In the wake of the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, I made plans to get my concealed carry license (CCL) and start carrying a gun. It's surprisingly easy in Oregon to receive one, and I have all the documentation. I'd have to go get a handgun, but that's easy to do.
This is not necessarily out of character for me. I was raised in the country in Wisconsin. I've been hunting much of my life, can sight in a rifle, have shot a handgun for sport, etc. Part of me wants to get back into it, as I've let it slip over years of urban living. A little target practice, a little feeling of security, know that If It All Goes To Hell® I've got the means of protection/hunting, etc.
Then the Sikh shooting in Oak Creek happened, and it appears one of the Sikhs, a 65 year old fellow named Satwant Singh Kaleka (who's religious ethos does require the carrying of the Kirpan as a signal of honor, dignity, and being a saint soldier. A defensive weapon for use by a persecuted minority) made a defense of his temple with a shortented, blunted, ceremonial weapon. He was not ultimately successful, but apparently he did wound the attacker. And I thought about our own warrior tradition, for the Johannites trace their lineage through the Templars. My conviction for the CCL grew.
Then I was listening to a radio show, an interview with Dean Norris, who plays Hank Schrader on the AMC TV Show Breaking Bad. And he was talking about shadowing actual law enforcement officers, and how they practiced every week, because in their line of work things were generally fine, until they weren't and things went bad fast. And they relied on their training to overcome their shock, and let them react with both lethality and accuracy.
That is what finally broke through the fear and the unease I'd been feeling as these random acts of violence are taking place around me. Even with a CCL, even with a gun, even if I carried it everywhere just in case: I would not be able to react appropriately in such an event. I don't have the training. If I'm in a public place and a madman started shooting, I'd probably just hurt myself or other innocent bystanders. Even if I could shoot and kill the hypothetical perpetrator, I'd never be able to live with myself afterwards.
Some things in life are a risk. You can't manage every risk. This is one I simply have to accept, that in the unlikely event that I'm in some sort of mass shooting, I'm probably not going to be able to help in the moment.
That said, I'm glad the option exists for people to legally carry guns. I won't do it myself, and I don't think most people who react out of fear go much further than I did. I hope that those who do get a license, train enough to use it effectively. I won't be among them. I pray that, should I come to that test, I'll react like Mr. Kaleka for the defense of the innocents around me, and do my best with what I have to protect them.
May the blessings of the Most High rest upon Mr. Kaleka and all the victims of these crimes. Amen.