As you've probably heard a pretty horrifying event took place here on Monday. I sat down to watch TV and instead of Heros, a local news special report was on. I instantly recognized Trolley Square, a mall downtown here in Salt Lake, from the helicopter shot on the screen. There were several SWAT officers hunkered down with their weapons as herds of people were escorted past the mall. I soon learned that, as I watched, someone was walking through the mall shooting people.
My first thought was that I was glad my family and I weren't there. We don't go downtown very often but we've gone to the movie theater at that mall and we've spent time nearby. I just can't imagine trying to protect my children from a gunman or seeing one of them shot.
My next thought, like a lot of others here in Utah, apparently, was, "I should go get my concealed weapons permit." Of course I won't, but I thought about it. Like I said, others are thinking about it, too: There's been a surge in the last couple of days in requests for the permits. I'm not an advocate for gun control, but I decided a long time ago that I'd never own a gun myself. For one thing, I get so mad in traffic that I'm sure I would pull it out and shoot someone on the road for cutting me off or not letting me in to traffic. My 29-year-old brother has his permit and he almost always carries his 9mm around with him. I guess it gives him some comfort but I couldn't do it. Then there are the kids. I would never forgive myself if they shot themselves or someone else because I had a gun around.
I don't like talking about gun control and I didn't want this to be about that but I heard another point from a gun control advocate that got me thinking: If there are several people there with guns out, who do you shoot? When I first heard the report that interrupted my TV show, they were saying there were two shooters. We found out later that one of them was an off-duty police officer. So that comment makes a lot of sense to me. One of these times someone's going to shoot the wrong person.
When I heard that the shooter was Bosnian, my mind began to race. I hoped it wasn't someone I knew. A few years ago, when we were managing apartments, I became friends with a Bosnian boy who'd be around the age of the shooter now. He was a very nice kid who liked to help around the complex. He even tried to teach me his native language. I got to know his family, too. They were ostracized from the other people in the complex who hailed from that area because of their ethnicity. I remember thinking how sad it was that those people were missing the chance to get to know this family. So I listened intently for the name of the shooter, hoping it wasn't Slobodon. It wasn't. I was relieved.
My heart goes out to the victims' families and to the family of the shooter. It's awful that these things happen.