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If You Cannot Shoot Them In The Face

In the movie El Diablo, Thomas Van Leek, played by Louis Gossett, Jr. is a no-nonsense gunslinger who shot a number of antagonists in the back because ... wait for it - "his back was to me."

That is supposed to be a comedy line of course as we know no western hero worth his salt would ever deny his opponent the opportunity to draw first, much less shoot him in the back...like, well...a coward.  You see, much like the Hall Monitor Mentality, the Lone Ranger Mentality has been deeply imbued in the American male psyche.  The Lone Ranger never drew first, threw the first punch, and my God…never shot a man in the back.  And many a good man has shed the fullness of his life on the asphalt and dirt because of that programming.

July 1991 I was working patrol with another officer.  I was in a foul mood as the Internal Affairs Lieutenant – a pencil-necked bag of bones named J.D. wanted to see me in the morning about something or another.

The call came out as shots fired on the beach. Back in those days there was no mutual aid or any such thing as – truth be told – police agencies simply didn't trust each other. We had two cars that night for a 100,000 population city in ten square miles. One car...and us until we were called back to handle this...was chasing an armed robber into West L.A.

"Shots fired 800 block of the beach...multiple victims potentially down...blah blah blah"

We got into position on the 800 Block of Pacific Coast Highway and saw the muzzle flashes down by the water's edge. Given the tools of the day, the only course of action was to go out and deal with him. It took us 5 minutes to walk from PCH to the point where we could contact the bad guy and in that time he fired numerous times at people on the beach.

As we closed on him, I balancing my oversized Maglite and 870 forend, pointed in as I moved forward. The bad guy - his back was to me - inserted another magazine in his Beretta and began turning toward us to shoot. I was not about to wait, and admittedly, I never wanted to be the Lone Ranger. I shot him dead smack in the back with a shot of 12 pellet Magnum buckshot. Done and done...as they say.

How the dead guy ended up at that place and time is a tragic story, and it is too bad...but as one of my old training officers used to say, "Too bad...but too bad for him".

I seem to have taken a great many words to tell you that it is not only acceptable, but encouraged that you shoot the bad guy in the back, without saying a single f*cking thing to him. It is much safer to do that than to shoot him in the face while he is engaged in shooting at you.

And if the Lone Ranger Association wants their stupid white hat back, and Michael Moore doesn't want to be your friend, fear not...I have plenty of black ones for sale at the store, and real men who will call you brother.