The face of this tragedy for me will forever be 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan and her ice cream cone . Veronica's mother was gravely wounded in the attack - there is a bullet lodged in her neck - and will likely suffer some form of permanent paralysis. At last published reports, she hasn't been told yet her daughter is dead.
We've heard that 911 calls poured into dispatch when the shooting started. The first two or three police officers arrived in minutes - after the shooting had stopped. They arrested the suspect with no further incident.
The Denver Post reports today that there were delays in EMS teams reaching the victims. Sure, their system was probably overwhelmed and the firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics who responded I'm sure did their best, but could more lives have been saved or injuries mitigated with quicker response by trained personnel?
Now there's this report; that the alleged gunman basically pre-confessed, but that the notebook he authored may have been sitting in a mailroom since July 12th. There were seven days (since July 19th is the last day prior) that the evil plan could have been cottoned to and perhaps stopped.
Gun control will not stop mass murder. Spending more public money on emergency services will not stop mass murder or even better mitigate the aftermath. We are the first line of defense and response for all emergencies - not just the most violent or tragic.
No more Veronicas. It's up to us - you, me, everyone.
Deconstructing the Gun Control Argument
An AR-15, a 12-gauge shotgun, a .40S&W Glock...all purchased legally by the murderer.
Another AR-15, another 12-gauge shotgun, and another Glock .40S&W - all purchased legally by me. And by the way, I'm not a mass murderer. Or even inclined to a single murder. I'm a law-abiding, armed citizen. I follow the rules of where and when I can have a weapon - as do nearly every law-abiding gun owner and concealed-carry permit holder.
The difference between myself - and all other law-abiding armed citizens - and the Aurora mass murderer (or any murderer) is that the last thing we want to ever have to do is draw down on another human and pull the trigger.
We're told that additional gun laws will prevent such tragedies. Why would anybody believe that? To believe that, you'd have to accept the following as a logical premise:
Potential mass-murderer to self: I'd love to kill three dozen people, but gosh, I just can't break the gun laws!Or more frankly:
Potential mass-murderer to self: Dude, I'm down with being convicted of multiple first degree murder counts and getting multiple death sentences but the added 15 years for having an illegal "assault" weapon? Count me the hell out!Both of those premises are ridiculous. Criminals, by definition, do not obey the law. Besides, what we've heard about the accused's apartment indicates that the potential for deadly mayhem doesn't require a gun, just a bunch of legal household or industrial chemicals mixed in the correct proportions. It also doesn't require a whole lot of specialized knowledge. In general people can just start by doing the opposite of what's on the warning labels.
Last Friday, it was Cinemark/Century's national policy for their theaters to not permit weapons. What does a law-abiding armed citizen do when he or she sees a "no weapons" sign on private property? Generally, they either leave their gun at home, in the car, or just don't go.
How come the private no-weapon policy didn't stop the shooter if rules are all it takes? The evil among us will never follow the rules. They're evil. Accept it.
People disposed to killing others will do so whether or not they have easy access to guns. One of the other Aurora victims survived a mall shooting just recently in Toronto. Toronto, wait, isn't that in Canada? Don't they have stricter gun laws than here? Yes and yes.
Response Times - We're Not Protected
I admire law enforcement. Few among us are cut out for such work, and fewer still choose to do it. They put their lives on the line daily, and yet, they can't protect us. It took minutes for police to arrive at the theater in Aurora, secure the scene, and apprehend the suspect.
Criminals are usually pretty dumb, but few of them are dumb enough to commit their crimes when there's a police officer standing right there, or around the corner, or in their car 30 seconds away.
Of course, in the first 30 seconds of being violently attacked by a criminal you can whip out your cell phone, dial 911, and have help arrive, right? Doubt it. Life and death decisions in violent crimes don't have 30 seconds to play out.
Breitbart contributor Kurt Schlichter summed it up best on Friday:
I don't know if a citizen having a gun in the theater would've saved any lives. I know that no one having a gun did not save any lives.
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) July 20, 2012
And guess what? EMS can't always save our lives either, regardless of how we're injured. Need proof? Well, just look at Aurora. The system was overwhelmed. It took a long time for help to arrive.
Need still more proof that emergency services can't respond to single medical emergencies fast enough? Look around in public spaces these days. You'll probably see an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) nearby or a sign pointing to where you can find one. If EMS can arrive in time to save heart attack victims, what's the point in having AEDs available, knowing how to use them, or even how to do old-school CPR?
AEDs are to heart attacks as law-abiding armed citizens are to violent criminals. They're hopefully right there, right when you need them. First aid kits if you know where they are are good too, but the shirt off of someone's back may literally save another's life if they've got a gunshot wound - and you know the basics of what to do.
The First Line of Defense
Yep, it's us. We're the ones who we can guarantee will be there when crime, tragedy, or disaster strikes. Not the police, not the paramedics, us. Are you ready to come to the aid or defense of your fellow citizens? If not, why not?
Self and Community Defense
Whether or not you yourself want to carry a gun or even own them, don't disparage those who do. We're not bloodthirsty or looking to get into a gun fight, far from it. It's specifically because we value life above all that we want to be able to stop those who wantonly destroy life. You have nothing to fear from a law-abiding, armed citizen - unless you're a criminal and threatening the armed or others.
If you are a law-abiding, armed citizen, make sure you're taking this responsibility seriously. Double down on your marksmanship training. Know the laws. Contact other gun owners and practice together. I know for myself, I'm going to be going to the range a whole lot more, I'm going to take some additional marksmanship classes when I have the chance, and I'm going to carry a whole lot more often than I have been doing.
If you don't want to be an armed citizen, or are anti-gun, you're not off the hook. We still need you to be ready to fight. Pick up a martial art or just a quick self-defense class at a local community center. There's more safety in numbers when the group knows how to punch - and take hits.
Keep an eye on your neighbors and the people you come in contact with. Look out for behavior that's out of the ordinary, and don't be afraid to call the out of ordinary what it is to other neighbors or authorities. Threats are easier to respond to - and mitigate - when you see them early. A Denver-area gun range proprietor sensed there was something wrong and disturbing about the Aurora shooter without ever meeting him, just from phone messages and voicemail greetings. If a situation or person makes you nervous, don't be afraid to think you have reason to be.
Be Ready to Respond
Where's the closest first aid kit? AED? Do you know how to use both?
If you're in a public place, where's the closest fire alarm? (Basic Survival 101: if you're in a public place and there is any emergency, pull a fire alarm - particularly if you have no other way to get help. It's pretty much guaranteed the alarm will be investigated, and the police will usually be the first on scene) Where are the closest exits?
Do you know basic first aid? I do, as well as CPR and how to use an AED (they were just coming into vogue the last time I took CPR). I'm going to get more training, and you should too. I'm hoping to get into the full EMT course this fall or next spring - something I've wanted to do for the last 25 years, but just never have gotten around to doing. I will now.
Do you have first aid kits in your cars? What if you were the first person to come upon a car accident - could you render assistance to the injured and possibly dying? Seconds count: your neighbor may not be able to wait for the ambulance or the police.
We are society, not products of it. It's up to us to protect it, each other, and its values. The police will never end crime. Paramedics and EMTs will never save all the injured or critically ill.
Be prepared: you never know when or where your friends, neighbors, or families are going to be in danger. Be ready to improvise and make do with what the situation gives you.
Somewhere right now, in this country, there's a loving parent taking a picture of their child enjoying an ice cream cone. Someday, that child - no, my child or your child; they are all ours - may be in danger of their lives from crime, other violence, or accident, and we're going to be the ones there who can respond first.
We may not be able to protect them all, save them all, but we all must be ready to try.
Look at the picture again. Shame on you if you'll turn your back on that face, or on the lives of Jonathan Blunk, Alexander J. Boik, Jesse Childress, Gordon Cowden, Jessica Ghawi, John Larimer, Matt McQuinn, Micayla Medek, Alex Sullivan, Alexander C. Teves, and Rebecca Wingo.
No more Veronicas. Not one.