Editorial: Gun Control and Thornton Shooting
Twenty-nine people were fatally shot in only two of November’s 28 mass shootings.
One shooting was close to home. On the night of Nov. 1, Scott Ostrem opened fire on the shoppers and employees of a Thornton, CO Walmart. He fatally shot three shoppers.
Four days later, on Nov. 5, Devin Patrick Kelly opened fire in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, fatally shooting 26 people.
These shootings evoked the usual response. Our “thoughts and prayers” and claims that the shooter was “a lone wolf.” Besides the fact that there is an unanimous cliche response for what should be abnormal atrocities, these incidents add significant value to a nation-wide discussion.
Pro-gun legislators claim that guns are a weapon of defense. Therefore, by supporting lenient gun laws, they are assuring civilians’ safety. They claim that if all civilians open carry guns, they can counter attack and properly apprehend the assailant in the case of an active shooter. This means that in all cases of a mass shooting, we should see a civilian responding with force and apprehending the criminal before cops arrive, even though they are not trained to do so.
In Colorado, when sounds of gunfire rang through the store, a few shoppers pulled out their handguns only to lay them on the ground as to not incriminate themselves. The suspect fled the scene unpursued. Those with open carry weapons did not use them to defend themselves or others, which refutes pro-gun legislators’ argument. Moreover, since those that expose weapons could potentially be an accomplice to the shooter, local police must investigate each carrier. This delayed the apprehension of Ostrem.
Stephen Willeford, a nearby resident with an open carry weapon, heard gunfire from the church and saw Kelly run out. Willeford shot Kelly twice before he reached his car and frantically drove away. When the police arrived, Willeford explained what had happened and described the shooter. Kelly was found dead, allegedly from suicide, in car wreckage a neighboring county. Since Willeford identified Kelly as the shooter exiting the church and attacked, Kelly knew he would be recognizable to the police. Willeford’s failed attempt to apprehend him, due to his lack of training, offered Kelly time for escape and the choice to commit suicide before he could be brought to justice for his crimes.
We cannot allow horrific events like these to fade into the background because although they are common, they are not “normal.” Our country is facing a turning point regarding so many issues: why can’t one of those be gun control?
There are countless variables that can affect the outcome of a mass shooting. However, in two incidents in November there were armed (yet untrained) civilians that either pursued the shooter in a manner that caused him to flee and ultimately escape his punishment, or slowed the investigation by introducing themselves as a suspect. These obviously hinder the apprehension of a shooter. Therefore, open carry weapons prove to only add confusion and chaos to already convoluted events.
These shootings refute gun advocates’ arguments because not only did those with guns not defend themselves or apprehend the criminal, but their presence added to the chaos and confusion. Evidently, open carry weapons do not imply safety and advocates cannot argue for lenient gun laws on these grounds.