Friday, October 09, 2015

The Bum's Rush: What to do (maybe) if somebody is shooting at you

Without in any way endorsing the candidacy of Ben Carson, I was quite surprised by the way Trevor Noah (now heading The Daily Show) and others went after Carson for saying that he would respond to a shooter by rushing him (and yeah, it is almost always a male). The Bum's Rush can work in certain circumstances, as when anarchist Alexander Berkman failed to assassinate industrialist Henry C. Frick in 1892 because another executive and other office workers attacked and disarmed Berkman, who, like many shooters, was apparently nervous and inexperienced. Recently, a shooter in a school near Sioux Falls, South Dakota was thwarted by an assistant principal.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the bum's rush is always, or even usually, an appropriate response. Everything depends on the context, including the firearm-related knowledge of the people involved. South Dakota has a robust gun culture, so many people here know how many shells different types of guns hold, their range, how long it takes to reload them, what they sound like, etc. For example, a double barrel shotgun will go bang, bang, with no sound of clanking expended shells or sliding mechanisms (pumps) between shots. They need to be reloaded after just two shots and take a few seconds to reload (unless the assailant is a professional target shooter, which is highly unlikely). Maybe a time for the bum's rush if the shooter is close and there are others ready to move with you. On the other hand, I would cower in the nearest hole if I hear the rata tat tat of a fully automatic weapon.

So Carson, the thinker, should have responded: "it depends on the details of the situation." Of course Carson the politician should have said "I would return the assailant's fire because as President I would do away with no gun zones." But he is only a brain surgeon, so what do people expect?

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