The National Rifle Association can slice it, dice it, fry it up or even considering the prominent part popcorn supposedly played in this tragedy butter it any way it wants to.
However NRA President and gun apologist supreme Wayne LaPierre tries to fix it up, though, the indisputable fact is that if Curtis Reeves doesnt carry his heater into the movie theater, Chad Oulson isnt dead.
Reeves, a 71-year-old retired cop, did carry his .380-caliber pistol into a Florida movie theater this week, though, and shot and killed Oulson, a 43-year-old husband and father of a 3-year-old daughter.
The confrontation started, witnesses and Reeves attorney said, when Reeves told Oulson to stop texting yes, to stop texting and then shot him when Oulson allegedly threw a bag of popcorn at him.
Yeah, go back and read that again: I'll wait.
Strapping on a gun
Youve heard of beer muscles, the strength and bravery dudes get after drinking too many brews?
They are less dangerous than the bozos running around with .380-caliber cojones, which they mainly get from strapping on a gun.
Think about this:
Had Reeves been armed only with some Jujubes and Raisinets, the most aggressive action hed have taken at the alleged annoyance wouldve been to loudly clear his throat, a favorite make that former favorite tactic of mine, or heaved an exaggerated, exasperated sigh or Raisinet at the offender.
Most likely, hed have gotten up and moved to another seat.
Thats what Anthony Smith, a Triangle psychologist, said Reeves should have done. Little things can set off the highly strung among us, he said. But certainly there are ways to de-escalate these issues.
Fantasy vs. reality
Smith hadnt heard about the theater shooting incident when I called him, but he wasnt surprised, either. More and more people are getting short-tempered and taking matters into their own hands, Smith said. Theres always a way to handle a situation, but in this instant gratification society, we dont always think through how to do that.
When you look at whats happening to people with these altered states of reality, with video games and fantasy and movies he didnt say endless news reports that frighten the bejesus out of the weak-minded, but he could have well, a lot of people arent separating fantasy from reality and they think Oh, I can go and take matters into my own hands, he said. Some people have a lot of rage, and access to tools of violence ... only heightens the danger.
Reality, Smith said, hits only when theyre sitting in a jail cell trying to figure out why theyre going to be in there for the rest of their lives.
Reeves is sitting in jail, denied bond, right now, but its doubtful reality has set in for Team Reeves: His attorney said, presumably with a straight face, that his client feared for his life after the popcorn was thrown at him.
Is the world a dangerous place?
Sometimes, some places.
After talking to Smith and Patricia A. Smith-Bailey, another therapist, one could conclude that the most dangerous place on earth is between the ears of missile-totin misanthropes with anger and control issues who see danger everywhere and who, for Gods sake, carry guns into movie theaters.
Smith-Bailey theorized that perhaps Reeves former profession may have had something to do with triggering his irrational, wholly inappropriate response.
As a cop, youre used to being in control of situations and telling people what to do. I dont want to make excuses for him, but he may have had post-traumatic stress, she said. Thats something that hijacks the brain and your logical self can go off track.
I doubt if anybody in 10 counties gets more annoyed than I by people texting or gabbing on phones in movie theaters. Since Im obviously not going to confront anybody over it or continue to plunk them in the head with Raisinets I stopped doing that years ago I asked both Smith and Smith-Bailey how one should handle such annoyances.
Plan ahead, Smith-Bailey said. If you know that bothers you, take a breath and let the steam out. Remind yourself that its not really that big of a deal. Say Im willlllllllling to leeeeeeeet thaaaaaaat goooooooo.
Thats the in-the-moment technique, she said. If somebody texting or talking in a movie theater really, really upsets you to the point of violence, you may need an assessment by a therapist, she added.
Smith said, Common courtesy, in a lot of cases, has gone by the wayside, but we need to teach folks critical thinking skills so theyll say, Before I go to 10 and shoot somebody, there are other things I can do.
Yeah, and they start with leaving your gun home when you go to the movies. Too many people have forgotten that we go to the movies to escape reality, not experience it, or , if to experience it, to do so vicariously.
Trust me. Neither Lash LaRue nor Dirty Harry is going to need your help onscreen, so leave your shootin irons home.
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