Pope Francis and the Umpqua Community College shooting - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Pope Francis and the Umpqua Community College shooting

I started writing an article on Pope Francis then the tragedy occurred at the Umpqua Community College in Oregon after a mentally deranged man killed nine people and wounded many others.

I heard the news reports speculating on the motives of the man, who I will not name in this article.  He needs to be quickly forgotten, cremated and his ashes dumped in the local garbage heap.

Whatever crazed, warped and demented beliefs he had that caused him to do what he did does not concern me.

What concerns me is that all those who were killed and wounded were sitting ducks in classrooms in a school that had unarmed security patrolling the grounds.

What possible use would an unarmed officer be in a confrontation with an armed assailant?

Should you find yourself in an active shooter incident you have three choices to make; flee, barricade yourself in a location away from the shooter, or fight for your life by any means necessary?

If you have no choice left but to fight that is exactly what you have to do, even if it means you might be shot.  Use whatever you have available; your fists, feet, chairs, tables, pens, or pencils.  Anything that could be used to disable the shooter and do not stop attacking until he is totally disabled.

There is no second chance when face to face with an armed assailant intent on killing you.  If you don’t take him out you are going to die!

The media reported that one student, an Army veteran was hit by bullets as he tried to stop the shooter from entering the classroom.  I thank him for his heroic action and his bravery.

Another student, an Air Force veteran who had a concealed firearms permit and wanted to assist, was refused by a school official to head towards the location of the shooting.  Had I been there that school official would not have succeeded in keeping me from heading towards the crime scene.

It is unfortunate that there wasn’t anyone carrying a concealed weapon in that classroom that could have intervened, maybe not stopping all the killing but preventing others from being killed and minimizing the loss of life.

In this country money is protected by armored vehicles with armed security.  We seem to forget that innocent lives are worth more than money.

Any school that employs unarmed security personnel, should find themselves the subject of a civil action should a shooting incident occur at the institution.  It’s not as though this type of incident hasn’t occurred in the past.

It didn’t take much time for the opponents of the Second Amendment to jump on the bandwagon.

At what point in the national discussion did the term gun control change to gun safety?  Is changing the word “control” to “safety” supposed to make it a little easier to push for more gun control measures?

Gun control is keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals and mentally ill people.  Gun safety is not pointing your weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.

We fail in this country to prevent criminals from obtaining and using firearms.  Yet the national discussion is how to take away firearms from those that are willing to use them to protect themselves from those very same criminals.

Gun violence is most common in poor urban areas and frequently associated with gang violence.   Mass shootings account for a small fraction of gun-related deaths.

We live in a free society.  It is not possible to stop every attack.  But that doesn’t mean that law-abiding citizens who wish to carry concealed weapons should be forbidden to do so.

What should be forbidden are gun-free zones?  Criminals don’t follow those laws, as a matter of fact they use it to their advantage.

I believe law-abiding Americans have great self-control over their firearms in this country.

An estimated population of over 320 million people in the United States. With 80 million law-abiding Americans who own firearms and of that they own nearly 300 million firearms combined, if that is not proper gun control I don’t know what is?

The number of firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens and the lawful use of those weapons, far out ways the number of gun-related deaths in this country every year.

Of course any death of any innocent person should never be minimized, they are all tragedies.

The mainstream media cover mass shootings extensively.  But gang related violence and other violence committed by criminals in the inner cities every day gets a pass from the media and the politicians.

The media seems to focus on the negative side of guns and not the protective effect that guns have every single day in this country.  Guns in the right hands help the public safety, in the wrong hands they harm public safety.

Pope Francis obviously agrees with me.  At least in his actions and not by what he says.

The Pope preaches to the masses that faith in God will protect the good from the evil doers.  He preaches peace and love for one another; backed by superior firepower.

What message does that send to us?

Is it faith in God that protects the Pope from evil or the faith that his security forces have in their weapons.

Wherever the Pope travels and at his home, he is protected by his security forces who carry semi-automatic handguns and assault rifles.

The Vatican also has their own armory, along with the Swiss Guard who are the Pope’s personnel bodyguards and the Vatican police force who protect the Papal State.

Evil has been around since the dawn of time.

Innocents were slaughtered and butchered with swords and edged weapons throughout recorded history, way before firearms ever came into the picture.

There has been and will always be those evil persons among us, who will continue to oppress and kill those that stand in the way of their own power and beliefs.

In the face of evil, pacifism leads to more evil.

Throughout history those without weapons were led like sheep to the slaughter.

Saint Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of police, carried a sword for good reason.

In 1860, Italian Franciscan monk, Gabriel Possenti, used his handguns to rescue a woman who was about to be raped by a marauding gang of thugs at Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy.  Possenti was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

Faith in God alone will not stop evil, be that evil a leader of a rogue nation, a terrorist group or criminals.  It is unrealistic to think that it would.

I look at it this way; if the Pope believes he has to have layers of armed security personnel around him to shield him from those that might want to do him harm, who am I to disagree with the Pope.

So to fight evil in this world and to protect the innocent from that evil, keep your faith in God, right alongside your handgun and assault rifle.


About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug Poppa is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former law enforcement officer, criminal investigator and private sector security and investigations management professional with 40 years of experience. In 1986 Mr. Poppa was awarded “Criminal Investigator of the Year” by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. He was also re-assigned to the Northern Virginia Regional Narcotics Enforcement Task Force for 18 months. In 1991 and again in 1992 Mr. Poppa’s testimony under oath in court led to the discovery that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense by the prosecutor and sheriff’s office officials during the 1988 trial of a man accused of attempted murder of his wife that led to his conviction. As a result of his testimony the man was ordered released from prison, given a new trial in 1992 and found not guilty. Mr. Poppa became the subject of local and national news media attention as a result of his testimony which led to the demise of his 12-year police career. After losing his job, at the request of the FBI, Mr. Poppa infiltrated in an undercover capacity a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont Chemical fortune heir and his wife in 1992. His stories have been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Contact the author.