Tyler Welshimer was as upset as anyone in Idaho about the mass shooting that occurred in San Bernardino, Calif., on Wednesday.
The 66-year-old Nampa man said he’s sad for the victims and their families, but the latest of many high-profile shootings in the country hasn’t filled him with fear that he or someone he loves could one day be a victim. He owns a gun, but doesn’t carry.
His biggest fear isn’t “active shooters.” It’s motorists.
“When I’m out and about, I pay most attention to what is most likely to cause me harm — which would be an inattentive motorist,” said Welshimer, a semi-retired mobile bicycle repairman who held many different jobs over his career, including copy editor, journalism teacher and school resource officer.
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Statistically, Welshimer is right. Americans have a much better chance of being killed in car crashes than killed by someone intentionally firing a gun at us. More than 30,000 people die in car crashes each year in the U.S., while about 11,000 people die annually in all firearm homicides (not just mass shootings), according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But fear isn’t always rational. It’s an involuntary reaction to a world that, at times, feels increasingly unsafe, according to a number of Idahoans who responded to a Statesman query of readers. We asked readers how often, if ever, they think about the possibility of shootings in their daily lives.
Not daily, but usually when I am in a public area with lots of people. It’s a dangerous world out there; always has been, and always will be as long as it’s got people in it. It’s only reasonable to take steps to increase my protection and the protection of those around me. It’s why I have a fire extinguisher in my kitchen. And it’s why I carry a weapon.
Jay Karamales, 53, Boise
A 57-year-old Fruitland man said he’s “prepared, armed and ready.”
“I think about it most every day,” he wrote. “I think more about it when I am in a city. Hardly ever at home. I am my own first responder. I protect myself.”
A handful of several dozen respondents Thursday said they saw less need for worry because they carry weapons for protection.
Often, as the threat of terrorist or criminal activity is always present. It is becoming a greater possibility due to the increasing numbers of unknowns entering the U.S. I have encouraged my family and friends to increase their situation awareness at all times and have their defense tools at ready throughout their daily activities.
Chris Wood, 63, Nampa
“I think the odds are good of it happening anytime, anywhere, anyplace. They hit soft targets, and places where you would not expect it,” said Jeff Henderson, a 39-year-old Boise resident. “I carry concealed at all times, so I do not worry too much about it. I think that more people need to carry concealed (or open) to deter or stop these types of attacks from happening. These people do not care if they die, but why should they take so many with them?”
Some said mass shootings come to mind when they visit public spaces where shootings have occurred elsewhere, such as movie theaters and college campuses. Parents expressed concerns about their kids, who are participating in “active shooter” drills the parents never dreamed of.
I worry about it at work. I work at Boise State and know that even though there is no physical security on my building, only people breaking policy or the law are allowed to bring guns into my building. I’m not willing to talk to a reporter about this for fear that I will lose my job for carrying a gun on campus in violation of policy.
No name given
One woman said she’s most concerned in places that have a policy prohibiting firearms, such as hospitals. She said she general avoids places with such policies.
John Barrie, a 35-year-old custodian supervisor at Boise State University, said the “escalating rhythm” of the mass shootings — a sense that it is “going on everywhere, all the time” — has him a little on edge.
“I don’t think I’m necessarily walking around in fear, but I think it’s probably a matter of time before it happens here,” Barrie said.
Barrie said he read the breaking news coverage of Wednesday’s shooting on Twitter intermittently throughout the day, checking on it a couple of times before he went to bed. When he met up with his wife after work, she didn’t want to talk about it at all.
“She said, ‘I just want to talk to my son about his day, and go home and do my math homework and watch a Christmas movie,’ ” Barrie recalled.
At this point, I think about it almost every day, because it feels like there’s a mass shooting almost every day. I often think about it when I’m enjoying my spare time in Downtown Boise, or spending time with my family. I think it is foolish to believe Boise is just a heartbroken bystander watching the horrors of terrorism plague the world around us. We are just as vulnerable as those next to us, and I fear for my community, my family and myself.
Lindsi Luken, 25, Boise
Their son is 13. They talked to him about the Paris terrorist attacks, but not the Planned Parenthood shooting over the weekend.
“I think he may have heard about the Planned Parenthood shooting,” said Barrie, who noted the couple tries to be open with their son about mass shootings without going into a lot of details. “There’s no time to fit them all in.”
Barrie doesn’t own any weapons. He said he’s not opposed to them, but just finds them “loud and bullet-y.”
“If anything happened on such a large scale that Boise itself felt unsafe, my parents live in the country,” he said. “I might just try to get away.”
Bryce, 16, Meridian