Column: Who will bell the copycat?

The polarizing gun debate reminds me of an old fable. 

A group of mice meet to determine how to negate the deadly threat of the cat. They agree enthusiastically that one of them will attach a bell to the cat's collar. The bell will alert them of danger and the mice will have a fighting chance at escape. 

But, as the allegory goes, who will bell the cat? 

Yet, the mice in the fable have a paw up. The cat is clearly a predator. The story would be a little more complicated if there were good guy cats and bad guy cats. Which cat do you bell—and how do you tell? 

The clown in Springfield, Missouri who decided to troll people while filming himself armed to the nines and entering a Walmart was belled by a off-duty firefighter as the cat was slipping out the emergency exit. 

The open carry man labeled himself pretty clearly as someone wanting to intimidate others—if only in a "nya nya, my second amendment rights" kind of way. 

Not to mention, the extreme distaste and disrespect for those whose lives were lost in El Paso. Moreover, the anxiety many citizens of this country feel now that it seems there are fewer places that are safe from gun violence. There used to be a time when civilians could shop for bulletproof backpacks in peace. 

So far, Walmart has responded by instructing stores to "remove any signing or displays that contain violent images or aggressive behavior," such as video game displays. 

Well, so far, I've read no reports about the Missouri copy-cat having any violent video games in his cart. 

Thankfully, in this case, the man in cameo with the assault style rifle was arrested "without incident" and faces charges of making a terrorist threat in the first degree. 

Something particularly disturbing that I'm seeing in the comment sections of news reports over the last several hours are commenters saying actually the firefighter did something illegal by drawing his weapon first. That the man openly carrying an assault style rifle was within his rights. I want to believe most people are more reasonable than this. But after last weekend with back to back shootings, in Dayton and El Paso, committed by a profile where the perpetrator tends not to get shot, it is difficult to remain optimistic. 

This week, Amnesty International proposed a travel advisory for those traveling to the United States due to "rampant gun violence." 

Second amendment rights is a complicated issue with a myriad of consequences. Truly responsible gun ownership is not the problem. However, more and more, I feel like punctuating that statement with "whatever that means." 

Is the right to openly carry an assault style rifle into a situation mirroring a mass shooting only days old more important than human life, than peace? 

Regarding the travel advisory, it seems we are sending a message to the rest of the world that we nod enthusiastically to the former. 

Passionate Second Amendments rights activists, I can't pretend to understand all the ins and outs of your viewpoint.  But, please denounce actions that incite panic. If you want to warm people to your side, disassociate yourselves from people who use intimidation on innocent civilians. Good guys don't do that. 

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