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Tag Archives: weapons

Reflections On My Second Life

Thirty-eight years ago tonight I came within a hair’s breadth of being murdered in my own home. It’s an interesting story, I suppose, but recalling it still causes a little adrenaline to spill into my bloodstream. Some of the facts are in this decision, but the main reason I’ve bookmarked the site for myself is to help me remember when it happened. It was on my 32nd half-birthday and, although I remember more detail than I wish, I can’t seem to keep the year in my head.

At one point I was laying on the floor and the perp, Leonard Brown, was sitting on my futon. He pointed my Ruger Blackhawk at my head and said, “I’m going to blow your fucking brains out.” I asked, simply, “Why?” He responded, “Cause you’re a honky.” I said, “Is that all?” He had no response to that.

He started telling me a story about being in Vietnam but, having spent many years working with lots of veterans from that war, I could tell he hadn’t really been there. He was, I believe, trying to work himself into enough of a frenzy – as well as getting me to respond fearfully, which I declined to do, so he could shoot me.

Eventually, he went to get something to tie my hands behind my back, something I was not going to allow to happen, regardless of the consequences, as I was sure that would be the end for me. He had to leave the bedroom momentarily and I had been slowly working my foot behind the door. As he left, I was able to slam the door, practically levitate myself off the floor one-handed (lots of adrenaline at that point), and grab my shotgun from a spot where I had hidden it in my closet.

I pumped a round into the chamber and said, “Get out of my house or I’ll kill you.” I heard him flee. Since I could not see where he was, and my girlfriend at the time (later to become my first wife) was going to be home at any minute, I could not fire through the door. I ended up going through the apartment, room by room, as I wasn’t sure if he had actually made it out. It was harrowing, to say the least.

There’s a lot more to the story, including three murders, several rapes, and somewhat of a comedy of errors (not funny at the time) getting the police to come and take a report. It took me five phone calls to three different jurisdictions – I was living in Venice, next to Marina del Rey – before the LAPD, who I called first and knew had jurisdictions as I saw them patrolling all the time, showed up. The officer who arrived was alone, had his hat in hand, and the safety strap to his sidearm in place, which unnerved him when he found out he was working an armed burglary and hadn’t been told so by the dispatcher.

Mr. Brown was eventually arrested, mainly due to his continuing crime spree. I ended up testifying against him twice – once at his original trial and again, years later, at a retrial on one of his murder counts.

The Court got one of the facts wrong in this decision. He only stole one weapon from me, and that was the Blackhawk, which he used to kill three men over the course of about a week and a half. I never got that handgun back, nor did I get back the beautiful pocket watch I had been given years prior by my maternal grandfather. I still miss the watch sometimes.

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There Are No Ordinary People

Ordinary PeopleBased on the amount of traffic I’m seeing about the tragedy in Connecticut yesterday, I’m reasonably certain the fallout from this event is not going to soon subside. In fact I’m wondering if, now that the election is over, all the energy that had gone into finding ways to communicate and share in order to affect the outcome of the November contests isn’t looking for another avenue to express itself. We’ll see.

There’s one particular aspect of this tragedy that struck me recently and I wanted to quickly share my feelings about it. It has nothing to do with guns and violence, but it definitely has to do with death and loss. A Facebook (and real life) friend of mine shared this article from the New York Times and, in a comment later, said the following: “Ordinary people are much more courageous than we give them credit for being.”

This reminded me of something that has long intrigued me. I’m curious to know if others have felt the same. I have been to quite a few funerals or memorial services in my life for people I either didn’t know at all or knew very superficially. These include members of my wife’s family, spouses of co-workers, employees at a favorite venue, etc.

One of the things that stands out in my recollection of those experiences is the feeling I always got that I had missed something; that a special person had slipped through my fingers and now I would be forever barred from appreciating their existence and the particular light they shone out into the world.

Now, I know I can’t possibly get to know everyone, yet listening to friends, family, and co-workers reminisce and reflect on the life of the person for whom we were gathered together in memory of, always seemed to leave me with a feeling of incompleteness, of having missed something wonderful and extraordinary.

I’m of the opinion there’s no such thing as an ordinary person.


I am Numb

Anti-Gun Graphic

It’s the numbers I’m Interested In.

So many dead. So many children. I am numb . . . and I can’t wait to see my kids when I pick them up from school today. I’m also a gun owner. I am not, however, so numb I can’t recognize a need to address the issue of gun control. We treat these occurrences like we treat earthquakes; as if they’re natural disasters and, with the exception of securing loose objects and having some emergency supplies at the ready, there’s nothing we can do about ’em.

We seem to face a choice; either arm everyone – including the children – or come up with rational policies that keep guns out of the hands of those who have no business possessing them. I’m kind of thinking the latter would be easier, cheaper, and more humane . . . not to mention rational.

I didn’t do a comparison of the populations of all six other countries listed, but we can look at one – Canada. With these numbers (assuming them to be accurate) the U.S. population would have to be 47 times that of Canada. Actually, the population of the U.S.  is 9 times greater than that of Canada so, were all things reasonably equal, we could expect a gun murder rate of approximately 1800 people, less than 1/5 of what it actually is. That’s got to be pretty strong evidence of some kind of fundamental problem. Don’t you think?


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