Las Vegas Massacre — No Easy Answers

When I woke up Monday morning to the news of the horrific mass shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas, I was hit with a sickening feeling best described as, “Oh, no … not again.” More than 50 people killed and hundreds wounded. As I bounced around the various channels to see how the different networks covered the event, I was struck by the reactions of many of those at the scene.

One disturbing thing that I noticed was that that, even after the firing began and people were falling down after being hit, numerous people could be seen just standing there, looking dumbfounded. One woman was even seen standing straight up, taking cell phone pictures. Unfortunately, this kind of “deer-in-the-headlights” behavior is not unusual in any catastrophic event. Chaos is self-generating.

Not surprisingly, one of the first reactions to something like this is to try to imagine what we ourselves would have done in the same set of circumstances. And it’s always tempting to engage in the kind of self-delusion that somehow WE would have known exactly what to do.

But it’s foolish to pretend that we are like some kind of real life “John Wick” (or for the old-timers, “Rambo”). Even a combat vet, just back from Afghanistan, admitted to reporters that, initially, he had no idea what was happening. Others told the same story.

The shooter was firing from a “high ground” vantage point that gave him a clear “field of fire.” There were 22,000 people, packed shoulder to shoulder, with no real way to escape. And even though more than a few of the concert attendees were carrying handguns, they were useless against a shooter 300 yards away and hidden from view. As a result, the oft-used cliché about “fish in a barrel” was frighteningly accurate.

Now, I would love to be able to spout some litany of “woulda, coulda, shoulda” advice, but the fact is, I can’t. Neither can you. There just aren’t any easy answers to this one. About all we can really do is try to come up with some basic strategies for how we behave in the future, while reminding ourselves that no preparation can foresee every contingency.

As for myself, since 9/11, and even more so after some similar mass public shootings in theaters and nightclubs, I tend to simply avoid overly crowded venues of any kind. When I go to see a movie at the theater, I avoid opening night. Just this past weekend, we skipped the Friday evening opening of a new film, which would doubtless have been packed (and as a result, a more attractive target to a terrorist).

Instead, my wife and I went to the 1:30 p.m. Saturday matinee, which was less than half full. And, as always, we sat high up and near an aisle, where I had a good view of everything going on below me as well as easy access to our (pre-determined) escape routes. And of course, I was armed, including an extra magazine and a high-intensity tactical flashlight. Paranoid? Some might say so. But better safe than sorry.

As a side note, it didn’t take long for the notoriously anti-gun MSNBC to begin focusing on guns, one female reporter asking the usual, “Who needs high-powered military weapons like this?” Brace yourselves for a renewed attack on your rights.

In the meantime, stay alert, and stay safe.