Midland, Texas – A teenager entered a church building with a paintball gun to show off his new toy to his friends. A concerned neighbor saw the youth member entering the building and panicked, thinking it was a hostage situation in progress. The neighbor told police that a man with an assault rifle went into the church. She said, “We were thinking the worst. My mom started freaking out. She was crying. She was scared. She didn’t know what was going on. She didn’t want anyone to come and hurt us and there were a bunch of us.”
Police instructed those who lived next to the church to evacuate their homes and those nearby to stay inside and lock their doors. At least two dozen police cars surrounded the streets around the church, blocking people from coming close. Police erected a barricade, all the streets coming toward the church were blocked, and police were stacking up behind a nearby storage building in case they had to take the suspect down by force.
While the police acted accordingly with the information they were given, obviously it wasn’t necessary, since the teen only had a paintball gun that he wanted to show to some buddies. As a society, are we so far removed from reality that a kid can’t carry a paint gun without someone thinking it’s the start of a killing rampage? Obviously, this seems to be the case. I was finishing high school when the tragedy at Columbine took place, and I remember things started changing very quickly. The left looked at gun enthusiasts with a new level of contempt, as if they were vicariously the cause of a national tragedy.
We seem to be gravitating toward becoming scared and frightened as a people. The fact that someone can cause a panic just by seeing something that resembles a gun is reminiscent of the general feeling of uncertainty that the United States is trying to deal with. A lack of education in the public may be to blame for these types of situations. Gun sales are at record highs due to the upcoming election, wobbly economy, and general social unrest. However, a large portion of the population remains completely ignorant when it comes to even basic gun knowledge. The attitude that guns are “evil” and “scary” permeates all levels of society and it may be getting worse. My family raised me to respect and use guns for what they are, tools. Like a chainsaw or hammer, a gun is a useful tool, as long as the operator uses it properly. A vehicle is just as dangerous as a firearm when someone has it in his or her mind to take another life.
At the very least, those who don’t like guns should probably educate themselves about them, since they seem to be surrounded by people who own them. In the United States, there are about 89 guns for every 100 people, which means people who want to pretend that guns don’t exist, are fighting an uphill battle. A rise in public awareness may prevent unnecessary panic when kids decide to show off their new toys.