Friday, December 21, 2012

Packing Heat

Just before the Connecticut school shootings and lost in the horror of that, we had a local crazy run amok at the mall. (That word, "amok," is Malay/Portuguese, and came from a kind of frenzy wherein somebody, usually a man, and often frustrated in his desire for a particular woman, would whip out his keris and stab whoever came to hand.)

Our homegrown maniac used a black rifle he stole the night before. Killed two people, wounded a third. His weapon jammed, he managed to get it cleared, and he maybe saw an off-duty security guard with a Glock out, so he ran down a stairwell and killed himself. 

Oregon is a shall-issue state, which means that if you are a citizen in good standing, don't smoke dope or have a felony record, and can qualify for the educational gun safety requirements, your local sheriff has to give you a license to carry a hidden handgun if you fill out the paperwork. In Oregon currently, this number is somewhere around one person in twenty-five.

I wouldn't mind seeing those requirements a bit tougher, requiring an actual operating test. Ideally, you'd have to shoot something like an IPSC match clean, but that's not the point of this article. 

When the shooter hit the mall, there were somewhere between 7000 and 10,000 shoppers there. In Oregon, about 4% of the population have been granted concealed gun permits, totaling about 163,000. In the tricounty area in which the Clackamas Mall sits, the number is closer to 7%, but shoppers come from outside the county. 

Maybe mall shoppers don't routinely carry–not everybody who gets a license does–but strictly by-the-numbers, we are looking at around 280 people who had the right to do so being there on that day.

Just for the sake of argument, let's run those numbers out in a theoretical scenario:

Say that half those licensed didn't pack their pieces into the mall. (Among the other rules of behavior one isn't supposed to do, skateboarding, bicycling, drinking, etc., the mall posts notices that no firearms are allowed. This, however, doesn't supersede state law. If somebody notices you have iron on your hip, mall security can ask you to leave, as it is private property, and if you won't, have you busted for trespassing, but it's not illegal to be armed thusly if you are licensed. Pretty much that is restricted to federal sites–post offices, courthouses, airports, like that, plus some other exceptions.)

So maybe 140 people had a pistol or revolver in a purse or under a jacket. 

The shooter didn't interact with all the patrons. He entered Macy's, hustled to the food court, and opened up. Given the size of the mall, those who were close enough to see the shooter pass by before he started killing people, probably amounted to no more than a few hundred. Call it, for the sake of this argument, 500. So given the percentages, that's 20 who could have been licensed, and half who might actually have been packing. 

Ten people might have been armed and within range.

But since he kept moving, some of those wouldn't have been in range long. Some would have frozen. Some wouldn't have figured out what was going on, since they probably had no more training than necessary to know the gun laws. Some would have figured out what was going on, and hauled it for the nearest exit with their kids or grandma. Some might have figured that putting their .380 pistol up against a civilianized assault rifle, and maybe more than one shooter, was not the best idea.

That number thus gets whittled down fast. Maybe a handful might have been able to collect themselves enough to be in position, pulled a piece, and shot back. 

Currently, we know for sure of only one who drew his weapon. And maybe the shooter saw him and got spooked. No way to tell, though the citizen says he made eye contact and moved back behind concealment when that happened. 

Easy to be brave when you are the only person in the room with a gun. 

The bad thing is that nobody who might have been able to do it shot the guy before he killed two people. 

The good thing is that those who might have been armed didn't go ballistic and start spraying and praying, maybe making it worse. 

I'm of the mind that if you carry, you should have enough training to know when to shoot and when you shouldn't; and if it's time to shoot, how to do it.

1 comment:

Will Nelson said...

Having spent 20 months running patrols every day, some current events ring a bell that resonates in memory. It leads me to the alternate reality of the dawning of horrific awareness as the principal spins off her chair running toward the gunfire...pondering the possibilities of what she would say of guns in schools