Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun

In one of my books, one of my characters was a detective in the narcotics division. Recalling the days, he said that one of his biggest fears was looking down the barrel of a gun held by a twelve-year-old. I was reminded of the passage by the recent actual police shooting of the thirteen-year-old in Chicago.

The circumstance wasn’t the same but it was pretty close. I wrote the passage close to two decades ago and from time to time I think about it. Surely such things have happened. Since my youth I thought about becoming a policeman. I was a little more serious about it when I left the Marines. Instead I worked on computers.

The truth of the matter, I don’t know what I would do if I were caught in such a situation, as in my book or as in the actual situation in Chicago, that is, if I knew I was shooting at a young man. In the situation in Chicago, the policeman did not know he was firing on a youth.

However, imagine if you would. You are the officer. He is pointing a forty-five at you and you know he is thirteen. Just what would you do. Would you shoot or would you seek shelter and talk the young man into giving up?

Fortunately, most policemen never draw their weapon. Most officers are never fired on. Indeed, it can draw the officer into a false sense of security. However, all policemen can conceivably face such a situation and not one of them knows what he will do until he faces it for real, regardless of his or her training. I mean, when you come right down to it, you can never fake reality.

In Vietnam a kid, about nine walked up to me and asked if I wanted the grenade he had. You don’t think that made the hair stand up on the back of my head. It happened one night when I was on guard duty. He was on the other side of the fence and I simply told him to get away from me. Fortunately, he did. I also backed off some. I will never know if the kid meant harm, very likely not. In fact, he likely had no idea how much fear he put in me. For that matter, he likely had no idea how close he came to getting shot.

I would have hated killing him. It would have been a horrible thing. It likely would have caused a big stink and I’d have likely been grilled for a while, but the kid did have a grenade and he just might have used it. I had no way of knowing.

It is a cold hard fact. Kids do bad things from time to time. Sometimes they put policemen in bad situations. That doesn’t make the cop bad and it never will. However, it does make policing all the more dangerous. This time the cop shot. Maybe, next time, the cop thinking of this situation doesn’t shoot. So the policeman dies instead of the kid, him and maybe another two or three people.

The important thing for a policeman must remember. A gun, even in the hands of a ten-year-old little girl is deadly. That gun has no mind of its own. When the holder pulls the trigger, a bullet is going to come out of it and it can kill, no matter the good intentions of the target.

As with the character in my book; it is a cops worst nightmare. Believe me, there is no one who can guarantee that he or she would do any better regardless of the training; regardless of the desire to do what is right.

The best way to prevent situations as this is to keep the criminals in prison. It teaches those who remain out of prison to be more careful about using guns. It is also a good idea for us to teach our children — be compliant with the police. It is best for everyone. Besides, that policeman represents the law. If you don’t have any respect for him, then you likely have no respect for the law.

For those who like to read, I am offering the book to which I referred to, “Mitch,” free. On Friday, 4/23/2001, click on the following URL. It will take you to my author’s page. Then look for the book, “Mitch.” Then or order the book. Last time I looked, Mitch was on the last line of the second page.


I used to say just look up my name on Amazon.com but that doesn’t work any more. If you should try it, you will not come across any of my books until the second or third page. In fact you won’t see any books written by any Ben Rhodes on the first page. Maybe they don’t like my blogs at Amazon. I have no idea why.

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