A former British Marine is being hailed as "the Mall Massacre Hero " for his willingness to risk his own life guiding victims of the weekend’s attack in Nairobi, Kenya out of danger. The British man was armed with his personal handgun and moved in and out of the mall many times, each time leading new victims to safety.
His heroism in the face of danger is commendable, but his willingness to risk his own safety for the others begs certain questions – like would he have been willing to do this if he was not himself armed? Perhaps. However, being armed must have played an important part in the calculus of his decision to reenter the danger zone time after time.
The morning of the shooting, the mall massacre hero was sitting in a mall coffee shop enjoying a beverage with some friends. When the shooting began, he escorted his friends from the building, but the brave acts he will be remembered for happened next. The man returned into the besieged building at least a dozen times rescuing somewhere around 100 people. Each reentry into the mall-turned-combat-zone was more dangerous than the previous, as more and more people were led out of harm’s way.
The anecdote is extreme, and it hardly paints the full picture of what took place for this former British Royal Marine and the people that he saved that day. But I think an event like this can be instructive. I think it can teach us a lot about the way people think, act, and respond in times of crisis and need.
Isn’t it much more likely that a person would be willing to take chances like our hero in this story, if they have the opportunity to defend themselves? I won’t pretend to think that a man like this could stop a shooter from killing a person when they were committed to doing so, but wouldn’t being armed like this man make it much more likely that they could be in a position to help? When we tell law abiding citizens that they cannot be armed, we are forcing people to be helpless in situations like the mall attack, when they need not be.
If someone chooses to not carry a firearm, then they have taken their safety into their own hands. But when we command that they not carry, the blood of innocents is on the hands of the government as well as the killer. Let’s give law abiding citizens the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not to protect themselves.
We should also take the time to applaud this man for his bravery and his willingness to risk himself to save others. It is not often that we get to recognize valor like his in the face of incredible odds.
He risked himself for about 100 people… how many families did he protect from heartbreak by his selflessness? Mothers and fathers who will see their children again. Sisters and brothers who won’t know the pain of losing their sibling to mindless violence. There are children who won't have to experience life as orphans because this hero took a stand.
This heroic Marine saved thousands of hearts from being broken. He serves as an example to the rest of us.