The shooting in an Alabama mall last week is a tragedy and a half. After all, the person killed was a good guy with a gun. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. The police arrived, made a mistake in who was the bad guy, and now we’ve lost someone who had the will to put his life on the line when it mattered.
Now, a couple of gun rights groups are calling for a dialogue with law enforcement in the wake of the tragedy.
A pair of gun-rights groups called for a national dialogue between law enforcement and the gun-carrying community on Tuesday after a legally armed man was mistakenly killed during a shooting at a mall in Alabama last week.
The Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms released a joint statement calling for police officers and law enforcement officials to sit down with gun-carry advocates and firearms trainers to discuss ways to prevent legally armed civilians from being shot by police during future incidents. The groups said the conversation was necessary to save lives of good Samaritans who are trying to defend themselves or others during attacks in public places. They said that while cases of mistaken shootings during attacks have been rare up until now, the prevalence of concealed carry means they could become more common if steps aren’t taken to prevent them.
“There are more than 17 million gun owners in the United States who are licensed to carry concealed,” Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said in a statement. “In addition, there are untold numbers of legally armed citizens in states where permits or licenses are not required for either concealed or open carry. In an active shooter incident, these citizens are well within their rights to act in self-defense or in defense of others, even when it means they draw a defensive sidearm but don’t immediately open fire.”
Gottlieb said concealed carriers have ended attacks on public places across the country, even in recent months.
“Armed citizens have interrupted would-be mass shooters sometimes fatally shooting the perpetrator before police arrive,” Gottlieb said. “This happened at an Oklahoma City restaurant, a Walmart in Washington State, and at a McDonald’s restaurant in Birmingham in October.”
He said police need to realize it’s an increasing possibility that an armed civilian may also be responding to the attack they’ve been called in to stop.
And Gottlieb has a point.
However, I also think it bears remembering that we’re not the ones who are supposed to be responding. When the police show up and tell you to put down your firearm, you do it.
I’m not saying that’s what happened in Alabama, mind you. I don’t know precisely what happened inside the building. It looks bad, but a neighboring police department is investigating, and body cams were on the officers, so I suspect we’ll find out soon enough.
What I do know is that the police are not going to screw around when they see someone with a gun. Right or wrong, we all need to understand and come to terms with this reality.
Of course, if the police just shoot, there’s not a lot you can do.
Frankly, I think the call for dialogue is a good thing. It’s one that needs to happen, if for no other reason than to try to minimize the chance of this kind of thing happening.