Thoughts on Shooters Part 1

I led quite an adventurous life when I was younger and I have a lot of great stories. Several of them I’ve only been able to tell before because I’ve detached myself from them over time. This has been one of them.

I’ve been very distraught by the most recent school shooting in Florida. Actually I’ve been distraught about shootings for years and began getting angry sometime between 2016 and 2017 as mass shootings in the US began to increase in frequency and patterns became more and more obvious.

In full disclosure, I homeschool my children. Other than the fact that we live across the street from a public school I have no personal investment in what policies schools enact. That said, I care deeply about what happens to children who attend public school because these are my neighbors, and children of my friends and family and, well, I’m not a crap person who thinks that only my life and my immediate circle matters.

So why have I been growing increasingly troubled by the shootings? This is the question I asked myself as I reflected on why I was investing so much on Facebook to this topic.

From somewhere in the back of my brain came the very clear thought working its way to the front of my brain . . . Because you know what it’s like to be shot at and if the guy who shot at you had an AR15 you would be dead.

Yep – my brain was protecting me from that and as soon as I asked the direct question and it answered me I felt weak inside and it all came slamming at me.

See, years ago . . . Gosh, probably 24 years ago now? . . . I was at a local bar with my boyfriend and a friend of ours playing pool. Our friend went to the bar to get us drinks and when we got annoyed he wasn’t back yet we looked and he was there making out with a strange female. This wasn’t anything unusual for this friend so we rolled our eyes and went back to our game.

Not long after he walked up and when we were asking where our drinks were he cut us off and said we needed to get the hell out of there . . . IMMEDIATELY! We asked him what was going on and he grabbed us and started heading to the exit. He frantically told us that woman’s boyfriend came out of the bathroom and saw them kissing and said he was going to his car for his gun and he would be back to kill him and his friends.

Yeah, we were running at this point.

As we hit the gravel parking lot we saw the guy digging through his glove compartment and we headed straight to our vehicle. Then we heard him yell and I glanced back to see him aiming at us. I just remember sheer terror as I screamed and froze. My boyfriend pulled me to the ground and we crawled under cars through the gravel parking lot trying to get away. By the time the whole thing was over I was cut and bruised on my hands and knees and my throat hurt from screaming.

It’s a great story when I drive by the place with friends and family today and say, “Hey! That’s the bar where I was shot at in the parking lot!” Because it’s intense, it’s got drama, and I survived. In fact, someone inside called 911 (this was before cell phones so they had to get the bartender to use the land line) and the police showed up and even before that some guys were able to tackle the guy and detain him until the police arrived.

It’s the story of the time I was shot at in a parking lot and not the start of my eulogy because the guy had a handgun. He wasn’t able to shoot as many bullets as he would have if he had an AR15 or another assault weapon. He wasn’t able to aim with the accuracy of an AR15 or other assault weapon. He had to take wild aim and shoot a limited number of bullets from his handgun.

So I hear the stories from the children inside the school where their shooter didn’t have a handgun but rather DID have an AR15 assault weapon and I hear about the 17 children who died in the school that day and the various sheriff’s deputies who didn’t enter the school because of the danger and I am taken back to that night when I was screaming and crawling through gravel as some jealous idiot took wild aim at me. I think about the moments I lived with the reality that I didn’t know if I was going to live or die.

I hear everyone making excuses or trying to blame shift away from guns to answer the question of why we have so much gun violence. I have no idea if the guy who shot at us was mentally unwell. I know he was drunk. I know he was a very angry white man with a gun and that seems to fit the parameters of mass shooters that we see most often.

Then I see this graphic that shows the correlation between gun violence and gun legislation that shows I live in a state with absolutely no gun laws. In 24 years since I was shot at in a parking lot we have not enacted any gun legislation. And now I’m pissed!

Yep – if we didn’t have guns we would still have violence. I get that. But we wouldn’t have GUN violence and that is what I want to stop! Even if we get rid of some of the guns – like the assault weapons so loved by mass shooters – people would still shoot at people with guns. And I have been there. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but with a handgun as the weapon it’s far more likely you can get away and the person can be stopped by others who don’t need guns to do it and who will live to tell that story as well.

Because somewhere out there are some guys who drive past that bar and tell the story of the night they took down a shooter. And they lived to tell the story too.

Please read Part 2 of my Thoughts on Shooters as I intend to address the existing Federal Gun Legislation. I believe that much of the disconnect in discussing this issue is confusion over what legislation does and doesn’t exist.

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