Reactions to the Gym Shooting

NUGUN seems to have attracted some commenters through links from CNN and some other major sites.  I’m honestly not all that interested in fleshing out the usual “gun-free zone” or “would carrying at the gym help,” crap we normally do after incidents like this.  Firearms are not going to be effective in all situations, and in this one, I’m not sure how much of a difference it would or wouldn’t have made.  If I joined a gym, it would be for the pool, and I can promise you I’m not packing a pocket pistol in my swim trunks, nor leaving a pistol unattended in a gym locker.

The guy picked a soft target, and his tactic of switching lights off isn’t one we’ve seen before.  Are you going to shoot at muzzle flash?  How can you be sure of what’s behind it, and that the target hasn’t moved?   I don’t know, this seems to me to be more a situation you’d be better off running like hell for the nearest exit.  Exit lights aren’t switchable in public buildings, so they would be visible.  Based on the fact that the shooter hit something, it would indicate that there was probably some ambient light, so maybe light wasn’t as much of a factor.  Who knows.

My philosophy is to carry where you can.  But it’s not always possible to be armed at all times, and in all circumstances.  At a gym is one of those circumstances being armed is a lot more difficult.  I echo NUGUN’s comments on the utility of pocket pistols, but they have their downsides.

16 thoughts on “Reactions to the Gym Shooting”

  1. I agree that this is definitely one of the harder situations. Gyms are for sure one of the tougher places to carry.

    And I think that is exactly why this guy chose a gym. It met his two requirements:

    1. Women
    2. Soft target, little expected resistance.

  2. This is a case where if a person is determined to do harm he can. He picked out a women’s class when they are in a state of less dress. It is not viable to have a gun you in an exercise class.

    Only in the films does James Bond have his gun under the towel.

  3. Unfortunately, this is another circumstance where there is no guarantee that a victim having a firearm would have changed anything. Granted, there is no guarantee in any circumstance, but like the church shooting here in Knoxville, these were rather unique circumstances (here because the parishoners reacted amazingly quickly, there because of the lights and gym location).

    There are certainly ways to carry while working out (especially the small workout bag, like SayUncle mentioned – after all, you need someplace to carry your water bottle and towel and whatnot), but they may not exactly the convenient. By the same token, getting to it and firing it may not be an option. And in the dark… well, all bets are off.

    Now, the comments… NUGUN, you managed to attract the best trolls!

  4. A few years back I used to ride my bicycle to the gym early on Saturday mornings (during the week I drove there in an agency vehicle).

    One Saturday I realized that I had forgotten to bring a lock, so I couldn’t stow my fanny pack in a locker and, of course, the fanny pack had my house key, agency ID and a gun in it. I wound up moving the fanny pack from machine to machine, hanging it on whatever part of the machine was handy while I used it. I was also extremely aware of whomever else was near me at the time, since even though they probably didn’t know I had a gun, I did, so I paid a lot of attention to the environment, including anyone coming or going. Early Saturday mornings weren’t busy so it was fairly easy.

    I found that was a workable solution. I never tried it during the week when the gym was busier, but it probably would have worked then, too. Was I prepared to use the gun if needed? Sure, but no more so than any other time. My focus was on maintaining control of the gun, not necessarily being prepared to use it, but the gap between those two points isn’t that big.

  5. I’ll be posting something rather shortly on women, handguns and civilization. I almost never carry (although that will probably change), but when I do at the gym (for very, very specific reasons), my weapon is in my gym bag and it never leaves my side. And you bet I am extremely aware of anyone who comes close to me.

    No idea whether a citizen with a gun would have helped, but I wish that one of those women had been in a position to try.

    Erin Solaro

  6. Outreach towards suicidal men and boys might have helped, though.

    But we can’t have that, now can we? After all, we’d end up paying so much more for everything, if we didn’t sufficiently devalue men and boys as a matter of daily course, and train men and boys to likewise devalue themselves enough to trade their well-being, safety, health, and lives so cheaply for less expensive resources, infrastructure, manufacturing, and defense overall.

    I wish the people protesting senseless gun tragedies would start actually reaching out with active, tangible engagement and support towards the demographic most likely to commit them — men and boys.

    Because if they had been, not only might that man be alive and sane today, but so might his victims, too.

  7. For the next few days I might carry at the gym just because there may be some kind of copycat. Not that the copycat is likely to strike my gym vs. any of the tens of thousands of other gyms.

    I don’t know what you can do about an attack like this, because as has been said between the lights out and the rest of the situation fighting back might not have been a viable response. And if you’re the one guy who isn’t running away and is digging through a fanny pack, I’ve got to think that might make you a target (though the shooter is always a crazy man running on adrenalin, hard to know what he’s thinking).

    I would love to know how to reach out to people like this. Any ideas? There are already plenty of suicide hotlines, etc., for those that want help.

  8. Acksiom, well said.

    I’ve been a member at all manner of fitness gyms most of my life and I have never seen a flyer or ad for anything to do with outreach for troubled individuals,…etc.

    Yet some of the most disturbed and potentially dangerous people I’ve ever met have been from gyms.

    Go figure.

  9. I concur with ‘running for the exit,’ but offer a humble correction. Emergency exit lighting is designed to activate during a power failure or fire alarm. Operation of interior lighting systems, on/off etc, will not effect emergency lights.

  10. 1.) Didn’t the Russians come up with some special underwater gun? In fact it was the Spetsialnyj Podvodnyj Pistolet = Special Underwater Pistol. However for concealment you’d better wear long boardshorts and not Speedos.
    2.) Perhaps he turned out the lights because he didn’t really want to see the results of his firing. He himself said he chickened-out once before, he was not being “brave” this time either.

  11. I meant the exit lights as in the light in the sign that says exit. That is always required to be on in a public building.

  12. I think the best solution would be dropping to the deck, remaining flat, and playing dead. Before anyone picks up a flaming pitchfork, remember: an exerted female in the middle of an exhausting workout routine, and the environment goes from bright fluorescent to dark, with a shooter plugging away at about waist level. If I’m wrong about the specifics, let me know, but if the facts I presented are right, anyone there would be in a heap of trouble.

  13. How to reach out to people like that man? That’s harder. That will probably take a significant change in your wider community.

    It’s not that we don’t care as much about men and boys — although we don’t — but that we actively support their denigration and devaluation with our purchasing choices, both second-hand through advertising, and directly through our entertainment. Furthermore, we allow our mass media and immediate social circles to treat them as mere tools to be casually discarded the moment they stop being useful. That is the norm, and our silence is complicity in that behavior. We place absurdly unbalanced expectations upon them and then ridicule them when they complain about the unfairness or ask for help, or else sit silently by while others do so.

    And we do not allow them any other means of social identity within their communities than providers and protectors. We do not extend protection to men and boys in general. We only care meaningfully about our own close family members, and very rarely friends, and even then we tend to treat them with a calculated indifference in order to keep them ‘strong’ and ‘independent’.

    Going by his own accounts, what the suicide-murderer in question most needed from his community was protection from his mother and positive compensation for his father to encourage that man’s active parenting in his childhood. A secondary safety net in his adult life would have been outreach targeting suicidal males in particular of an amount and degree in line with the relative risk level of other causes of death and criminal behavior, such as prostate cancer and drug use.

    But, as I said, we’d rather trade his life and the well-being, safety, health, and lives of many other men, and a few women here and there, for cheaper resources, infrastructure, manufacturing, and defense.

    So I don’t think any meaningful change is going to happen until technology lowers those costs. Then, as happened with the restrictions on and expectations of women’s behavior following the pill, lowered childbirth mortality, abortion access, home appliances, the preprepared meals industry, and so on, things will start to change, and we won’t devalue and dehumanize men and boys as much.

    Because we won’t need to do that in order to have better financial bottom lines, and so we’ll then suddenly find the moral and ethical strength to change our own behavior.

    Therefore, if you really want to make a meaningful difference, become a systems, power, or materials engineer or scientist, or invest in or otherwise support new technology companies. Because trying to directly improve the overall attitudes towards and treatment of men and boys in a culture that still sexually mutilates over a million innocent children every year simply and solely because they had the bad luck to be born male is pretty much a hopeless and pointless task.

    And I fully expect the form and content of any negative reactions to that last point to demonstrate my overall thesis for me.

  14. I agree with DirtCrashr’s number 2: This gym shooter turned out the lights on those women because he was simply too chicken to watch the results of his own bloody carnage. It’s not like the guy used a mag lite in his free hand for a tactical advantage while shooting in the dark. If he had done so, the death toll likely would have been so much greater, but fortunately, this was not the case, despite the fact that there was still enough tragedy that occurred regardless.

  15. A gun is like a hammer. When you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Finding cover or a weapon would depend on your situation. It’s way to easy to second guess when you weren’t there.

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