Like a lot of people today, the day after the San Bernardino mass shooting, I find myself depressed. I can’t work on my novel. I ate a whole package of Graham crackers, and I’ve been checking the online news every half hour or so.
Last night was the regular weekly meeting of my class at the Santa Monica Police Department—the Community Police Academy course. Many police departments offer these courses allowing a peek behind the thin blue line of law enforcement. Coincidentally we were told the first segment of the three-hour class was what to do in the case of an active shooter.
Santa Monica had its own mass shooting in 2013. It started with a 23-year-old John Zawahri having a dispute at home, killing his father and brother, and setting the family home on fire. Six people were killed, including the suspect, and four people were injured in the incident. Zawahri, was killed by police officers when he exchanged gunfire with them at the Santa Monica College library.
Not a high body count so the rest of the world has probably forgotten Zawahiri by now. No motive is known. Obama was in Santa Monica ten minutes away at the time of the shooting and so were an increased SMPD and tactical presence. This no doubt brought the shooting spree to an end more quickly.
A couple of grim-faced cops who had been part of the response to that mass shooting showed a video about what to do in the event you find yourself in the company of a shooter. Good advice, but I wonder if I would freeze and wet my pants crouched under a desk. What would you do?
Crime fiction has its appeal over the real world because we’re assured that in the end justice will triumph over evil and the villain will be punished. Things will end up right. Nothing is going to end up right for the victims.
Sometimes there is no closure. The villain goes unpunished. I wonder if we’re collectively the villains in not confronting the fact that the U.S. which has roughly 5% of the world’s population owns at least one-third of the civilian-owned firearms.
It’s not entirely the fault of the gun lobby which appears to own Congress. We’re to blame too.