Are we a pack or a herd?

Unlike most of the Left in this country, I chose not to immediately start spouting off about any political agenda in the aftermath of the Orlando terror attack. It seems to be something the Left looks down upon these days but a decent interval of prayer, mourning, and deference to the feelings of the families is never wasted and I do not concede that any political agenda is so important that all of that must be set aside. Speaking about those matters and asking questions about why the victims did this or that is one thing, but you can certainly think about it. Wonder about it. And so I have.

I still do not have a solid grasp on the timeline of what went down that night. A man dressed in such a way as to not arouse suspicion on a warm June night in Florida would not be able to conceal a rifle the size of the Sig Sauer MCX he used. Yet, somehow, he came to the club, entered, and moved into the main part of the floor without anyone raising an alarm. That seems very strange to me; so strange that I’m not sure I believe it. I think I don’t have all the data yet and I’ll be keeping my ears open. But let’s get around that for a moment and go to the point when he’s there on the floor, raises the rifle, and opens fire.

If, as I said, he’s moved to that position unseen, then he has complete surprise on targets that are so close he can’t miss. I saw a video taken in the club that night that shows the moment he opens fire (supposedly) and, as you’d expect for folks that are generally not trained for combat situations, it takes a few shots for people to come to the conclusion they’re under attack. Those first few unfortunates never had a chance – they were likely hit before they understood what was going on. But the rest of them – and there’s something like 100-200 people in there, according to the reports – figured it out and began moving to escape or hide.

To the best of my knowledge, not a one of them moved to engage the shooter.

Picture that: the shooter is facing a specific direction. The rifle muzzle is aimed at a given spot, meaning there’s about 359 of 360 degrees where the rifle isn’t pointing. There are people all around him. Even if he’s moving along a wall, there are people to 2 sides of him that aren’t in the line of fire. Those people are at various ranges but almost without fail they have something in their hands, a drink, a cell phone, a menu… something. And yet none of them moved to disrupt his attack. If even 5 of the people around him had pitched their drinks in his direction, the incoming glasses, ice, and curtain of liquid would have presented an obstruction to his vision. If any of them had actually hit him, that would have distracted him. If the drinks had splashed in his face, then his vision is now seriously degraded for a few seconds. More than a few if the alcohol in the drinks had gotten into eyes.

Why did they not move to defend themselves? Why did they not do something – anything – to fight back against a man who was clearly intent on killing as many of them as possible? In thinking it over, I’ve come to 2 conclusions about it. First, they have been specifically trained not to engage. Second, they have never been trained in how to, even had they wanted to.

Our society has, in the last 50 years, diligently trained out of our citizenry any thought of actually acting in the defense of our communities from quite literally anything, ranging from criminal activity and enemy action all the way to accidents and disasters. We have outsourced the safety of our communities to law enforcement agencies who have nowhere near the numbers to cover the area in question. People grab their cells phones and call 911 or, worse, just start recording video when people are being assaulted. People in that Orlando club were actually texting for help, which is the absolute most ineffective method of using that communication technology. “Don’t get involved,” or “the police will handle it” are the mantras by which people live. Stupid lawsuits against people who were, in good faith, trying to help has only made it worse. The collective direction of such training leads us to situations where a bad guy, outnumbered over 100-to-1 can stand with impunity and kill at will.

Beyond that, our society has taken great pains to convince people that responding with force is always, always, always the wrong move. And when that’s the basic premise, there’s certainly not going to be any kind of discussion or training about responding to an attack with anything other than running and hiding. In some of the classes I’ve taken at work where the concept of an active shooter is the topic they do recommend that if you can get out of the building, then get out. But, if you are in close proximity to the shooter, they make a point of telling you to throw anything you can at the shooter to disrupt his attack and give yourself and those with you a better chance to escape. I remember taking one of those courses and, it being my 3rd time seeing it, I decided to watch the faces of my fellow students as that suggestion was made. About half of them showed surprise, like the thought had never occurred to them.

Perhaps we need a new Public Service Announcement campaign to make those points something that every citizen knows. Perhaps its time to rekindle the notion that we are all part of the enforcement mechanism for our nation’s laws and defense. I’ll have more to say on this and some specific suggestions in an upcoming post.

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