A Shot Heard in Far Rockaway is Felt in Fulham

Two days ago a Haitian immigrant friend of mine — who recently landed in Far Rockaway, Queens to find a better life and to chase the American Dream — heard a fight in the street below his apartment.
He then made the fatal mistake of the curious and went to his window to see what was happening. A stray 9mm bullet shot from the street blasted through his window, ricocheted off his collarbone, and punctured his heart. He was dead before his body slumped to the floor.


Two days ago, in the London borough of Fulham, 6ft 9in former boxer James “Big Bad” Oyebola,
and current bouncer, was shot point-blank in the face after asking a
three men to observe the ban on smoking. James isn’t dead yet.

His
fighting instinct is still battling to save him.
How is it possible that a shot heard in Far Rockaway can be felt in
Fulham? It is possible because there is a vibrant, but invisible,
tether between all handgun shootings and that unbreakable chain of
dismay is forged by the broken-hearted and the left behind.

The easy accessibility to handguns and bullets
across the world creates no safe haven anywhere for anyone and we all,
by default, live in fear of echoing gunshots, unwilling ricochets and
intentioned, point-blank, aiming.
When we wonder back on Virginia Tech
and ask aloud how many more people need to be shot before The Lesson of
Hot Lead is learned, and when we cogently recognize — in quieted
screams — how handguns serve no purpose except to maim the willing and
punish the good,
we collectively become numb in the realization there are some in the
world who will always prefer deadeye aim over honest retribution.

Our international romance with gunpowder and brass shells spans
generations — but have we now forced the tipping point where all
handguns must be outlawed for use by common people and their ownership
is reserved only for the military and police?
The solitary purpose of a handgun is to kill another person.

The size
and shape of the handgun indicates its intention is to be conveniently
concealed until withdrawn for the telling moment of death.
People can keep their long guns and shotguns and rifles for protection
of the self and home if they must, but the total removal of every
revolver and automatic handgun in the world needs to begin immediately
to prevent the ongoing perversion of humanity in The Human Race.

25 comments

  • If it weren’t handguns it would be knives,hammers,screwdrivers, etc… It is not the instrument that brings man to kill another man but instead it is something deeper, something instilled in man since the earliest of time. I do not believe it possible to have good without evil. I understand how it feels to lose a friend to violence and yet I know that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Instead of outlawing guns, which would never work btw(just look at everything we as a people have already outlawed that are still here),we should push legislators to pass tougher sentencing on those that inflict violence. How many murders do you think we would have yearly if the punishment was death withing 48 hours of being found guilty? No long stay on death row at tax payers expense while filing umpteen appeals(also at tax payers expense). Just my two cents.

  • Hi Johnny –
    Thanks for your comment.
    I’ve never purchased the argument that “Guns don’t kill people” because they do. Handguns are made, and intended for, easy killing of people. You don’t go hunting with a handgun.
    Using your examples of knives, hammers and screwdrivers — sure they can kill, just like books, bowling balls and computer mice cords can kill — but their initial purpose and main intention is for a use other than killing someone.

  • No matter what laws are passed when it comes to guns, the fact is that gun crime is on the rise and will be until handguns are outlawed.
    I read this morning in my Yahoo! news about a 16 year old boy in London who was shot in London, UK late last night after being chased by a group of teens on Mountain bikes. That young man died at the scene and the police are appealing for witnesses.
    Gun crime was always more of a rarity in the UK, but it’s starting to become more and more of the norm. It’s a scary thing.

  • Hi Dawn –
    Thanks for your comment and agree handguns are dangerous in the wrong hands. I actually think banning bullets would be easier and more effective than banning handguns. Let them carry their handguns and show them off but they should not ever be used as loaded weapons for their intended target: Other people.

  • A sobering news story from Switzerland from May, 2007:

    Switzerland, an island of gun culture at the heart of Europe, is agonising over whether to introduce controls on possessing guns and ammunition as alarm spreads about the number of gun deaths in the country.
    The latest incident occurred on the evening of Friday 13 April in the restaurant of a hotel in the northern city of Baden – three days before Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in the United States.
    In the Baden eruption one man was killed and four wounded. A 26-year-old bank employee who is, like all Swiss men between 20 and 30, a member of the state militia, walked into the hotel and opened fire. Two brothers aged 15 and 16, sitting with their parents, were the first to be struck. The 16-year-old was critically wounded with two bullets in the stomach. The gunman then swung round and took aim at the bar, killing a 71-year-old man and wounding two others. He only stopped firing when he had used up all 20 rounds….
    But the price of eternal vigilance is frequent funerals: in 2005, 48 people were murdered by gunfire in Switzerland – about the same number as in England and Wales, which have a population seven times as large. According to the International Action Network on Small Arms, an anti-gun organisation based in the UK, 6.2 people died of bullet wounds in Switzerland in 2005 per 100,000 of population, second only to the US figure of 9.42, and more than double the rate of Germany and Italy.

    http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article2499298.ece

  • I have argued before here that I do not know a Police Officer who supports any conceal and carry handgun law for any ordinary citizen.
    Here’s a report from July 19, 2007 concerning the high deaths of officers in the field:

    Police officials and law enforcement groups Thursday blamed a sharp increase in the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty on more violent criminals who have access to deadlier weapons….
    39 officers were shot to death, a 44 percent rise over the number shot to death by the same point last year….
    The report was released a day after hundreds of people gathered in Brooklyn to mourn the death of Russell Timoshenko, 23, a New York police officer who died Saturday after he was shot while making a routine traffic stop last week. A 24-round semiautomatic pistol was found in the stolen car Timoshenko had stopped, police said.
    In May, an officer was shot and killed in a confrontation with a man at a church in Moscow, Idaho; investigators found shell casings fired from two semiautomatic weapons. Baltimore police said one of their officers was shot and killed in January with a stolen semiautomatic gun.
    Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said stricter gun control laws were needed.
    “We need to work at the front end and make sure we do all we can to extend the number of illegal guns,” Burbank said in an intervew with MSNBC.
    “A person who’s willing to commit some sort of aggravated crime with a firearm is certainly willing to be involved with a police officer using that same firearm,” he said. “So we’re seeing some very tragic incidents where people that have really no reason to have a firearm at their disposal … now have firearms in their hands again, and they’re using them in some very violent acts.”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19853442/

  • Hi David,
    I could go along with a handgun ban — with exceptions for police officers and others who might need a handgun for their occupations. Ready access to firearms allows people to make split second decisions that ruin lives.
    I understand that argument about knives and other weapons, but use of those weapons requires more time and thought by the attacker. Someone caught up in an emotional moment might cool down after a few seconds or so.
    Also, knives don’t usually kill innocent bystanders. I’ve witnessed people pull out knives on two occasions.
    Once was in front of a movie theater. A guy pulled out a knife when he was arguing with other youths. If it had been a gun, someone might — including anyone who happened to be in the general area — have been shot. Since it was a knife, there was time to get away from the area.
    The second time was on a street in Chicago. A homeless guy pulled out a machete and was waving it around while yelling at someone. I quickly ran across the street. If it had been a gun, someone might have been killed because split seconds make all of the difference in a gun battle.

  • Hi David,
    I almost forgot to express my condolences for your friend. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the issue and forget the humanity involved.

  • Hi Chris!
    You make excellent points. I appreciate handguns have a very specific role in society: Shooting to kill people. That “right” to kill, however, should be reserved for use only by trained professionals in the military and in law enforcement because they are taught not to “Shoot to wound” but to “Shoot to kill” — and they should have great pressure and responsibility to best use that mandate in the situations their training requires.
    I am a confessed fan of knives:
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2006/12/13/living-by-the-knife-cutting-the-line-on-killing/
    I agree with you that knives are less dangerous than handguns and have a specific primary role in society for cutting things other than people.

  • Hi Chris –
    Thanks for the kind words. I didn’t want to reveal any more details about my friend because his family is devastated. His girlfriend is still hospitalized because of her grief and the pending birth of her now fatherless child.
    The cauterization hot lead leaves behind in a family reminds me of “Orange Bloodshed:”
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2006/08/09/a-badge-a-blood-and-orange-bloodshed/

  • Hi David,
    I don’t have a problem with knives they are less likely to come crashing through windows, drywall, or just through the air at a shopping mall or city street.
    The two times I’ve seen crazy people pull them out, bystanders and people in the immediate area were able to escape from danger. Because split second time frames aren’t necessarily involved, it also allowed time for people to call the police.
    Guns in the wrong hands are bad because someone who is enraged enough to start shooting is likely to miss his intended target and instead hurt or kill an innocent bystander who has no way to escape from supersonic projectiles.

  • Someone above suggested excepting police officers… but why?
    In England, most of our police are unarmed besides a small amount who patrol areas such as airports who carry large firearms.
    I believe that arming the police only makes criminals feel even more threatened and are therefore much more likely to arm themselves.
    Whilst seeing your American cop shows with police armed with handguns is somewhat ‘heroic’ I do think that it is not necessary.
    Also, I’m sure that many police weapons fall into the wrong hands etc.

  • Hi Chris –
    Knives are also most effective in a hand used against another’s body if they’re for defense or threatening. You pretty much have to touch the person with the blade to inflict damage while a gun is made to kill from afar.
    If you’re in a hand-to-hand combat situation you have a much greater chance of survival by fighting or turning and running away while a bullet can hunt you down anywhere at great distance and with tremendous accuracy.

  • Joe –
    The reason why cops in the USA need handguns is because the law allows people to own firearms… so the cops — ever in a game of one-upmanship against the bad guys — need to elevate their protection levels or risk getting left behind.
    Even if handguns were banned, shotguns and rifles — and automatic weapons — would still be on the street and in the home and aimed at any threat or used as a threat and the police would have to respond. Handguns are more convenient than shotguns and the police need every advantage when they’re hot on the street.

  • I am definitely an anti hand-gun person, as it doesn’t protect but causes harm if provoked. Ironically, people have a tendency to flash it off just for the heck of it or use it for a more damaging reason.
    I like different form of martial arts more those which claim can work as gun/knife disarming tool – I do not know how effective are they, though!

  • They should be banned – full stop – period with the exception of certain police units and possibly some sporting bodies. ( Ironic in the UK they are already banned – it hasn’t stopped the killing – also ironic that they may have to create new laws in London to facilitate the shooting elements of the Olympic Games.)
    I am sorry to hear about your friend – the boxers outlook is not good either.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6918151.stm

  • Hi Katha!
    I appreciate your cogent argument!
    We are getting a lot of comments in this thread — that are not going to get published — that are accusatory, negative and wholly incomprehensible in their ridiculous claims. Those people need to realize they are not damaging the argument I am making in my article, but rather supporting it with their unmitigated hostility and passive-aggressive logic.
    I think Martial Arts is a fine way to protect oneself and those you love.

  • I appreciate your kind note Nicola, and for your understanding about the loss of a friend and other law enforcement officials because of a bullet from a handgun. I’m surprised how some can do brazenly plop in here to argue for the continue sale of handguns in light of the deaths those guns purposefully cause.
    What a sad update on the boxer James. I remember watching him box on television. He was massively tall at 6’9”. When I checked the UK news yesterday it seemed he was doing a little better.
    Your link today makes it clear he is brain dead and gone and only lingering via the miracle of medicine so his family can get to him and say goodbye. What a terrible thing and yet, in light of these human tragedies, others snake in here to spout their pro-gun positions and their love of fiery lead. No wonder the world’s on fire.

  • Hi David,
    I have a friend who is a “karateka”; but according to him the gun/disarming tool is the last stage of training – someone almost have to reach a black belt level to be effective in this.
    I wonder how many can reach there.
    But still I like “martial arts” way more than hand guns.

  • Katha –
    Yes, defense against weapons is something only a Martial Arts expert should attempt because you are so close you can easily get wounded or killed if you don’t know what you’re doing.
    However, that doesn’t mean we all shouldn’t practice, and aspire to, learning different way to defend ourselves away from handguns.

  • Hi David,
    I read a news story about the man who was killed in the Far Rockaway shooting. It’s sad that someone who was working two jobs and had a dream of becoming a NYPD police detective was gunned down at age 22.

  • There is sadness all around us.

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