You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Too Soon?

Posted in Guns, Virginia Tech Massacre by Stacy McMahon on April 17, 2007

It’s my fault. I’m watching the cable news shows and it’s their business to yammer on about the politics of current events, appropriateness be damned. Hell, they probably even think it’s time now. I almost think that myself — only because I’ve been thinking and talking about it near-constantly since it happened.

I know I don’t need to tell you what ‘it’ is.

Anyway let me try, if I can, to talk about something more concrete and without getting into politics per se. A commenter over at the Bitch Girls asks why nobody bum-rushed the gunman while he was reloading. That’s a fair question, and one some of us on a VT message board talked about this afternoon. My theory: guns have been so demonized in our society that the mere sight of one probably strikes mindless terror into a lot of people. I’ll stop here and say that while I’m not frightened by a gun, having someone shot dead right next to me would undoubtedly bring on that mindless terror.

But if it didn’t — let’s think about the unthinkable, that this could happen to you — then you have an opportunity. Reloading is like this:

1.) discard old clip : you’ve seen movies, this is a one-handed operation

2.) fetch new clip : takes a little longer, maybe a lot if the spares are in a pocket or backpack.

3.) insert new clip : fast but needs two hands.

Critically, through all three steps the gun is unloaded and the gunman is busy and distracted. My hail-mary play would be to throw some object — a book, backpack, shoe, anything with a bit of weight to it — at the shooter and rush him. What do you have to lose? Of course none of us truly know how we’ll react until we’re in the hotseat ourselves.

Take this for what it’s worth to you. I’m the type to try to draw any lesson I reasonably can, no matter how seemingly trivial, from an experience. And tragedy only makes it more necessary to do this, to do any small thing (and this is a small thing) you can to give meaning to senseless death.

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4 Responses

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  1. Matt said, on April 17, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    I think your theory is probably correct–nobody tried it because the mere sight of a gun, even an unloaded one, is enough to send the “flight” signal to their brains, and they focused on getting away rather than dealing with the guy, figuring that was the job of the guys with the badges. Plus, most of them were probably facing sensory overload due to the sight of all that blood and noise, combined with the realization that this wasn’t a movie, and it was really happening. Hell, that thought process even happens with some cops and soldiers when they face real gunfire for the first time. Like you, I’m not all that sure how I would have reacted either if we’d been there, but thankfully we didn’t have to find out, and hopefully we never will.

  2. Christina said, on April 18, 2007 at 3:28 am

    Considering that I freeze up when people confront me verbally (then think of all the things I could’ve said back later), I doubt I’d be much use in this type of situation. As much as I’d like to hope I could do something, you never know until it happens. And I don’t know that it’s very helpful to wonder why the victims “didn’t do something”. They’ve already been victimized once…

  3. Stacy McMahon said, on April 18, 2007 at 6:27 am

    Yeah, I’m not accusing the victims of failure to resist, more thinking about ‘what if I’m in a similar situation?’

  4. Clint said, on April 18, 2007 at 7:04 am

    Ignore those who get emotionally defensive with their “too soon” crap. It was a valid question and I think you’re right about the sight of a gun rendering many people helpless.


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