By Jeff Knox
(September 20, 2016) The Crossroads Center Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota is a “gun-free” establishment, so when a Somali immigrant, apparently intent on striking a blow for the “religion of peace,” started slashing and stabbing shoppers in the mall, he had a reasonable expectation that he would meet little in the way of effective resistance, at least until the police could get there. It’s clear that the attacker was intent on killing and injuring as many people as possible, and also appears that he was determined not to survive the rampage himself. What this “suspected” terrorist coward apparently didn’t count on was that one of the nearby mall shoppers, Jason Falconer, was a competitive shooter, NRA certified firearms and self-defense instructor, and part-time police officer from a nearby town – and that in Minnesota “gun-free zones” don’t apply to law enforcement officers, even if they are only part-time cops and off-duty.
The terrorist coward – whose name I will not repeat because I refuse to give these cowards the publicity – was expecting to stab fish in a barrel, and that’s what he was doing until Falconer showed up, bringing a gun to a knife fight. When Falconer moved from safety into the danger zone, he ordered the slasher to drop his weapon, but instead of complying, the “suspected” terrorist charged at Falconer, forcing him to fire. Down, but not out, the scumbag got up and attempted to lunge again, resulting in another shot from Falconer, then repeated the sequence at least once more, until he wasn’t getting up ever again. That determination to keep attacking, even when it was clear he couldn’t win, suggests that this low-life was looking to be “martyred” so he would be guaranteed a place in Paradise.
A Middle-Eastern news outlet with ties to Daesh, the Muslim, terrorist organization and would-be caliphate based in Syria that Barack Obama insists on calling ISIL, has claimed that the attacker was acting on their behalf when he tried to slaughter helpless innocents, and witnesses reported that he asked at least one person if they were Muslim, and invoked the name of Allah during the attack, leading the FBI to investigate the incident as a “Suspected act of terrorism.”
The media has focused a lot of attention on Jason Falconer’s status as a police officer and police firearm trainer, but they have glossed over the fact that Falconer doesn’t just train police, he trains civilians as well, and while his actions were heroic and extremely competent, there was nothing particularly impressive about his firearm handling skills in this incident. The biggest factor in Falconer being able to do what he did was that he had a gun when no one else did.
I don’t mean to diminish Falconer’s actions in any way. The heroic part of what he did was facing the trouble rather than running away, and that’s no small thing. But I want to point out that there are millions of other Americans with the skills needed to safely and effectively neutralize this sort of threat. There are some 13 million Americans licensed by their states to discreetly carry firearms. There are untold millions more who choose to discreetly carry in the 11 states where no license is required, or who carry openly, without any special licensing, in the 30 states where that is not prohibited.
While not all of these folks have the level of training and experience that Falconer does, most of Falconer’s training and experience wasn’t really a factor in this particular incident. Like the traffic cop in Texas who dispatched the two Jihadis who attacked the Draw Mohammad contest, Falconer is a competitor in “Action Shooting Sports.” Falconer is a member of the U.S. Practical Shooting Association, which boasts around 30,000 members, but USPSA is only one of several national and international organizations that put shooters’ skills to the test under pressure.
The International Defensive Pistol Association, the National 3-gun Association, NRA Action Pistol, the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation, the Single-Action Shooting Society, and others sponsor and sanction thousands of challenging matches every year all over the country. USPSA alone has some 400 affiliated clubs across the U.S. hosting thousands of events each year. On top of that are the thousands of local clubs and ranges that host training and formal and informal competitions, all designed to test and improve shooters’ gun handling skills.
Then there are the training establishments and independent instructors who offer basic to advanced training in all sorts of shooting disciplines. Front Sight Firearms Training Institute in Nevada trains some 50,000 students a year. The grandaddy of handgun training schools, Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona has been offering top-quality training since the mid 1970s, with hundreds of their students and instructors subsequently striking out on their own to offer individual and group training all over the country.
As a long-time USPSA member and competitor myself, and a contributor to their magazine, Front Sight, I’ve met thousands of people with the skills and mindset needed to handle emergencies like the attack in Minnesota. Of course no one ever knows exactly how they will react in a given situation, but training, competition, and the practice they demand help ingrain habits that ensure safety and enhance performance under stressful conditions. Many experienced law enforcement officers participate in action shooting sports, but they do not dominate the sport by any means. In fact, only a relatively small percentage of top competitors have law enforcement experience.
All of this leads up to the one burning question that the media and politicians just can’t seem to wrap their heads around: In this age of “lone wolf,” random terrorist attacks and pervasive threats, why do some in our society demand that millions of competent gun owners, who safely and responsibly carry every day, disarm when shopping, sipping coffee, or watching a movie?
So-called “Gun-Free Zones” don’t prevent violence, they only reduce the likelihood that a hero will be equipped to stop the violence when it starts.