This is the fifth installment of “First-Person Target: A six-part series on fear and safety in the era of mass shootings,” a personal-participation journalistic endeavor about three years in the making.
To better understand my own feelings on these topics, I wore a bulletproof vest everywhere I went for a week. I then interviewed people I thought would have a special perspective on these issues.
(To understand the “rules” I set up for myself in regard to wearing the vest and conducting the interviews, click here.)
The previous installments are here:
- Day 1, Friday: “I’ve chosen not to be afraid.”
- Day 2, Saturday: “God is weeping.”
- Day 3, Sunday: “Sometimes the cards are just not in your favor.”
- Day 4, Monday: “If I die here, my wife is going to kill me.”
I wake up to a sound that isn’t my alarm, but is just as persistent. I pull back the red curtain that covers the window above the head of our bed to peek outside. The source of the semi-rhythmic noise becomes apparent quickly.
It’s raining like hell. Great.
As I pull myself out of bed, I think of the three things I need to do today: Teach, go to the doctor and vote. All three things will require me to be in public wearing the vest. I am feeling relatively normal about this at this point, so the anxiety was less palpable every moment of the day, but each new experience brings with it some additional potential for concern. On the drive to work, I think a lot about what the students in the class said on Monday: The presence of something makes you aware of it and that also leads you to fear it.
My 8 a.m. class today is the quieter of the two groups I teach at this hour of day. I am scheduled to deliver the same lecture to them today as I did for Monday’s group, so there is some normalcy in the repetition. The idea of new people seeing me wear this thing makes me think it still wouldn’t be completely normal.
As I did the day before, I ask if anyone had any questions and, as it was the day before, nobody asks about anything.
I do the lecture in the first hour, interacting heavily with the students on the topic of advertising. I teach in small-group settings of about 15 students per class, so I not only get to know them, I’m able to remember basic details about their interests and goals. This helps me call them out when we talk about a topic like fashion or baseball. Even when they’re staring right at me, they seem to be just as engaged or disengaged as they normally are.
Just before I give them the break at the hour mark, I ask again if anyone has any questions.
No one asks anything.
Honest to God, I think to myself, I’m getting handcuffs and a dead clown.
We finish class with a couple minutes before the release time and one kid finally pipes up:
“What’s up with that vest? Is that really a bulletproof vest?” Her question sounds more like a natural curiosity than a suspicion of mental illness.
Several students gather near the podium at the front of the room and talk with me about the vest and the project while the others practically dive into their phones, as they start texting or popping in their earbuds.
As we are finishing up our discussion, one of them says, “I really support your project, Dr. Filak. Let me know how it goes.”
Another student asks how long this project has been going on, so I explain when I was stopping it and why I’m not going the full week. She says it’s interesting that I won’t wear it to a high school, given that in her estimation, a school is where most shootings occur.
As I walk out of the room, two students who are always joined at the hip walk out with me toward my office and they continue to ask questions.
Finally, I say, “Why didn’t you ask me these questions when you first noticed the vest?”
Kid 1: “I figured you were doing something and that you’d mention it.”
Kid 2: “Yeah, I didn’t want to be the one to ask a question.”
Me: “Why not? You’re a journalist.”
Kid 2: (shrugs) “I don’t know. I just didn’t really, y’know…”
This conversation sticks with me for the rest of the morning for a number of reasons. First, as journalism students, these people are learning to notice things and ask questions about them. Nosy is part of the job description.
Second, I wonder if we had trained an entire generation to ignore things that might be foreign to them or that might force them to speak about something uncomfortable. I’m starting to worry that they’ll all just keep their heads down, staring into their phones and hoping whatever is going on right in front of them isn’t a problem.
Nate Nelson arrived at Oshkosh’s only Panera restaurant for an interview on a topic in which he possesses both a passion and an expertise. An ill-timed phone call from work had him running a few minutes late, something that seemed to irk him, as making good on his promise to be there on time clearly mattered to him.
Nelson strikes a towering figure at well over 6 feet tall with a broad frame that carries 280 pounds. His face sports a well-groomed reddish-orange beard and a wide smile that often emits a burst of laughter throughout the two-hour conversation.
When offered a choice of a table or a booth, he selected a small two-person spot in a hidden alcove, away from the busier and more crowded portions of the dining area.
“Given what we’re talking about, we probably want to be out of the way,” he said as he slowly eased his barrel-chested body into the booth portion of the corner spot.
Nelson sipped from a large iced coffee, half of which is cream, as he answered questions about his work as a certified firearms instructor, the precipitating causes of mass shootings and how tough it is to talk about guns in America today.
“I guess to me I’m used to getting involved in conversations with people who are boisterous and over the years I’ve learned to temper my own feelings and thoughts and just take it to ‘Let’s talk about the facts of what’s going on here and try to understand it,’” he said. “At a certain point, you maybe decide we’re not going to get anywhere in our conversation so it’s not worth having, but I don’t really get heated in an argument like I probably did early on.”
Growing up on a farm in northern Wisconsin, guns were a normal part of life and something with which Nelson became comfortable. He said it wasn’t until he arrived on a college campus and became more engaged in city life that he heard a lot of negativity directed toward firearms. To help bridge the gap between the two parts of his life, he became actively involved in campus activities and helped start a student chapter of the National Rifle Association.
“I also got involved in student government, so I got a better understanding of working with people who were maybe not always in my side, but how to talk to people and how to work with people and find common ground,” he said.
Nelson began teaching firearm safety as part of hunter education courses. As the population of Baby Boomers continued to age, the number of hunters began to dwindle as hunting wasn’t being passed down from generation to generation as much, he said.
Interest in firearm education began to grow around 2010, he added, when the state was poised to pass a law that would permit licensed individuals to carry concealed weapons.
“In the midst of all this discussion people were saying, ‘Well, when we have concealed carry we’re going to need people to teach these classes and you’re passionate about this. Why don’t you get involved in that, why don’t you do that?’” he said. “I had friends at gun ranges who were getting all these questions and there is nobody to answer anything because basically we were creating the wheel.”
Individuals interested in becoming firearms instructors have a variety of options, including training through the National Rifle Association. According to Start Up Jungle, more than a quarter-million instructors operate within the United States, with a salary range of $45,000 to $100,000 annually.
Nelson said the idea of turning a Constitutional right into a get-rich-quick proposal bothered him so he looked to provide the best possible training at the lowest possible price.
“I saw that there were instructors out there who were charging a lot of money, and that wasn’t (what I wanted to do)…,” he said. “It’s a service I’m able to provide and I make a little bit of money but I don’t think people should get raked over the coals in order to exercise their rights.”
Certification courses for concealed-carry permits can be classroom-only instruction, where people learn about the law and how to fill in forms for a permit, Nelson said. Even though he finds nothing wrong with that approach, Nelson said he prefers pair the classroom with time on a firing range to help students feel competent when it comes to carrying, holding and firing a gun.
“Not all classes are created equal…,” he said “My way is to take people and teach them the hands-on portion because carrying a gun every day is a huge responsibility and I want to make sure that people are equipped to do that.”
Responsibility takes many forms in Nelson’s classes, including understanding how guns work and how to overcome the fear people have in dealing with them.
“Many of them, the first time they pick up a gun, their hands are trembling,” he said “They’re afraid of it because it’s something scary for them, and they leave the class shooting in tight little groups.”
In addition, people who are new to gun ownership and use often don’t think about the legal ramifications of drawing a gun in any situation, Nelson said.
“If you draw that gun you’re probably going to spend six figures in legal defense,” he said. “People need to take that portion seriously on top of the fact of you might end up taking somebody’s life and it might be the assailant that’s bothering you or it might be somebody else that’s innocent because of where those bullets go beyond that.”
Most of his classes have about 12 people or fewer in them so they can get adequate one-on-one time on the range, Nelson said. The majority of his students are women between the ages of 50 and 60 who don’t feel safe at home or in public, he said, adding that couples often come in together as well to experience a shared understanding of the responsibilities associated with firearm ownership and use.
“I treat everybody as green coming in, I actually prefer that they are green because otherwise people come in with bad habits…” he said. “Very often it’s couples that come in, and it’s the husband that maybe knows a little bit about guns. He might hunt, sometimes that man will come in and maybe he’s already got a permit because he’s got something (like) a military background or something else they used (like) hunter’s safety. The thing is, hunter safety doesn’t really address the handling of a handgun. Handling a long gun is way different.”
“The men come in with bad habits more often than not, even if they haven’t had any experience with guns, almost all of them played proverbial “Cowboys and Indians” or had squirt guns and they come in with these jerky triggers and they’re constantly putting the rounds off to the right side of the target,” he added. “Women come in with most of the time no experience and that’s perfect. You start with a blank slate and it’s perfect. It’s the difference between doing new housing construction and a remodel.”
The Aurora Health Care outpost in Omro is about the size of an average dentist’s office, stocked with all the basics for health checks and staffed by the nicest people you’ll ever meet. One of the benefits of being in a small town is that people get to know you over time. One of the nurses has taken care of Zoe since she was getting her 3-year-old immunizations and when a princess sticker would cure the pain associated with them.
I made today’s appointment six months earlier, which is what has to happen if I wanted to get in to see the doctor for a physical. I check in with the desk staff, which has all new people since the last time I made it to the doctor’s office. I lean over the counter and look for a friendly face. One nurse waves and called me by name, immediately following up with, “Did Zoe come with you?”
“No, she’s in school.”
It’s good to feel loved for just being you, I guess…
I sit down in the waiting room next to a TV that outlines the weather for the Eastern Seaboard. I take off my coat and relax until the nurse calls my name and takes me into the back of the building.
I don’t know this woman and I can tell she’s not exactly sure what to make of me as she asks me to step on the scale. I ask if we can do it twice: once with the vest and once without.
“That’s about a 5-pound difference,” she says.
“I wish it were that easy to lose 5 pounds,” I say.
She remains silent as she leads me to the exam room.
The nurse goes over the basic details of who I am, where I live, what medicines I take and all that, as she punches the answers into the computer. She finally stops and asks, “Are you wearing a bulletproof vest?”
I explain to her the point of the project and what I’m trying to accomplish. This seems to relax her.
“How has it been?” she asks.
“Honestly, my anxiety has been through the roof,” I tell her. “I can feel my heartbeat in my ears.”
She gets a look on her face like, “That’s not good” but doesn’t say anything. She reaches into a drawer to grab a blood-pressure cuff and then dons her stethoscope to take my vitals.
I normally have really low to moderately OK blood pressure, but I figure I’ve got to be about 200 over 100 or something at this point.
“BP is 112 over 62,” she says, as she rips off the Velcro cuff. She then holds my wrist for my pulse, which I can still hear in my ears.
“Pulse is 68,” she says, adding “That’s very good” after it’s clear I have no idea what the numbers mean. “I wish I had those numbers so I wouldn’t have to be on medication.”
“Great!” I say before starting to fumble through an awkward apology in case she thought I was glad she had to be on meds. She just smiles.
“The doctor will be in shortly.”
Nelson freely shared a great deal about his life, including his health history. He’s a two-time cancer survivor living with diabetes. His goal is to continue an active lifestyle that involves as much outdoor time as possible, especially when it comes to hunting and fishing.
He just returned from a hunting trip in which he bagged a 10-point buck and his son, aptly named Hunter, took down his first deer, a doe. He said it really bothered him when people who didn’t know him were chastising them on social media for killing animals when “there is plenty of hamburger for sale” at various grocery stores.
“I’m not the kind of person to use PETA as a source, but go watch some of their videos on what a slaughterhouse is like and tell me that the deer my son shot that literally was dead in like three seconds of him pulling the trigger didn’t go out in a much better way…” he said. “She still had corn in her mouth, so she went out happy.”
Nelson’s father nurtured a respect for firearms that he is passing on to his own son. Nelson explained that the boy would sit on his lap and accurately pick off soda cans with a BB gun before the age of 3. When the state’s concealed-carry law came into effect, Hunter would often point to the signs on buildings where weapons were prohibited and say, “Dad!” knowing that his father was carrying a weapon. Nelson explained to him that the signs really just help people feel better.
No mass shooting was ever stopped by a sign, he said.
To say that guns and gun rights are Nelson’s “thing” feels far too reductive, even though he was able to explain laws, weapons and training with the knowledge of an expert and the translation skills of a quality teacher.
Of all the people who I tried to get to help me understand something for this project, he taught me the most. He was also the only person who knew the guns end of the discussion who was willing to take a chance and meet with me.
“I’m probably the stereotype: the burly bearded man who wants to have a gun in his pocket or a holster and I think that’s completely the opposite,” Nelson said.
“People who have a carry permit are just like anybody else,” he added. “They’re your normal neighbors, they’re not out there to be John Wayne. That’s one of the things I talk about in class. This is a license to carry a gun, it’s not 007, it’s not a license to kill. It doesn’t mean you should do anything else you wouldn’t normally do. Just because you have a carry permit doesn’t mean you should go down a dark alley in a busy city in the middle of the night… If anything, it makes you more aware and maybe more thinking about, ‘Am I going to put myself in a bad situation where I need to use that?’”
Awareness can also make others feel safe, Nelson said. He noted that Hunter would occasionally lean up against him to feel the outline of Nelson’s pocket pistol when he felt uncomfortable. Simply knowing his father was there and able to protect him if need be was enough to make him feel safe.
The intersection of safety and children bothers Nelson a great deal, especially when it comes schools.
“As someone who has a kid in a public school, I do think it’s atrocious how soft of a target a school is right now,” Nelson said. “It would be way too easy to get into most schools and do harm if you want to do that, if that was your intent.”
Mass shootings at schools tend to be among the most terrifying for the public and usually draw the most attention. The 1999 attack at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado killed 13 people and injured 20 others and remains a touchstone for the debate on mass shootings. Nearly 20 years after that attack, Nelson was able to recall the names of the two shooters easily.
In the two decades since that attack, the names of other mass shooters are more difficult to recall and the incidents tend to blur as body counts rise and outrage increases. In the wake of each subsequent shooting, calls get louder for banning certain weapons or revoking access to certain firearms. Nelson noted that these kinds of reactionary demands overlook the ways in which other massive casualty attacks have nothing to do with guns.
Timothy McVey and Terry Nichols killed 168 people at the Oklahoma City federal building, using a bomb made of fuel oil and fertilizer. Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a 19-ton truck through a Bastille Day celebration in France, causing the deaths of at least 85 people in 2016. A year later, Sayfullo Habibullaevich Saipov killed eight people in New York City in the same fashion, driving a pickup truck along an exercise path.
“If someone has ill intent and if they have ill will and they want to harm people, they’re going to figure out a way to do it,” he said. “Unfortunately, we can’t legislate the way of taking evil out of the hearts of men. I think we have to figure out a way of fixing people rather than fixing the gun. To me the gun is not the problem.”
Just like anyone else, Nelson said he aches when another attack occurs and struggles to understand the motivation behind these attacks.
“It’s sad,” he said. “Just as much as anyone thinks it’s sad, I think it’s atrocious and I think it’s more so a symptom of a mental health problem in the country, a moral problem. For some reason people are thinking that they’re sad and their angry and they’re going to go do this. I don’t know if they think they’re going to be famous or thinking ‘I’ll show them.’ I don’t understand that. I have a problem relating to that.”
Dr. Larson enters the exam room with her usual smile, but she pauses when she notices the vest.
“How are we doing?” she asks in a measured pace and tone.
“Hey, Doc. I’m OK, how are you doing?”
“Good… So… what are you wearing there?”
I explain the project as she starts to pick through the notes the nurse left behind on the computer. She nods along once she starts to understand what’s going on and why I’m doing what I’m doing.
“That sounds interesting,” she says. She pauses. “For a minute there, I thought maybe we had you in for a mental-health check.”
“Nope. Just a checkup and a couple other minor things.”
It’s supposed to be just a six-month checkup, but she notices that I haven’t gotten blood work done in a while, so she wants to get me caught up. I’m never thrilled at the idea of needles, even though I don’t mind bleeding. I tend to joke that I’ve donated more blood than anyone else, just most of it goes into the engine bay of the Mustang or on the furniture I’m refinishing.
I explain to the doc that I’m feeling tired all the time. She guesses a lot of it is stress and anxiety. She asks how much longer I’m doing the project, in hopes that a quicker end to this might return things to normal. I tell her it’s been longer than just this week that I’ve felt this way, so she says it might be a vitamin deficiency.
I ask about some pain in one of my feet, so she looks it over.
“You have a wart.”
Great. Just great.
She recommends some over-the-counter stuff that essentially burns it off with acid. It’ll take about three to six months before it’s all said and done.
“OK, the nurse will be back in to do the blood work. If anything looks off, we’ll call you.”
Nelson drained the rest of his iced coffee, so I offered him a break to go get a refill. He shook the ice a bit and said, “No, I’m good.”
I then asked about the point he was making about the issue of mental health and shooting deaths.
Calls for improved mental health screenings in relation to gun ownership also emerge after many mass shootings. Nikolas Cruz, the shooter in Parkland, Florida, had a long list of mental-health problems that the school acknowledged but attempt to redact from public documents. Reporting by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel revealed that the Cruz didn’t get the attention he needed and repeatedly slipped through the cracks in the months leading up to his attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
In 2012, Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary school. A Connecticut State Attorney’s office report found that Lanza had “severe and deteriorating internal mental health problems,” and that he had previously suffered from depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Steven Kazmierczak, the Northern Illinois University shooter, had dozens of red flags in his background and had previously been institutionalized, leading investigators after the fact to note that he should have had no access to a firearm of any kind.
Even though mass shootings represent a minuscule percentage of gun deaths and the fact that the mentally ill are no more prone to violent attacks than the population at large, a combination of these rarities has led to horrifically deadly outcomes. Nelson said these issues become a sort of “Catch 22” for the country: People who want to possess firearms but suffer from a potentially problematic mental illness will likely go to further lengths to hide their condition.
“We have to find a way to help people without stigmatizing them or we won’t get anywhere,” he said.
The issue of how to help people struggling with depression and despair before a bullet becomes the best option for them remains a crucial, if under-discussed, aspect of this issue. Even as mass shootings gain wide public attention, suicides account for approximately two-thirds of all gun-related fatalities.
One of the more difficult aspects of “fixing people” is the stigma associated with mental health issues. According to researchers from a variety of areas, 1 in 5 U.S. adults lives with a mental illness, but due to the negative connotations associated with these illnesses, approximately 60 percent of these people receive no help for their illnesses.
I mentioned to Nelson how people tended to react strangely to me when I wore the bulletproof vest and how at least one person asked if I had sustained a mental breakdown.
“I think it puts something bad in their mind,” he said. “Probably in that instance (they assume) if somebody comes in wearing a vest, they are expecting a fight.”
In all his time training people to carry firearms, he said he has not run into a person who he felt uneasy about due to concerns for their mental stability.
“I have had an instance where I had a woman asking me about a class once upon a time but it never came to the point of her actually enrolling,” he said “Her thing was that she was in fear and she claimed that her neighbors were doing things to her property.”
“She made me uncomfortable and I thought, ‘Y’know, I’m not going to help this along,’” he added. “She’s probably not the kind of person who needs access to those sorts of things but I don’t have the means to take that away from her because there is no mechanism for that to my knowledge.”
The Omro Area Community Center on Larrabee Street sits adjacent to the Webster Manor assisted living facility about three blocks from my house. Large “VOTE HERE” banners flap in the wind, flicking residual rainwater onto passersby. It’s about 1 p.m., which means the lunch voters have dispersed and the whole area looks relatively empty.
The election is one of the more intriguing midterm elections I can recall since I moved back to the state more than a decade ago. Gov. Scott Walker is trying to win his third term and his fourth overall gubernatorial election. In 2012, Walker became the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election, defeating Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by an even larger margin than he did to obtain the office in 2010.
Walker’s opponent this time is state Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers, a 67-year-old cancer survivor who spent more than four decades in education. Media reports describe him as a bland man from Plymouth, Wisconsin with an affinity for Egg McMuffins and the card game euchre.
This has been the event I dreaded the most all day with the vest. The students know me and I figured they would likely give me a chance to explain myself if they were really worried. The folks at the doctor’s office know me and probably have dealt with weirder things than me.
A group of poll workers who are already tense about how divided people have become? I could see myself having a heart-to-heart with a cop for about six hours if one of these people really freaked out.
Screw it, I say to myself. For all the talk of rights and responsibilities I’ve dealt with in this endeavor, I’m not forfeiting mine. I shut the car off and head toward the building.
I enter the building and veer left down a long hallway toward a sign that tells me voting will happen around the corner. I am reminded that ID is required to vote, so I unzip my jacket and grab the wallet out of my pocket.
The half-dozen people sitting at the various table where I have to state my name and sign the polling book collectively must be close to 450 years old. Listening to them try to find my name on the pages in this giant binder just adds to the absurdity of this whole situation.
Nobody seems to notice the bulletproof vest that is exposed.
One of the ladies at the table hands me an “I Voted!” sticker. I fully open my jacket and paste it on the vest over my heart and show it to her.
“How does that look?”
I head to one of the wobbly lean-to voting stations posted around the community room. I look down and notice I’m standing on the end of a shuffleboard lane that is inlayed into the floor.
I eschew the “pick a party” option and slowly work through each race, picking my preferred candidate as I go. Some of the races are uncontested like the one for coroner. I ponder for a moment how one decides to run for coroner and if those races are ever contested. It’s another odd thought on an odd day.
I dutifully fill in my circles and head to the giant mechanical vote-counting machine.
The “bing” indicates my vote has counted. I notice on the screen that I’m number 851 for the day. Given that our city declares a population of around 3,500, I figure that’s pretty impressive for the first half of the day in an off-year election.
I exit the building and decide to take a photo of myself for the project. I crane my neck around and extended my arm as far as I could to capture the building, the “VOTE” flag, the vest and my sticker. After about three failed attempts, I get something passable. As I put the phone away, I hear a whirring sound off to my right.
An extremely obese woman dressed in a pink sweat suit motors toward me in a specialized wheelchair. She is almost entirely prone and is straining to see where she’s going when she notices me.
“Taking your voter selfie?” she asks.
“Yes, ma’am. Would you like some help with the door?”
She zips past me and reaches for the automatic door button.
“No, that’s fine.”
“OK, have a nice day,” I tell her as she disappears inside the building.
As I head to the car, I wonder which people will get her vote today.
The sound of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” drifted out of the stereo system’s speakers at Panera, leading Nelson to chuckle. He said when he hears this song, he thinks about President Trump’s war of words with Kim Jong Un, whom the president has often called “Little Rocket Man.”
On the personal side, Nelson cited two sources for his interests in politics: Ted Nugent’s book “God, Guns and Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the Michael Moore film “Bowling for Columbine.”
“One sparked my interest and the other one probably made me angry,” he said, noting in particular Moore’s treatment of NRA leader Charlton Heston.
“At heart I’m a libertarian but libertarians don’t get elected,” he added later.
The Second Amendment sits at the core of Nelson’s politics, he explained, outlining his interest in helping to elect candidates who supported concealed-carry laws and the concept of the castle doctrine.
“There’s a certain thing about the morality of allowing a person to be able to take care of himself…,” he said. “Allow me the opportunity to do that.”
Carrying a concealed weapon has become an everyday thing for Nelson, something that he said he got used to, just like any other safety precaution in his life.
“Nobody knows I have it unless they really know me more than likely and it doesn’t hurt anybody and it’s just there if I need it,” he said. “It’s like insurance on my car or fire insurance on my house. It’s something that’s there in case of an emergency but other than that I don’t think about it that much.”
In all his years carrying a concealed firearm, including a stretch of time at UWO after he and his wife received an anonymous death threat, Nelson said he never felt pushed to the point of drawing his weapon.
“I hope to God I never, ever have to draw my gun for self-defense,” he said. “There have been a few times in my life where I have been in a situation where I have been legitimately- even as large as I am – going, ‘This makes me feel uneasy’ and I’ve gripped up on my gun in my pocket or in a holster or whatever else but thank God I never had to draw it.”
Nelson said the Second Amendment makes it more difficult to figure out how best to address the way in which guns can and should be addressed, especially in regard to mass shootings.
“It’s so often so black and white and it’s like, ‘No, the solution probably is somewhere in the middle,’” he said. “We just have to work to figure that out. The interesting thing with the Second Amendment is that you’re talking about a right that is guaranteed by the Constitution so that makes it a little different than some other rights,” Nelson said.
“When it comes to the debate on this sort of issue in stopping the shootings, the reaction seems to be, ‘Get rid of all the guns,’ or ‘Build schools out of steel and concrete with one entrance,’” he added. “The solution is probably somewhere in the middle and it’s a matter of finding that and I think it’s tough to find the common ground. I wish I did have the answer, because I’d be king.”