Refreshing Article from the Chron

Interesting article in this morning’s Chronicle…

After more than 20 years of writing crime and other stories for the Houston Chronicle, I was accustomed to holding nothing more lethal than a pen.

I never shot a gun or contemplated aiming at a human target. But now I like to jestingly suggest that I’m due some sort of combat pay after taking a bullet, albeit a plastic one, at the Harris County sheriff’s firearms training complex. I was there to learn how deputies make split-second decisions on the use of deadly force.

I would now tend to take exception to English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s famous quotation about the pen being mightier than the sword, or in this case, a semiautomatic Glock loaded with a 9 mm plastic bullet. It travels at 375 feet per second and can hurt. If it had been a real bullet, it could have had permanent consequences.

I actually heard only one of the two shots fired at me during the training exercise in which a KPRC (Channel 2) reporter and I searched a mock trailer for a possible intruder. But I couldn’t miss the sting in my leg muscle when the bullet hit. It left an instantaneous knot that soon developed into a softball-sized, rainbow-colored bruise just below my knee — and a lasting impression that one who hesitates is lost.

During one moment of hesitation, I stood passively as my partner was fatally stabbed by a vagrant who had been rousted from a park bench. In my other two confrontations, I failed to fire in one instance and my shots only hit a concrete wall in the other. The criminals were more accurate, and I would have been killed.

The trainer scolded me for freezing, “If someone has a knife and is 21 feet away, you don’t have time to pull your weapon from its holster to fire before you’re stabbed.”

But somehow I had anticipated having dialogue and then some sort of negotiations.

I think it would be very interesting to see how many laypeople out there — defined as those who have no experience with guns and don’t ponder the ins and outs of armed confrontation — anticipate the same thing, or that they won’t be fast enough, or actually believe the anti-gun-bigot propaganda that “your opponent will just take your gun and use it against you.” In any event, I thought it was great to see an article such as this in a media outlet like the Chronicle. Refreshingly free of bias, and an honest look at how real confrontations go down, in a split-second with justthatmuchtime to think about and do what you’re going to do, a piece that drives home the truism that you have to know how to actually use your gun — you have to have the combat mindset — if it’s going to do you any good. Perhaps a few more people who harshly judge good men and women who carry — and, God forbid, sometimes have to use their weapon — will now think twice before Monday morning quarterbacking and second-guessing those who defend themselves with firepower. Kudos to the Chronicle and Cindy Horswell for this article.

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