If you’re an armed citizen, shooter, hunter, etc., the more you know about guns and how they work, the better – obviously. It can make the difference between venison or macaroni in the larder during hunting season. It can determine survival or death when faced with a homicidal criminal. Heck, some of us have been able to earn a living from that sort of knowledge.
Every now and then, though, gun knowledge comes in handy in other ways.
A friend of mine, sadly no longer with us, did multiple careers as a cop, an educator, and a gun shop owner. At one point, he signed up as a volunteer for the local suicide hotline. The night came when he was on call, and the man on the other end of the phone told him he had a gun and was about to blow his own brains out.
As my late friend conversed with him, his mind racing to find the right persuasive answer, he bought time by asking, “What kind of gun do you have, anyway?” The man replied. I’ve forgotten exactly what it was now, but my friend recognized it as a brand known to be a piece of junk. He asked about the ammunition, and the suicidal man told him it was some old cartridges he’d found in the garage.
The light bulb went on. My friend explained to the man that he was a gun collector himself and knew a lot about them. He explained that old ammo might have weakened with age, and talked about cases he knew of where someone attempted suicide with that sort of cartridge and the bullet didn’t go in deep enough to kill, just enough to horribly cripple. The outcome? He was able to talk the man out of it.
(Interestingly, the folks at the crisis hotline were horrified that he had taken that approach instead of following the usual script. Apparently, it was a case of “you didn’t save his life our way,” and he was let go from hotline duty.)
Then, there was the famous case of the teenage NRA member who stopped a mass murder at his high school. Young Jacob Ryker was wounded when a disaffected schoolmate who had just murdered his own parents went on a shooting rampage at the school in Springfield, OR in 1998. Taught early to shoot by his father, Ryker recognized when the killer’s gun went empty and jumped him, leading to successful disarm and restraint that stopped the killing.
I was recently re-reading “The Mad, the Bad, and the Innocent: The Criminal Mind on Trial” by forensic psychologist Barbara Kirwin. She tells of the time, in her role as a psychologist for the prosecution, she examined one Gustavo Nino, who was charged with murder in the shooting of his friend Ruben Gonzales and was pleading self-defense:
“I steered him into a conversation about guns,” she begins. “The murder weapon was a Colt Python .357 magnum. ‘I own a Colt Python three-fifty-seven,’ I told him, ‘and I love it, too.’ I began to rhapsodize about the gun – about the vented barrel, the striated grips, the feel of firing it.
“Gustavo joined in enthusiastically. ‘You know,’ he declared, a swagger in his voice, ‘I went to my house to get a gun to go after Gonzales. First I picked up an automag, but then I went back to get the three-fifty-seven – it was more accurate.’
‘I sat back triumphant. Gustavo was busted. With those few words, he had revealed a motive of revenge and showed consideration, planning, and a full awareness of his acts.”
Trip up a clever murderer, stop a mass killer, talk a potential suicide victim into giving life another chance…I think that’s worthy use of firearms knowledge, don’t you?
Please share here any such incidents that come to mind.