Social Lockdown

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By Rick Johnson
April 18, 1999
Printed by the Denver Post



It’s too late – much too late – to eliminate the threat that guns present in the hands of private, largely untrained and frequently angry hands.

From my standpoint as a former investigator for the Denver and Jefferson County District Attorney’s Offices and currently an investigator in private practice, the likely, inevitable consequence of a mass murder every 30 days or so is that we will be forced to relinquish some additional measure of our freedom of movement. The existence of guns will compel us to submit to ever more stringent security measures aimed, not at guns, but at people with guns.

People with no violent tendencies may start carrying guns to the workplace. Others actually may carry the weapons throughout the workday. People like me eventually will warn of the dangers that even these guns can represent in a moment of anger or frustration. Gun violence can take place simply because a gun is available. As we already know, there is virtually no way to predict who will go over the edge, when it will happen, and what may precipitate the event. The human tendency is to refuse to believe – to ignore the signals that are all too evident after the blood has flowed. The alternative will be a locked-down building.

We may never be able to protect people like we protect money, but the fact that we go to extremes to protect money, while we do almost nothing to protect people, especially in the workplace, ought to generate some measure of outrage.

The gun is the instrument, a tool of revenge, but the deaths caused by the shooter may be almost an inconsequential part of the process. It is the fear and panic, the terror instilled by the shooter in those who survive, even unscathed, that is the ultimate revenge. The shooter needs people alive to relive the horror over and over.

The gun also is a semi-suicide weapon. If the shooter gets away, or intends to try to escape the scene of carnage, a gun then becomes a defensive weapon. Only when cornered and faced with capture does the gun provide the shooter with final release from whatever demons drove the chaos.

It’s truly sad for us that suicide isn’t the first choice.

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