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Mass Hysteria

Mass Hysteria

My friend and mentor Michael Bane had a great podcast episode this week on the difference between a mass shooting and an active killer. I will confess that tended to confuse the two before I listened to his podcast (and read Greg Ellifrtitz’s article which inspired that episode). Simply put, active killer events tend to be well-planned, meticulous assaults, while mass shootings tend to be more spontaneous. The difference between the two matters little to the victims: Dead is still dead, and they should be mourned for a senseless and tragic end to their lives. However, there are lessons to be learned here on how to avoid one versus the other.

Active shooters can happen just about anywhere there is a large group of people, and tend to happen in “gun free” zones. Mass shootings, as far as I can tell, happen at large social gatherings. Parades. House parties. Backyard weddings. Farnam’s Law, (Don’t go to stupid places to do stupid things at stupid times with stupid people) absolutely applies, but can we really say that a backyard wedding is a stupid place and a stupid time? What about your kid’s birthday party? A parade… ok, maybe a parade, but still, is it really THAT stupid compared to say, getting Caribbean food at 11pm on a Saturday night near Fowler and Edison?

This all came home to me this weekend as I was editing Sheriff Jim’s latest article for Shooting Illustrated, where he talks about how there are no safe spaces. As I was combing it for typos (which were few and far between… he’s a good writer), I was thinking to myself, “Oh, c’mon Jim, you’re just being paranoid. If I pay attention to my surroundings and use Farnam’s rules, I won’t have to worry about this stuff. I’ve eliminated my chances of being a victim.”

Today, however, I realized that just isn’t so. Yes, I can reduce my chances of being a victim of violent crime, but I will never, ever eliminate them completely. I can shrink the odds, but the stakes are still the same: My life, and the lives of those I love. As long as those chips are on table, it’s my duty to make sure I do everything I can to avoid cashing out prematurely.

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