What ith the general fetishizing of guns in American culture, state laws encouraging people to carry concealed weapons anywhere and everywhere and the alleged explosion in sales since Obama was elected, it was a cinch that we’d start seeing more innocent lives lost to trigger-happy citizens.
First there was Trayvon Martin, but the racial aspect of that case confused the issue. Now Florida (again) has provided a new example of what the gun lobby hath wrought. A retiree at a war movie – a matinee, as it happens – gets in an argument with the guy in front, who is texting his babysitter during the opening credits. The guy in front stands up and turns around to face the guy who has been kicking his seat and mouthing off about texting in the movie theater. As he turns, a piece of popcorn flies out of the bag he’s holding, allegedly hitting the older guy in the face. The older guy responds by pulling out his .380 handgun and plugged the guy in the chest.
No racial issue in this case. Both the shooter and the victim are white. The shooter is Curtis Reeves, 71, a retired cop who co-founded the Tampa SWAT team. The victim is Chad Oulson, 43, an Iraq War veteran who is the finance manager at a local motorcycle dealership. There are plenty of witnesses, including a 68-year-old ex-Marine who was sitting nearby. Reeves “was agitated,” the ex-Marine told the Times. “What’s he bringing a gun to the movies for?”
A sign on the door of the movie theater says “no weapons,” but that didn’t stop the ex-cop. And, as Arkansas columnist Gene Lyons notes, “You pack heat, you’re apt to run into some jerk that needs killing – or so you might think for the two enraged seconds it takes to destroy his life and yours.”
Reeves’ lawyer, as you might expect, is calling his client’s crime a matter of self-defense and is citing Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
In this case, the shooter was trained, grown-up and presumably sober. Considering state legislatures are passing laws allowing concealed weapons in bars, churches and on college campuses, Reeves would be considered a safer bet than most for a concealed-carry license. Still think it’s a good idea for everyone to pack heat?