Thursday, May 23, 2013

What Sometimes Happens in the Wild, Wild West

Trey Smith

A 21-year-old university student who was taken hostage in her apartment and then shot to death during a police standoff with an armed robber on New York's Long Island was killed by a bullet fired from an officer's gun, investigators said on Sunday.

Andrea Rebello was shot in the head on Friday by one of eight rounds fired at Dalton Smith, who had the woman in a headlock with a 9mm gun pointed at her head at the time, Nassau County Police Department spokesman James Imperiale said.

Smith, 30, was struck by seven bullets and died in the apartment in Uniondale, about a half a mile from Hofstra University. Rebello, who was studying public relations at Hofstra, was taken to a nearby hospital where she later died.
~ from Female Hostage Died From Police Bullet in New York Standoff by Brendan O'Brien ~
I am not sharing this news story to provide fodder for a screed against a local police department. No, I'm sharing it because it indirectly goes to the heart of a notion that many gun enthusiasts harbor: If more citizens own firearms, the chances that one of them could thwart our next mass shooting are greatly enhanced.

We heard this argument after Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora and Newtown. The way this line of reasoning goes is that, if not for our currently weak gun control regulations, some average citizen or, in the case of Newtown, a school administrator or teacher, could have whipped out their trusty sixshooter and stopped the carnage sooner as opposed to later.

Hey, it sounds good, but I don't think it would likely play out that way in real time!

The police are trained in the use of firearms during stressful situations. Unfortunately, as this case sadly illustrates, not all of their shots find the intended target. The police were there to try to save this young woman's life and, in doing so, they killed her. This certainly wasn't their intent, but that is what happened.

There was another case within the past year or so when the NYPD tried to apprehend a man with a gun running through the streets. While they eventually shot him, they also ended up wounding several innocent bystanders. They are damn lucky none of those bystanders ended up dead.

If our trained law enforcement personnel sometimes shoot the wrong folks, what are the chances that an average Joe or Jane Doe might do the same? Shooting an assailant in a highly charged and chaotic situation is not the same thing as shooting an immobile target at the local shooting range. For one thing, paper targets don't shoot back. For another, you don't have scores of innocent bystanders running around the range darting in and out of the potential line of fire.

About the last thing we need the next time there is a mass shooting is for more innocent deaths because an average citizen who decides to take the assailant down turns out not to be such a good shot!

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