On a bicycle tour of the Midwest to promote his mission to establish a crisis helpline for people contemplating violence by firearm, Scott Hite traveled through Grand Rapids this week. The Michigan resident with a background in international affairs has dubbed his endeavor, Wait One, “to wait one minute, wait one hour, wait one day and call before doing something they will regret and will affect their own families and friends.”
The bicycling enthusiast has previously kayaked both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and met several people along the way. So he decided to take a similar route, stopping at homes and communities of friends along the way. As of Thursday, Hite had been on the road 78 days, traveled 2,376 miles with about 900 left to go. From Michigan, he biked to Illinois south to St. Louis to Kansas City to Omaha to Bismarck, N.D. up to Lake Itasca in Minnesota and was headed to the Twin Cities and Chicago to round out his trip.
The spark that started his bicycle tour was when he learned that the shooter involved in the Colorado movie theater massacre said he had called for help prior to the tragedy but no one answered. Hite knew he had to do something to make help more accessible to individuals considering such attacks.
“In his words, he said, that was his last chance to turn back,” said Hite of the suspect in the Aurora, Colo., incident on July 20, 2012, during a midnight screening of the film “The Dark Knight” when James Eagan Holmes set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience with multiple firearms.
In the light of the two shootings last weekend in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, Hite feels his mission is ever more important.
“This organization will help people where they’re at - confidentially and with no pressure to give up their firearms or legal repercussions,” says Hite, who is currently working with the FBI on guidelines for his helpline. “I’m looking forward to helping people who want to use firearms for the wrong reasons whether it’s a neighbor or a gang member or a mass shooter.”
Hite believes mass shooters get demonized and often don’t stop to think about the fallout of their temptations.
“If I can get someone to talk to them before, it will be an opportunity to help stop the violence,” said Hite. “It’s been a bad week and I’m seeing how important it is to have a hotline to get people help where they are - help that is confidential and to follow up to make sure to reach out.”
Wait One is still in its infancy, but Hite is motivated by the people he’s met along his bike tour to get started as soon as he returns to Michigan the first week of September.
“The trip has gone so much better than I thought it would. In just a few months, I’ve been able to reach out to so many people further than just Michigan,” said Hite.
Hite’s grand vision is to establish regional call centers to connect callers with resources near them similar to suicide hotlines.
“It will be absolutely necessary to get people on the ground to get to the person when they call,” explained Hite. “I know I have a lot of work to do like brochures and such. But I’ve had a lot of time to think about it on the road while biking.”