It quickly became clear it was something else. Bullets shattered the restaurant’s windows. A man collapsed onto the floor. Servers ran. A young man whom Mr. Shaw had seen minutes earlier, silhouetted in a pickup truck, was gripping an AR-15 rifle. He was squeezing the trigger, and squeezing it again as he moved toward the building.
Then the firing paused. Mr. Shaw could see the man reloading his weapon just after entering the restaurant.
He sensed a moment when he could fight back.
“I acted in a blink of a second,” Mr. Shaw said. “When he reloaded his clip, that felt like 30 minutes. I looked at him, and he wasn’t looking at me. He just had the barrel down. It was like, ‘Do it now. Go now.’ I just took off.”
He scuffled with the man, whom the police later identified as [I refuse to reprint his name], a 29-year-old construction worker with a history of brushes with authorities. Mr. Shaw managed to seize the rifle and hurled it over a countertop.
If there’s a name worth remembering here, it’s that of James Shaw, Jr.
He saw a moment. He acted – decisively, swiftly.
I’ve been seeing some things going around about this incident countering the “what stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” trope by crossing out the “good guy with a gun” and replacing it with “good guy with bare hands”.
I get it.
It’s worth understanding a few things.
Mr. Shaw was lucky. Not every event receives such a pause, nor has a willing person in such a position to act when that pause occurs. This isn’t to say I’m not thankful for what Mr. Shaw did; just we must realize that this was a tactic from opportunity, not from planning.
This is also not a tactic suitable for all people. Mr. Shaw is a young strong man. I think about one of the students I had in class this past weekend: she was elderly, small, frail, and not strong. Are you suggesting she should go hands-on? I’m sure you’re not, but then what would you suggest she do as a means of personal protection (since I reckon you’re unable and/or unwilling to be her round-the-clock bodyguard)?
Do you know what this act demonstrates?
That sometimes violence is exactly the answer.
Violence in and of itself is neither good nor bad. It’s how that violence is applied, in what context, towards what end, that determines if it is good or bad.
Mr. Shaw made the decision to respond with violence – and thank God he did.
When a woman gouges out the eyes of someone attempting to rape her, when she kicks and punches and bites and claws her attacker – she is responding with violence. Preventing rape is quite the good reason to hit someone.
People who choose to carry a gun or simply choose to own a gun for personal protection have come to accept there are evil people in this world. They have come to understand that sometimes the right and only response is a violent one.
This doesn’t mean that a gun is the answer, always the answer. Nor does it mean that violence is always the answer.
But sometimes it is.
And it’s necessary to have the willingness to apply it.