“If you carry, Always carry!” Gym shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

There is an adage I’ve heard since entering the gun community. If you carry, always carry!

Today we have a tragic reminder of this fact.  Today, a deranged man, (George Sodini), who had social problems and a lack of female companionship decided to enact revenge (as he perceived it, against the entire female species).  He went to an L.A. Fitness gym, entered a room with a duffel bag and pulled out a rifle. Three people were murdered, and several others injured before the shooter shot himself.

This is cause for much reflection. You see, I myself, bring my firearm to the gym but tend to leave it locked up in the vehicle.  This is not an uncommon practice among those who CCW. Keeping their firearm in their vehicle or locker.  But is it the “right” action? Are we creating a self-imposed “gun free zone” with such actions?

I believe this man knew that no one in the gym, even those who carry most everywhere, would have likely not be carrying inside the gym.  A for this reason, and the fact that he knew there would mostly be women in the location, chose the gym as his rampaging grounds.

If you carry, carry everywhere! It is something that I am trying to learn and ingrain into my practices.

In fact, the last time I went to the gym I actually took my wife’s LCP in a pocket holster. It wasn’t the most comfortable situation, but it was workable.  Now I am all the more affirmed for the need to do so.  And for those who dislike mouseguns.  Maybe you need to reconsider whether you should be investing in a $200-$300 Keltec or Ruger mousegun for the gym.



Lastly, if in such a situation, remember that thinking quickly and being aware of your surroundings can make a life or death difference.  For example, free weights are heavy flat lumps of metal. A large free weight disc would be large enough to provide protection to the critical center torso/head areas.  Thinking quickly, and being aware of your surroundings and any potential tools that can aid you can make the difference between surviving and not.  Whenever you enter any facility, be it a gym, restaurant, or grocery store. Take a quick survey, assess where the exits are, note potential objects of cover or concealment, and potential make shift weapons.  For example, most Walmarts sell compact bows and hunting arrows, some even sell rifles.  Knowing where the sporting goods section is located is always a good bit of knowledge.


The perpetrator had been planning this event since last year. Such gun control policies as “waiting periods” would have been entirely ineffective at stopping such a rampage. His website stated that he originally was intended to conduct this attack after the elections. (He wanted to know who won.) And that he even brought the rifle in the duffel bag to the gym in December. But lost the nerve to commit the crime, only to do so over 6 months later.

I do wonder, does no one read such sites? And could Google create a algorithm that would help detect such.  As this is NOT the first murderer to have a website detailing their plans and attempts at such heinious crimes.  Now, I’m not advocating law enforcement and judicial action based just one a Google search result. But perhaps a system where such alerts would be passed off to a human pool who would check out the site and see if it’s merely somebody ranting. “Man I wanted to pummel the guy into the ground!” or “That guy was so annoying I wanted to shoot him!” versus  “It is 8:45pm: I chickened out! I brought the loaded guns, everything.” – January 6, 2009


UPDATE:  I thought I’d add some commentary on how would one act in such a situation, or how do I think I’d act in such a situation.  I shared a little of this in a comment. But it’s probably only fair to post it.

Gymnasiums pose a very difficult challenge in carrying. You’re attire is far from designed to do so. Furthermore, your working out on a physical level in which carrying would equate to added cumbersomeness and uncomfortability.

So what would or could someone do in a situation like this. Man comes in, turns off the lights and begins shooting.

The first thought that comes to mind is did I do what I should have upon entering?  Did I remain in condition yellow (alert and aware).  Did I make sure upon entering the room that I knew where all the exits were?

The lights turned off is both a disadvantage and an advantage.  While it adds to the chaos, it also provides some concealment for those fleeing.  I do not know if it was total darkness or not.  That said, the muzzleflash of the rifle would do two things.  First it would reveal the shooter’s position, enabling to avoid the shooter if at all possible.  Second, it would also likely blind the shooter or at least destroy his night vision. Further increasing concealment potential.

So what would I do. I really don’t know, I wasn’t there. Some options I think that I’d consider would be to lie on the ground prone. In hopes that the shooter assumed I was down. And if he approached and closed the distance between himself and I and/or I had a clear shot.  Take it.  This course of action would likely only add to my protection, and not the protection of everyone as a whole.

The second course of action I’d probably consider was to use the darkness and endeavor to make my way to an exit, and or flank the shooter. And if I could come upon him from an angle unaware, attempt to take him down.

One other thought that comes to mind when reading that there were free weights. If I were unarmed, and a free weight was within reach. I’d probably grab one and use it as a shield.  At least to protect my critical vital regions of torso/head area.

I’d like to say I was just smart enough to avoid the entire situation. Pick a gym that didn’t have any wackos. But truthfully, this is one of those cases in which you just can’t really forsee.   It could have easily been a swimming pool rather than an aerobic workout class. What then….I know some people swear by their Glocks tennifer coating.  But even I think that’s not a realistic option.  Everybody has to choose for themself what is a reasonable course of action, and an acceptable element of risk.

Published in: on August 5, 2009 at 4:58 pm  Comments (35)  
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