Because the news cycle travels at lightning speed, we often hear a story, process it for eight or nine seconds, than let it forever leave our psyche.
But I want to talk a little more about Lynne Russell; about guns.
In case you missed it (and you likely did miss it), a few days ago I wrote two posts about Russell, the respected former CNN anchor who penned a column for Fox News’ website on how the Second Amendment saved her life. Literally, the title of the piece was ‘NOTHING TO DEBATE’: SECOND AMENDMENT, LEGAL GUN IN MY PURSE SAVED OUR LIVES. Take a few minutes and read it. And, if you’re feeling lazy, here’s the synopsis: Lynne and her husband Chuck are driving late at night. They’re tired, so they stop at a Motel 6 along Route 66 in New Mexico. After checking in, Chuck took a shower and Lynne ran out to get food. She returned, prepared to enter her hotel room—and was pushed through the door by a man armed with a semi-automatic weapon.
Wrote Lynne:: “He shoved me into the room. I was airborne and landed on the bed. He shut the door and stood behind it, gun on me, debating his next move. He didn’t expect Chuck to open the bathroom door. My husband (Air Force Academy, U.S. Army Special Forces), said ‘What’s going on here?’ and advanced into the room. Stark naked and dripping wet, he maneuvered himself in front of the small table between the beds, concealing two small .380 legal handguns we’d brought in from the car. I moved around, we spoke to the assailant, kept him busy, offered him things, kept him from focusing. We felt he’d shoot when he’d gotten what he wanted. He was comfortable with the situation, had been there before. I walked my purse to Chuck, talking about finding something inside. I reached behind Chuck and slipped a gun in, then handed it to him, asking if he could see anything that we might give the man. He said yes, wrapping his hand around the gun. The assailant grew agitated as I again walked across the room, splitting his concentration. He was making wild passes with his gun. Finally he lunged at the briefcase in front of me, and headed for the door. For a second, I thought he’d leave. Instead, he opened fire on my husband. Chuck returned fire, emptying his gun even as he was bleeding profusely.”
OK, so first, I have no problem with Lynne and Chuck possessing guns. None. They both seem to know what they’re doing; both are experienced; both surely passed whatever background checks were required. Again, I’ve got no beef there. What keeps bugging me, however, is the narrative. Here I go …
A. The guy pushes Russell into the room and he has a gun out. Now, what does he want? Did he enter the room because he loves killing people? Certainly a possibility, but unlikely considering …
B. Tomorio Walton, the culprit, had a lengthy criminal record. Super lengthy. But none of it violent. Here, take a look:
In fact, it turns out Walton was a “street slave”—one who commits crimes in exchange for drugs. He was an addict, clearly. One who robbed, then surrendered the goods to someone who could get him high.
C. Walton enters the room, and Russell fucks around. She doesn’t say, “I have $100 and two rings.” She doesn’t say, “Here are my car keys—take the Toyota in the parking lot.” No, read her words again: “I moved around, we spoke to the assailant, kept him busy, offered him things, kept him from focusing. We felt he’d shoot when he’d gotten what he wanted. He was comfortable with the situation, had been there before. I walked my purse to Chuck, talking about finding something inside. I reached behind Chuck and slipped a gun in, then handed it to him, asking if he could see anything that we might give the man. He said yes, wrapping his hand around the gun. The assailant grew agitated as I again walked across the room, splitting his concentration. He was making wild passes with his gun. Finally he lunged at the briefcase in front of me, and headed for the door.”
D. Instead of leaving, Walton opens fire on Chuck—and Chuck returns the fire. Chuck is hit three times and lives, Walton dies. This, to me, is the REALLY bewildering part: Did Walton fire just because, like some cinematic bad guy, he thought, “I’m Tomorio Walton, and I’m a cold-blooded killer, motherfucker!” Or did he fire because: A. He was frazzled and confused by the shiftiness going on before him? or B. Chuck was pointing a gun at him?
It’s all a weird and messy thing. And, truly, what bothers me most isn’t (oddly) Lynne Russell or Chuck the husband or Tomorio Walton. Nope, it was the interview Russell did with Megyn Kelly, the Fox News superstar who failed to ask any good questions. Because when someone says—boldly—the Second Amendment saved her life, there have to be follows ups. And here they are: Follow-up 1: Your husband easily could have been killed here. Is it possible—even remotely possible—that by pulling out a gun, you worsened the situation? Follow-up 2: Tomorio Walton had a long criminal record—but never one where he shot someone. You wrote, “We felt he’d shoot when he’d gotten what he wanted.” What made you think that—beyond him holding a gun? Follow-up 3: You stalled and stalled and stalled as a guy pointed a gun at you. Is it possible this was merely unwise thinking? Follow-up 4: Can an argument be made that, perhaps, people are best served in an armed robbery by letting the gunman take what he’s after and presume he doesn’t want to kill, just steal?
Now, that last question REALLY seems to irk Second Amendment folks, and I understand why. It goes against a certain genre of thought; like, “How in the world can you just let someone rob you without putting up a fight?” The thing is, statistics (and they’re all over the place) seem to suggest the vast majority of armed robberies (when people are home) do not result in the firing of shots. Criminals mostly want in, they want to take, they want to leave. Not all, obviously. But, statistically, most.
So what happens when you add a gun to the mix? Are you defending yourself, or quickening your doom?
PS: One last thing: Kelly mocked me on Fox News, and took delight doing so. But she missed the fucking point. I have no problem with these people shooting Walton. He robbed them, it was their right to defend themselves. No doubt. My question is: Did they defend themselves, or did they make a bad situation 1,000 times worse? Did the Second Amendment save them, or did pulling out a gun lead to the near-death of Chuck?