Terrance Heath

Guns Don't Kill People. People With Guns Kill People

Filed By Terrance Heath | September 19, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: gun control, guns, people with guns kill people

rabbit hole

Or is it, “People kill people with guns”? Either way, there’s been a bit too much of it going on too close to home for my comfort. Now, people are being shot over speed bumps.

No, seriously. A guy was shot over a speed bump.

OK. Technically, it was a “speed hump”

Stephen A. Carr worked aggressively, but patiently, to try to slow down the cars that flew past his house in the Burke area of Fairfax County. Most of his neighbors applauded his help, and earlier this year a speed hump was installed in front of his house.

But David A. Patton evidently was not a fan. In June, court and police records show, Patton angrily confronted Carr about the speed hump outside Carr’s house. Patton was charged with misdemeanor assault. His trial was set for Thursday.

On Sunday night, police say, Patton went further. Witnesses told police he burst into Carr’s house, tied up Carr and his girlfriend and, when Carr struggled, fatally shot him in the head, court records allege.

Patton, 44, was arrested a short time later in Carr’s back yard and charged with murder.

There are a number of things that kind of mystify me here. Just one of them is that this guy was “a source of controversey” for not wanting people speeding through his neighborhood? From what his neighbors interviewed by the Post say, he was concerned for the safety of the children in the neighborhood, many of whom probably walked to and from the elementary school nearby.

In that sense, I see where he’s coming from. Every morning I stand at the bus stop with other parents, and I am regularly flabbergasted and infuriated by the drivers who don’t stop when they see the schoolbus. The street is a pretty busy one, especially in the mornings and evenings. (Like Carr’s street, this one is used as a cut-through from one heavily-trafficked roadway to another.) I and other parents have had to yell at drivers to stop. I’ve taken to crossing the street myself, right after the schoolbus arrives — just to force people to stop — since I have to cross the street to get catch my bus anyway.

And, as in Carr’s neighborhood, there’s a school nearby, so there’s lots of kids walking to school. The school has taken a number of steps, such as posting speed limit signs, and getting an adult crossing guard to help kids cross the busiest street, and training older kids as guards to help younger students cross the other, less busy streets. (I could go on and on about the particular road in question, and how insanely people drive on it.) Like Carr, who went through a process that took several years and required traffic engineering studies and neighborhood consent.

But what I don’t get is why people get so worked up about a something as simple as a speed hump? From the reports I’ve read, some drivers were so insenced that they took to honking their horns as the drove past Carr’s house. Patton, the alleged shooter, even blocked Carrs access to his driveway earlier this summer, causing a confrontation that led Carr to file a complaint against Patton.

It seems a mountain was literally made of out of a molehill. As the image here shows, it’s literally not that big of a deal. They’re three to four inches in height, cross the width of the road, and are usually 12 ft. to 14 ft. in length. In other words, less drastic than speed bumps, in some respects.

While similar to speed bumps, humps are less aggressive than speed bumps at low speeds and are used on actual streets, as opposed to bumps which are primarily placed in parking lots. While speed bumps generally slow cars to 5 - 10 mph (8 - 15 km/h), humps slow cars to 10 - 20 mph (15 - 30 km/h). The narrow nature of speed bumps often allows vehicles to pass over them at high speed while only perturbing the wheels and suspension, hardly affecting the vehicle cab and its occupants. The relatively long slopes of speed humps gradually accelerate the entire vehicle in vertical direction, causing the perturbation of the cab to become progressively more severe at higher speeds.

What is so infuriating to people about this? I’m at a loss here. In Patton’s case, my guess is that this guy was (a) seriously mentally and/or emotionally disturbed and (b) just happened to have a gun.

That leads me to the shooter at Johns Hopkins.

An Arlington County man who for years had devoted his life to caring for his elderly mother apparently lost control Thursday morning when he learned news about her medical condition. He pulled a gun from his waistband and shot a Johns Hopkins Hospital doctor in the chest before barricading himself in his mother’s eighth-floor hospital room.

After a two-hour standoff, Baltimore police found Paul “Warren” Pardus, 50, dead on the hospital room floor and his mother, Jean Davis, dead in her bed. Police think Pardus killed his mother before turning a semiautomatic handgun on himself, a case authorities are treating as a murder-suicide.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said Thursday that Pardus was getting a briefing about his mother’s health at 11:11 a.m. in the sprawling hospital’s Nelson Building when he “became emotionally distraught and reacted and was overwhelmed by the news of his mother’s condition.”

Pardus then pulled a gun out of his waistband and shot the doctor once in the lower chest. The doctor collapsed just outside Room 873, where Davis was confined to a bed, and Pardus ran into the room with his gun raised. SWAT team members found Pardus and his mother dead about 1:30 p.m.

The rest of the story is that the doctor underwent surgery and is expected to survive. The shooter (Pardus) because something of a recluse (according to neighbors) since his mother fell ill. He’d also been on leave from his job since June, for the same reason. For some strange reason, he used an alias. Pardus apparently became upset because the surgery his mother apparently had to treat crippling rheumatism and arthritis didn’t go well, and she would probably never walk again.

Oh, and he had a license to carry a concealed weapon. In Virginia, though. Not Maryland.


And this is on the heels of the Discovery Channel gunman James Jae Lee, who was orderd to spend time in a mental institution after a 2008 protest, and who turned out to have been armed with starter pistols. (He was, however, carrying pipe bombs, and police found and detonated four explosive devices at his home.)


And I could go on to mention all kinds of shootings that have occured for equally senseless reasons.

Seriously, several people ask “Why didn’t someone have a gun” to “take out” the John Jae Lee. And at least one person in the comments on the Johns Hopkins article ask why the doctor didn’t have a gun, to stop Pardus. Seriously. A surgeon. Packing heat. In a hospital.

Honestly, I’m about ready to give up. When it gets to the point that a doctor in a hospital has to arm himself — and that’s entirely reasonable to some poeple — we’re all living in the OK Corral, 24/7, with targets on our backs.

And apparently the only thing we can do about it is, well, lock ‘n’ load.

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"Now, people are being shot over speed bumps."

No, seriously. ONE guy was shot over a speed bump.

Or, more specifically, ONE guy (Stephen A. Carr) was shot by a lunatic with so little self-control that he assaulted this guy months ago, because Mr. Carr went thru the long and tedious process of petitioning the government for a speed hump on the street where he lived. And that pissed this lunatic off. And his trial on the assault charge was scheduled for Thursday.

But while he was at it, the author Googled a bunch more shootings that, over the years, have made the national news, and listed them to further justify his paranoia.

He even mentioned one guy who was "a registered Democrat." For balance? Or to imply that the rest were registered Republicans?

Two years ago, my next-door neighbor (the guy living in the next rowhouse) was shot twice in the back of the head -- assassinated -- in his front hall, in the middle of a sunny afternoon. It didn't make the national news.

So if anybody has justification for irrational paranoia, it's me. But I go about my business, secure in the knowledge that, in a country of hundreds of millions of people, sometimes shit happens.

But speed humps go up every day without adverse consequences to any but the people who don't have enough sense to drive at a reasonable speed in residential neighborhoods.

And I'll still block the road with my car, if somebody tries to pass a school bus that's taking on or discharging school children. Even if there is a one-in-ten-million chance that I'll be assaulted, or even shot, by that idiot.

Though I do have a license to carry most of my firearms are hunting firearms and I rarely carry a handgun. For home defense I prefer a shotgun which will not endanger my neighbors since the range is so very limited. I am leery of using a handgun in a low light situation when I may be coming awake. Shotgun is easier to handle and does not realistically endanger my neighbors the way that a hand gun could. BTW I am a certified tactical instructor for an international police training academy though I have not taught police tactics for years.

It's possible this is also a reflection of the poor health care system and lack of access to mental health care in this country.

I have a gun in my home. I'm a liberal and I do believe in gun control. But I also live in a sparsely populated rural area where there are bears. I've also lived in areas where I felt pretty strongly that I didn't need a gun--places where the street was well lit and the houses were closer together.

I feel that guns laws should be local. Not all areas are alike.

I'd like to see FBI statistics on gun crimes before 2008/2009 and after 2008/2009 and the beginning of the amped up Tea Party panic rhetoric.

Somebody who can't control his temper over a speed hump MUST have come to the attention of school officials -- and probably the police -- long before this incident.

Self control is a necessary skill, particularly in more densely populated areas. Yes, David Patton needed professional help, long before he became a murderer.

Thanks for this article. I'm an ardent pro-second amendment person. NRA member, though they are a little to milk toast for my tastes. The JPFO is more my line of thinking. It's really hard for me to find anti-gun folk to talk to any more. Handguns inc. and all the other gun control sites edit comments or don't allow them to be posted in reply to their articles. Thanks for allowing comments on yours.

This article related something like 16 random acts of gun violence. That is a tragedy. I'm sorry for those people who were hurt and killed. I hope the people who did it suffer...for a very long time. It's easy to look at such things and think the it would be better if guns were outlawed. After all this could not happen if there were no guns for it to happen with. That may be true, but people would find other ways to kill each other and you can't put the genie back in the bottle, there has never been a weapon that has been unmade. Most folk who advocate gun-control think that only the government should have guns. History has shown though that letting the government take a person’s guns is a bad idea. From the early 1900 to as late as 1994 records show that countries have used gun control to disarm their population in preparation for genocide. The Ottoman Turks, Soviet Union, Red China, Cambodia, Nazi Germany, Uganda, Rwanda, just to name a few. It has even happened here in America, It is very easy to lynch a black man if he isn't armed, and it’s quite another matter if he has a gun. Preceding the lynching of black folk in Georgia in the 1930's there were a series of laws passed prohibiting them from owning firearms.

Yes, in a country where everyone can own a gun, a few idiots will do something bad and stupid with that gun. The alternative though, is allowing yourself to be enslaved to the will of those who do have guns, and as we've seen above, sometimes those people don't have much sense.