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I used to play a lot of pick up basketball.  I would play in any part of the city.  I would play in the bribery park that was donated to Seattle by Paul Allen to try to get us to vote for his development plans.  

I would play in Churches, in rented out school gyms, and I would play in parks where you could smell the liquor on the breath of your opponents as they tried to salvage some of their former high school sports glory.  

In and around my college years, I would play quite a bit at the intramural sports facility on the University of Washington Campus.  It was a nice gym.  I would sometimes play with college athletes.  Usually, the quality of the play was dictated by the level of cooperation among the players.  If you had players who were intent on arguing their way to victory, it really wasn't all that great.

Basketball is a contact sport.  It's naked physicality forces opponents to put their bodies on each other, skin to skin.  You have to look into your opponent's eyes.  You have to try to think what your opponent is thinking.  

In the absence of an officiating crew, the rules and the interpretations of the rules are left up to the ten players to hash out.  Arguments happen, stand-offs ensue.  Sometimes, an odd punch or two is thrown.  Usually, the punch is a weak attempt at getting your teammates to grab you and intervene in the fight.  That way, it can be known that you want to fight, but everyone else is stopping you.

It's a pretty classic scene on the Hardwood Savanna.  Young animals circling and hissing in an attempt express their dominance.  

The one time I ever really punched a man, it was at this court.  This young guy was just going, and going, and going... He just wouldn't shut up.  I actually recall thinking, "If I don't punch this guy, someone else will."

So I punched him.  Right on the side of the head.  I have always had a painful index finger knuckle on my right hand.   It serves as a reminder of how stupid it its to go and punch a guy in the side of the head.

It was a desirable place to play.  Many people would wait out in front to get  a student to bring them into the gym.  A "sponsor" was required to play at the facility if you weren't a student.  

On a neighboring court, a regular was being harassed by someone who I hadn't seen before.  I would go pretty much every day, so the people tended to be familiar to me.  As the argument being to increase in intensity, people became aware  of it.  But the way that these arguments go is usually pretty tame, even in the worst environment.  The players will jaw at each other up and down the court for the entire game, neither one backing down, but neither one really willing to mix it up.  

The player who was instigating the trouble was small. He was probably 5'8", and around 160 pounds.  His foil, the regular attendee, was roughly 6'2" and 200 pounds.  A physically fit 30 something year old who played regularly in the noon pick up games.  

In what seemed like no time at all, I looked over to the court to see someone moving towards our court in an attempt to escape the drama on his court.  He was holding his hand against his chest in the international, "Dude's got a gun" symbol- a pistol shape with his hand, held against his chest so that we could see his warning, but the little guy running to get his gun wouldn't see it.  

It all happened very rapidly.  There was no telling that this would be the moment that caused a player to react so irrationally.  How were we supposed to know that it was this particular argument that would be the one that led to a gun incident?  After all, hadn't we heard the same exact chirping going on in many other games?  

Really, it only took a minute. I saw the guy come towards me with the warning that someone was pulling a handgun.  I looked and saw the little guy with the handgun.  I saw him gripping it like he would shoot.  

He moved very quickly as he closed in on his target.  As he came closer and closer, he raised his arm, and instead of firing the weapon, he brought it down on the back of the man's head.  After this happened, the little man grabbed his bag and fled the scene.  He was nowhere to be found, and he would never be seen again on those courts.  The incident was never reported.  

A 2 inch gash was gushing blood down the back of the regular's neck.  It was definitely going to need stitches.  What a relief.

When I look back on that, I think about all of the injuries I've seen and sustained on a basketball court.  Knee injuries, head gashes, dislocated fingers, mangled ankles...  I think about how much different it could have been if the little guy had not made a decision to use his weapon as a blunt object.  It was clear that the impulse was to shoot, but the decision had to be made to avoid shooting.  

How in the world would we solve that problem in a gym?  Even if weapons were available, most of us were not going to be in any position to get them.  Most of us put our things in a locker to avoid having them stolen.  Even if we had a handgun in a bag somewhere, why would we want to leave a handgun in our gym bag on the side of the court?  Weren't we already concerned about our things being taken?  

Are we really supposed to accept the idea that metal detectors to stop gun carrying basketball players is the best option?  Even if it works perfectly, I don't really care.  

A security professional at every doorway is not my idea of a successful society.  It is not my idea of a polite society.  To me, it just indicates tension.  It shows me that we have something wrong with us, the security guards are just treating the symptoms, not the disease.  

It's also just not the way I think we should live.  

I just thought I'd share my "near fatal" experience.  There are so many "what if" moments in life, and this one could have turned out so much differently.  

Originally posted to otto on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 07:25 AM PST.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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Comment Preferences

  •  My kid plays pick up (16+ / 0-)

    He's 15.  There just really isn't anything I can do to protect him from some weird incident like this.  


    by otto on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 07:25:08 AM PST

  •  You should always have your gun on you (9+ / 0-)

    Your story is an excellant example of why you should always have your gun on you.  You should never leave your gun in a locker or back home.

    Because you never know when you're going to be in a situation where a gun owner is getting stressed out or having a bad day, and without warning goes off.

    It's very dangerous to be around gun owners.  That is why it is important to always keep your gun on you, for the safety of yourself and others.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 07:50:35 AM PST

    •  That is snark, right? (4+ / 0-)

      Or are you really suggesting that people strap up while playing pickup b-ball?

      If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

      by CwV on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 08:18:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Curious circularity of gun logic (10+ / 0-)

        Not really snark.  I very seriously believe that if I am shot, it will be by a gun owner (I use the term here loosely to mean anyone in possession of a gun).

        Gun enthusisats tell us they only want to protect themselves.  A very understandable goal, one we all agree with.

        What is it that threatens the gun enthusiasts?  Why, it is a fear of having to confront a gun owner.   And the gun enthusiasts tell us the best protection you can have when confronting a gun owner is a gun.

        So, according to gun enthusiasts, we should all carry guns to protect ourselves from all those dangerous gun owners out there.

        Yes, the gun enthusiasts tell us we should all become gun owners to protect ourselves from gun owners.

        This is not snark.  This is the actual argument commonly used by gun enthusiasts.  I express that argument in ways to reveal the circular logic and inherent contradictions of the argument.  And yes, expressed that way, it seems like snark, doesn't it?

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 08:31:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  s/enthusiasts/manufacturers/g (0+ / 0-)

          Fixed that for you. The NRA does not represent the common people. ;-)

          All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

          by subtropolis on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 09:33:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Faulty assumption (0+ / 0-)

          What is particularly ignorant about this post is the notion that people who carry guns for self protection would not need them if other people did not have guns.   Only 8% of violent crimes use a firearm.

          Between 1993 and 2001, 5,863,750 violent crimes were committed without a weapon, 539,990 were committed using knives or sharp objects (scissors, ice pick, or broken bottle), 356,450 were committed with blunt objects (brick, bat, bottle, etc),

          An assailant doesn't need a gun to leave you dead, raped, maimed, permanently disabled, or mentally traumatized.

          A firearm gives you a chance against an assailant no matter what weapons he/she may be using or not using, no matter how much stronger the assailant is, and at a range of distances, works against human and non-human assailants, and can handle multiple assailants.   And it can do his with a modest amount of training and practice, unlike martial arts which can take years of training to get a black belt in bullshido from your local McDojo and still be ineffective against an assailant that had much chance of causing you serious harm in the first place.

          Does a gun protect you in every case? No, nothing can.  Especially when you are running around in your underwear  playing sports.

          And consider the incident in the OP's story.   What was used?   A blunt force weapon.   It just happened to be a firearm capable of firing projectiles.   But a hammer, baseball bat, bottle, brick, tire iron, wrecking bar, padlock on chain, frying pan, 2x4, or a piece of pipe could have been substituted.    And the story would not have been any different other than OP would probably not be writing about it to serve a political agenda.  And what if they guy had shot the gun instead of using it as a club?   Only 17% of US firearm assaults in 2006 result in death (compared to death plus injuries).   A deliberately inflicted blunt force trauma to the head isn't exactly a low risk event, either.   And even without a hothead with a gun, or any other weapon, in a gym bag, sports result in millions of traumatic brain injuries each year.  53,000 people died from traumatic brain injury with a fatality rate.   Among children, 21% of traumatic brain injuries are from sports.   Since most homicide victims are criminals, this suggests that sports may pose more risk than murderers - and even more so during the small percentage of time you spend playing sports.  As a law abiding citizen you should be less worried about defending against the guy with a gun in his gym bag and more about protecting your head from sports injuries.

          Bad guys don't need guns to attack defenseless victims;   most of the time, they don't even need a weapon.   Almost any attempt at gun control reduces the number of good guys with guns more than the number of bad guys or makes the good guys afraid to use the weapons they have.

          Nobody likes the idea of hotheads with guns, except perhaps hotheads.  When must-issue concealed carry laws were introduced, opponents predicted that the streets would run with blood due to more hot heads with guns.   That not only didn't happen, homicide rates even declined.

    •  Finally (0+ / 0-)

      Some common sense. If everyone had a gun, hot heads would be less likely to pull his own out. Level playing field, so to speak.

      Or we can make it illegal to own or otherwise posses a gun.

  •  We have NEVER been a civil society nt (2+ / 0-)
  •  I had an experience like that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    although it had to do with an armed security guard, put in place to "protect" an all-night eating establishment (a kind of drive-through like place with outdoor seating).

    Me and my friends were eating our chili-burgers and a couple teenagers started harassing the security guard.  They were a little larger than him, and were doing a kind of bullying/teasing kind of thing.

    The guard got insecure and drew his nightstick.  One of the teenagers took it away from him.   So he drew his gun.

    5' away from us, he put a gun in the face of the kids and he was clearly scared.  And the kids...weren't scared, which to us was the most frightening thing.  We were wondering if the guard was going to blow away this kid a few feet away.  (not to mention that if he could lose control of his nightstick, it isn't outside the realm of possibility he could lose control of his gun too)

    Thankfully the kid with the nightstick backed down with a laugh and handed back the nightstick, and they left...the guard trembling in rage and fear with gun still drawn.

    This sort of thing is why I am highly skeptical of any plan involving lots of poorly trained armed "guards" in public places.   That was a situation where the guard being present likely CAUSED the altercation, and his inability to cope socially with two teenagers teasing him caused him to escalate first with a nightstick, then with a gun.

    And he handled both poorly, losing the nightstick and sticking his gun in the face of one of the teenagers (risking accidental discharge and manslaughter or possibly losing control of his weapon, as he lost his nightstick).

    Had he been a more typical security guard armed with a radio instead of a nightstick and gun, he would have probably called his dispatcher to send for police (and the threat of that would have caused the troublemakers to leave).  (disclosure...I did the job of an unarmed security guard for two years.  Your purpose is to show that a property is watched, to observe and report.  It isn't to be Chuck Norris)

    There is no defense to this.  Had the kids been armed, I don't think there would have been a gunfight (they were in a teasing mood, not a "lets start a real fight" mood) unless the security guard actually shot, but perhaps another weapon would have been drawn, escalating everything to where the guard DID shoot.

    Had me and my friends been armed?  Nothing we could do.  The guard was defending himself (badly, but that is what he was doing) and anything we did other than remaining calm would have probably increased the odds he'd panic and shoot, no matter which side we tried to intervene on.   These days with everyone having a cell phone and a camera, one of us could have filmed the altercation while another called for actual police and we probably wouldn't have been noticed...but as it turned out it was over before a response could have come.

    More guns in tense social situations translates into more people getting shot.  The impulse to violence translates too easy into lethal force, and while one person with a gun out might feel he's the master of the situation and perhaps back off a threat, as soon as a second party draws, the fear spikes and....shooting happens.

    In the diarist anecdote, consider what would have happened if the guy who warned the nearby players about the gun had instead been carrying?   I'm not sure it would have reduced the danger much to the guy who got pistolwhipped (as he did in fact get hurt and might have been killed if the gunner didn't restrain himself at the last second), but the odds of one of the rest of you getting hit by a stray round would go way up.

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