They hadn’t even mopped-up the blood in Aurora, Colorado, before the He-Men moved in to flex their manliness.
“If I’d been in that theater, I’d have pulled out my Glock. END OF STORY,” boasted a USA Today comment troll I won’t bother linking. He’s right. He’d be dead, too, end of story, as powerless to help himself as the 62 others caught in a madman’s crosshairs. Blind, confused, and outgunned by a prepared assailant with superior firepower and head-to-toe body armor.
Then you have Representative Louie Gohmert. He’s the guy the good people of Texas’ 1st Congressional District chose to send to Washington, a God-fearing He-Man who fervently believes the solution to gun violence is more people walking around with guns.
“It does make me wonder, you know, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying,” said Gohmert, who apparently doesn’t mind the prospect of his family sitting in the dark with a couple hundred well-armed strangers. He drove his point home: “I mean in Tyler, Texas, we had … a shooter come in over a domestic matter, and just start shooting people. And it was a guy with a concealed carry -– he got killed, but his shooting at this guy caused him to run and no doubt saved a lot of lives. He was a real hero.”
Tragedy in Tyler
Gohmert’s rambling account reaches back to a 2005 shootout on the steps of Tyler’s courthouse. There’s no doubt the civilian he mentions — Mark Wilson — was a hero. Beyond that fact, the Congressman lapses into the same macho fantasy world as the would-be warriors parading their bravery through the blogosphere.
Mark Wilson wasn’t at the scene when the Tyler gunfight started, so his concealed weapons permit is irrelevant. The assailant had already shot two members of his family and was fully engaged with police when Wilson approached from behind and opened fire with a handgun. But like the shooter in Aurora, the Tyler killer was prepared — and wearing body armor. He slaughtered Wilson in the course of a few seconds.
Beyond the Wild West
It took a high-speed chase and a determined officer with an assault rifle to end the carnage in Tyler. It took the arrival of police to arrest the subject in Aurora. That’s usually how things happen: The bad guys have the element of surprise working for them, and we have the police. Though Americans own something like 65 million handguns, less than one percent of all crimes involve the defensive use of a gun. Most gun fatalities are suicides. We’d like to believe otherwise, but there are few mass tragedies ended by gun-toting private citizens. That’s the stuff of movies.
This post is not an appeal for gun control. It’s an appeal for bullshit control. We need to be more realistic about the salvific power of firearms, and look deeper than Hollywood storylines to the causes of mass violence. We owe that much to the victims in Aurora, who stand in silent witness to whatever it is we do next.