Countering A Most Horrible Darkness


Huu Can Tran used a decades-old gun like this M11/9 (bottom) during his murderous attack.

At 10:22 p.m. on Jan. 21, 2023, a 72-year-old Vietnamese-born man named Huu Can Tran walked into the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., with a Cobray M11/9 9mm pistol.

A cursory analysis of his gun in retrospect showed that it was a fairly unremarkable example of the genre configured with a 32-round box magazine and what appeared to be a homebuilt sound suppressor. The man wore a black leather jacket along with an oversized knit beanie. Without uttering a word, Tran opened fire on the assembled crowd gathered to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Police arrived three minutes after the first 911 call. In that brief interim, Tran fired 42 rounds, killing 10 innocent people at the scene. Another person later died at the hospital. A further nine were badly wounded.

Ming Wei Ma, the owner of the dance studio, charged the shooter in a heroic attempt to stop the carnage. He was later counted among the dead. A dancer named Yu Kao also perished attempting to shield others from danger. There was ample courage exhibited on the part of the victims. Huu Can Tran fled the scene.

Seventeen minutes later, this homicidal maniac walked into the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra, some three miles from the scene of the initial shooting. As he entered this facility, he encountered a 26-year-old computer programmer named Brandon Tsay. Tsay saw the man with the gun and reacted immediately, wresting the weapon from the killer’s hands. He then threatened the shooter with the captured firearm and chased him away. His heroic actions were rightfully praised across the country.

Huu Can Tran left the second scene in a white Chevrolet Express 3500 cargo van. As you might imagine, local, state and federal law enforcement were by now thoroughly energized. The local sheriff later described the seized weapon as “an assault pistol with an extended magazine clip.” Sigh …

The following afternoon some 22 miles distant, local police made a traffic stop of a white van meeting the description of Tran’s getaway vehicle. The van’s license plates appeared to have been stolen. As police officers approached the vehicle, they heard a single gunshot. They retreated and wisely called for the SWAT team.

Huu Can Tran had shot himself in the head with what sounds like a Norinco Tokarev TT-33 7.62x25mm handgun. While he had a tenuous connection to the two dance studios, and there was some rumor of an ex-wife in the mix, as of this writing, nobody has any idea why he did this horrible thing. Tran was the second-oldest mass shooter in American history.

A top-quality compact concealed carry gun like this
Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP is my constant companion.

In the aftermath of such egregious carnage, everyone of all political stripes waxes introspective. The sordid question of what might have been done to have prevented such a tragedy weighs heavily on us all. Amidst a sea of vapid platitudes put forth by sundry politicians, I would suggest the one thing that might have actually stopped such a horrific event. That would be to have had this loser attempt his gutless assault not in California but in my own home state of Mississippi.

The gun and the magazine were likely already illegal in the Golden State. The homemade sound suppressor was most definitely contraband. And then there’s the obvious fact that shooting people is against the law. Laws did not stop this maniac. Laws did not even slow him down. The only thing that could have conceivably ended this lunatic’s rampage would have been an armed citizen. Unlike California, we have plenty of those down where I live.

Ours is a nation of 328 million people. It is estimated that we own around 400 million guns. We cannot be compared to such countries as Japan, Australia, Holland, and the UK because we are so fundamentally dissimilar to those places. No amount of hand-wringing or well-intentioned legislation will ever make a dent in that number. Gun control via legislative fiat cannot and will not ever work here. That ship sailed about 350 million guns ago. American criminals will have access to firearms until the sun burns out.

There are ample examples from which to choose, and they need not be expensive.
Law-abiding Americans in the 21st century ought to be armed.

The cops arrived on the scene three minutes after Tran started shooting. That’s phenomenal service, but it still wasn’t fast enough. By contrast, in every crowd in Mississippi a statistically significant percentage of the population is packing heat. Whether it is Wal-Mart, Kroger, the doctor’s office, or church, somebody has a gun handy all the time. I certainly do my part. And in a nation that is simply awash in readily-accessible firearms, that is something that actually works.

California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, yet they endured three mass shootings in the past 48 hours. There have been at least six such episodes since the beginning of the pandemic. As the president is quick to observe, stuff like this is happening all the time.

My heart aches for those whose lives were wrecked by the tragedy in Monterey Park. However, if you really want to do something about mass violence in America disregard the politicians. They are ignorant, insincere and impotent. Buy yourself a gun and learn how to use it well. Secure it religiously around kids and carry it safely every time you leave your home. Right, wrong, or otherwise, America is now and forever will be the Wild West. That is not ever going to change. This deep into the Information Age, we are our own first responders.

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