Umpqua Gave Us a Real Life Action Hero

Unlike an action hero on the screen, Chris Mintz took real risks and real damage.

The problem with a fictional action hero in a movie or in a TV show is that they are the protagonist. You know they can’t really get hurt. They are also always super effective. In fact, whether it is Jason Bourne or Denzel Washington as “the Equalizer” or any of the others, they constantly encourage the myth that a person can be so trained and so skilled that he can fight people with guns and know that he is going to win (the Equalizer was especially unrealistic in that way).

In my opinion, these shows actually train men to be cowardly and passive because, the moment you are in a real situation, you are confronted with fears and risks that you never took seriously when you watched the action hero on the screen.

The way cultures have traditionally encouraged heroism in people is by promoting the concept that it is better to die with honor than to live without it. If you aren’t willing to die you simply can’t be a hero. Fear will paralyze you. The action movies you’ve consumed as a passive spectator will show their effect by leaving you immovable, hoping someone can rescue you.

That’s why the story of Chris Mintz is so important. Mintz took action in direct confrontation with the Umpqua mass shooter. And he got shot up as a result. Amazingly he survived and he may have saved lives. Both of those things could easily have gone the other way. It is precisely the fact that he accepted the risk and faced death with action that makes him a real action hero.

According to Fox 43,

As a gunman went from classroom to classroom opening fire on students at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College Thursday, Chris Mintz knew he had to do something.

When the gunman, Chris Harper Mercer, tried to enter the army veteran’s class, Mintz, 30, told the students in his classroom to get to a safe place and said, “you’re not getting by me.”

“At that point, the shooter shot (Mintz) five times and the shooter moved on and apparently didn’t go in to that classroom,” Pastor Dennis Kreiss told People. “I applaud the guy’s heroism. He may have saved the people in that classroom.

Seven other people were injured when a gunman – identified as Chris Harper Mercer—opened fire at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College in Roseburg.

Mintz spent most of Thursday in surgery after receiving seven gunshots during the attack. Family members said Mintz was able to talk to loved ones before going into surgery, according to WGHP.

“Tries to block the door to keep the gunman from coming in, gets shot three times, hits the floor, looks up at gunman and says its my son’s birthday today, gets shot two more times,” Chris’ aunt, Wanda Mintz, told KCPQ.

Mintz told family members he heard gunshots in another classroom and tried to keep the gunman from entering his classroom.

Someone might think that Mintz was stupid, since he was confronting an armed shooter with nothing but his own strength. But Mintz would have died anyway if the shooter had entered the building. What is amazing about Mintz is that he confronted that choice and didn’t allow fear to prevent him from acting. It is one thing to know intellectually that there is nothing to lose in confronting an armed killer. It is entirely different to actually do it. In fact, even though I think Mintz’s actions were rational, I doubt he ever stopped to calculate anything. Who has time to think in such circumstances? He took action as an impulse guided by love of and loyalty to his fellow humans around him.

Mintz made it his rule to do all he could to not survive any of his companions. As a result he may have saved some. And, in an odd way he may have saved his own life. If the shooter had been allowed the space to enter the room and pursue his plan he may have had an opportunity to aim more carefully and kill Mintz along with the others.

The only thing that is stupid is that Mintz lives in a culture that continuously extols as normal the habit of being unarmed. In fact, the school itself made disarmament mandatory—making it a happy hunting ground for any sociopath with the itch to kill. As a military veteran, Mintz would have had no problem stopping the shooter. But, being a civilized man, he has a natural tendency to follow rules and cultural expectations.

He is now going to have to learn to walk again due to those rules and expectation, since both his legs were broken by bullets. Mintz is a hero but those rules and expectations are villainous.

I hope I never face the situation that Mintz did. But if I do, I hope I remember to ask myself, “What would Chris Mintz do.”