The meme started out as sweet, tender 18-year-old Michael Brown about to enter college, murdered by police in front of many witnesses despite no discernible motive. National uproar and civil disturbance ensues.
The family of the deceased hires Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Trayvon Martin’s family who engaged a high powered, well connected PR firm to turn that shooting into a national cause celebre, which they did with enormous success. By the time the truth came out, most of America seemed to still believe that the deceased was a harmless, innocent victim of racism murdered by a monster who deserved to be lynched. That meme seems to be getting a repeat in Missouri.
Only days later, do we learn how savagely the officer was beaten by the physically huge man he shot. And that very shortly before the incident, the innocent college boy had performed a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store, caught on surveillance video. (This, of course, would not do, so last night looters ravaged that particular convenience store.) It has been reported that that Facebook images of Brown exist, flashing gang signs indicating membership in one of the nation’s most feared street gang, the Bloods.
Countless people already invested in the police brutality meme cry that this late news must be a cover-up. They do not realize the long-standing ethos of law enforcement that says, “We don’t try our cases in the press.”
There is still much for us to learn about what happened in Ferguson, Missouri that day. Results of the autopsy and toxicology screen have not yet been released. Location of entry wounds and trajectory of the bullets through the body will tell us things, and it would be interesting to know what if anything was in Michael Brown’s system when he turned from the “gentle giant” his family described him as, into the hulking monster throwing the store clerk around in the surveillance film shortly before he was shot by police. I suspect there are dashcam images or i-phone video that the public has not yet seen.
One lesson that has clearly emerged so far: the longer the accused wait to put forth their side of the story, the more damage will be done to their cause. An accusation unanswered is seen by the general public as a plea of nolo contendre.
And this morning, CNN reports that storeowners, feeling that police aren’t protecting them from looters, are standing outside their shops in Ferguson with “machine guns.”
The shooting world has lost another stalwart. A skilled shooting competitor back when he had time for it, John LeVick could have made a good living as a gunsmith if he had not devoted himself to the practice of law in Lubbock, Texas. He passed suddenly last week, altogether too soon at 59. A mutual friend, gun collector Chuck MacDonald, eulogized John as a Renaissance man I think he nailed it.
I first took note of Brother LeVick with his posts on smith-wessonforum.com, where his screen name was 38/44HD45. We found ourselves corresponding frequently on a private forum; John had significant experience in gun- and shooting-related cases. I finally got to meet him last year at the Texas Bar Association’s annual Firearms Law Symposium. As expected, he was as insightful in person as he was in print.
Like so many in the pro-gun movement, John LeVick was motivated by love of family, love of justice and fairness, and love of life. True to form, he left instructions that when he passed, in lieu of flowers, contributions should be made to the Second Amendment Foundation
An as yet unidentified law-abiding citizen in his fifties (erroneously said to be 86 in early reports) fires two warning shots at a fleeing armed robber. A police officer chasing the same robber breaks off the pursuit and takes cover, thinking he’s the one coming under fire. The suspect is captured anyway, and no one’s blood is shed.
In the story linked above, a retired detective calls the armed citizen an idiot for doing what he did, pointing out that among other things the officer could have shot him. But the investigating officers, and their department, and the prosecutor’s office take the armed citizen’s side and determine no charges will be brought.
And now comes a third side of the story, that the citizen saw the robber run out of the store, saw the officer come around the other side of the building, and believed the robber was about to ambush and murder the cop. The citizen is said to have fired to break the ambush and save the officer.
Moral of the story: wait for all sides’ viewpoints to come in before forming an opinion on what happened. And there may be more information yet to come regarding this particular incident.
George Voltz (left) with Denny Reichard (right) at Sand Burr Gun Ranch in 2013
I knew George Voltz for about three decades, teaching with him annually most years. He had served his country in Korea and Vietnam. He had raised a fine family, though I only got to know two of his sons, Wade and George, Jr. For many years, George owned a gun shop in Logansport, Indiana. I bought my younger daughter’s first firearm, a Smith & Wesson .22 Airweight Kit Gun, from him there.
George devoted his last several decades to sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of firearms and his passion for their safe and competent use. His wisdom can be found on many spots on the Internet gun forums such as stoppingpower.net, where he normally posted under his initials, GLV.
In person, George was patient, kind, friendly, and unflappable. He had a dry sense of humor, an uncommonly large supply of common sense, and was one hell of a shot.
I had the good fortune to spend some time with him while teaching in Indiana this past June. Though wracked by cancer and the side effects of radiation therapy, this octogenarian still stood tall, his signature .45 at his hip. He had, at 83, recently competed in a three-gun match…not as fast as in days of old, but showing the determination that characterized his entire life.
George passed at his son’s residence, with hospice care, and only after his death did I learn that George himself had been a volunteer hospice worker. It was characteristic of the caring and compassion that the man exuded. A born instructor to the end, he taught us all how to die with dignity.
In this case, it’s not a cliché to say…We Are Diminished.
On Tuesday, we lost one of our great modern firearms and self-defense instructors, Louis Awerbuck. He had seen the elephant in South Africa, and came to the US to do what he did best: teach good people how to survive when other people were trying to murder them. For many years lead instructor at Col. Jeff Cooper’s famed Gunsite training center, Louie went on to establish his own school, the Yavapai Firearms Academy.
A master with pistol, revolver, and every kind of long gun, he was particularly noted for teaching the defensive use of the shotgun. His trademark was innovative shooting scenarios that duplicated real-world difficulties in which firearms had to be employed to protect the innocent. Awerbuck was one of the great trainers in his field, but more than that, he was a thinker. He understood better than most that in the word “gunfight,” the operative syllable was not “gun.”
In person, Louis was an absolute gentleman with a broad knowledge of relevant history and philosophy. He spoke with the same insight and dry wit that characterized his last page column in SWAT magazine, the one I always turned to first when my monthly issue came in the mail.
Fortunately, he leaves a legacy of books and training videos for those who didn’t have the opportunity to study under him personally. A list of these can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Louis%20Awerbuck .
Of the many eulogies pouring in from the training world, I think the most memorable came from our mutual friend John Hearne, who wrote, “They say that when an old man dies, a library burns. We have lost Alexandria.”