In the Middle of the Gunfight

  In the debate about guns and gun control I like to think I have a small advantage because I’ve been in the middle of gunfights and seen people shot to death … more than once.

 The first time was in Rochester, NY during my first week on the air as a television reporter. A man had run amok shooting people in his house before sprinting down the street and taking over a bank. The station sent me out there with a microwave truck and I went live on the air as the gunman opened fire and shotgun pellets hit the building 20 feet away. The SWAT team closed in and shot that guy dead 150 feet from us. I never had time to figure out whether I was more scared of getting killed or being on live television.

 A few years later I was in Providence, RI when a group of guys bumbled a bank robbery and scattered into the neighborhood. One of them ran up behind a house and managed to take a pursuing cop as a hostage. My cameraman and I stood in the middle of the street as the robber and the cop moved down the driveway in tight unison. Great pictures. The robber used the cop as a shield to climb into the open door of an unmarked police cruiser with the intention of driving away. Not in Providence. A shotgun was fired as a distraction and a big detective moved in blasting with a handgun. The gunman turned and fired out the back window, blowing glass at us, but in a split second he was dead.

  I’ve been in gunfire during a shootout in Mexico, at a roadblock in Kuwait City and in the middle of the Los Angeles riots.  Living in Los Angeles, my wife and I have had gunfire outside two homes we’ve lived in.

 The thing that’s always struck me is that the shooting starts without warning and ends with even less. I never ducked, dropped to the street or hit the floor in my own home. You have no time to react. Gunshots, boom, somebody dead, over.  

  The notion that an amateur armed with a gun could pull it out and save the day is just silly. The shooting in most cases would be over before the supposed good guy could react and he’d be lucky not to drop his own weapon in fear. An armed guard at a school, as the NRA suggests, would merely be the first to die because he won’t see it coming or get to his gun on time.

  For a while I worked as a newspaper reporter covering the courts in Rochester. They had these big guys known as escort deputies who moved the more dangerous defendants from their cells to the courtroom and back. The deputies used to put the handcuffs on the defendants and walk them with one hand gripping the cuffs. The idea was that if the guy tried anything the deputy clamped down his hand and the cuff tightened in a painful pinch that pretty well disabled the bad guy. I never saw one of them misbehave.

  The interesting thing was that the deputies did not carry guns. I asked one of them why, and he just said, “Oh, you don’t want to have guns around, they’re dangerous.”


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Page Two

Jaw Meet Floor

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Small President

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Cuba Diaries

Sunday, March 13, 2016

An Alphabet of Maladies

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Healthcare Confusion Act

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Freedom from Speech

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Too Big to Fire

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Probable Than Not

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's Been Said

" 'The enemy of the people,'" was what the president of the United States called the free press in 2017 ... It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase 'enemy of the people,' that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of 'annihilating such individuals' who disagreed with the supreme leader."
Arizona republican Sen. Jeff Flake speaking on the floor today.

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