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How Emergency Departments View Shootings









By John Longenecker
August 4, 2012

Millions of Americans are very sorrowful over the needless deaths of movie-goers in Aurora, Colorado. Condolences to those who lost loved ones and all of their chances for happiness, condolences to us all with each and every needless massacre.

I wrote little over my response to this crime to see if my concerns would be addressed. They remain unanswered. I'll go first.

Many talkradio pundits friendly to second amendment and personal safety concerns have fallen into the trap of wondering aloud what could have been done in a crowded theater, in a location which is filled with darkness, with a murderer who is covering the audience with repeat fire.

Let's look at what we know among the facts: a seven minute sweep of murder, a gun ban on private property and surrounding area, a single shooter, no response, and needless deaths and injuries.

I am always concerned over what could be done at the scene and what was not done in anticipation of this crime.

No Firearms Allowed signage in a right-to-carry state may at first sound reasonable where a business owner may wish to opt-out, but one may not opt-out of any old thing, and one may not opt-out of gun rights when their business is so heavily trafficked by patrons. It reflects an isolationist unreality to abandon specific obligations which morph depending on patrons. I am speaking about the realistic safety of the patrons as opposed to the theory of liability for the company if anyone brings a gun. To my way of thinking, it is the equivalent of refusing CPR to a heart attack patron. You don't have the moral right to frustrate that.

Signage – I am informed – is meant to meet a legal liability problem and to address gang violence in the cities. What the legal advisors did not take into account is that people of good will tend to obey the sign since they obey all signs they can read. A sign meant for gangs is obeyed by all, including those who love due process and law and order.

Some businesses believe that they do not want to be subject to the will of the so-called gun lobby, but instead gladly become subject to the will of the anti-freedom and anti-safety lobby – and anti-business lobby, by the way – without knowing it. They become dupes of the social engineers who want chaos, and a knowledge base is forming that shows gun bans to be worse than armed patrons in a place of business.

It is time to stop thinking liability conscious and to begin thinking in terms of humanity, and that means moving out of legal theory into tactical reality, that is to say, what you might have been able to do at the time.

Consult gun Owners.

This brings me to my second issue, that of businesses who are well-advised to consult gun owners in such matters instead of excluding them and heeding only legal advice. [Playing it safe has repeatedly proved to be deadly. Tacital advice is more life-saving than anything else is.]

The idea of heeding gun owners is that much liability can be reduced by doing the more reasonable as opposed to carrying out something which is proving to be more and more unreasonable. There may very well be a great liability of foreseeable plaintiffs in the offing.

Why? Because gun owners aren't going to urge a business to something illegal and self-serving, but something more selfless, smarter, even more legal and much safer for all.

A lawsuit will probably ensue. In those actions, the court will likely hear from expert instructors on how tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of America's 90 million gun owners are trained in defensive gun use beyond the minimum training to own a weapon. This includes home defense, and this has included how to use your gun in close quarters and in darkness in a very likely scenario practiced for: nighttime burglary.

In reality, hundreds of thousands of gun owners purchase and train with those little tactical flashlights to attach to your gun. Manufacturers make a rail on the gun just for the placement of such tactical flashlights. [See photo]

No doubt there will be an upsurge in demand for more and more such courses. They are conducted for private gun owner civilians by military, law enforcement and other experts. The biggest mistake to be rectified in the forthcoming lawsuit will be the error that gun owners are not trained in tactical use of their weapon. This will be a game changer, not only for the image of gun owners, but for the safety of whole communities and for smaller government.

As I say often, where there is an armed citizen, so the law is also. Gun control, in contrast, is absent when needed most, isn't it?

In any lawsuit ensuing from this shooting, there will be many professionals called as expert witnesses to describe how this tactic of working in darkness protects would-be victims of violence. I doubt there are experts to the contrary.

I might add this: A tactical flashlight on the muzzle of a handgun may give away your position, but the shooter has already given away his position by firing first. You – someone in a crowded theater in darkness - have the advantage.

Likely take cover first; you may be in the kill zone of the shooter or you may not, but he may be in your kill zone, having revealed himself with his very first round's muzzle flash. Seven minutes could have been brought down to less than a minute if an armed citizen were present, acquired his shooter and fired.

Laymen have said that nothing could have been done; what about an armed citizen who has been seated somewhere behind the shooter or otherwise outside his field of view?

Think: consult gun owners over legal experts. Or, better yet, consult attorneys who are gun owners. There are tons of them.

Any tactical advantage of an armed citizen in a theater was wiped out when movie-goers read and adhered to the No Firearms Sign. This is a liabiity, a tragedy, which could have been avoided by someone with an open mind and a trust of citizens.

And it is time to trust the citizen.

Oh, and one more thing; when businesses want to evaluate whether they will welcoming armed patrons or rejecting them and their business, whatever you do, sit down with them and listen to them before you make your corporate rez. Ask anything you like. It might be illuminating.

Decades ago, there was a movement to train millions of civilians in CPR. I was there. The chief question in quizzing our panel was this: why don't we let the professionals such as yourself handle the cardiac arrest in the field?

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It is amazing to see how the objections to the armed citizen of today are identical to the interrogatories about Citizen CPR. The answers are the same as well.

Why consult gun owners? Because all of the American people have to live with the consequences of politics against guns. Politicians never have to live the consequences of their silliness. All Americans do.

Until the professionals arrive, one person with one handgun and one tactical flashlight – a common feature by now for hundreds of thousands – could have been the proper lifesaving response. Gun ban signage interfered with that tactical advantage over the shooter.

� 2012 - John Longenecker - All Rights Reserve

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John Longenecker is author of "Even Safer Streets 2011 — The Second Amendment as a Mainstream Value."

John Longenecker is Publisher of CONTRAST MEDIA PRESS, liberty books for corporate social responsibility expressed in terms of American Liberty. Social Responsibility need not be only Green – it can be Red, White and Blue. Go to

He can be reached at [email protected]


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Decades ago, there was a movement to train millions of civilians in CPR. I was there. The chief question in quizzing our panel was this: why don't we let the professionals such as yourself handle the cardiac arrest in the field?






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