An argument over texting at the movies ended in a cell phone user’s death on Monday afternoon when a retired police officer in the audience shot him at a theater near Tampa, Florida, the authorities said.
The police officer got angry because the man in front of him was using his phone during the previews, despite being asked to stop several times.
The man using the phone explained to the irritated man that he was simply texting his 3-year-old daughter.
The victim was identified as Chad Oulson, 43, of Land O’ Lakes, Fla. The gunman, Curtis Reeves, 71, was charged with second-degree murder.
The NRA has been pretty quiet about this incident of gunplay, which occurred more than a week ago, so I called up my friend Wayne LaPierre, the gun lobby's head honcho and asked him how he felt about the Florida shooting.
Wayne was non-committal in his reply. "We have to let the courts work this one out," he said.
What, you don't think we have to arm all movie ushers in response to this tragedy, like you want to arm third-grade teachers?
"Of course that's a good idea. And if we did that, people would think twice about sticking their gum under the seats, too. But here we have a situation where a retired police captain was packing responsible heat to the movies, as any gun owner might do after that movie shooting in Colorado. He's a classic good guy with a gun and he ends up shooting a 43 year-old man with a wife and a toddler daughter. We have to ask ourselves, why?"
Why? How about the guy had a bad temper and a loaded gun? How's that for why?
"Only if we want to utterly disregard the actions of the victim. First off, he was texting in a movie theater. Every movie theater asks you to turn off your cell phone before the movie starts. So the guy was a reckless lawbreaker."
I don't think the turning off your cell phone is exactly a law, Wayne. More like a rule.
"So he's a rule breaker. Same difference. Next, he was texting during the movie previews. Everybody knows the previews are the best part of going to the movies, because most movies suck. So during the previews you can see the best parts of four or five other movies, before you settle in to watch the main movie, which probably sucks. So the guy was totally ruining everybody's cinematic experience."
Still not a capital offense, Wayne.
"Hear me out. Next, the victim threw his popcorn at the accused. Have you ever had popcorn thrown at you?"
"Well then you know what a harrowing ordeal it can be. Thoughts flash through your mind. How much extra butter can my system absorb? Is this jalapeno popcorn, which is exactly like taking pepper spray to the face, if it actually hits you in the face and a loose kernel gets you in your eye? An armed man under a popcorn attack has to decide under the pressure of the moment whether to draw his weapon or risk losing it to some dangerous creation of Orville Redenbacher."
I'm not buying it, Wayne. I think there's just too many guys with guns out there, itching to be heroes. A guy texting his three-year-old was bound to get shot sooner or later.
"Typical liberal thinking. Has it ever occurred to you that the problem might be too many three-year-olds getting text messages? Let's address that, before we encumber our Second Amendment rights. "
What if the shooter gets convicted, Wayne? What's the NRA going to say about him then?
"Once again, no one considers the actions of the victim. He made the irresponsible choice to not have a gun. If he had been strapping a gat while he was shooting off text messages, he could have texted the shooter 'Hey, I have a gun, too.' Then both men would have realized they were both good guys with guns and settled in to watch the movie as buddies, knowing that if some schizophrenic bad guy busted in with an AK-47, they would join forces and blow him to bits."
Why is it always good guys with guns versus bad guys with guns with you, Wayne? Here's an ex-cop who always figured he was a good guy, and the courts may well decide he's a bad one. It strikes me that it's only after you use your heater that people figure out which you are. Before you shoot somebody with your gun we don't know whether you're good or bad. You're just another guy with a gun.
"That's the way of the gun, my friend. Be at peace with it is. Guys with guns aren't going anywhere. Try and make us."