"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

The limits of packin’

The answer to our rash of mass shootings, to many gun advocates, is – more guns, meaning: If more people were packing, those shooters wouldn’t get the chance to do their thing, if they even dared. Lives would be saved by averted violence, a sort of non-nuclear mutual assured destruction.

That proposition, it turns out, was actually put to the test at last week’s shooting spree at the Clackamas Mall south of Portland. There, a shooter entered the mall and started firing. And as it happened, a man inside was packing, and even drew his weapon in response.

His name was Nick Meli, and he was the subject of an Oregonian story today. Meli is among the gun owners who regularly carry many places they go – “You never know what will happen,” he was quoted as saying. So far, all in line with the more-carry, more-safe line of reasoning.

Except it turns out Meli was actually well trained for proper use of his weapon. The Oregonian said that “Meli was first certified as an unarmed professional security guard by the Oregon Department of Public Safety, Standards and Training in 2010. Last June, he completed the additional 24 hours of training needed to be certified as an armed professional, including passing tests on shooting, safe gun handling and criminal and use-of-force laws, said Karen Evans, DPSST investigator. She said Meli has worked as a security guard for Clackamas Town Center since June through Valor Security Services.”

So what happened when this well-trained gun packer saw the carnage, pulled his weapon and – in his account – had the shooter in his sights?

He didn’t pull the trigger. There were too many other people around, moving too quickly; the chances were that he might inadvertently shoot an innocent person.

Meli almost certainly made the correct call. Question: Would a batch of untrained but packing warriors-in-their-own-minds have acted as wisely?

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