Michael Tabman

A Murder in New York City ~ A Lesson to be Learned

In Crime and Security, Uncategorized on August 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Here we are – another shooting in a public venue.  This was not a mass shooting as occurred at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin or the movie theater in Colorado, but no less tragic.  In the heavily visited area surrounding New York City’s Empire State Building, one man fatally shot another man in what appears to be a workplace violence related incident.  The New York City Police Department responded quickly, killing the assailant after he trained his weapon on them, perhaps in a suicide-by-cop.

The New York City Police Department is one of the most well-trained and prepared police departments in the country, if not the world.  Their readiness to respond to dangerous situations has been further honed and improved upon since their stellar performance on 9/11.  Many years of my career in the FBI were spent on task forces with NYPD.  I admire and respect the department and the individual detectives and officers.  I am honored to have as one of my closest friends a retired NYPD detective with whom I worked more than 25 years ago.   Accordingly, the point I am about to make should not be considered as criticism in any manner.

One difference in this recent New York City shooting that tells a very revealing story is that innocent bystanders were hurt by rounds fired by the police.  Again, this is not a criticism of the police.  But that reality must cause us to stop and think.  If that can occur in a confrontation with highly trained and capable police officers, what may have happened if average citizens, armed with guns had responded?  Some would argue that the threat may have been eliminated earlier.  I doubt it.  Citizens, even those who have received minimum training for a carry permit do not have the training, experience and presence of mind of a New York City cop.  Had armed citizens responded, we may have been looking at a more deadly if not catastrophic event.

The answer to fighting gun violence is not to flood our streets or college campuses with more guns.  Logical, common sense gun control laws are the most practical response.  No laws and no law enforcement activity can completely stop crime or tragedies from occurring.  No rights are absolute and beyond some controls and restrictions.  Gun control laws can and should respect the rights of law-abiding citizens who wish to own guns for self defense, sport or hunting.  Yet, gun control laws with well grounded rules and procedures can also slow down the process and make obtaining a weapon more difficult for those who should not own any type of gun.  Every step that must be taken gives our authorities an opportunity to intervene and thwart another shooting.

There is a middle ground that can be reached.  Everyone must be willing to give up a little for the common good.  Just as rights are not absolute, neither is security.  But, we must do all that we can to give ourselves a fighting chance.

  1. Nice article Michael. I enjoyed hearing your point of view.

    • Thanks Mike.

      I appreciate your interest.

      All the best,

      • I am lisece spelled 80.or so so here goes . This society’ manly people with the ability to buy these weponds * for resons of there own arenot the same resons the west would carrie. Point being we get the right ones to live and the wrong to be punished we as a people would better under stand who is carring guns and for the right resons. *spelling are diff. Topics to. Preamble”

  2. Thank you for writing this article. We read and see all too often in the news the result of guns in the hands of the wrong people. I believe you are right – guns have a place, but there needs to be some amount of restriction and guidance as to who gets to have a gun. I’m reminded of a line from Men in Black – “A person is smart and intelligent. People are crazy.” Well, it goes something like that. In the case you present, from last Friday’s shooting and the other more recent examples, I believe you are correct, again. If the general public would had gotten in on the shooting action, there would likely have been more injuries and possibly even deaths. Also, how is the police supposed to know how the good guys/bad guys are when they show up to a scene like that?

    • MJ:

      You make a great point – sometimes it is hard for police to know the good guys from the bad ones. That is why undercover and plain-clothes work can be dangerous, besides the obvious dangers. If it is hard for police – it will probably be 10x harder for those who do not have the training and experience of a police officer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michael

  3. The Second amendment was made a time of semi-lawlessness that required arming for self protection, that time is long past. I understand people do feel threatened and endangered, but seriously does anyone require a semi-automatic to arm themselves? How more innocent people are to die at the hand of gun toting, imbalanced minded individuals before something is done? The current laws do not seem to be working, so something different must be tried.
    All that being said I am not a US citizen, nor do I reside in the US, so I cannot really state how it should be, just from an outsider it seems to make sense.

    • Not being a citizen does not mean that you do not have valuable insight to offer us. Sometimes we need a fresh set of eyes to see things more clearly. I do not believe that our founding fathers had automatic, high capacity weapons in mind. They had the foresight to know that things would change and that is why the Constitution can be amended. I do not want to veer too far from the basic tenets of the Constitution, but times change, and we must change accordingly. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michael

      • Of course the founding fathers weren’t thinking about automatic, high cap weapons. They didn’t exist. That, however, is not the point. The point was for the citizenry to allowed to be armed as a measure to prevent an autocratic government from usurping liberties of the people. When you talk about the give and take between liberty and security in the gun control debate, that’s what we’re really discussing.
        Of course times and technology have changed a lot since 1776 but the potential of government to overstep its bounds has not changed, nor will it change because that is the nature of power and politics.
        Regardless of these comments, yours is a well written and thought provoking article.

      • Thomas:

        I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Blogging is for the exchange of different ideas and opinions. And, as I have said in numerous responses, civil discussion is necessary to solve our problems.

        Thanks for your input,

  4. I agree with you wholeheartedly; I wrote some of the same things on my own blog. However the right makes a lot of noise, and it’s become dangerous to voice an opinion on weapons that’s different from there’s. Hopefully with the November elections people will push for change in that, though.

    • Yes, sometimes we are afraid to express an opinion when faced with highly vocal opposition. Often, the majority is a silent one. Unfortunately, it takes these kind of tragedies to get the discussion going. Let’s do our best to get practical gun laws enacted. Thanks for your input,

      • you’re always welcome. i’m a big believer in gun control laws and a huge fan of law enforcement. speaking of which, you said you were an FBI agent who worked with the NYPD. I’m actually working on a novel where an FBI agent works with NYPD to track down a serial killer. What department of the FBI did you work in?

      • I was in management the last half of my career, so I was fortunate to have been involved in all FBI programs. Most of my time as a street agent was spent on a drug task force with NYPD. Those years are the inspiration for my current series, Bad Intent. Let me know when your novel is released. Good luck, Michael

  5. I feel like police using gun force on shooters is similar to them participating in a high speed chase. The cons outweigh the pros. If they didn’t try to shoot him, but went about a different way of apprehending him, or perhaps waited to shoot, would it have prevented bystander victims? It a high speed chase, how many people are you going to put in danger if you and the other party are speeding through town? Once you have his information, how easy is it for you to find him? Or call ahead and set up roadblocks?

    Just my two-cents.

    Good read.

    • Hi Katherine: From the short, grainy video I saw, it appeared that Johnson pointed his gun at the police from close range. In that case, the police had no choice. Why so many bystanders were injured will have to explained. High speed pursuits are dangerous and often the officer must use his/her discretion. I have seen occasions when police have pulled back when the pursuit got too dangerous. There is no one answer for every situation. We must allow police to exercise their discretion. They are people, and at times will err. But generally, they do their best, making split second decisions. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      • I understand every situation is different. That was just my opinion of the big picture. I have so much respect for cops.

      • Nor did I mean to suggest that you did not respect cops.
        Cops are often in the position of damned if you do, damned if you don’t…
        Thanks for your input, Michael

  6. “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither”
    I do not think that worst side of human essence changed a lot since time when it was said. It’s enough to give up a small part of rights today to wake up in neo-socialist state tomorrow.

  7. Mr. Tabman, I applaud your articulate and well presented argument, as a gun enthusiast who is very moderate in his politics, I too would like to see some common ground, as well as common sense, in gun control legislature. I disagree, however, with your assessment of the skill and mindset of the current NYPD. Having several relatives on the “job”, I’ve heard more than my fair share of stories of the lax firearm training, and over-regulation of the men and women of today’s Force. Another point I’d like to make is that a large percentage of civilians who pursue a CCW permit do not do so half-heartedly. They take the time to train and familiarize themselves with their sidearm, in the hopes that if the unfortunate day comes when they may need to use it, they will be prepared. The street cops of the NYPD are terrified to draw their weapons, justifiably so in any case, but especially in light of the fact that they are in very real danger of losing their job, sometimes purely for political reasons.

    Either way, your comments are very much in line with my own thinking, and it’s nice to see others out there who want to see an actual discussion take place, instead of the hysterics and name-calling we have all become so used to.

    • Chris:

      You raise one of the most important points. Civil and intellectual dialogue is the only way to solve problems. Until that climate exists, we will continue to do the same thing, the same way… you know how that ends.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,

  8. The mentally disturbed and desperate will always find a way to kill, maim and harm others…..instead of wasting finance and time on legislation and laws (that criminals won’t abide)…let’s work on a mental heath system.

  9. like this story sob, i will read your article..

  10. When you mentioned a career with the FBI, I thought you might have something interesting to say. Instead, it’s the same old thing. You fellows who carry guns ALL THE TIME pat us “citizens” on the head and say, “There, there, don’t worry your pretty little head about all this violence out here. Let the big, armed cop take care of everything.”

    We have a saying: When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

    And no, the country was NOT more lawless back when our doddering Founders scribbled out the Constitution. Funniest damn thing: the worst, most disgusting speech is protected by the Constitution, and none of you lot want to take any of that away–despite the fact that the Founders could never have imagined the “entertainment” and “political speech” we have today. But by cracky, you are itching to mess with the Second Amendment.

    Because, you know, citizens are not to be trusted.

    Just stay in NYC, where nobody expects to live a peaceful life.

  11. Enjoyed the blog post. Exactly – if highly trained police made made these kind of shooting errors, what would it be like for an average joe with a gun?

  12. I have a doubt that this will even be posted. This blog posting, which made “Freshly Pressed” sadly is an example of the sickness and goals of destruction of our country that is in place by the Obama administration and his henchmen. All this info about how wonderful the New York Police are is totally a bunch of bull. First it was the goal of the shooter to only kill his co-worker and no other. The handling of this by the N.Y. Police indicated the huge drop in quality we have in Police departments across our land. Anyone who has a concealed handgun license to carry knows full well the stupidity of firing in a crowd of by-standers (I am a concealed holder of 15 years). The training of these police forces is a joke. As a former resident of 17 years in New York City in both Manhattan and the Bronx I am fully aware of the harm that the Anti-Sullivan laws has done to prevent the protection of the average citizen on the street. I have been privay to the private conversation of a former New York detective who used the Sullivan law against innocent New York residents while their were involved in illegal drug busts. One such individual was patroled to my employer back in the mid-eighties in Dallas, Texas. The individual was a real thug who served jail time for taking kick backs from the underworld in New York City. Defeat Obama and his henchmen in November 2012!

    • John: As I often say, a civil exchange of opinions is necessary for the resolution of problems.
      Thanks for your input,

      • Michael,

        In slightly less inflammatory terms, I’d like to agree with John concerning the lack of firearms training and preparation of police forces for deadly force encounters. I don’t know about the officers in question, but the facts of this story don’t pain the NYPD’s training in a positive light. I disagree with your assumption that citizens applying for concealed carry permits would necessarily be less well trained than the police because that bar is already fairly low.


      • Allan,
        I agree – the results do not paint police training in a positive light and raises questions. The Mayor has acknowledged that this must be reviewed. Yet, I believe that even with training, the average citizen generally will not respond as well as the police who face danger daily. Experience has tremendous value. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michael

  13. I enjoyed reading your post and we are in agreement. I appreciated your last paragraph. Thanks for writing this.

  14. Thank you for actually saying WHY you think gun laws will help and drawing on your own experience. So many people just parrot “well if we had stricter gun laws…” but do not fully understand it. My personal opinion is that a multi-faceted approach will help, including a better mental health center as well as more dilligent parenting.

  15. […] people want to see ordinary people wielding guns wherever they please ? I’ll simply refer to this post I discovered on Freshly Pressed, whose author is much better suited than myself to address […]

  16. “No laws and no law enforcement activity can completely stop crime or tragedies from occurring. No rights are absolute and beyond some controls and restrictions. ”

    This is a very well-written post. When compromise has come to be viewed as a negative in our country, no one wins and the common good is lost in all the noise. It would be nice to see a little more common sense on both sides of the gun ownership argument.

  17. Started reading yesterday, finally finished going through all the comments. I applaud you and the gun lover who said that US needs to shut up and sit down to discuss how to deal with the gun problem. I like guns (I study them since I’m 5), but I dislike the way it’s so easilly distributed. It should be like your DMV; instead of a drivers test, three some psychological evaluation to determine what are the intentions of the person who wants to get a permit. This way noone looses their 2nd amendment right to bear arms and reinforces the notion that the Federal government has the obligation to provide public safety and the right to do so by making an amendment or starting a legislation that could be helpful. And I heard that some gun shop owners try to dissuade people interest in getting a gun if they feel the person might be or cause trouble. But since only the guano sides of both parties are in charge and the middle just sit and watch, that won’t happen. As expressed by Mr Tabman as long as both sides are willing to get extreme views instead of co-operation for the common good more tragedies will take place and more idiots will continue to spill their extreme views.

    Like the idiot pro-guns attorney who said on TV that a guy with a gun in the theater shooting in Colorado could have stoped the tragedy. Right, one armed well trained guy in a dark room, with people panicking and running around aiming at the tiny vulnerable spot in the shooter’s face (since he is in body armor and helmet) with loud sound that affects how you judge the target and who knows what other random fact that could take place (did I mention it was dark). Definetly plausible (you tell me, you probably know what swat guys think).

    Or the rockstar people who take an oath to the flag and the constitution and than take a vow to take out the democratically elected government (you know, people vorting, making their decision and saying we are the majority and we pick this – and if the minority disagrees there is no need to kill each other) because the president is in the wrong party, has the wrong collor and wants to apply a more people focused economical policy that could save the country from going default. They are very patriotic in a very Stalinist way.

    I live in a country with a massive border, so guns can get in through any spot on the jungle. Doesn’t matter how much restriction the government imposes here, guns will keep coming. US only has one dangerous border, unless you are afraid of the canadians (they are so badass, right?). That border with more resources (like part of the 2/3 of a trillion dollars DOD gets) could be scured and controlled (just use the same tech they use on the ground around area 51). After securing that and your own streets (again, DOD cash could help… and the debt too) a simple all week intensive meeting with pro guns, moderates and anti-guns should help. But that is just my opinion (I know law grad foreigners don’t get much word in your country).

    P.S.: I nearly enlisted in your nation’s army to get citizenship and join the FBI’s BAU (make good use of my criminology studies and expertise in pedophiles). Bush destroyed that dream. I’m still trying to get a law enforcement career though. I’m also trying to get some writing done (as you noticed I really enjoy writing). Loved the blog, currently going older posts.

  18. Such a good point, and perfectly — and succinctly — written. Hopefully, others outside “the choir” will read this and give it some thought. Thanks for posting.

  19. Thank you for this post and shedding light on an ago old debate, something that is needed more often

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