Sunday, July 22, 2012

Denver Shooter: Time for Flight 93 Defense?

Global American Series
22 July 2012

Denver Shooter:  Time for Flight 93 Defense?

On 9/11, passengers on three airliners sat still, intimidated by the hijackers who then crashed their aircraft into buildings, killing everyone on board and over 3,000 people working in their offices. But the passengers of Flight 93 did something different, and bold.

They fought the hijackers before their plane could reach its target, saving either Congress or the White House from a direct hit that brought down the World Trade towers and damaged the Pentagon. They paid with their lives -- which were doomed anyway-- but their bravery saved countless others from the same horrible fate.

It may be dawning on some Americans that they may need to follow the Flight 93 example the  at the next outburst of mass shooting by a lone wolf killer like Mr. Holmes in the Colorado movie theater. What if a couple guys had rushed him – instead of sitting there thinking it was a “stunt?” What if someone had tackled him when he was reloading or after his weapon jammed?  Is lying on the floor being shot in the back a better way to die?

Before the Batman nightmare we had the shooting of Congress woman Gabby Giffords, which was preceded by the mass shootings at Virginia Tech and Columbine. No one confronted the attackers. It may be dawning on Americans that we face a greater threat from domestic terrorists like Mr. Holmes than we do from foreign sources (such as the deceased Osama bin laden).

HOW do we fix this?  Do we focus on the person or the weapons?  

The reality is that Pandora’s Box has already been opened – assault weapons and huge ammo clips are already in the market.  You can’t put the Genie back into the bottle. Over 300 million guns are in American homes. The Colorado police were on the scene in 90 seconds – by which time 71 people had already been shot. If the shooter’s AR-15 not jammed, the dead and injured would have been considerably higher.  Had his AR-15 still been working, Mr. Holmes would have had more firepower then the police sent to stop him.

But Holmes was a coward, like the Norwegian shooter, Breivik, who chose to kill his fellow Norwegians and then surrendered meekly to police. They are very much alike, and lower than pond scum.

Forget Congress. It won’t even prohibit people who are on the terrorist watch list from buying guns, so there is no political appetite to make changes, especially in an election year. As Governor, Mr. Romney signed legislation banning assault weapons. Now he opposes such a ban. The President has avoided the topic entirely.

And Mr. Holmes had no criminal record so even a focus on him would not have foreshadowed his violent actions. That doesn’t leave us much choice. The facts are stark.

ABC recently reported: “A study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that the gun murder rate in the U.S. is almost 20 times higher than the next 22 richest and most populous nations combined.  Among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80 percent of all gun deaths are American deaths and 87 percent of all kids killed by guns are American kids.”

“But regardless, polls show that public attitudes don’t change, even after a mass slaughter like this. Forty-nine percent say it’s more important to protect gun rights while 45 percent favor tighter gun control.

We have lived on fantasy violence too long—from movies that glorify violence to trash talk radio that goes over the top and incites the unstable.  Yet we are somehow “shocked, shocked” when fantasy violence turns real.  To stop this will take the hardest change of all – changing our national language of hate speech into the language of RESPECTFUL debate.  We do it by keeping our disagreements verbal instead of physical.  I’m not holding my breath in anticipation of that happening.

The bottom line may be this: Next time a shooter opens up, American citizens may have to follow the example of the brave passengers on Flight 93 – and do what they can to take out the shooter.  It’s about the only option left.

Michael Fjetland
Global American Series
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