|Assisting the wounded in Orlando.|
My experience of learning about the Pulse shooting probably was like that of many Americans. I saw a bulletin late last night before turning into bed. I've come so conditioned to reading about mass shootings that I didn't think much about the ramifications. My main thought was something like this: "That's curious that a shooter would target a gay night club. I wonder if this was some kind of protest against U.S. federal-court decisions legalizing gay marriage. Let's hope someone was able to subdue the shooter before he could do too much damage."
Apparently, I was off on all counts. Suspect Omar Mateen had pledged allegiance to ISIS and apparently was disgusted at the sight of two men kissing in Miami recently. The incident is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism. Unfortunately, I was way off about the damage the shooter was able to do. When I awoke this morning to read updated accounts, I was stunned at the number of casualties, that the shooting had become an act of historic and horrible proportions.
How could one shooter have inflicted so much damage? And then, this passage in a CNN report stopped me cold:
Mateen carried an assault rifle and a pistol into the packed Pulse club about 2 a.m. Friday and started shooting, killing 50 people and wounding at least 53, police said. After a standoff of about three hours, police crashed into the building with an armored vehicle and killed Mateen.
My mind immediately went back to September 9, 2015, when deputies here in Springfield, Missouri (Greene County) conducted an unlawful eviction that resulted in my wife, Carol, having her left arm broken so severely that it required trauma surgery. The eviction was unlawful because we had timely filed an appeal of a trial-court ruling, and under Missouri law, that places an automatic stay on execution of an eviction order.
I had provided notice to every attorney involved in the case--including my brother, David Shuler--and hoped they had the good sense to follow black-letter law. But I was dense to think that would happen.
A swarm of deputies--at least six to 10, including Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott--burst through the front door of our apartment, and while I was sitting in a chair with my hands folded, I experienced a feeling I never thought would come my way. An officer--we now know his name is Scott Harrison--was pointing an assault rifle right between my eyes. Carol had been trying to look out the peephole in our door to see what the commotion was about, when officers threw open the door and slammed her face first against the wall. I suspect she suffered a concussion then, or later when the officer who broke her arm slammed her to the ground outside.
We've never been sure how many guns were on the scene that day. I was so fixated on the assault rifle pointed at me that I could not pay much attention to anything else, but I'm pretty sure five or six other officers were brandishing handguns. Carol thinks she saw an officer with a second assault weapon once she was handcuffed and taken outside.
Even though I've had an assault rifle pointed at me, I've never been able to imagine the destructive force such a weapon can unleash. That one man using the same kinds of weapons employed against us could kill or wound more than 100 people . . . well, it takes your breath away. It also makes you wonder about the management of a sheriff's office that would allow at least one, and maybe two, assault rifles to be used in an eviction that could not be lawfully carried out in the first place.
In the coming days, we will have the usual rhetoric that spews forth every time we have a mass shooting in this country. President Obama will try to comfort and talk sense to the American people. (See video at the end of this post.) Meanwhile, NRA types will claim the whole thing could have been avoided if several individuals in the gay nightclub had been armed. "Leaders" in our Republican-controlled Congress will do nothing. And within two or three months--maybe less time--we will have another mass shooting, perhaps one that will break Orlando's grisly record.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Schnauzer and I can only wonder what it would have been like if one or two of the deputies last September had an itchy finger--or mistakenly pulled a trigger that would have unleashed a hail of bullets in our direction. I guess we would have looked like Sonny Corleone (James Caan) in the famous toll-bridge scene from The Godfather. (See video below.)
That's a horrifying thought. But we know from first-hand experience that it's part of post-modern American life. We grieve for the victims in Orlando, knowing there will be many more victims to come.