Shooting: An American Tradition

I have taken it all in since James Holmes shot up the movie theater in Colorado. It was awful and I held off until some of the white noise surrounding it cooled down. Then a few more incidents have been noticed by the media in the wake of that awful tragedy. I say noticed because gun violence in America happens every hour.  People have gone back and forth, made stances and shared their opinions about the massacre. But the one which keeps sticking in my craw is an assertion very similar to this: “if I had been in that theater with my gun I would have stopped him!” Which leads to my assertion: Unless you are a trained combat personnel (Army Ranger, Infantry, Special Forces, Navy Seal, SWAT, etc.) you have no idea what you would have done in a dark movie theater filled to capacity with people. Get over yourself. You would have most likely taken out a few more people.

Then this news story came across my FB timeline.

If you do not want to read it here is my best one sentence synopsis: Man goes to theater packing heat, gun goes off, he shoots himself in the rear end, and shows the rest of the world why idiots do not need to carry guns.

Good thing something did not “pop off” or he might have also injured or, worse, killed some innocent moviegoers. If I hear anyone else explain to me, in a serious tone, “man if I had my gun in that theater I would have <insert macho bravado here>” I think I am going to lose my mind. And here is why. 

I am not an armchair quarterback on this issue. I was in a store once in Nashville (June 24 2002) where a gun was accidentally discharged and I can honestly say that one gunshot froze everyone in place. It was unnerving and since the event when someone uses the word unnerving to describe something I immediately vet their claim with a few questions. The silence between the loud bang, the frozen faces, and the silence between broken by a man’s scream “my son! Oh God not my son!”  I had, at first thought the place was being robbed, and I was shooing some kids to hide behind a counter when I heard a small child begin screaming. I will never forget how it sounded. I peered over some store displays to see a man lower a bleeding child, maybe just shy of 3 years old, onto the floor of the store. He pleaded with God out loud to save his son as the boy’s blood pooled up beneath his head. He cried out for his father and I just knew I was about to watch a little boy die.I can still feel the shudder which rocked through me at that moment. 

Many of us went to them, huddled together there on the tile floor of the store, someone handing a handkerchief or towel another someone handing a bottle of water and all of us just standing there helpless as the child screamed “daddy.” I am not a praying type but whatever God it was this man was screaming at I asked it to spare this young boy. Ambulances take FOREVER to arrive. 

One finally did and the boy lived. Then, as the police arrived, we all quickly discovered that the father was carrying a .32 on his person. The toddler had simply reached and grabbed the pistol, pulled the gun out, and squeezed the trigger. The round clipped him in the forehead and fortunately only grazed him. You would not know it by the seeming gallon of blood that was left after the EMT took him to the ambulance. Once I realized this I was glad the man was gone. 

I probably would not have said anything to the man due to him being bereaved by his injured son. This would have just been cruel and pointless but after some time had passed I think a group confrontation by everyone standing in that store would have been adequate and justified.Since in reality he, by his carelessness, had taken the lives of everyone within shooting distance of him into his hands. I have been shot and do not care to be shot again. It sucks. My wound was minor but again it was merely a matter of centimeters.
I do not know what happened to the boy other than the news report that night on the local Nashville news stating he was grazed and not seriously injured. But to the father at the Mars Music in 2002 who had the .32 handgun with which his son shot himself in the head with:

You sir are the reason I am more fearful of “law abiding gun owners” than any common thug on the street which, out of your baseless fear, causes you to irresponsibly arm yourself. I hope you have given up the practice of carrying a gun on your person. I own a gun but do not feel the need to carry one around with me. A close friend of mine who grew up in Chicago’s Cabrini Green told me once “if you have a gun on you trouble will find you a lot of times” I believe that and guess what? You proved it. How dare you be so irresponsible. I am very glad your son is ok and I hope he goes on to lead a very prosperous life but to this day I can relive that incident as clearly as yesterday. I know many scenarios have gone through your mind since the day and I hope you have resolved them but what if that gun had actually killed someone? I hope you have decided to keep your gun at home. For the sake of the rest of the world please do so.


Sorry for the length of this but I have seen firsthand what a gun can “accidentally” do. It is not pleasant and it bears no resemblance to any Chuck Norris, Rambo, or Steven Seagal type derry doing. More times than not it is just awful and sad.

2 thoughts on “Shooting: An American Tradition

  1. I appreciate your position and the time you gave yourself to think about this. I have a CCW permit and I too wonder what I would have done and am tired of hearing so many say how heroic they would have been. I rarely carry my gun except when out of town, where I feel less secure. I had heard on one news report of someone having a gun in the theatre but not having time to react. I hope neither of us ever have to find out what we would do. I Love your blogs.

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