United States Senate/John Klemmer /Wikipedia

South Dakota Sen. and Josh Charles's Skinnier Twin John Thune has a message for the American people concerned about gunfire in public spaces and the chances said gunfire will hit them therein.

Here is what he told MSNBC's Hallie Jackson on Tuesday while talking about the massacre in Las Vegas that resulted in 600 people dead or wounded, according to Raw Story:

“But I think people are going to have to take steps in their own lives to take precautions. To protect themselves. And in situations like that, you know, try to stay safe. As somebody said — get small.”

“Try to stay safe?” What does he think people were doing when they ran from the gunfire or ducked behind cover?

In some cases, “get small” — in other words, present a smaller target and hope the gunman doesn't notice you — is not the worst advice. It is certainly not as bad as Megan McCardle's suggestion, after Newtown, that we train first-graders to swarm any rifle-wielding gunmen who storm their classrooms.

But here is why it is a bad reaction to Las Vegas. Stephen Paddock was shooting at a crowd of people from more than 500 yards away and 32 stories up. It would be hard for anyone to present a smaller target, even if he was using sniper scopes.

Paddock was shooting into a crowd of 22,000 people packed closely together, with guns that may have been converted to fully automatic. In those circumstances, just bullets ricocheting off the ground will have a good chance of striking someone — even if they curl up into a ball on the ground to present a smaller target.

Not that many people are going to think to curl up on the ground when 22,000 other people are panicking and stampeding out of the area.

Which brings us to the final point, which is that the majority of Americans are not trained for what to do in armed combat. They are not going to go out in public wearing body armor. And they are not likely to keep reviewing the steps to take to avoid getting shot every time they go out in public. It's just not how they are wired.

The first part of Thune's answer was better:

It sounds like he used conversion kits and other things, you know, to make these weapons more lethal. Like I said — we'll look at the facts when we get them all in here. I think that all of us want to do everything we can to prevent tragedies like that from happening again. You know — it's an open society. And when somebody does what he wants to do — it's going to be hard to prevent anything.

It may be an open society, but at what point does the freedom to own an unlimited number of semi-automatic guns infringe on that openness? When people are staying home because they fear mass shooters or have to scan every public space for escape routes just in case, can it still be considered a free country?

John Thune and the rest of Congress need to wrestle with these trade-offs. Preferably before they speak to reporters.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

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