October 04, 2009

Shoot or don’t shoot?

  Last week we talked about my friend Pastor Randy's visit to the weapons range with his friend the chief of police. A few weeks pass and Randy is again invited out to the weapons range.
  This visit is to experience some of the shoot-don't-shoot course. The range is out in the country, far from any densely-populated areas, and all the targets are backed up by a suitable berm which will stop any projectile that might be fired from a handgun, rifle or shotgun.
  A different sergeant is driving the chief this day. We'll call him Sergeant Smith. The sergeant parks the chief's car near one of the pop-up targets. The metal man-sized targets are mounted with a mechanism that will make the target pop up suddenly, forcing the officer to decide whether to shoot or not.
  The targets vary -- some will picture a man with a pistol or a shotgun, others will be an elderly man with an attache case, or a woman  with a bag of groceries or a baby in her arms. The officer has only a slit second to make an analysis and decide whether to "shoot or don't shoot."
  In this exercise Sergeant Smith is the first to demonstrate. Sarge is crouched behind the driver's door of the patrol car as a target pops up. It's a man wearing a mask and carrying a shotgun. Sarge calls out, "Police, drop your weapon!" Sarge repeats the command two more times.
  The chief explains that sarge will shoot if the man with the gun makes an aggressive move. "Now you try it," Chief says to Pastor Randy as he hands the clergyman a .40 caliber Glock.
  Randy crouches down behind the door of the patrol car and waits a few seconds. Suddenly a target pops up. It's a masked man pointing a handgun.
  The pastor has rehearsed the police command over and over but one thought keeps interrupting: "but I'm not really the police."
  Randy raises up, points his pistol at the bad-guy target and nervously calls out, "PASTOR -- DROP YOUR WEAPON!"
  Everybody on the weapons range is now rolling on the ground with laughter. Sheepishly, Randy explains, "What was I supposed to say, after all, I'm not the police, I'm just a pastor."


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