By Scoop Cooper
Floridians welcomed the New Year by randomly shooting a small boy and a little old lady. Both people made the mistake of watching public fireworks displays without wearing helmets. The 8-year-old boy was hit in the right foot just before midnight Tuesday in Jacksonville. The 67-year-old woman was shot in the wrist in St. Petersburg. They were hit by celebratory gunfire as the bullets rained back to Earth on New Year's Eve.
Celebratory gunfire is the time honored American tradition of expressing excitement by shooting a gun into the air, usually while shouting "Yee Haw!" Bullets are small. The country is big. What are the odds that someone will be hit? Apparently, the chances are getting pretty good in Florida, where one in 20 people are licensed to carry concealed firearms. This leads the nation with over one million permits for people to sneak around the state with guns. It doesn't even include all the people with rifles and shotguns stored and displayed in their homes and vehicles. Florida doesn't even keep track of them.
Everyone shot on New Year's Eve in Florida wasn't hit by friendly fire. Sgt. Larry Gleockler was patroling in Arcadia when he saw two trespassers in Oak Ridge Cemetery. After calling backup, the 33-year-old officer approached the two youths. One looked pale, thin and about 6-foot-six-inches tall. Gleockler described the other youth as a foot shorter and having a "darker complexion." The youths split-up and fled. In a shocking break with southern tradition, Gleockler pursued the white suspect.
Brandishing his electric Taser, Gleockler cornered the suspect against a headstone and a tree. The youth turned to surrender with one hand raised overhead. In his other hand, he carried a gun and shot Gleockler in the chest. An 11-year veteran of the Arcadia Police Department, Gleockler knew enough to wear his bulletproof vest on New Year's Eve. It deflected the slug from his heart.
Finally seized by the holiday spirit, Gleockler dropped his wimpy Taser, drew his sidearm and returned fire with real bullets, like a red-blooded America! His attacker fell to the ground. Then he got up and ran away. So, I'm thinking the youth was wearing a bulletproof vest too. After all, it was New Year's Eve. You see? If everyone takes basic precautions, no one gets hurt. Well, not seriously hurt. Gleockler was grazed in the shoulder and needed seven stitches.
Florida authorities take a dim view of shooting police officers, even on New Year's Eve. The Desoto and Sarasota county sheriffs scoured the area all night with deputies, dogs and even a helicopter in a flashy display of tax dollars. When no one was captured, they offered a reward for information on the case.
Now, if these three Americans had been shot by foreign terrorists, we'd already be bombing their home country, plus Iraq. However, we take domestic violence in stride. We accept an ambient level of danger because we live in a free country. Winging a cop, a boy and a little old lady is a small price to pay for our civil liberties. Cowards who want to live in safe slavery can get out of our country (if they can scale that big wall we just built). We should be willing to face the same dangers that our forefathers did when they fought and died to protect our rights. When the greatest generation stormed Omaha Beach, the GIs said:
"We've got to destroy that bunker! If the Nazis push us back, they could win the war and force affordable health insurance on future generations!"
"Over my dead body, sarge!"
BOOM! BANG! RAT-A-TAT-TAT
"OK, then we have to charge up this hill! A lot of us won't make it! Those new fangled German assault rifles really throw a lot of lead! They're darn good guns! I want my grandchildren to buy them without any background checks or long waiting lists ... Aaargh!"
"NO! The krauts shot, sarge! Let's go! Do it for sarge, and for slightly lower taxes someday! Charge!"
Those might not have been their exact words, but I'm sure that was the American spirit on D-Day.