RIP: Good Guy with a Gun

Wayne LaPierre, the cardboard executive VP of the NRA proclaimed after the heinous school shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” That clever phrase became the mantra for pro-gun people who had been thrown off-balance by the massacre of 20 little kids – and the many subsequent mass shootings. The counter-argument to enacting more gun control was to actually add more guns into the mix by arming “good guys” like teachers and hall monitors.

And so it came to pass during another in a 1,000 mass shootings since Sandy Hook (this time at a mall in Alabama) that a good guy with a gun entered the fray – and then was fatally shot three times in the back by another good guy with a gun. An unfortunate event but one that any reasonable person could see coming a mile away. Any time someone is holding a weapon during the pandemonium that ensues after gunfire erupts is going to be perceived warily. It doesn’t matter that you’re a “good guy” if nobody knows for sure that’s your status. It certainly doesn’t help to be “good guy” when you’re also a “black guy” – just ask the family of Emantic Bradford, Jr.

Bradford was present at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama when shots rang out during a busy evening of holiday shopping. Licensed to carry, Bradford, an ex-Army soldier pulled out his pistol – presumably in preparation to confront the shooter, as any “good guy” is now expected to do when these kinds of situations arise.

Unfortunately for Bradford, by brandishing a weapon in the midst of the fracas he painted a target on his back. At no time as far as anyone knows did the police ask Bradford for his “good guy” ID card – they just shot him for appearing to be the shooter they came to subdue. Wholly predictable.

And had the cops not killed Bradford, might he have gone on to shoot and kill an innocent person by mistake – another “good guy” with a gun perhaps?

I presume LaPierre knows full well how bad things can get when armed civilians start pulling out the pistols when “bad guys” start shooting. I’m sure Wayne wouldn’t feel very comfortable standing next to his vision of a “good guy with a gun” during a mall shooting.

But, hell – he needed a mantra.

Ricky Jay Cuts Out

We at Major Terata admire the big magic of such luminaries as David Copperfield, Chris Angel and Penn & Teller, but deep down it’s the masters of sleight of hand that really impress. Performing astonishing magic tricks using coins, cards and other simple objects – without the benefit of smoke and mirrors – right in front of a rapt audience takes a special skill that must be honed over many years and practiced constantly.

Ricky Jay, who died this past November was one of the best. His mastery of manipulating playing cards was legendary, as was his devotion to the pioneers of magic who preceded him. Ricky wrote several books about little-known purveyors of magic as well as the odd people who tended to accompany them.

A smooth performer who coould engage an audience and command the stage, Ricky was cast later in life in several movies, most notably by director David Mamet. He made his debut in “House of Games,” a twisty, psychological con-game thriller with Joe Mantegna and Lindsay Crouse. Here is Ricky Jay playing a card sharp in cahoots with Mantegna to con a woman out of $6,000.

Ricky Jay also played colorful characters in Mamet’s “Spanish Prisoner” and “Heist” which had big stars in Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito and Delroy Lindo.

But he will always be remembered first for his sleight of hand mastery – as exhibited in this swell trick.

RIP Rick Jay.

Alley Opps

Forty-first president George H. W. Bush died the other day at 94. Much has been written about his accomplishments, and little about his shortcomings during his one term. There’s nothing we could add in this blog that hasn’t been covered.

Except maybe this boner that convinced me not to vote for him in 1988.

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