Because of the nature of this topic (violence) there are some graphic descriptions and one bad word, the s-word if you want to know.

And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity;

—– 2Nephi 1:21

This is a truth that seems to have been forgotten in today’s world. We are taught to not fight back, let the police handle it, and to just all get along. Some things are worth fighting for, and sometimes you just have to fight.

People with guns can slow down shooters who enter crowded areas. At least that is what was proven in Trolley Square. Fortunately there was an armed citizen, an off-duty cop who kept his firearm with him in spite of Trolley Square’s “no-weapons allowed” policy. There is widespread agreement that the off-duty cop saved lives that day although we will never know exactly how many. It is a good thing he was there and that he fought back.

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting where 33 people were killed and many others were wounded, there has been some criticism about people who did not fight back when they had the chance. The students at the school have been referred to as “children” who need to be protected. College students are allowed to vote, buy guns, enter into contracts, buy a car, get a credit card, sign a lease or buy a house, get married, buy alcohol by their Senior year, get tattoos, have abortions, and be tried as adults if they commit crimes, so why not allow them to start making more adult decisions? The shooter was likely responsible for bomb threats earlier this year and chained some of the doors shut to prevent escape from the building.

There is one heroic story from the Virginia Tech shootings. A 76 year old professor that “was a Holocaust survivor who later escaped to Israel from Communist Romania”. He stepped into the breach to defend his students and allow them to escape. He was shot to death. Too bad other students at the scene didn’t join in, it would have saved more lives.

In 1989, the “Montreal Massacre” occurred. 14 women were killed, and an uncounted number of men had to turn in their man cards. Cowardice won the day instead of bravery. It is one thing to cooperate with an armed person, but altogether different once shots are fired. Here’s what happened in Montreal according to the Crime Library (the writing leaves something to be desired, but as a narrative of what happened it is OK, contains graphic descriptions):

Lifting his rifle, he shot twice into the ceiling. It was no joke.

“You’re all a of bunch of feminists!” the man shouted, his eyes now alight with anger. “And I hate feminists!”

This time, he ordered the women to get up from their seats and the men to leave. A few moved to obey, but others remained confused. They wondered whether they should try to overpower the gunman, protect the women, or leave. The choice as to what was best was unclear. But after a few moments, the male students and teachers walked outside. In weeks to come, many of them would have nightmares about this moment, reliving it over and over, wishing they had acted differently. . . .

Nathalie Provost tried to tell him that they were not necessarily feminists, but this only enraged him. He lifted the rifle again and, as they screamed for mercy or tried to leap out of range, he methodically shot them from left to right. All were hit. Provost was shot three times.

The men waiting outside heard the shots and the agonized or frightened screams. They could hardly believe what was happening. At least 20 rounds had been fired. A few ran down the hall to raise an alarm and find someone who could call for help, while others waited.

Then the gunman came out and strode past them. No one tried to stop him. No one dared. He aimed the rifle precariously at them and they backed away, allowing him to leave. He fired at several other students on that floor, and three more were hit, including two women. Then he continued on his way. . . .

Inside a stairway, he bent over his gun. A student running down the steps heard him swear over his lack of bullets, fled past him, and then heard a shot fired. Apparently the man had reloaded. . . .

[he made his way to another classroom]

As people hid beneath desks, the madman strode up and down the rows as if looking for something. He shot until his clip was empty, reloaded, and shot again. . . .

The strange young man sat down next to the wounded woman, quietly pulled a knife from the sheath strapped to his body, and used it to stab her in the heart. She screamed in surprise and pain. This violent act shocked those who were watching. . . . He pulled the knife out and then plunged it in twice more until the girl lay silent, blood gushing from her wounds. . . .

Without a word, he laid his knife down, along with his remaining ammunition. He removed his cap and placed it on the table. The room was deathly still. People hardly dared to breathe. This man was up to something but his actions masked his intent. Still, he seemed emotionally spent, as if he had done what he came to do.

Even as the police prepared to enter the building downstairs, he removed his parka and wrapped it around the rifle’s barrel. Someone in the building pulled the fire alarm, which jarred everyone.

The gunman said, “Ah, s[***].” He turned the rifle’s barrel toward his own face, pressed the muzzle against his forehead, and pulled the trigger.

He died at the scene. There were many opportunities people had to fight back, at risk to themselves that may have stopped the carnage. Pauses when he had to reload, when he was in the stairway, or even in the first classroom when the shooting began. He couldn’t be good enough to shoot everyone. Maybe you die, maybe you don’t.

Our society idolizes soldiers, policemen, firefighters and others that place their lives on the line to save others. We need to be willing to do the same thing. Fight back, don’t just wait until a bullet comes your way, do something about it!

It is true that every situation is different. Cooperation and non-violence can help defuse many situations, but once bullets fly it is time to fight back. Here is an example that you may find illuminating. It is a perfect example of what to do:

During my life I have had many experiences of being guided in what I should do and in being protected from injury and also from evil. The Lord’s protecting care has shielded me from the evil acts of others and has also protected me from surrendering to my own worst impulses. I enjoyed t
hat protection one warm summer night on the streets of Chicago. I have never shared this experience in public. I do so now because it is a persuasive illustration of my subject.

My wife, June, had attended a ward officers’ meeting. When I came to drive her home, she was accompanied by a sister we would take home on our way. She lived in the nearby Woodlawn area, which was the territory of a gang called the Blackstone Rangers.

I parked at the curb outside this sister’s apartment house and accompanied her into the lobby and up the stairs to her door. June remained in the car on 61st Street. She locked all of the doors, and I left the keys in the ignition in case she needed to drive away. We had lived on the south side of Chicago for quite a few years and were accustomed to such precautions.

Back in the lobby, and before stepping out into the street, I looked carefully in each direction. By the light of a nearby streetlight, I could see that the street was deserted except for three young men walking by. I waited until they were out of sight and then walked quickly toward our car.

As I came to the driver’s side and paused for June to unlock the door, I saw one of these young men running back toward me. He had something in his right hand, and I knew what it would be. There was no time to get into the car and drive away before he came within range.

Fortunately, as June leaned across to open the door, she glanced through the back window and saw this fellow coming around the end of the car with a gun in his hand. Wisely, she did not unlock the door. For the next two or three minutes, which seemed like an eternity, she was a horrified spectator to an event happening at her eye level, just outside the driver’s window.

The young man pushed the gun against my stomach and said, “Give me your money.” I took the wallet out of my pocket and showed him it was empty. I wasn’t even wearing a watch I could offer him because my watchband had broken earlier that day. I offered him some coins I had in my pocket, but he growled a rejection.

“Give me your car keys,” he demanded. “They are in the car,” I told him. “Tell her to open the car,” he replied. For a moment I considered the new possibilities that would present, and then refused. He was furious. He jabbed me in the stomach with his gun and said, “Do it, or I’ll kill you.”

Although this event happened twenty-two years ago, I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. I read somewhere that nothing concentrates the mind as wonderfully as having someone stand in front of you with a deadly weapon and tell you he intends to kill you.

When I refused, the young robber repeated his demands, this time emphasizing them with an angrier tone and more motion with his gun. I remember thinking that he probably wouldn’t shoot me on purpose, but if he wasn’t careful in the way he kept jabbing that gun into my stomach, he might shoot me by mistake. His gun looked like a cheap one, and I was nervous about its firing mechanism.

“Give me your money.” “I don’t have any.” “Give me your car keys.” “They’re in the car.” “Tell her to open the car.” “I won’t do it.” “I’ll kill you if you don’t.” “I won’t do it.”

Inside the car June couldn’t hear the conversation, but she could see the action with the gun. She agonized over what she should do. Should she unlock the door? Should she honk the horn? Should she drive away? Everything she considered seemed to have the possibility of making matters worse, so she just waited and prayed. Then a peaceful feeling came over her. She felt it would be all right.

Then, for the first time, I saw the possibility of help. From behind the robber, a city bus approached. It stopped about twenty feet away. A passenger stepped off and scurried away. The driver looked directly at me, but I could see that he was not going to offer any assistance.

While this was happening behind the young robber, out of his view, he became nervous and distracted. His gun wavered from my stomach until its barrel pointed slightly to my left. My arm was already partly raised, and with a quick motion I could seize the gun and struggle with him without the likelihood of being shot. I was taller and heavier than this young man, and at that time of my life was somewhat athletic. I had no doubt that I could prevail in a quick wrestling match if I could get his gun out of the contest.

Just as I was about to make my move, I had a unique experience. I did not see anything or hear anything, but I knew something. I knew what would happen if I grabbed that gun. We would struggle, and I would turn the gun into that young man’s chest. It would fire, and he would die. I also understood that I must not have the blood of that young man on my conscience for the rest of my life.

I relaxed, and as the bus pulled away I followed an impulse to put my right hand on his shoulder and give him a lecture. June and I had some teenage children at that time, and giving lectures came naturally.

“Look here,” I said. “This isn’t right. What you’re doing just isn’t right. The next car might be a policeman, and you could get killed or sent to jail for this.”

With the gun back in my stomach, the young robber replied to my lecture by going through his demands for the third time. But this time his voice was subdued. When he offered the final threat to kill me, he didn’t sound persuasive. When I refused again, he hesitated for a moment and then stuck the gun in his pocket and ran away. June unlocked the door, and we drove off, uttering a prayer of thanks. We had experienced the kind of miraculous protection illustrated in the Bible stories I had read as a boy.

I have often pondered the significance of that event in relation to the responsibilities that came later in my life. Less than a year after that August night, I was chosen as president of Brigham Young University. Almost fourteen years after that experience, I received my present calling.

Two points if you realized this is the story of Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He cooperated until it would endanger his wife, and most of all, he listened to the spirit. He knew he could ‘successfully’ fight back, but that it would kill his attacker. Instead he was inspired and able to help talk his way out of the situation. He was willing to act, but was inspired to hold off for a wise purpose in the Lord.

Hopefully we will all be as able and wise as Elder Oaks has shown us to act when we should act and to forbear when we should forbear. We will be forever grateful we were obedient to the spirit when it whispers to us. I add my testimony that by having our priorities in order and by listening to the spirit, we we never have to regret acting in self defense. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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