I’d like you to think for a minute about someone shooting a gun at you. Let’s say you have a little cover–enough to hide most of your body. Let’s say that the shooter seems to be firing a lot, without stopping for a long period of time. A burst of fire here, another there. But no long, sustained gap between shots. He doesn’t seem to have to reload.
You’re safe, for the most part, because you’ve got cover. Others aren’t so lucky. You can hear that around the bursts of gunshots. You hear screams and cries of pain. At one point, you hear someone who sounds female begging almost. You can’t make out the words, but you know the tone. In the middle of one of the anguished pleas, another burst of gunfire. Then silence.
What do you do?
Most of us–particularly guys–like to imagine that we’d go handle things. Hell, this is something I’ve been training for from the first time I watched The Rockford Files, through the last time I watched Castle. That’s 40 years of “training.”
One of those training videos was an episode of Simon & Simon. If you don’t remember it, it featured two brothers–AJ, a preppy pretty boy and Rick, a grizzled Vietnam vet. Together, they faced danger each week as private investigators.
In one episode, AJ got pinned down by someone firing a machine gun at him and though he didn’t get hit, after the shooter was taken care of, he was a blubbering mess. His combat-veteran brother–who was typically the bad cop–went to him and held him and gently talked him down. AJ was decidedly unheroic that episode, but it felt real enough for me to remember it more than 30 years later.
TV and movies and video games aren’t training. Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, and Tom Selleck would probably do poorly in a real-life active shooter event. To assume anything different is to insult real first responders who go through real training so they’re positioned to be able to be more than a blubbering mess.
If you were in Parkland, there’s a chance you’d have done something, even if you were unarmed. There’s a far bigger chance that you’d freeze–that coherent though would elude you. Absent training, that doesn’t make you a coward. It makes you human.
The people who don’t freeze have almost definitely been trained. They’re special people and odds are that you aren’t one of them.
(An aside: I’m talking about going after the shooter, not shielding other people. In no way am I demeaning those heroic sacrifices, but running toward the danger is different than being in it.)
I have no idea what I’d do, and no desire to find out. Should it ever happen, I pray to God now that I would pray then and that He’d give me the grace and courage to do the right thing–whatever that might be.
I pray for God to give me that courage and wisdom, because I’m pretty sure I don’t have it myself. And whether you like the President or not, odds are he doesn’t either.
My only hope for myself is that I realize that truth and can maybe adjust for it. Our President doesn’t seem to have the same realization.