Saturday, March 15, 2008

it ain't memory of nick

There has been much speculation about what might have happened in the recent senseless murders of college students if they had been armed...this story goes to show that even someone armed and very well trained and prepared cannot always protect himself; a permit to carry a firearm can definitely improve the odds, but is by no means a guarantee of safety and self defense...incidentally, it's now been more than fourteen months since this cold-blooded murder occurred, and the little cretin who perpetrated it is not even close to trial, let alone receiving the justice he so richly deserves (not that any punishment he eventually receives could really be called justice)...

Also I've been asked many times what prompted me to drop my Federal Firearms License even before I decided to sell my business and retire. I wrote the following in a response to one of Xavier's Idiots With Guns series, and it probably explains better than anything I could write here...

Yes, Xavier, there are plenty of idiots with guns, and the goofballs you show in your post do qualify; we'll probably be reading about one or more of them being involved in a "tragic accident" which will stir once again the mindless calls for "control" of these "dangerous devices". Yes, there are idiots with guns, and then there is abject evil incarnate with guns...

Two days ago, on Friday 1/12/07 in the little town of Sebring, FL where I operated my gun and pawn shop for the last twenty years, an unspeakable piece of shit lured a state trooper to stop his car with the stated intent of shooting him. Trooper Nick Sottile was a good and decent man, had lived in the area most of his life, and had 24 years with the Florida Highway Patrol. He was one year from retirement when this 19 year old monster shot him in the neck as he approached the car; he died a few hours later.

I knew Nick, but not well. However, his brother Jimmy, who has taken on the role of family spokesman, facing a media onslaught while dealing with his own grief and worrying about his elderly father and Nick's family, is my good friend and former business acquaintance. Jimmy is a former detective with the county sheriff's office, now a bondsman, and I sold him several firearms over the years, along with jewelry for his family, tools for his construction hobby, and a commercial rental property. Most of the 200 or so sworn officers with the HCSO were acquaintances and customers of mine, and I counted many of them among my friends.

I've mentioned before in my responses to your posts that I retired from my business recently. What I haven't said is that I relinquished my FFL nearly two years prior when it was due for renewal. If I could have found some way to limit the interest in my firearms to law enforcement, collectors and afficionados such as yourself, and law-abiding individuals with an interest in sport shooting or a need for self protection, I would have loved to continue in the business, as I truly enjoyed it and believe I served a genuine need and purpose in the community. But more and more in the later years, many of the lookers were of a distinctly different, and potentially dangerous, ilk. Young ones that I could overhear talking about handguns and paramilitary rifles in the vernacular lifted directly from rap songs, etc., and quite a few kamo-kommandos with a keen interest in night-vision, suppressors, magazine capacity, and receiver convertability. Most were fairly innocuous, and some likely could not buy a firearm from an FFL if they wanted to, but more and more were really scary.

I prided myself on being observant, prepared, and most of all able to head off any evil intent with words and eye contact; in thirty years, thank God, I never found it necessary to draw down on anyone in my store, though there were times when my hand was on my pistolgrip 12-gauge under the counter. But I came to believe I was tempting fate, and not finding any way to limit exposure to my inventory to more palatable types (for one thing, who am I to prejudge?) other than to hold the customers ID while they held my firearms, I finally decided to give up. I know that's not what you want to hear, and I, being as ardent of a Libertarian (not the goofy political party, but the true "A free American can do and act as he sees fit as long as he harms no other" freedom-lover) and vocal defender of 2A as you'll ever find, would agree with you. But the inherent and increasing liability facing FFL's, when added to the unsolvable juxtaposition of ideals with self and public protection, left me in my mind with no other choice.

I mourn Nick, and pray for his family, and I know that I didn't sell this particular animal his "cheap chrome automatic" (as the pistol he used has been described). But could one of the hundreds of Lorcins, Jennings, Davis, or other under $100 handguns I sold over the years have made it into his hands? I don't know, and in any case there's nothing I could do to prevent it, or for that matter to keep him or his many brethren from illegally obtaining firearms on the street, at gunshows, flea markets, classifieds, or in burglaries; besides, it could just as easily have been a Colt, S&W, or other quality piece of hardware, and I sold a lot more of those than junkers.

What is the answer, and why did a good man who gave his life to protecting others have to make the ultimate sacrifice so wastefully? Rhetorical question to be sure, and only dealing effectively with society's root ills and evils can possibly help, along with improving the odds with training, exercising carry rights, and more than anything being always vigilant and aware of one's surroundings. But as for me, I just don't have the mind, heart or stomach for being a licensed gunseller anymore.

You can read about Nick Sottile's life and death with a google search. May he rest in peace in the arms of the Lord. jtc

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