Inhumane Humanity

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. --Herman Melville

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stand Your Ground Doesn't Mean Shoot To Kill

As it always does after a particularly bothersome incident, the gun debate is once again being debated with fevered pitch in the U.S. and just as prevalently as the debate, many people across the country become severely confused when the concept of gun control is broached, somehow correlating it with ending gun ownership completely, thereby prompting ad nauseum repetition of the moronic, audacious and half-witted attempt at bravado made popular by our friends at the NRA; “I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!” 

Let me say first of all, to dissuade any instantaneous preconception that I am, a gun antagonist or a gun nut; I am neither.  I own several guns and have done so for 52 years now, since I was presented with my first - my grandfather’s Remington Model 34 .22 ca bolt-action rifle at the age of 8 years old.  I love to shoot guns (I deplore killing anything with them other than tin cans and glass bottles, however).  

Owning guns and shooting them is very enjoyable for me, perhaps somewhat akin to standing next to an idling locomotive, but those guns are locked in a gun safe, to which only I have the combination, when not in use at the range or in the desert and while in transport they’re locked in the tool box in the back of my pickup for, just as those locomotives, they DEMAND a very high degree of respect.  Learning to shoot well is indeed an art, but it is also a massive responsibility. I do not, nor will I ever carry a weapon in a public arena and this is precisely why: 

On July 10, 2010 a man with whom I was acquainted entered a Costco in a suburban area of Las Vegas, Nevada known as Summerlin, a mildly upscale master-planned community of upper-middle income residents.   The man, Erik Scott, was a sales representative for a company (Boston Scientific) which produces high-end medical devices including the implantable pacemakers and defibrillators he sold.  He and I met regularly to coordinate acquisition of those devices for implant into patients within the hospital system for which I was responsible. 
He was a congenial, intelligent young man and was certainly not an ordinary slouch of a guy; a West Point Graduate with a master’s degree from Duke who had served as an M1A1 Tank Platoon Leader in the U.S. Army.  Erik was in Costco to purchase items for a trip of some kind that involved a backpack such as hiking or camping; it’s unclear to me which. 

While in Costco, he began opening a package of items to see if those items would fit into his pack and predictably, this behavior caught the attention of some Costco employees, some of which were concerned and some of which were not, even trying to assist him; different accounts from different perspectives, as always. 

Erik paid for the products he had opened along with other items he and his girlfriend purchased and exited the store.  For those of you who have exited a Costco store, you know what kind of crowd is typically coming and going; estimates are that there were at least 20 to 30 people in and around the immediate area of the entry/exit where he encountered several Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officers screaming different and by most accounts, contradicting commands. 

It seems that during the process of checking the items for proper fit, one of the “concerned” Costco employees noticed Erik’s weapon and, from all accounts I’ve read, either panicked or simply became agitated when he told Erik that he was not allowed to carry weapons, to which Erik simply replied “I have a permit to do so.”  The employee reported to his supervisors that “there was a very suspicious man with a gun ripping open packages in the store.”  The store began to quietly evacuate the customers and employees, all unbeknownst to Erik. 

As Erik exited the store, commands ranging from “get on the ground” to “drop your weapon” were thrown at him from the PD officers awaiting him and apparently, he attempted to do what he heard and began to remove the weapon from where he had it concealed and in the process of doing so was shot seven times, killing him. 

His profession was not such that it was required, of this much I am certain, but Erik was carrying, not one, but two concealed weapons, a Kimber .45 caliber semi-automatic and yet another .380 semi-automatic in his pocket and his blood-soaked concealed weapons permit was stark and ironic testament that he was legally entitled to do so.

If one reads the various accounts of the incident, here, here, here and here, it’s vividly apparent that confusion was thick in the air, not only with the Costco employee and the LVMPD, but within Erik as well.  There are questions that will NEVER be answered such as; why did the Costco employee find it necessary to pursue the actions he took?  Why were the LVMPD officers issuing conflicting directions? And in my mind, the most important questions; why was he carrying not one, but two concealed weapons?  Why did he feel the need, especially in the community in which he lived?  He was also taking fairly high doses of morphine, for what I don’t know, but; why was anyone who was taking such a powerful drug allowed to carry concealed weapons to begin with? 

So many questions; so few answers, but here is one answer I can be absolutely certain of without even a preceding question; there is absolutely no doubt had Erik not been carrying a gun, he would still be alive today. 

There were coroner’s inquests, civil suits, internal investigations by the PD, yet not one time did anyone wonder why the man was carrying two weapons, for there was no need to ask; HE HAD A PERMIT! 

Well what a very impressive privilege; an utterly unnecessary privilege for which he paid with his life on that day! 

I do not believe that the PD acted in error, nor the Costco employee and to some degree, even Erik was not to blame.  But the lax laws in this country are most definitely erroneous and need review and overhaul NOW.  No matter how you want to view it, whether you’re pro or con on this issue, guns on the streets equals bodies in the morgue. 

“The right to have and bear arms” is an irrefutable right in this country according to the Constitution of the United States, but that “right to bear” them needs to be tempered drastically.  As with all governing instruments, the Constitution needs to be constantly reexamined to fit the needs of the society it’s intended to govern (amendments).   The Constitution was developed when guns were both necessary for survival and when the U.S. had just ended the American Revolution, so the right to bear arms carried far different ramifications then than it does now. 

We’ve all seen the statistics related to the issue and as with ALL statistics, they can show what the originator wants them to show, but here’s one that simply cannot be manipulated and that is, guns will and do result in a violent scenario, either purposely or accidentally and a death such as the one above or Trayvon’s or any other of the thousands upon thousands who are killed due to foolish, irresponsible laws and/or gun owners can be neither ignored nor manipulated. 

Victims are dead either way and guns have no business in a public arena where misunderstanding is going to be present; always, 100% of the time.


  1. First I need to say that I qualified as expert with the .45 cal automatic and the M16 rifle in the army, and I am not against ownership of hunting rifles (although I personally deplore the sport). However, automatic weapons and handguns have one purpose kill other human beings.

    What the loverly NRA and other proponents of insane gun worship ignore is exactly what you point out, that at the time of the Constitution, guns were a necessity, but no longer are. Let me add this...the population of the United States was at about 3 million in the late 1700s. It is now over 310 million! In other words, we are in very close proximity to one another, particularly in urban areas, as opposed to the early years of this country. The macho Dodge City mentality that anyone who wants one, can carry a sidearm, is craziness...based on the population fact alone.

    I simply do not understand the thinking of opponents to gun control, and I definitely do not understand "stand you ground" laws and gun carrying permits for any and all. Insanity...rampant insanity.

  2. Jaded.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    The thinking of the opponents to gun control is one of fear - fear that they'll lose the "power on the hip" which seems to somehow equate to "power between the legs."

    The interesting thing about most out of control gun law advocates is the theory that having weapons will prevent a government takeover, yet a government take-over happened years ago and I have yet to see any one of the proliferation nuts stand up, guns a blazing to prevent it.

    I often wonder what (or perhaps IF) people are thinking when they envision an uprising of armed individuals – a few trained and lightly armed amongst many untrained and very lightly armed against a highly trained and massively armed military whose job it would be to quell any rebellious efforts on the part of the former?

    In the meantime, we slaughter one another in OK Corral fashion.