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In this month to contemplate the place of violence in our times, I want to reflect on a story that broke in July of this year.

Blaze Media reported that 22-year-old armed citizen, Elisjsha Dicken, neutralized a potential mass killing at an Indiana mall by shooting the perpetrator within just 15 seconds of his first shots. Dicken was carrying his gun under Indiana’s new constitutional carry law that went into effect less than three weeks earlier; so was the first victim, Victor Gomez (what good did it do him to be carrying a gun?)… and so was the perpetrator:

“Surveillance footage shows the killer entered the mall shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday evening. He was armed with multiple firearms and spent approximately one hour in a bathroom before he opened fire at patrons in the Greenwood Park mall food court. Police said he exited the bathroom at 5:56:48 and was neutralized by 5:57:03.

Even more impressive is the fact that Dicken fired 10 shots from his handgun from a distance of 40 yards. Police said the killer was shot eight times and none of them were self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

‘His actions were nothing short of heroic. He engaged the gunman from quite a distance with a handgun. Was very proficient in that, was tactically sound and as he moved to close in on the suspect, he was also motioning for people to exit behind him,’ Greenwood Police Chief James Ison explained, WTHR-TV reported. ‘Many people would have died last night if not for a responsible armed citizen that took action very quickly within the first two minutes of this shooting.'”

The Narrative of a Hero?

Though Dicken did not communicate with the media, his attorney Guy Relford did all the talking for him:

“I am proud to serve as Eli Dicken’s attorney and spokesperson. He is a true American hero who saved countless lives during a horrific event that could have been so much worse if not for Eli’s courage, preparedness and willingness to protect others,” Relford said in a statement.

The NRA and the National Review were quick to promote Dicken as the epitome of “a good guy with a gun.” I think it is safe to say there were a flood of endorsements across American media, but at no time was there a question about why a 22 year old would feel the need to carry a loaded weapon at all times.

At no time was there any reflection on how one could possibly tell the difference between the gunman and Dicken at the point of shooting. As far as anyone could tell during the hail of bullets, what was the difference? Only the identity of the victims? The narrative of heroism was blinded to the fact that everyone is a victim of the Second Amendment.

With little reflection, the media and the NRA were not talking about the fact that the gunman also legally carried his firearms into the mall. The only difference was that he appeared to be intent on killing a lot of people.

What’s my Problem?

So, you might ask, what is my problem with Eli Dicken as a hero?

I have no problem with him. The potential victims can be grateful for his quick and precise action. In a State where both “hero” and “perpetrator” had the same rights to openly carry weapons, many have expressed appreciation for young Eli Dicken who had the practice, the pistol, and the presence of mind to put them into action.

Here’s my problem: a society too quick to make this the narrative of heroism when there is no reflection on why so many people feel the need to be legally packing heat in the first place.

By the time this event happened in July, it had become one of more than 350 mass shootings this year (!) according to Gun Violence Archive (“mass shooting” is defined as one in which four or more people are shot, not including the shooter).

Take in that last paragraph again: 350 mass shootings…

(By the publishing of this post, there were 589 “Mass Shootings” recorded… and the year isn’t over yet).

Greenwood now joined a slew of other communities also grappling with the aftermath of mass shootings, including those reeling from earlier massacres at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

A society that praises their gun shooting heroes forget they in-prison themselves in a cul de sac of victimhood, and promote a fear that perpetrates more gun violence.

While I understand how this event lionized Dicken in America, I would rather live in a society where people felt safe enough to not have to carry guns (especially military type guns); I would rather live in a society where there would be fewer guns carried; I’d rather live in a society where the heroism of self control was granted higher status than violence, for violence only begets violence.

I remain very interested in any convincing argument for why there is a need for more guns, especially military type guns, in the hands of so many people and increasingly carried in public. Surely this is a recipe for disaster.

What is the opposite of a gun?