February 13th, 2007

Tragedy at Trolley Square

No doubt you’ve all heard by now the tragic story of the shooting at Trolley Square last night, where an 18 year old shot and killed five people, and wounded four.

The story immediately hit national news, and as of this morning still graces the main headline section on both CNN and Fox News’ websites.

As I read the reports last night, I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened, and how many people could have been saved, had their been a CCW nearby with the valor to react and confront the gunman.

As legislators continue to impose new gun controls, I am reminded of the (all too true!) adage: “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

Similarly, James Earl Jones once aptly said:

The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose.

As I’ve spoken with friends and family about my recent acquisition of a concealed weapons permit, I’ve been surprised to see their reactions. For the most part they have expressed disbelief that one would ever need to use a weapon in self defense here in Utah.

I’m sure they don’t think so now.

While I definitely won’t claim that had I been on the scene with my gun that I would have bolted out to confront the gunman, I would like to think that I would have tried. Certainly some lives could have been prevented had somebody been carrying a weapon and used it to take down this young man.

I’m reminded of the city ordinance established in Kennesaw, Georgia, in 1982. Heads of households (with certain exceptions allotted) were ordered to keep at least one firearm in their homes. And what happened? The crime rate plummeted. Think about it: would you want to break into a home when you knew that the owner had a shotgun waiting for you?

I believe that if there were more people educated in the use of firearms and encouraged to use them in times of defense, events like the one last night would have the possibility of having much happier endings.

Read quotes about “defense” on Quoty

23 Responses to “Tragedy at Trolley Square”

  1. Kelly Winterton
    February 13, 2007 at 11:48 am #

    Interesting thought, Connor. Can’t comment with any authority, but as I understand it, there was an off-duty Ogden policeman there, who was instrumental in bringing the situation to a close. But, I don’t think that even if everybody around had a concealed gun, that this would have prevented all crime. But, I have considered buying another gun or two for my home. All I presently have is one handgun and one rifle, both are for sporting purposes.

  2. Connor
    February 13, 2007 at 11:52 am #

    This story confirms that it was an off-duty cop who shot and killed the gunman.

    Off-duty cops, to my knowledge, are still able to carry their weapons on their person at all times, so they are in a slightly different situation from other citizens who are required to be licensed to have a concealed weapon.

    I’m not convinced either that it would have prevented all crime, but as I argued in the post, I think that at least one or more of the resulting deaths could have been prevented if some people there were carrying a gun and courageous enough to use it…

  3. Mark
    February 13, 2007 at 12:32 pm #


    I agree with the the quote from James Earl Jones, “…we decent law-abiding citizens…” have a right to carry guns. I also believe if someone is going to seek out and get a Concealed Weapon permit that they educate themselves with gun safety.

  4. Mark
    February 13, 2007 at 1:23 pm #

    I failed to mention, previously, that what happend at Trolley Square was a tragedy. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who have been killed or injured.

  5. Michael L. Mc Kee
    February 13, 2007 at 7:02 pm #

    Several days ago I inserted, as part of my post, a poem written by Darrell Scott who is the father of Rachel Scott. She was one of those brutally murdered at Columbine high school. I feel, at this time, that it is important to post the rest of his message which was delivered to the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee. I am uncertain just when it took place, but apparently it was not well received. The following quoted comments are his:

    “Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.

    “The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used. Neither was it the NCA, The National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart.

    “In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter, I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA – because I don’t believe they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent.

    I am here today to declare the Columbine was not just a tragedy — it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew I would be speaking here today:

    Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
    Your words are empty air.

    You’ve stripped away our heritage,
    You’ve outlawed simple prayer.

    Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
    And precious children die.

    You seek for answers everywhere,
    And ask the question “Why?”

    You regulate restrictive laws,
    Through legislative creed.

    And yet you fail to understand,
    That God is what we need!

    “Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs — politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.

    “As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right. I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA — I give to you a sincere challenge. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone!

    My daughter’s death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!”

    After reading these heartfelt, and wise words from a man who had lost a child to violence, my own thoughts were very emotionalized. I was saddened, angry, and determined. I could not find anything in his words which were not accurate. I did, unfortunately, realize something he did not say. I also should take some responsibility because I have failed to stand up to those who continually want to strip freedoms away from us in the name of compassionate reasoning. I am thoroughly convinced that our Heavenly Father is not pleased with most of us for our complacency in responsible citizenship. I know that I cannot continue to accept the destruction of our God-given rights by a handful of Communistic, Socialistic demonic reprobates who claim to be Americans. I can no longer tolerate those who claim they support the Constitution of the United States of America when they know very little, if anything about what it says, and what the Founders intended us to have. I, for one, would challenge these so-called Patriotic Americans to prove it by condemning publicly anyone who has been elected to office in our government whom they know is not being an American when they support legislation which robs us of those freedoms which they have not the power to either give or take away. They should also work to reversing decisions made by the Supreme Court which they did not have the power to render, and propose impeachment proceedings against any of them who attempt to usurp the power of the people in the future.

    I know many people do not want to own or use a lethal weapon, but our Constitution demands that we not relinquish our sovereign rights to those whose intentions are only attempting to disarm us sufficiently to impose their evil will upon us. In the end we will have little left to defend if we do not awaken ourselves to our awful situation, and declare our allegiance to the Lord of this land who is Jesus Christ.

  6. Jason
    February 13, 2007 at 7:09 pm #

    Mark, in order to obtain a CCW permit in the state of Utah, you are REQUIRED to take a course that informs you of the ways to safely handle a gun, and under what circumstances it is appropriate to use it.

    Connor, I had the same thoughts after hearing about this tragic event. In fact, we had an interesting discussion about it today at lunch regarding how things might have been different if one or more persons carrying would have found themselves in the vicinity of this incident. That was the thing that really stood out to me in our CCW permit class, that no matter how close law enforcement is (this was downtown SLC) they will never be fast enough if someone else has a firearm pointed at you or someone else.

  7. James Carroll
    February 13, 2007 at 7:15 pm #

    While I definitely won’t claim that had I been on the scene with my gun that I would have bolted out to confront the gunman, I would like to think that I would have tried. Certainly some lives could have been prevented had somebody been carrying a weapon and used it to take down this young man.

    Is that legal?

  8. Jason
    February 13, 2007 at 8:37 pm #

    Is that legal?

    James, yes it is.

    An assailant must have the following:
    *Before using deadly force, permit holder must be in imminent danger of death or serious injury

    And in my CCW permit training, the instructor said that the final point can be extended to include those around the permit holder. Meaning, you are allowed to protect others lives. Now the way you go about doing so is very specific and important as well, you don’t “brandish” your weapon to try to scare the assailant, you only draw if you mean to kill. There are many other issues to deal with (ie: escalation of force, civil liability, etc…), but these are all part of the training that is required before obtaining a CCW permit. But yes, it is legal.

    *Note: I am not a lawyer, please seek competent legal and fully trained and certified counsel before making any decisions in this arena, I am simply sharing some knowledge that I have obtained.

  9. Connor
    February 13, 2007 at 10:24 pm #


    Here’s your answer:

    76-2-402. Force in defense of person — Forcible felony defined.
    (1) A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that force is necessary to defend himself or a third person against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, that person is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if he or she reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to himself or a third person as a result of the other’s imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
    (2) A person is not justified in using force under the circumstances specified in Subsection (1) if he or she:
    (a) initially provokes the use of force against himself with the intent to use force as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant;
    (b) is attempting to commit, committing, or fleeing after the commission or attempted commission of a felony; or
    (c) (i) was the aggressor or was engaged in a combat by agreement, unless he withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to the other person his intent to do so and, notwithstanding, the other person continues or threatens to continue the use of unlawful force; and
    (ii) for purposes of Subsection (i) the following do not, by themselves, constitute “combat by agreement”:
    (A) voluntarily entering into or remaining in an ongoing relationship; or
    (B) entering or remaining in a place where one has a legal right to be.
    (3) A person does not have a duty to retreat from the force or threatened force described in Subsection (1) in a place where that person has lawfully entered or remained, except as provided in Subsection (2)(c).
    (4) For purposes of this section, a forcible felony includes aggravated assault, mayhem, aggravated murder, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, and aggravated kidnapping, rape, forcible sodomy, rape of a child, object rape, object rape of a child, sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child, and aggravated sexual assault as defined in Title 76, Chapter 5, and arson, robbery, and burglary as defined in Title 76, Chapter 6. Any other felony offense which involves the use of force or violence against a person so as to create a substantial danger of death or serious bodily injury also constitutes a forcible felony. Burglary of a vehicle, defined in Section 76-6-204, does not constitute a forcible felony except when the vehicle is occupied at the time unlawful entry is made or attempted.
    (5) In determining imminence or reasonableness under Subsection (1), the trier of fact may consider, but is not limited to, any of the following factors:
    (a) the nature of the danger;
    (b) the immediacy of the danger;
    (c) the probability that the unlawful force would result in death or serious bodily injury;
    (d) the other’s prior violent acts or violent propensities; and
    (e) any patterns of abuse or violence in the parties’ relationship.

  10. Dustin
    February 14, 2007 at 6:49 am #

    My father-in-law gave my a Glock .45 for my birthday a few years ago. I’m sure he expected me to get a concealed carrier permit.

    Still, I doubt I would even think of taking a gun out to a Valentine’s dinner with my wife. I doubt I would take it anywhere during my daily life to be honest. It just seems weird to think of it on the way out: “Let’s see, don’t forget my wallet, my cell phone, and my keys… oh yeah, my gun… duh.”

  11. Dustin
    February 14, 2007 at 9:18 am #

    I was thinking about this more this morning and I am sure glad it was an off duty police officer that had the courage and proper training to handle this situation.

    Imagine if some Joe with a CCW nearby tried to handle the same situation. What would have happened if the cops showed up and there were two citizens shooting, or 3 or 4 even? Luckily the officers believe him when he said he was an Ogden City police officer or a lot of time and attention could have been wasted and more people killed.

  12. Chris
    February 14, 2007 at 1:55 pm #


  13. Doc
    February 19, 2007 at 6:23 pm #

    My understanding is that the off duty Ogden policeman did in fact help bring the situation to a close and probably lowered the actual death count. However he also was trained for the situation. Not only that, but there were some tense moments after the shooter was taken out as witnesses had no idea if the Ogden policeman represented another shooter. It seems to me that using your CCW could very easily put you in harms way from the good guys. Then I would just have to hope and pray the weapon carrier keeps a cool head when the SWAT team or some well meaning citizen does come after him. He may well kill innocents. This is an oversimplified solution to a problem that seems to me much more complex. The bottom line is that if all the people in the mall were packing heat, I would not at all feel any safer. The situation could have spiraled out of control at the drop of a hat.

  14. fontor
    February 21, 2007 at 5:26 am #

    So… let’s see.

    If the government requires you to vaccinate your children (which could save their lives), that’s tyranny.

    But if the government requires you to own a gun (which could actually wind up killing your child), that’s just fine.

    I didn’t think you were an issue-by-issue consequentialist.

  15. Connor
    February 21, 2007 at 9:04 am #

    I’m not advocating that the government mandate gun ownership by any means. I simply cited Kennesaw’s example to show the benefit it created. So yes, I believe that people should own guns of their own free will and volition rather than being forced to do so by the government.

  16. fontor
    February 21, 2007 at 5:42 pm #

    You cited it approvingly enough, so I wasn’t sure.

    Australia’s different, I know. I don’t know if gun control can work in America because the genie may well be out of the bottle. But here gun control is relatively tight, and we just do not have the same situation with random shootings, even if you normalise for population. Port Arthur was ten years ago.

    Australians just can’t believe the situation in the USA; having to arm up so you can feel basically ‘safe’ outside just seems nuts. Can you take a second and just put yourself in a frame of mind where you can imagine how nuts that seems? As a mental exercise?

    And a whole mall full of people with guns is a nightmare. I think Doc had it right.

    More guns => more gun violence. Why is this so difficult? What to do is another question.

  17. Connor
    February 21, 2007 at 6:10 pm #

    Fontor, consider the following:

    In this article pointing out Australia’s absurdity in banning laser pointers and swords on top of guns, the author states:

    t would be simple enough just to blame Australia’s high crime rates on its largely English heritage or its convict history, but for much of the past century Australia had lower crime rates than the US or the UK. Violent crime rates have gone up dramatically in Australia since the 1996 Port Arthur gun control measures. And violent crime rates averaged 20 per cent higher in the six years after the law was passed (from 1997 to 2002) than they did in 1996, 32 per cent higher than the violent crime rates in 1995. The same comparisons for armed robbery rates showed increases of 67 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively; for aggravated assault, 20 per cent and 32 per cent; for rape, 11 per cent and 12 per cent; murder, attempted murder and manslaughter rose by 5 per cent in both cases.

    And this article too:

    In Australia today, police can enter your house and search for guns, copy the hard drive of your computer, seize records, and do it all without a search warrant. It’s the law that police can go door to door searching for weapons that have not been surrendered in their much publicized gun buy-back program. They have been using previous registration and firearm license lists to check for lapses and confiscate non-surrendered firearms.

    It all began with the Port Arthur (a Tasmanian resort) tragedy on April 28, 1996, when a crazed assailant opened fire and shot 35 people. Australians were shocked, and the government reacted quickly.

    Draconian gun legislation was passed in the heat of the moment because the fate of the nation was determined by a handful of statist socialists who find individual freedom abhorrent. Consider the politics: There are three major parties in Australian politics: the center right (Liberal Party), the socialist camp (Labor Party) and the ultra-left (Australian Democratic Party) – this last one easily tilted the balance of power toward stringent gun control at the expense of freedom. Moreover, to add insult to injury, Australia has had to toe the party line of the United Nations on environmental issues, land/property rights, and now, gun control as well.

    As a result of stringent gun laws (really a ban on firearms) in Australia, all semiautomatic firearms (rifles and handguns) are proscribed, including .22-caliber rabbit guns and duck-hunting Remington shotguns.

    Writing in The Gun Owners (Jan. 31, 2000), the newsletter for Gun Owners of America (GOA), former California State Senator H.L. Richardson notes: “They outlawed every semi-auto, even those pretty duck guns, the Browning A5 and the Remington 1100s. They even struck down pump shotguns: the Winchester model 12 and the Remington 870…Do you own a Browning BAR rifle? Banned. How about a Winchester Model 100? Out of luck, all semi-auto hunting rifles were outlawed as well. They didn¹t miss a one.”

    Be that as it may, at a cost of $500 million, out of an estimated 7 million firearms (of which 2.8 million were prohibited), only 640,000 guns were surrendered to police. What has been the result? Same as in England. Like in Great Britain, crime Down Under has escalated.

    Twelve months after the law was implemented in 1997, there has been a 44 percent increase in armed robberies, an 8.6 percent increase in aggravated assaults, and a 3.2 percent increase in homicides. That same year in the state of Victoria, there was a 300 percent increase in homicides committed with firearms. The following year, robberies increased almost 60 percent in South Australia. By 1999, assaults had increased in New South Wales by almost 20 percent.

    Two years after the ban, there have been further increases in crime: armed robberies by 73 percent; unarmed robberies by 28 percent; kidnappings by 38 percent; assaults by 17 percent; manslaughter by 29 percent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

    And consider the fact that over the previous 25-year period, Australia had shown a steady decrease both in homicide with firearms and armed robbery – until the ban.

    This one‘s good, too:

    I use the phrase gun control, so-called, to underscore the fact that what is proposed is not so much the control of guns but the control of people. If laws banning guns were intended to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, then these laws are dismal failures – all over the world. In the late 1990s Australia passed some of the strictest gun measures in the world. Violent crime immediately skyrocketed. Other nations have had similar experiences. The American city with the strictest gun laws, Washington, D.C., is also the most crime-ridden. John Lott has demonstrated in a book and in any number of articles that there is a direct relationship between the crime rate and the perception that citizens are unable to defend themselves. While the media has maintained a strict blackout on Lott’s work, his results make perfect sense. Criminals may be immoral but they are not irrational; they will usually think twice about holding someone up who might be carrying a concealed weapon, or robbing a house if they are afraid the owner will shoot back.

    There are plenty more articles and statistics I could cite which would debunk your hollow theory that “more guns => more gun violence”. Such an empty equation leads the ignorant mind to believe such a corollary, when in fact the data clearly demonstrates that as gun ownership and awareness increases, crime decreases.

    Or did you think that Kennesaw was just a fluke?

  18. fontor
    February 27, 2007 at 6:45 pm #

    Give me a sec on this one.

  19. Connor
    February 27, 2007 at 6:58 pm #

    What, six days wasn’t enough? 😉

  20. fontor
    March 1, 2007 at 10:23 am #

    Vile taunting won’t help me get through the primary literature any faster.

  21. fontor
    March 1, 2007 at 12:27 pm #

    Okay, I’m back. I swear, this issue is so full of contradictory and biased claims (on both sides), that it makes me want to… shoot someone.

    Data from the ABS and the Australian Institute of Criminology suggest that the above claims of violent crime ‘skyrocketing’ after the 1996 laws seem to be an exaggeration.

    This data up to 2001 shows that the trend in firearms related deaths was already going down by 1996, and continued downwards. Here’s another, with good graphics.

    In passing: murders (with firearms|from all causes) are orders of magnitude lower in Australia than in the USA.

    Since 1996, there have been no gun massacres in Australia (defined as ‘four people or more killed at a time’). How many in the USA for Jan/Feb 2007 alone (even indexed for population)?

    Robbery is interesting. They go up between 1996 and 2002. Looks significant, but I can’t be sure. Also, I don’t have any pre-1993 data, so I’m not sure if that’s part of a normal fluctuation or not. Notice that it’s gone back down to pre-1996 levels. Surely this must be the result of a relaxation of gun laws! but no.

    Kidnapping: With the exception of 1995-1996, it’s held steady. It’s silly to claim that a snapback around 1996 is due to gun laws. The most fluctuation is in the age 0 – 19, but I hope you’re not going to claim that the sudden disarming of toddlers left them as easy prey for kidnappers. Check the same page for attempted murder stats; again, nothing.

    So no on murder, maybe on robbery, no on kidnapping, no on attempted murder.

    And Australia compares favorably to the USA. But it would be simplistic to say that gun policies are the only reason. Crime is complex and multivariate. We should also be looking at economic conditions and I don’t know what else. It’s going to depend on a lot more than just gun laws, a fact which biased sources (either side) tend to whitewash. I’d be happy to change my mind if the facts required it, but at this point, I don’t think they do.

    3am over here. I’m out.

  22. RaymonWazerri
    April 20, 2007 at 5:15 pm #

    I love what you’e doing!
    Don’t ever change and best of luck.

    Raymon W.

  23. MaryAnne
    April 26, 2007 at 11:27 am #

    I’m not quite understanding what all
    this is supposed to be about?
    Must be me or something…

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