Ralph Swagler stayed down in his restaurant until the shots stopped."I had my pistol; I wasn't going up against an automatic rifle," Ralph Swagler said. "I'm sorry. I wish I would have shot him in the back now as he was going toward IHOP, but I wasn't clear on the situation."
From the Associated Press:
"I wish I had shot at him when he was going in the IHOP," said Swagler, who owns Locals BBQ & Grill. "But when he came at me, when somebody is pointing an automatic weapon at you _ you can't believe the firepower, the kind of rounds coming out of that weapon."
I don't reprint these quotes to mock Swagler, who took prompt action to alert authorities about the shooting, nor do I mean my headline as mockery of him or Americans in general. Swagler tells a truth he's probably not proud of, and for his trouble people will probably call him a coward -- especially the people who still assume that they'd do differently in his position, and have never had an automatic weapon pointed at them. His story, which isn't the first such incident in the sad history of the American amoklauf, should remind us that while it may be true that eliminating guns won't eliminate violent impulses, it is also true that widespread gun ownership is no sure cure for those impulses. If someone kills with a gun simply because he's more violent than the rest of us, it follows that the less violent civilian majority won't easily stop him, even if we're armed. Swagler has no more to be ashamed of than the rest of us, for making a culture where amoklaufs happen.