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08/07/12

Dear C. R. Douglas:

I watched your televised special presentation about Guns: Control, Safety, and Rights on KCTS channel 9, Monday night, August 6, 2012 and found it quite interesting. I especially liked the way you presented life scenarios to the six invited guest panelists where there was a lone shooter in a public setting and how each one of them would have responded to that particular crisis. The most disturbing, and I might add, reckless statements supported a person attending Gasworks Park [in this example] who had a gun permit and brought along the firearm and used it to take out the shooter, thus saving lives. It’s a wonderful ideal but not based on reality, and may in fact be at risk of putting more lives in danger; here’s the reason why: To be issued a gun permit in Washington State or any other one for that matter, a person does not have to pass and qualify by taking a firearms training course by certified instructors. Not only that, but even if they did all is needed is that a person aim a gun at a stationary target from a certain distance and hit near or dead center bull’s-eye. This is not like the training at a Law Enforcement Academy or Military Urban Guerilla Warfare where there are targets of civilians mixed up with those of the criminals or terrorists [military] and you are exposed to other distractions that can affect your split-second reaction and decision to shoot at that which might appear to pose a threat or one which is friendly.

In such a circumstance as with the recent shooting sprees that have been in the news lately the dynamics are fluid and ever-changing moment to moment, and let’s suppose that the gunman was within your sights as you pointed the gun at him to take the fatal shot and someone ran in front of you as you squeezed the trigger, or someone bumped into you, or what if the gunman suddenly turned and faced you with his gun blazing and bullets zipped past your head and you were almost hit by one or perhaps you were wounded? Keep in mind that during all the madness your breathing is labored, your heart is racing and your head is pounding, you are nervous and your hands are shaking buy yet you think that you can somehow stop this murderous rampage because all you will probably get is one chance because if you miss or merely wound the shooter he will most likely come after you and kill you. And this brings up another point which is how many of us have experienced taking another person’s life? It is one thing to believe that we are capable because our reptilian brain takes over when we or our loved ones are threatened and as most of us have heard “Self Preservation is the First Law of Instinct” but it is also equally true that when faced with impending or imminent danger it triggers an unconscious, innate response in one of three ways: Fight, Flight or Freeze, so how can any one of us be sure that our reaction won’t be the latter?

Everybody wants to be a John Wayne or some kind of a hero but who among us is willing to accept responsibility and accountability, civilly and possible face criminal prosecution if something goes wrong because of our action, no matter how noble the intention? Doubtless, few experienced career law enforcement and military professionals are put in situations where there is a lone gunman or more than one who discharges a firearm in a crowd of people could respond, even f they were legally carrying a concealed handgun, despite all their training, in an appropriate and responsible way when people are screaming, panic-stricken, traumatized and in shock and uncontrollable running around. The most important thing in any emergency is to gain control of the situation and from that position, access what to do next to diffuse it or prevent a further escalation of violence, and bring about an outcome that will minimize the loss of life, restore public safety and bring the threat to an end. The best course of action may mean to escape if possible or stay hidden until first responders and emergency personnel arrive on the scene. To use a firearm in a crowd of people should ONLY be done as a last option, IF and only IF the gunman leaves you no other alternative and ONLY if you are certain that you can do so without making matters worse.

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