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Op-ed proposes "Flight 93" mindset to mass shootings

Op-ed proposes "Flight 93" mindset to mass shootings
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

September 11, 2001, was one of those days I will never forget. Few of us alive at the time will. While mass shootings weren’t unheard of, they weren’t common, but what we saw that day made even the worst such shooting pale in comparison.

But we also saw legends rise that day. We heard stories of those who helped get people down, risking their own lives in the process. When the first tower fell, those in the second continued to help despite the danger.

Perhaps the best-known story, though, was about the passengers of Flight 93. Upon learning what was happening, they created a plan to take the airplane back. They had to know the risks, but they likely figured it was better to die fighting than allow their lives to be sacrificed for a cause not their own.

And they did.

Now, an op-ed suggests the mindset of the passengers might be a solution to mass shootings.

That heroic “Default of Action” was on stage May 7, 2019, at STEM School Highlands Ranch where two students went on a shooting rampage. Three other “Flight 93” students, Kendrick Castillo, Joshua Jones and Brendan Bialy, jumped from their desks and threw one gunman against the wall, saving innumerable lives. In doing so 18-year-old Kendrick gave his own life. (It has been the greatest of honors to learn so much about this young hero from his inspirational parents, who I now consider friends.)

The horrific recent shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs was ended by the same Flight 93 Default of Action Mindset of 45-year-old Richard Fierro who rushed the shooter and beat him with his own gun to end the carnage.

And these are the brave who fought back unarmed; many more armed citizens did what Uvalde cops wouldn’t — engage the shooter with their own firearm. Think of those of action who stopped a mass shooter by shooting back.

Hero Johnny Hurley shot and killed a mass killer in Old Towne Arvada and paid for it with his life. Hero Jeanne Assam shot a mass killer at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, to name just two.

All these valiant people had the Flight 93 Mindset.

What if every potential shooter knew, as every potential hijacker knows, he will be either shot or swarmed and beaten to submission by more than he can kill?

Go read the whole thing, because it’s an interesting thought and one I happen to agree with completely.

Mass shooters generally expect to be able to do what they want. They tend to prefer gun-free zones because they don’t want people with what the author calls the Flight 93 Mindset. They figure that without a gun, few people will risk it.

And, frankly, they’re right.

It’s a bad idea to bring a knife to a gunfight, but it’s worse to bring nothing to one. Yet as we saw in Colorado Springs, even then there’s a chance to stop the attack.

Look, I’m a gun guy. I think firearms are the very best tool for stopping a mass shooting and I think the vast majority of you agree.

But the author is talking about a mindset that doesn’t require a gun, and that’s infinitely more important.

I can’t speak for you, but if it’s me or my family, well that’s not really a choice, is it?

If potential mass shooters knew they’d face resistance no matter the rules in place, how would that change their thinking? If they realized that their chance of fame could end by being curb-stomped by some veteran they can’t account for, would they abandon their plan?

Who knows.

What does seem clear is that when a mass shooter faces resistance, fewer people die. That’s enough of a reason to foster this mindset to me.