Jeff Pearlman

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Sometimes you need to defend yourself (a guest post)

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Craig Berlin is a former NBA writer who, eh, wasn’t exactly enamored by my posts last week on Lynne Russell and the use of a gun. I invited him here to take up his stance. He did so, and I’m greatly appreciative. You can follow Craig on Twitter here, and visit his website here

Jeff Pearlman invited me to offer a “pro-gun” perspective in response to his posts about the Lynne Russell story, so I volunteered. I don’t know if it can really be considered “pro-gun” but I think we can certainly stay away from suppositions and stick with the facts. I do appreciate Jeff’s having the integrity to offer dissenting voices, especially considering some of the bile in the comments on his blog.

I’m not going to get into the usual diatribe between gun fetishists and anti-gun zealots. As with many other issues, the debate is often represented by ideology rather than fact. Personally, I don’t endorse recent incarnations of the NRA that seem to imply there are no reasonable rules or restrictions that might, in some form, be a good thing. Considering cigarettes kill 16 times as many people as guns, i simply wonder why we even spend so much time on the topic.

Some people simply don’t like guns. That’s OK … there is no obligation. There are others who argue that the Second Amendment means something other than a right to bear arms. They’re entitled to their opinion, although I’m not sure how else to read it. Most reasonable people, whether proponents or opponents of our current gun laws, understand there are reasonable steps we can take that won’t interfere with legal gun ownership but might impede the illegal gun trade and punish gun crimes more harshly. And that’s not a bad place to be.

Unfortunately, we also have guys like Jeff. One would presume that the story of Ms. Russell, a respected former CNN anchor, along with her husband Chuck de Caro,, managing to fend off a would-be assailant would be unambiguously feel good. But Jeff has questioned their mindset and the validity of Russell’s story.

First, he casts aspersions on Russell and her husband, a former Army Special Forces officer, because they’re Second Amendment supporters, had a gun-totin’ couple on their wedding cake and have advocated strongly in support of gun rights. Then he suggests that perhaps the couple should have simply handed over their wallets and everything would have been fine. He proceeds to criticize her interview with Megyn Kelly for failing to question her story and finally, reasserts that the robber was likely just looking for a “cash & dash” rather than actually shooting someone.

The best line?  “I also hate the cowboy mentality of gun owners; the ‘I’d rather shoot this out than surrender the $20 in my pocket’ thinking.”

Alrighty then.

I can’t help but wonder if Jeff actually read Russell’s rendition of the event, where she described how a man with a large semi-automatic weapon shoved her into her motel room and onto the bed. When her husband came out of the shower, they were prepared to offer him what he wanted but worked to keep him unfocused as she tried to covertly pass over one of the handguns they had brought into the room. Why? Because, under the gun (quite literally) they believed, “He’d shoot when he’d gotten what he wanted.”

So who is more qualified to assess the situation? The former Special Forces officer and a veteran journalist who were actually there or Mr. Pearlman, an anti-gun advocate judging from afar?

Indeed, Ms. Russell continued that her assailant eventually grabbed their briefcase and headed for the door. “For a second,” she says, “I thought he’d leave. Instead, he opened fire on my husband.”

It’s common sense that if you can give an robber what he wants and try to end the confrontation, particularly if you have no other options, you do so. Chuck Norris would tell you the same thing. But when someone confronts you with a gun, no one is qualified to psychoanalyze the person and positively determine if he only wants your money and will then leave nicely. When you are in mortal danger, you err on the side of caution. The assailant has violated his right to the benefit of the doubt by threatening you with bodily injury or death.

If you can stall or possibly get away with just handing them your wallet, of course … but you cannot assume anything about someone pointing a gun at you. What if he’s on drugs? What if he’s mentally ill? What if he hates people who look like you? What if he doesn’t want any witnesses? There is no room for Monday morning quarterbacking.

if you have access to a gun and the training to use it against someone of unknown mental state and intent who is legitimately imposing and dangerous, where is the moral dilemma? Taking precious seconds (or hours in retrospect) to ponder if the perpetrator might have been relatively benign (as if any armed robber can be) is dangerous thinking and grossly unfair to the victims.

Jeff states, “While I don’t doubt Lynne Russell’s integrity, I do question elements of a neatly wrapped narrative” as well as Megyn Kelly’s “softball” interview … because we all know that’s exactly the kind of interview Kelly gives, right?  I’m not sure what questions she should have asked ”Are you really, really sure he wasn’t going to leave without shooting?”  Well he kinda didn’t and Jeff seem to think that’s because he was provoked.  Really?

So, Jeff remarks, that because the ability to carry a gun saved her life and her husband was able to shoot the bad guy, “Gooooo … Second Amendment!”

Just let that sink in a bit.  Here is someone lamenting the demise of an armed robber at the hands of two good, decent and patriotic Americans whose lives were threatened.  Is this not the stereotype envisioned when Evan Sayet argues that liberals are wrong on “literally every issue. And it’s not just wrong; it’s as wrong as wrong can be; it’s 180 degrees from right; it is diametrically opposed to that which is good, right, and successful.”

Would such a stereotype possibly come from giving the benefit of the doubt to an armed robber instead of his targets? Could it come from extrapolating that someone who supports gun rights is eager to kill?

Jeff wonders, and believes Kelly should have asked, if the assailant was inclined to shoot because the couple delayed while trying to get her husband a weapon, and wouldn’t it have been better if she had just handed over their money, waited until he left and called the police.

Well, if he had in fact left, as Jeff suggests, perhaps … assuming he had then been caught by the police or simply chosen on his own to give up a life of crime and not engage any further in armed robbery or whatever other sketchy activities he might be involved in. Then again, she could have handed him the money and, as they both feared, he might have shot them anyway, leaving them both for dead and living another day to commit more crimes.

The ability to carry a firearm gave the de Caros options—alternatives that unarmed victims wouldn’t have had. They would have been at the mercy of the gunman and lucky if he chose to simply take the money and run.  Chuck was shot multiple times anyway and had he not been able to return fire, the likely end doesn’t look very promising.

Questioning an unfettered extrapolation of the right to bear arms is a reasonable position to take, as even Constitutional rights are not unlimited. But when the conversation turns to judging people based on preconceived notions of guns being universally bad and the people who keep them subject to extraordinary scrutiny even in the face of overwhelming evidence that their use was fully justified … at that point, saying the critics have lost perspective is an understatement.

Guns are not for everyone and no one is obligated to use them. But please stop acting as if every time someone uses one they should have chosen another option.  Sometimes you don’t have one if you want to live.

  • JoeRecruitNik

    My question is what the hell the couple–a revered journalist and former special forces officer, were doing at a Motel 6? Surely, Albuquerque had some moderately priced hotels they could have afforded.

    In addition to the story that just doesn’t make sense, it leads me to believe there are some facts that just haven’t been shared.

    Forget for a moment the story we’ve been told and consider some other options.

    I don’t but it.

    • trevor Taylor

      Pull your empty head out of your commie ASS!! They were driving cross country and just pulled over somewhere to sleep MORON! They didn’t exactly call ahead as they didn’t know where they’d decide to stop for the night IDIOT! Why do you brain dead subhuman Marxist VERMIN insist on siding with the CRIMINAL in these cases 100% of the time?!?!? You CREATURES act as if the couple are somehow the ones in the wrong, they aren’t! I guess you believe they sought him out to murder him. That she went out looking for a random victim and was lucky enough, with less than an hour in town, to pick out a drug addict with a long criminal record. Then lured or FORCED him back to their motel room to murder him. All for the publicity. You libtards truly are batshit insane!

      • michiganpatriot

        Maybe they were into kinky sex and the guy tried to back out. Or maybe they were trying to score a drug buy and he didn’t produce what they wanted?

        • trevor Taylor

          So in your fucked up ignorant excuse for an opinion they were carrying an extra gun not traceable to them just in case. So that when the drug addicted POS backed out, they could plant on him to cover up their murder. After she shoots her husband with said gun, to make it look better. Wow, you ignorant Marxist VERMIN sure do love contorting yourselves to ignore reality.

          • michiganpatriot

            My, my you do have some serious anger issues, trevor. I sure hope you get mentally evaluated before you’re allowed to own a gun.

            You seem to forget that you boys are ASSuming that what they said was what went down and that there was no other possibilities. I just presented two other possibilities, boys. I haven’t even claimed that I believe them or not.

            I would have to say though, boys, that the blood that is shooting out of your eyes may well have blinded you to truth. It is quite fun seeing you blow a gasket though :)

            Funny the lengths gun nutters will go to to defend their fetishes.

          • trevor Taylor

            WRONG COMMIE!! You’re just ignoring reality and spewing idiotic BULLSHIT!! The idea that these people immediately went looking for some random stranger for a threesome to then murder is BATSHIT INSANE! Your inability to see that proves how incredibly STUPID you are!

        • mrtapeguy

          Yeah, that’s the ticket. On what basis would you ASSUME something other than what she said is the case? We can come up with all kinds of “what if” scenarios rather than take her at her word because she hasn’t earned that, right?

      • mrtapeguy

        Guess we can’t all be as eloquent as the guest poster, eh Twevvie?

        • trevor Taylor

          Fuck off commie!

    • mrtapeguy

      So again, why do you question THEM? They were on a road trip with their dog and stopped at a convenient pet-friendly motel just to sleep. What would be the motive for spinning a tale that isn’t true? You question it because they stayed in an inexpensive motel?

    • michiganpatriot

      I have to wonder what the revered journalist and former special forces officer were doing “driving” across America. No available flights?

      Heck just look at the two of them…..my bet is they were looking for some kinky sex.

      • trevor Taylor

        Wow, you fucking libtards truly have nothing in common with REAL Americans! Some people ENJOY roadtrips IDIOT! You see much more of the country and LEARN more that way rather than flying by at 30000 feet RETARD!

  • michiganpatriot

    By the way this: “Craig Berlin is a nonpartisan observer of national politics whose views
    generally defy categorization, most closely modeling a
    libertarian-leaning independent”……..

    Makes me want to laugh. Craig Berlin is a right leaning, not over the top crazy mind you, but definitely right leaning, Republican loving, possibly independent to a degree, partisan to be sure, pundit. Yeah, I know Craig and have sparred with him a few times :)

    • trevor Taylor

      Quit lying brain dead subhuman Marxist POS!! Everyone to the right of Mao would be right wing in your opinion!

      • michiganpatriot

        Bwahahahaha, Twevvie! You have no clue what my political bent is – but here you are doing exactly what you condemn others for doing – ASSuming. Make you the ass :) The only thing you know about Mao is that you think it’s a condiment and you eat it on your sandwiches. Twevvie.

        • trevor Taylor

          WRONG COMMIE FAGGOT!!! Your posts here and elsewhere have revealed you as a far left LOON!

        • mrtapeguy

          Glad we can agree on something!

    • mrtapeguy

      Craig has never voted for a prominent Republican so claiming he loves the GOP is downright ridiculous. He believes in limited government in regard to most any issue and that makes him far more libertarian than Republican. If you can read his list of articles and still claim he’s “Republican loving” or partisan you have a very creative imagination…but feel free to give some examples.

      • michiganpatriot

        Gee I don’t believe I said anything about his voting record did I? And seriously, how would you know? Have you accompanied him into the voting booth every time he voted? Sounds rather kinky.

        Sweetie – I’ve been in enough conversations with dear Craig – many, many times – I know what and who he is. When you’ve had the experience to actually debate with the man then you will have some ground on which to speak. I’ve seen him in action and his articles do not fully represent his rhetoric. Whether you wish to believe it or not doesn’t mean shit to me :)

        • mrtapeguy

          i’ve had the experience and I know full well he is called a teabagger by liberals such as yourself and a libtard by the right. It sounds to me as if you and some empty arguments probably didn’t hold up well under the spotlight and got burned.

          As far as your other sexual innuendo and accusations, I’ll leave you with Trevor…he’s much more suited to your taste of ideology.

        • trevor Taylor

          Quit lying COMMIE!!

      • michiganpatriot

        Always cracks me up to see some of these guys claim to be Libertarians and all they are are Republicans dressed up as Libertarians. John Stossel is another one of them. Sorry boys – you can’t bull shit a bull shitter :)

        • mrtapeguy

          Nice dodge. You clearly have no understanding of what a Libertarian is. When you find a Republican who supports drastic reduction of the military industrial complex, gay marriage, ending the war on drugs and decriminalization, prison reform, a women’s right to choose as well as other issues big govt Republicans are at odds with, let me know. Until then, you’re simply parroting left-wing talking points with no basis in fact.

          And you still managed to not address the question with more unfounded accusations. You’re clearly never read the headlines of his articles, much less the content or you wouldn’t say anything so downright stupid. I asked you for some examples and you respond with more ad hominems.

          Stossel as well spends less time talking about issues beyond economics, where there tends to be more agreement with Republicans but you’ve obviously never watched him argue with O’Reilly since they don’t agree on all that much.

          You really need to educate yourself unless you don’t mind appearing grossly ignorant.

        • trevor Taylor

          Thanks for proving how incredibly ignorant you far left vermin are MORON!

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life