Beaton column: When the shooting starts, would you go in?
Armed sheriff deputies appeared on the scene of the recent school massacre in Florida while kids were still being murdered inside.
But the deputies failed to storm the building to apprehend the killer, to rescue the assaulted, to stop the bleeding and to comfort the dying. They failed to do their jobs.
Instead, they cowered behind their patrol cars waiting for … well, apparently waiting for the shooting to stop. Some 150 bullets and 17 lives later, it finally did and the killer walked away. Only then did the deputies enter the building.
About that, President Donald Trump characteristically said what he thought. He went on to say, “I really believe I’d run in there, even without a weapon.”
I don’t know Trump well enough to judge whether he would or wouldn’t, but I suspect he would. He’s a bundle of contradictions, complexities, conundrums and occasional cartoons. But I’ll say this for a guy who took on the entire political establishment and won: He’s not a coward.
Today’s topic, however, is not Trump. Today’s topic is the issue he raises.
That issue is this. What would you do if you happened past a school and heard shooting and screaming inside? Assume you’re unarmed.
If you run inside to help, the most-likely outcome is that you accomplish nothing. The second-most-likely outcome is that you add yourself to the body count.
But the third-most-likely outcome is that you save a kid, perhaps in the course of dying yourself. The fourth, and least-likely, outcome is that you save many kids by overcoming the killer.
Of those possible outcomes, only the last two — the least likely ones — are good ones. The odds are against heroes. That’s why we hero-ize them. Unfortunately for heroes, but fortunately for the rest of us, heroes have no time to calculate those long odds against them.
In the Las Vegas shoot-up of an outdoor country music concert last year, 29-year-old Taylor Winston was in the audience when the shooting and screaming started. He didn’t stand and die, he didn’t run away and he didn’t have time to calculate his odds.
He instead helped people over a fence and out of harm’s way while braving bullets from a semi-automatic weapon that had been altered with a “bump stock” into an automatic one. He was essentially under machine gun fire.
As the carnage continued, he saw many people shot and gushing blood. He knew he had to get them medical care. He ran to some trucks in a nearby parking lot. The first one he looked into had the keys in the ignition.
He could have started up the truck and driven to safety. Instead, he drove back into the hail of gunfire, loaded victims into the truck and drove them to a make-shift treatment area.
Incredibly, he then made a return trip to the killing field and did the same thing again.
As for me, I have some idea of what I would do. But it’s impossible to know whether my idea is accurate without actually being in that situation. I’ve been in some precarious situations in the mountains, but I’ve never been in military combat or even witnessed a civilian gunfight.
I do know I’ve lived a long and good life. My children no longer need me. Nobody needs me as much as children being stalked by a murderer in a schoolhouse.
I’ve been saved, and there’s nothing I can do in my remaining years more important than saving the life of a child. The pain of bullets? I’ve experienced worse.
But still, those facts are just stuff in my brain, and my brain has no time to process it in the few seconds available.
Like you, I would instead act instinctively with my heart. I hope my heart would tell me to do what I should do — what I must do. I hope I would do my job.
P.S. I floated this topic on social media recently and received some good insights. To those of you who offered yours, thanks.
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