A Firearm Owner’s Response to the Attack in Denver
by Natalie Foster
I got word of the attack after Barb Baird of Women’s Outdoor News notified me and a few others in a message online. The death toll at the time was 12. Like everyone else, I was horrified. First I felt crushing heartbreak, then overwhelming anger. And then, like most gun owners and concealed carry permit holders, the scenario played out in my mind. I wished, for a moment, that I – or dear God, someone – had been there with a concealed firearm and had been in a position to take the gunman down.
I flashed back to Gabrielle Giffords and the day she and many of her constituents were shot at an outdoor meeting in Tuscon. Gun owner or not, we all felt gutted that day, too. I remembered feeling the same anger I felt this morning. First at Jared Loughner, who has since been diagnosed as mentally ill. Angry at his parents. Angry at the mental health system. But equally as angry that the tragedy immediately became manipulated by the political class. It was infuriating, insulting and disrespectful. That the media and politicians could not simply take a moment to mourn with us as a nation was appalling. “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” was the mentality of the moment. Their instant reaction was to blame opposing politicians and their rhetoric. They used the tragedy as ammunition for their own positions. They manipulated it for their own gain. It was a knee jerk reaction and it was wrong. I am still angry at Jared Loughner and the other factors that contributed to his attack. But I am inspired by the beautiful and courageous Gabby Giffords as well as the people who took control of the situation and stopped Loughner from killing even more innocent people.
As a representative of the firearms community, if self-appointed, what I want to say to the general public is this:
We in the gun community are disgusted by James Holmes’ actions. What he did was evil. I can assure you that the majority of us wish we could have been there to stop this mass murder. If we had been able to do so, we would have reacted the way the armed 71-year-old man in the Internet cafe did just last week. If we could have, we would have shot first.
If you feel it is callous that the gun community disagrees with stronger restrictions on guns at a time like this, I respectfully ask that you listen, when the time is right, to our position with an open mind. We are good people who want to protect ourselves and our loved ones from situations precisely like the one we saw in Denver. I cannot state emphatically enough that we do not want more people killed. We want more lives saved.
I would also ask you, respectfully, not to blame the guns or the bullets or the movie. There are very specific and logical reasons behind this position, but I write this piece not to argue that point. Not yet. There will be time for that.Right now I don’t know what the solution is. Despite what our talking heads want you to believe, they don’t know either. I can tell you that disarming the general, law abiding public is a knee jerk reaction that will only have unintended negative consequences.
Banning guns does not ban evil. And any sort of gun ban ensures not a lack of violence, but an increase. There is a time for that discussion, but it is not now. It is not this moment. Right now we all need to grieve. And we need to support those whose lives were forever changed by last night’s events in Colorado.
I am confident that I speak for the entire firearms community when I say that our hearts are broken and our prayers are with the victims and those who hold them dear.