Just as it’s easy for President Obama to say we should “politicize” the shooting at Umpqua Community College and that “common sense gun laws” would have stopped such a shooting, it is equally easy for Ben Carson to say that if confronted by a gunman that he would have rushed the shooter. Carson told Fox & Friends, “Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me, I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'”
Chances are that he, along with nearly all of us, will never find himself in that position. And, unlike nearly all of us, there is a good chance he will soon be afforded Secret Service protection. So in the event he is confronted by a gunman, it would be the Secret Service that takes responsibility for his security.
In an ideal world, it would be wonderful if people were able to thwart a gunman or terrorist from murdering innocent people. But we do not live in an ideal world and we never will. When such a situation arises in our less than ideal world, fear and confusion are sure to follow. Rational thinking becomes very difficult under these circumstances.
If one does have the presence of mind to make a decision, it has to be done in a matter of seconds. It is what makes the actions of the three Americans (Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos & Anthony Sadler) who thwarted the terrorist attack aboard that train bound from Amsterdam to Paris this past August so extraordinary. Indeed, when Skarlatos heard there was trouble, it was he who roused his friends from their sleep and told them, “Let’s go!!!”
And what of Chris Mintz, the man who emerged as the hero of the Umpqua Community College shooting? Mintz didn’t charge the gunman. Instead, he tried to prevent him from entering the classroom by barricading the doors and paid dearly with seven bullets to his body. It is a miracle that he is alive and smiling. Under the circumstances, it does seem strange that Carson was totally unaware of Mintz until Norah O’Donnell mentioned him. Be that as it may, it must be said that most people, even the best among us, would not have risked our lives in the way as Mintz did or the way those young men did on that train. It should be noted that most of these men had a military background. But even those with a lifetime in the military don’t experience this kind of combat.
So when these situations do arise there are a myriad of questions to consider. Take this hypothetical scenario. Suppose you are in the mall with your child and a gunman starts shooting. What do you do? Is your first priority to charge the gunman? Or is your first priority to ensure the safety of your child? You might choose to charge the gunman and lose your life. You might charge the gunman and overpower him, but your child gets lost in the crowd or, worse, is trampled by a stampede of people rushing to safety. Needless to say, these are not choices most people have to make on a daily basis.
Carson’s comments remind me of when Mark Wahlberg said several years ago that had he been aboard one of the hijacked planes on September 11, 2001, “There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.'” Wahlberg apologized for his comments. Carson is standing by his own. I realize there are those find his stance virtuous in the face of political correctness. But I see little virtue in boasting about deeds never done.
Now If Ben Carson actually did find himself confronted by a gunman and he managed to get people to charge and overpower the gunman then wonderful. He would deserve a room full of medals and all the glories that come with them. But what if Carson said to the people around him, “Let’s go!!!” and no one joined him? What then? I sincerely hope Ben Carson never has to answer that question.