That’s a long headline!
I’m getting a bit old. Edging past middle-aged. Long in the tooth. Over the hills. I grew up in a different world. A world before internet, video games and cable TV. With few places to get our information, the residents of America shared some common ideals. One of these ideals was fair-play. Everyone always got the chance to do the right thing.
As a child, my friends and I were obsessed with the legendary gangsters of the depression era—John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie and Clyde. We would run around our neighborhood, croquette-mallet machine guns tucked in the crook off our arms, ducking in and out of Mrs. Harringer’s shrubbery. Killing each other off with a “Da-Dow Da-Dow. I wasted you!”
We recreated the scenes we had learned through uninspired, old movies shown repeatedly on Saturday afternoons. Movies shown on one of our three television stations. The FBI going head to head against a bank robber. The cop and the criminal. Each time an altercation with the familiar refrain: “Stop or I’ll shoot!”
The criminal never stopped and the feds always shot. Usually, not to kill, but just to disarm.
In our endless litany of heavily publicized police shootings, usually white authorities squaring off against unarmed African-American citizens, “Stop or I’ll shoot” is what seems to be missing. The linked story above describes a high-speed chase that ultimately ends with the suspect pulling over his car. The officer approaches the car window and unloads his gun into the driver.
The article implies that the driver was unarmed and the office planted a gun to justify his shooting.
I won’t even pretend to understand what it’s like to fear for my life. I’ve had a pretty sheltered existence. No fistfights, no armed muggings, no gang-related threats. I’ve fired a gun once in my life, and that was with a shotgun, dismembering an old, nonworking boombox. I can’t say how I’d react if I encountered life-threatening scenarios on a regular basis. Especially if I was armed with a pistol so I could protect myself.
I simply wish that before the shots are fired, before fatal, irreversible action is taken, there was a pause. A stop or I’ll shoot moment to let everyone consider what is about to happen.