That's the headline of an article in the Detroit Free Press.
Motorcycles backfired in Times Square last week. It sounded like gunfire, and panic ensued in the heart of New York City.
The same night, a sign fell during a concert at a Utah mall. The loud bang when it hit the floor sounded something like a gunshot, and sent people racing into stores to hide.
Balloons popped in a dorm in March on the University of Michigan campus. Outside, a vigil was underway for those killed in the massacre at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Dozens of students heard the loud popping sounds and called 911, leading to a campus lockdown and hours-long search for a gunman who didn't exist.
These scenes paint a portrait of America in 2019.
It's a place where anxiety about gun violence is always at a low simmer, ready to boil over at the slightest provocation.
It's also a country with more mass shootings than there are days in the year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a Washington, D.C.,-based nonpartisan nonprofit organization that collects real-time data.
"It’s forever going to be a part of my mind, where I know this could happen," said Lee Dorchak Sr., 38, of Warren, who was shot but survived the 2017 massacre at the three-day outdoor Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, where 58 people were killed.
"It could happen to anybody anywhere you go now. Sadly, these things are proving it to us," he said, referencing mass shootings Aug. 3-4 at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart store and outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio. "These things can happen anywhere at any moment, and ... I don’t know that we’ll ever find the right answer or the right way to handle it."
There's more at the link.
Sadly, the headline is probably correct. There are enough deranged individuals out there that one never knows when or where the next one will pick up a gun and start shooting. The reasons are debated endlessly. Is it "a lot of dysfunctional young white guys from suburbia"? (No, it's not.) . Is it because "no-one matters anymore"? (Possibly.) Is it the way we raise (or neglect) our kids? (That's very likely a contributing factor.) However, uncertainty about the causes won't change the reality that mass shootings can now happen anywhere, anytime.
All we, as individuals, can do is observe basic precautions. I repeated John Farnam's very wise advice last week. If you didn't read it then, please click on the link and do so now. It's important. I also stressed in that article the need to be armed, so that you can defend yourself and your family if need be. As I said in another blog post:
The simple truth is that the solution to mass shootings of this sort does not lie in government hands, or even in law enforcement hands. Government and cops can't be everywhere, all the time - but we are. It's up to us to be aware of our surroundings, and equipped to deal with any threat that may arise. How many of us, after the shooting at a Walmart supermarket in El Paso, decided to get our concealed carry permit, and from now onward go armed, to defend ourselves and those with us when we do our grocery shopping? If you didn't, you're effectively consenting to be a victim in such an environment - because there is something practical you can do about it, but you've chosen, by your inaction, not to do anything. Don't blame the government if you find yourself caught up in a similar situation. They didn't send the shooter.
That's a hard, painful lesson to learn . . . but isn't it the exact and literal truth?
It's not enough just to carry a gun, either. In a crisis, one will default to one's level of training. If you haven't trained enough with your gun, so that you know how to draw it quickly and safely, how to aim it, and how to put fire downrange accurately and effectively, you probably won't be very good at defending yourself. In fact, you may be more of a threat to those nearby than the original gunman! It takes training and practice to master a firearm, and ongoing practice to "keep one's eye in" and remain at a level of proficiency that will get the job done if and when required. Most people don't bother, because that takes time, energy, commitment and money (for training, ammunition and other needs). Nevertheless, they're basic requirements if you want to defend yourself and your loved ones. There's no substitute.
The same applies to a basic level of physical fitness. Some of us (including myself) labor under health problems that prevent us becoming and/or remaining very fit. If we run into an active shooter, there's no way we're going to be able to run far enough or fast enough to get away, so we'd better concentrate on how to stop him without that option. Others, fitter or stronger or faster, might do better to "get out of Dodge" without trying to offer fight. Figure out what works better for you - but do so ahead of time, so that if something goes wrong, you aren't still wondering what to do about it. As General Patton famously said, "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week". He was speaking in a military context, of course, but his sentiments apply equally well to self-defense.
Sometimes, all of the above simply won't be enough. Sometimes we may just find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. All we can do then is our best. Even if we charge the gunman with empty hands, that may at least give others the chance to escape, or allow someone else to hit him over the head from behind while he's concentrating on us. It won't help us, but it may help others - so let's not rule that out. At any rate, I think it's a better option than cowering on the floor, screaming, while being systematically slaughtered!