Monday morning, MLK day, I was loading the car in a hotel parking lot when gunfire erupted in the distance. The shots were irregular – one, and then two, and then a pause and another one . . . perhaps seven shots in total.
The hotel was more like a set of small apartment houses clustered around the pool; sound bounces off houses deceptively, so that all I could know is that the shots came from ahead or beside me, not behind. It was quiet. A cloudy morning. To my left was a high privacy fence, beyond which was a thick stand of woods containing who-knows-what. A shooting range, perhaps? Hunting land?
Ahead of me I could see a gas station, and I had a view of the pumps and the entrance to the convenience store. Nothing happening there. Which meant either (a) nothing was happening, or (b) I was witnessing an armed robbery and no one had come out yet. I kept an eye that way.
To my right were all the hotel buildings. No commotion. No one making a quick departure. I kept an eye that way as well, and gave thought to where I might take cover.
Blocked from view but surrounding all this, on a cool holiday morning, was open farmland and rural homesteads. I might have been hearing someone nearby shooting squirrels, or someone in the distance shooting something larger. I might have heard target practice.
This is gunlandia. People shoot things all the time. If it’s daylight you assume it’s a gun, if it’s nighttime it’s more likely fireworks. Rule out violence and move on with your day.
When all remained quiet I decided I could probably move around to the other side of the car and load my stuff without getting shot in the back. I did so and nothing happened. I went back up to the apartment, told my daughter what was afoot, and waited a few minutes for signs of any kind of trouble. We reviewed the difference between “cover” and “concealment.”
Nothing happened. We finished loading the car and went on with our day. Hunters, most likely.
The Presidential Inkblot Test
President Trump’s inaugural speech, which people mostly either love or hate, is an explanation.
The text is a list of all the reasons people voted for the man. While NPR wrings its hands and Trump’s staunch opponents fill the streets with Exhibit A for the new president’s “law and order” platform, Trump voters are pointing to the speech and saying, “This is why.”
I didn’t vote for Trump (for all the reasons outlined here and on my personal blog), and I remain guardedly skeptical. But for all that “putting America first” sounds like fascist-nationalist propaganda to some, to others it sounds like the normally expected duty of a US President. (What is he supposed to do? Put Lithuania first?)
It’s normal for people to want to eliminate terrorism (of any kind). It is normal to want safety and prosperity.
Like shots fired on a holiday morning, it is possible to hear Trump’s speech and hope it is well-meant. The only way to know, of course, is to watch and see.
Image by Eardley-Wilmot, John E. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons