Regarding the Sept. 18 front-page AP story, “Motive for deadly rampage at (Washington D.C.) U.S. Navy Yard unknown”: As an American, I feel it’s a sad commentary that gun violence in America is the norm rather than the exception.

I was having morning coffee and donuts when I heard the tragic news. I dismissed the incident as yet another disgruntled worker killing people at his workplace. Things began to unfold when I learned that my cousin’s husband worked in the same building.

After he heard the gunshots at 8:20 a.m. (Sept. 16), seven co-workers ran inside his office.

First, he locked the door, then moved his desk to barricade the door. Next, he had everyone lie down on the floor; he turned off the lights; he found a pair of scissors and gave it to a fellow worker while he clutched his thermos bottle tightly.

The barricade, scissors and thermos bottle were their line of defense against a crazed man armed with a shotgun, an assault rifle and a handgun. They heard footsteps but had no way of knowing whether they belonged to the shooter or to law enforcement.

Hours passed before they were safely evacuated by a SWAT team. There was a moment of tension when my cousin’s husband did not let go of his thermos bottle right away when told to do so. Thirteen people, including the shooter, were shot and killed.

My cousin’s husband took a course of action that ultimately saved his co-workers. In recent years there has been much debate about gun control. Now the debate is focusing on background checks and security measures.

Compared with other countries, Japan is viewed as an ultra-safe society with a low-crime rate. It seems inconceivable for a mass murder to occur at the workplace or anywhere else in Japan.

All the same, there is no harm in taking and talking about precautionary measures toward personal safety in the event of a worst-case scenario.

dale araki

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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