Yes, now is the time to talk about gun control! Just not in the way most people would think. In the wake of the horrific murders in Las Vegas Americans will, without doubt, hear everything from needing increased gun control to how infringement of Second Amendment rights prevents law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves and their families from an active shooter. What you won’t hear is anything about identifying the active shooter.
Why is that? One of the main reasons why we hear very little about how to identify the shooter is because we all believe it is simple. Just about everyone will tell you it’s the person shooting. Many other factors, however, have an impact on that determination. Among those factors are our perceptions of each other and whether you’re in an open carry state. Both have a lot to do with identification of the shooter.
While America wrestles to define mass shootings, few pay any attention to the only action being taken to address this violent epidemic – active shooter training. There have been so many mass shootings in America that law enforcement agencies across the country are vigilant in their efforts to train the people they protect and serve so they know what to do in the event there is an active shooter incident. That also means that every department wants all of their personnel to know what to do when responding to an active shooter incident. But who is the active shooter?
Talk to any law enforcement officer and they will tell you that their training says the primary mission is to move quickly (usually as a team) toward the last known location of the shooter, engage and put that shooter down. The secondary mission is what’s called the plus-one rule – drive forward and look for additional threats or weapons. If found, put them down as well. The standard use of force continuum goes out the window with the first shot by the shooter.
If your state is an open carry state (like Nevada, or my home of Louisiana) citizens are very likely desensitized to people openly carrying weapons. Couple that with the issuance of concealed carry permits and suddenly you have an entire posse of people more than willing to move quickly to engage and put a shooter down. Is it unreasonable to believe that a person openly carrying a weapon or in possession of a concealed carry permit would use that weapon when there’s an active shooter in their midst? Otherwise, why open carry or secure a concealed carry permit, right?
No, it’s not unreasonable . . . unless you’re a person of color. In nearly any community in America, an armed person of color will be viewed as a threat. And that, my friend, is a recipe for disaster. Unlike in the case of the shooter in Las Vegas, America will never be desensitized to a person of color openly carrying a weapon. So, you see, the argument that we all need guns to protect ourselves and our families, to some, makes very little sense. Why? Because, like so many other “rights” in this country, many Americans’ sensibilities preclude extension of the same Second Amendment right to a 64-year-old person of color. Especially an African American man.
Indulge my imagination for a moment. A retired African American law enforcement officer has authorization to carry a concealed weapon in an open carry state. He’s in a movie with his wife when a person stands between them and the nearest exit and begins randomly shooting others watching the movie. As the shooter reloads, the retired officer stands, engages and takes out the threat. At the very moment the retired officer’s last shot is fired and the shooter falls to the floor, two police officers enter the auditorium, engages and puts the shooter down.
Who is the active shooter?