Phillosophically Speaking

Phill Courtney

Despite the widely held belief that your odds of being killed by lightning are greater than bullets in a mass shooting it is just that: a belief, not a fact. About 20 Americans are killed each year by lightning while 705 died last year in mass shootings. Much more likely is being killed in one of our many daily “routine” shootings.

Sometimes it’s difficult for me to keep this in perspective because I’ve known six people impacted by mass shootings, including a couple from Riverside who were students on campus during the 1966 tower sniper attack at the University of Texas where 14 died. They were friends of the wife the sniper killed the night before. In addition, I have a friend whose grandson was at America’s worst mass murder in October 2017 where 60 died at a concert in Las Vegas.

Unfortunately, although not the site of a shooting, Redlands, too, has had and has residents both involved in and impacted by mass murders, including being the home of the couple that killed 14 in 2015’s shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. There are also two residents I know who have lost relatives in various mass shootings.

So, despite the statistics, for me all this is profoundly sickening because I’ve been both thinking and writing about this problem since the Texas tower atrocity, including for this newspaper in 2019. In 2013, I wrote a column for the Facts which took on the American “myth” of the “good guy” with a gun — reinforced by countless movies where the “good guys” take out the “bad guys” without fail, bringing what some would call justice to the world.

Well, when it comes to mass shootings, the myth doesn’t always work out that way, as we’ve seen repeatedly. Many times police arrive too late, while some on-site security personnel didn’t engage because they quickly realized that their service revolvers were no match for the murderers’ high-tech weaponry, as at Columbine High and the gay nightclub in Orlando where 49 died in America’s second-worst mass shooting.

Another sad fact are the officers who have never even tried, including the one on campus at ParklDespite the widely held belief that your odds of being killed by lightning are greater than bullets in a mass shooting it is just that: a belief, not a fact. About 20 Americans are killed each year by lightning while 705 died last year in mass shootings. Much more likely is being killed in one of our many daily “routine” shootings.

Sometimes it’s difficult for me to keep this in perspective because I’ve known six people impacted by mass shootings, including a couple from Riverside who were students on campus during the 1966 tower sniper attack at the University of Texas where 14 died. They were friends of the wife the sniper killed the night before. In addition, I have a friend whose grandson was at America’s worst mass murder in October 2017 where 60 died at a concert in Las Vegas.

Unfortunately, although not the site of a shooting, Redlands, too, has had and has residents both involved in and impacted by mass murders, including being the home of the couple that killed 14 in 2015’s shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. There are also two residents I know who have lost relatives in various mass shootings.

So, despite the statistics, for me all this is profoundly sickening because I’ve been both thinking and writing about this problem since the Texas tower atrocity, including for this newspaper in 2019. In 2013, I wrote a column for the Facts which took on the American “myth” of the “good guy” with a gun — reinforced by countless movies where the “good guys” take out the “bad guys” without fail, bringing what some would call justice to the world.

Well, when it comes to mass shootings, the myth doesn’t always work out that way, as we’ve seen repeatedly. Many times police arrive too late, while some on-site security personnel didn’t engage because they quickly realized that their service revolvers were no match for the murderers’ high-tech weaponry, as at Columbine High and the gay nightclub in Orlando where 49 died in America’s second-worst mass shooting.

Another sad fact are the officers who have never even tried, including the one on campus at Parkland, and now, even more egregiously, the almost 400 officers at the Robb Elementary School In Texas, while the courageous officer who did engage at the supermarket in Buffalo is dead because the killer had body armor and he didn’t.

Recently, Japan’s former prime minister was assassinated with a homemade gun in a country with strict gun-control laws, and the gun defenders immediately declared: “See? Gun control doesn’t work.” This ignores the fact that Japan, with a population of over 125 million, lost just one person — yes, that’s right, just ONE — to a gun assault in 2021. Tell me again, why gun control doesn’t work Japan has mentally disturbed people and violent video games too. What they don’t have everywhere is guns.

Some say that guns make Americans free. But you know who is actually free? People in Japan who are free from the constant fear of having their brains blown out every time they leave their home.

Unfortunately, too, and despite another tragic year of shootings, I don’t see much evidence yet that I couldn’t be writing this exact same column next year.

Phill Courtney is a former high school English teacher and ran twice for Congress with the Green Party. And, in case you’re wondering if he has any room to criticize those who have failed to engage armed assailants, in 1993 he charged a man with a handgun who’d grabbed his former girlfriend and stopped him with his bare hands. As to whether he’d do that again with a man wielding an assault rifle, he hopes that question will never have to be answered.

and, and now, even more egregiously, the almost 400 officers at the Robb Elementary School In Texas, while the courageous officer who did engage at the supermarket in Buffalo is dead because the killer had body armor and he didn’t.

Recently, Japan’s former prime minister was assassinated with a homemade gun in a country with strict gun-control laws, and the gun defenders immediately declared: “See? Gun control doesn’t work.” This ignores the fact that Japan, with a population of over 125 million, lost just one person — yes, that’s right, just ONE — to a gun assault in 2021. Tell me again, why gun control doesn’t work Japan has mentally disturbed people and violent video games too. What they don’t have everywhere is guns.

Some say that guns make Americans free. But you know who is actually free? People in Japan who are free from the constant fear of having their brains blown out every time they leave their home.

Unfortunately, too, and despite another tragic year of shootings, I don’t see much evidence yet that I couldn’t be writing this exact same column next year.

Phill Courtney is a former high school English teacher and ran twice for Congress with the Green Party. And, in case you’re wondering if he has any room to criticize those who have failed to engage armed assailants, in 1993 he charged a man with a handgun who’d grabbed his former girlfriend and stopped him with his bare hands. As to whether he’d do that again with a man wielding an assault rifle, he hopes that question will never have to be answered.