On Saturday, 22 people were murdered by a gunman in El Paso, Texas. Less than 24 hours later, nine people were killed in Dayton, Ohio, by a different shooter. The high mortality and proximity of attacks made the mass shootings rise above the general noise of gun violence. In the U.S., a lot of people have to die before we’ll even discuss what happened. Dayton was the 255th mass shooting in 2019. That’s more mass shootings than days of the year so far.
Anxiety about dying in a mass shooting is escalating amongst ordinary civilians, whether or not there is a statistically significant chance that it will happen to someone. That’s part of how domestic terrorism works—extremists create conditions that make daily living harder and more dangerous, so people live in fear. It’s changed how a lot of people view and navigate the world.
Political writer Charlie Sykes asked a question of his followers on Twitter how they would navigate a pretty specific scenario. He shared an image taken in a Starbucks in 2013 of a man wearing an assault rifle slung over his shoulder.
Serious question: You walk into a business and see this —> do you 1. Leave— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) August 7, 2019
2. Feel Safer
3. Don’t Care pic.twitter.com/ovRLQyBXSH
“Serious question: You walk into a business and see this —> do you 1. Leave 2. Feel Safer 3. Don’t Care,” Sykes asked.
Depending on where you live, bringing an assault rifle into a coffee shop that’s capable of killing everyone in sight is perfectly legal. I don’t know why anyone would do that, besides wanting to aggressively intimidate others and/or kill them, but here we are.
The response to the photo was intense. Most people said that it wouldn’t matter how benign someone’s intentions were (they’re not), they’d get the hell out of there:
Is this in a “stand your ground” state? Cos if I saw I this guy walk in with an assault rifle, I would be in fear for my life. pic.twitter.com/edGzlqbGFT— Tim Dragga (@timdragga) August 6, 2019
Yes, and some of us have to have this conversation with our kids in our neighborhoods. We have to tell them, if you see a gun not in the hands of a police officer, it is best to leave immediately. The selfishness of these people just appalls me.— paulaptb (@paulaptlb) August 7, 2019
Call the cops. I have no reason to believe this armed individual isn’t potentially dangerous. I don’t give a damn what the local carry laws are. Why should I trust this man-baby with a murder weapon?
— Michael Marshall Smith (@ememess) August 7, 2019
And let me add I’m extremely embarrassed you put “feel safe” as an option like anyone would feel safe with some psycho strapped with a gun at a fucking coffee shop and anyone who says they feel safe are fucking lying and trolling.— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) August 7, 2019
A few people discussed how white privilege allowed this man to buy a cappuccino, instead of being shot by police in the parking lot:
If he were a person of color, the police would’ve taken him down because someone would’ve called them.— Mattison (@Mattison) August 7, 2019
Tamir Rice. Killed playing with a toy gun on a playground in front of his sister. He was 12 years old.
John Crawford. Killed holding an air rifle that was sold in a WalMart.
Serious question - do you think open carry laws would change if the people carrying assault rifles we see daily on Twitter were people of color?— Rick K (@RickK101) August 7, 2019
Without the internet, I would never appreciate how truly awesome historians are.— Rick K (@RickK101) August 7, 2019
Because he’s white & American Apartheid is real.— Mattison (@Mattison) August 7, 2019
If he were a person of color, the police would’ve taken him down because someone would’ve called 911.
Tamir Rice. Killed playing with a toy gun. He was 12 years old.
John Crawford. Killed holding an air rifle sold in a WalMart. https://t.co/nkVXFEX9PV
Gun control has somewhat bafflingly become a partisan issue. Many conservatives want to own the libs by insisting everyone should be allowed to carry an assault rifle wherever they like. I’m not sure what value that adds to your morning croissant, but this isn’t how most sane people want to start their day.