Heavy stuff in the news this morning. A gunman in Pittsburgh opened fire on an aerobics class, killing three (and himself) and wounding nine or ten. According to the police, the guy “couldn’t have been stopped” because he had been planning this, because he was so intent. But that’s just it—he’d been planning it. His blog detailed his plan. It even contained entries about failed attempts, about times when he’d taken the loaded guns to the gym but “chickened out.”
I don’t know if his blog was public, but if it was, why did no one catch this? Apparently he had few friends, seldom talked to his neighbors or socialized. Maybe no one knew he was a blogger, but even so, if his writing was in the public domain, why did no google search ever pick it up? No one ever typed, “guns, fitness, Pittsburgh” into a search engine? I know, it seems like a weird combination, but millions of people search the Internet everyday…surely his blog came up on one of those searches, surely someone noticed it, surely someone could have stopped it?
He was the licensed owner of at least one of the two guns he used to fire 50 rounds in an enclosed 20x20 foot space. Let’s imagine for a minute how things might be different this morning if he hadn’t had access to firearms. Yes, he might have stormed into the aerobics studio with a knife, but he couldn’t have caused as much harm with it, and it would likely have been easier to disarm him. He could have blown the place up, but often, when people stock on materials to manufacture explosives, they’re red-flagged and stopped. Sadly, the same is not true when outwardly normal looking white guys try to by guns. Especially in Pennsylvania, where hunting is seen as a right.
I know what my husband would say—that this is exactly why we need well-meaning vigilantes to carry concealed weapons. This is why we need to uphold our second amendment rights. But tell me, who runs on a treadmill or shoots hoops with a piece strapped to his thigh? Who could have been there in time to stop last night’s shooting? The whole ordeal took seconds—a minute at the most. No one would have had time to figure out what was going on, get to his or her weapon (likely in a locker room or, at the closest, in a nearby gym bag), and get to the aerobics room in time to get a clear shot at the shooter. Remember, there were, like, 40 women in that class, most of them running amok, trying to get the hell out of that room.
My husband has numerous friends who earn their livings as soldiers and security consultants. These are the kind of people I feel safe with in Tijauna, in grizzly country, anywhere. Having limited survival skills myself (I come undone when the air conditioner in my car is on the fritz), I can’t deny that I am grateful for their competence when I feel endangered. Still, though, I question whether arming up is the direction we’re supposed to be taking.
I know I sound naïve, and my husband’s friends—who know little about me other than that I’m a over-educated suburban liberal—think I oppose violence because I’ve never faced it, because I’ve never done battle, because I don’t know what it’s like on the front lines.
I’m not a soldier—that’s true. But I looked evil in the face and made the conscious decision not to fight, but to reason. And it worked.
What if someone had reasoned with last night’s shooter? They’d have probably been shot, so far gone that man’s sense of right and wrong. But what if he’d never had access to that gun? What if a firearm was never an option for him? How different would his ultimate explosion have been if it didn’t have gunpowder behind it? How much less devastating? How much more stoppable?