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Editorial: Gun owners, opponents need to read the room

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, 10:48 a.m.
A man's gun-shaped necklace is seen during an open carry demonstration while listening to speakers at a rally held at the City-County Building, Downtown on Jan. 7, 2019.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
A man's gun-shaped necklace is seen during an open carry demonstration while listening to speakers at a rally held at the City-County Building, Downtown on Jan. 7, 2019.

Situational awareness.

It’s the idea that you should be aware of what’s happening around you. It’s why Secret Service agents scan rooms and note all the people in them. It’s why many law enforcement officers won’t sit with their back turned to a door or window.

It’s what Shawn Thomas thinks people should practice more in their daily lives. He’s probably right.

Thomas is one of the organizers of Monday’s gun rights rally in Pittsburgh, where hundreds, many carrying legal weapons, gathered to protest Mayor Bill Peduto’s proposed gun restrictions on things like semi-automatic rifles and some ammunition and firearms accessories within the city.

People should be more aware of what is going on around them. Everyone.

People should watch where they are going, be cognizant of the dangers that exist in this parking lot or that street. They should pay attention to who is behind them and who is in front. They should do what they can to keep themselves from harm.

But there are other situations, like the alarming nationwide instances of mass murder by an individual with a grudge and a gun.

That doesn’t mean that we have to obliterate the right to bear arms, but if we are going to be aware of our situations, we have to do more than read the room. We have to read the writing on the wall, and frequently that writing is in blood.

Could Pittsburgh’s proposal constitute improper overreach? Yes, it could. That was likely why the announcement wasn’t made by Peduto alone, but in concert with the governor and legislators, who could change that on a state level. That doesn’t change the potential Bill of Rights issue which is still a valid concern.

But chants of “we will not comply” from an armed crowd, and a shout of “Come and take it, Bill” don’t show situational awareness.

Situational awareness demands that we look at the challenges that surround us and find the best, safest way to resolve them, and most police officers will tell you that pulling a weapon is their last resort.

Situational awareness would have us realistically assess dangers and approach them in a way that would minimize them, or suggest we remove ourselves from the situation.

And if the Pittsburgh leaders proposing the changes are wrong, situational awareness would make answers and open minds the right weapons to pack. Bring more than a loaded gun to the table. Bring an idea and share it and participate in a conversation about how to make things better and help people survive the peaceful act of a Saturday prayer.

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