The Real Way to Prevent Shootings
There are two ways to think of gun ownership: one can think of the ubiquitous armed citizen as analogous to knowing CPR, or one can think of him/her as analogous to a fire extinguisher everywhere in the home. I like both of these, and they concentrate on the solution, not the dead-end handwringing over the crisis.
When we talk about whether the Aurora shooting could have been prevented, we need to think in terms of the incident's event horizon, let's say. That is to say, when the incident itself first appears and may seem inescapable with its own gravitational pull and point of no return.
Gun owners -- 90 million of them -- believe that you can never prevent a shooting massacre. But then, one can also not prevent a sudden death heart attack nor a kitchen grease fire entirely; instead, we attend to them in an educated, planned response when they appear, because they do appear.
We keep several fire extinguishers around the house so that at least one will be ready and within reach should a fire erupt. We keep our CPR training with us wherever we go should we witness a choking incident at a restaurant or a near-drowning. Because they do appear.
Though we cannot really fight a fire until it ignites, and though we cannot thump someone's chest until they need us, so the active shooter may not be noticed until they act. Like the choking victim, the active shooter begins and is noticed then and there. [If you want to talk about earlier signs such as a suspicious trenchcoat-wearing patron, then you're talking about the edge of your event horizon, aren't you?]
Like the grease fire and the cardiac arrest, the active shooter might not have been prevented, but can certainly be stopped.
Thinking in terms of prevention is a trap of the anti-gun crowd. The carping, framing their issue, and the smear of their hounding for the impossible is purely to needle everyone from candidates to taxpayers and non-taxpayers. Asking the impossible does not reflect ignorance, but savvy. It is the public who is ignorant if they bite down on the bait of an impossible idealistic rhetoric.
We will never prevent earthquakes ... er, active shooters, I mean; but we can be much, much better prepared for them.
Don't ban guns. It's a trap. The idea of preventing shootings is much more in the ubiquitous armed citizen than any other concept.
John Longenecker is author of The CPR Corollary. Better outcomes in the wider acceptance of gun ownership can mean smaller government in 2012.