Seldom has any news event captured the spirit behind this blog’s title as powerfully as the atrocity (not tragedy) in Tucson.
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” It’s usually quoted as “good men,” but since Edmund Burke apparently did not actually say it, I’ve felt free to modernize the language.
Sometimes good people don’t get a lot of warning before they have to step up. I yield to nobody in my admiration for Sergeant Kim Manley, the brave civilian police officer who first traded shots with the Fort Hood jihadi — and was shot twice for her troubles. But it does her no disservice to note that when she ran toward the gunfire, she was responding to her training and doing the job that the police force paid her to do.
Patricia Maisch had no such training. She’s a 61-year-old small business owner who “came out to thank Giffords for her vote [in favor of] the stimulus bill.” I’ll forgive her that, as she was the bystander who grabbed the second magazine (of 31 rounds) from Jared Lee Loughner before he could continue firing. How many more dead would there have been?
Not all heroes are women, of course. 24-year-old Joe Zamudio heard the shots and ran toward them, prepared to take action; he was carrying a concealed, legal handgun. He told MSNBC (at 2:12 in the video):
I saw another individual holding the firearm, and I kind of assumed he was the shooter, so I grabbed his wrist and told him to drop it, and forced him to drop the gun on the ground. When I did that, everyone said, no, no, it’s this guy, it’s this guy. And I proceeded to help hold that man down…
[At 4:40:] Sir, when I came through the door, I had my hand on the butt of my pistol, and I clicked the safety off. I was ready to kill him. But I didn’t have to do that, and I was very blessed that I didn’t have to do that, and I was very blessed that I didn’t have to go to that place.
The Second Amendment has never been a primary issue for me. To the extent I’ve thought about it at all, I’ve generally favored tighter gun control. But episodes like this, and Virginia Tech, and Fort Hood, make me more sympathetic to arguments about the benefits of an armed populace. The challenge, of course, is to find ways to keep guns out of the hands of deranged people like Jared Lee Loughner, while putting them into the holsters of responsible citizens like Joe Zamudio.
Congressional Intern Daniel Hernandez brought his nursing background into play and provided first aid that may have saved the Congresswoman’s life. “It was probably not the best idea to run toward the gunshots, but people needed help,” he said.
The Web Goddess, who can’t stand the sight of the photo of Loughner, pointed me to a Slate “Explainer” column published in the wake of Virginia Tech. It says that if confronted by a gunman, your best bet is to run away, as it’s hard to shoot a moving target.
Patricia Maisch, Joe Zamudio, Daniel Hernandez — they all did exactly the opposite. When confronted with evil, the good people did something.