It is beyond time for American politicians to fully embrace and encourage the recognition of the Second Amendment as the unabridged, universal right of qualified Americans to possess reasonable arms, from coast to coast at all times, with only very rare and special exceptions.
Recent headlines have brought us the disturbing news from red states, blue states, urban centers and rural communities alike. Peaceful citizens are increasingly under attack in public places by enemy gunfire, foreign and domestic, sometimes representing political extremes, and sometimes just plain crazy. One sad common denominator when it comes to the victims; none of them ever shot back.
As irrational and disturbed as a few of the killers were in places like Charleston, S.C., and Roseburg Ore., they seemed to be bright enough to know they were far better off striking in a location where private gun possession was either very unusual or outright banned. (Ironically, Umpqua Community College in Roseburg is not technically a gun free zone, but there were signs everywhere declaring it to be so.)
The San Bernardino attack of last week was executed by two astute intellects, who knew very well that unless they happened up by accident on a random patrol officer, that their chosen hunting ground was going to be populated by dozens of human targets specifically forbidden by their employer to carry firearms while on the clock, all gathered in a building that was declared a gun free zone.
Posted signs declaring a gun free zone are great for rendering law-abiding citizens helpless in a time of crisis, and they tend to act as a dinner bell for killers looking for an easy massacre. Employers who forbid personal gun possession, even for those who are trained and certified, also sweeten the pot. For bad guys this is what we call a win-win. What a perfect place for psychotic jihad.
Shannon Johnson was a victim in the San Bernardino massacre. As a former local high school student and eventual Augusta State baseball player, he was well known among many in our hometown as a wonderful man, and a great friend. To his 27-year-old co-worker, Denise Peraza, he was nothing short of a miracle in human form:
Wednesday morning at 10:55 a.m. we were seated next to each other at a table, joking about how we thought the large clock on the wall might be broken because time seemed to be moving so slowly.
I would have never guessed that only 5 minutes later, we would be huddled next to each other under the same table, using a fallen chair as a shield from over 60 rounds of bullets being fired across the room.
While I cannot recall every single second that played out that morning, I will always remember his left arm wrapped around me, holding me as close as possible next to him behind that chair.
And amidst all the chaos, I’ll always remember him saying these three words, “I got you.”
I believe I am still here today because of this amazing man. This amazing, selfless man who always brought a smile to everyone’s face in the office with his lively stories about his hometown back in Georgia.
This is Shannon Johnson, who will be deeply missed by all. This is Shannon Johnson. My friend, my hero.”
Nothing will ever convince me that a man like that, if he had the time, would not have reached for a weapon and used it to defend his friends. There were others nearby that did have the time to act, just not the tools. Two men hid in a bathroom, where they had been when the shooting started. They successfully blocked the door and prevented the killers from entering. Other close by hid in closets, under desks and escaped through windows. Estimates vary as to how many people were within 100 yards of this attack and heard the shots when they began, but clearly it was in excess of 100 people.
None of them had a firearm, by design and by rule.
The motivations of the San Bernardino terrorists, and the gaps in national security that allowed these two to go unnoticed as they stockpiled weapons and bombs, are being debated all over the place. Not here. I am all about solutions to the problems these criminals, and others like them, pose to innocent souls everywhere.
The Second Amendment uses a term that is largely misunderstood and misused in the current discussion: militia.
Let me clarify that once and for all, with an assist from Collins English Dictionary, the definition of the term: “1. (Military) a body of citizen (as opposed to professional) soldiers, 2. (Military) an organization containing men enlisted for service in emergency only.”
Cops and soldiers cannot be everywhere, at all times. But if enough properly trained, armed civilians were peppered among the American population, how much terrorism and, for that matter, garden variety criminal activity, could be reduced or eliminated? I am not saying that handguns should be handed out on street corners, but at the federal level, our leaders should establish a training program that allows vetted and closely tracked civilians the ability to a carry a concealed weapon virtually everywhere they go, with limited and rare exceptions.
These would be modern “minutemen” who would never be dispatched to the scene of a disturbance, but who could be ready to render aid in the event a disturbance develops in their midst. We have enough well-trained responders who have the firepower and tactical knowledge to handle any situation once they arrive. What we need are prepared civilians who make the proposition of a bad guy launching a successful mass attack far more difficult than the current rules allow.
It is tragically apparent that the status quo enables the killers, and does not hinder them.
Ask that the “New Minutemen” pay for their own training and hardware, and monitor their behavior as you would any law enforcement officer. If they get out of line, commit a crime or are deemed mentally ill pull the plug. Pronto.
It is time for American civilians to stand up and protect what is ours. It is time for the feds to get out of the way so we can do it.