Thursday, February 24, 2011

NY Times reporter taking liberties with an anecdote?

 Here's a colorful anecdote that I find highly implausible.  Jo Craven McGinty last week in the NYT...

Most gun owners interviewed said they had never drawn their weapons in self-defense. But John A. Catsimatidis, the owner of the Red Apple Group and Gristedes supermarket chain, recalled a chilling episode from the mid-1980s, when he intercepted a robber fleeing one of his stores in the Bronx.
“The first guy comes out with a sawed-off shotgun, goes right by me and says, ‘Be cool, man,’ ” said Mr. Catsimatidis, who has owned a gun for at least 35 years. “The second guy comes out with a sawed-off shotgun, goes by me and says, ‘Be cool, man.’ The third guy comes out with a sawed-off shotgun, and I intertwine my arm into his arm, and I put my gun to his head, and I say, ‘Drop your gun, or I’ll blow your head off.’ ”
When the police arrived, they arrested the man, and examined Mr. Catsimatidis’s weapon — a Walther PPK/S 9-millimeter pistol.
“The sergeant says to me, ‘You couldn’t have shot the guy anyway: your safety is still on,’ ” Mr. Catsimatidis recalled. “The sweat started dripping off my head.
“I’m not going to do anything stupid like that again."
She's using the story to demonstrate that defensive gun use by civilians is, well, stupid.  It's the Times and we expect that bias.  But does the story make sense as told?

The setup sounds like a movie.  He lets the first shotgun-wielding robber flee, then lets the second one (carrying the same gun and uttering the same line... hmmmm) flee, then he finally summons the courage to pull out his little PPK, does some ninja arm interlock, and holds the shotgun-wielding third robber at bay until the police come?  Where were the other two robbers at this point?  Why didn't they help their buddy?  Did the third robber really just give up and stand there, waiting to be arrested?  I don't buy it. 

That's the least of it.  The cops finally show up, and examine the pistol.  How did the cop know if he had the thumb safety engaged or disengaged during the encounter?  Did Catsimatidis just hand the cop the gun, action closed, safety disengaged?  Had he reholstered it and re-engaged the safety?  How did he know the owner didn't engage the safety when when the police arrived?

We don't get those answers in the article.  Instead we get Sean Connery as the grizzled old British Special Forces agent New York cop, and Nicholas Cage as the naive, bumbling science nerd grocery store owner.  "You won't shoot me.  Besides, your safety's on."  It sounds made up.

Let's dig deeper.  Who is this John Catsimatidis? Some humble small business owner?  Nope, turns out he's a big-shot billionaire in NYC.  Not only that, but also a buddy of... wait for it... Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  From his Wikipedia page: He has made donations to Democratic Party and Republican Party campaigns,[16] and helped run a fund-raiser in 2006 with New York City Mayor Bloomberg for Joseph Lieberman.

To sum it up, we have a virulently anti-gun newspaper using an old, hard to substantiate anectode told by a billionaire friend of the most rabid anti-gun mayor in the country, to make the point that "Yeah, only the elite in NYC get gun permits, but it's for their own good."

This whole thing stinks.

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