the killer was capable of this–there are many others in which seriously disturbed people carry out horrible crimes. And many people knew it could happen.
Government should be in the business of making it easier for society to protect itself, not more difficult. See Dr. Krauthammer’s argument above.
Here is the best comment so far about these mass shootings; we got it in an email from a friend:
“Until we stop allowing the mentally ill to roam around while we hope they take their medications, and until we start providing some type of humane institutional alternative to protect them from themselves and protect the rest of us, we are going to live in a society where everywhere we go we hope someone responsible is carrying a concealed carry weapon and knows how to use it. In fact, we hope they are a marksman. What a way to live.”