Arms: Russian Roulette

Something of phenomenal, mind-blowing stupidity happened a couple of days ago. In St. Louis, a police officer was arrested for his alleged participation in a fatal game of Russian roulette that killed a fellow officer.

No, I’m not going to use this to argue either in favor of or against the Second Amendment. This is not a Second Amendment issue and I resent anyone trying to turn it into such. When two agents of the state, who bear arms in service of the state, do something foolish with those arms, it’s not about whether the civilian population should be trusted with arms but whether the state ought be.

And, in a deeper level, it’s about human folly.

Although I’m not a big fan of Jordan Peterson, I wholly subscribe to one of his statements: “deep down, we’re all filled with snakes.” Get down deep enough into your own head and you’re going to come face to face with someone you didn’t know existed and were a lot happier before you met them. The human heart is a jungle filled with mysteries to astonish and pleasures to sate every hunger, no matter how sacred or profane — and if you’re not careful, you’ll die there. Or kill someone else there. Both options are pretty bad.

These two officers got lost in the snakepit.

In late 2012, my then-manager — a former Alabama State Trooper — had a bad experience of some sort with a local police officer. He was frustrated by what he saw, so much so that he pushed me to file for a concealed carry permit. His reasoning was simple: “because I’d rather have you armed than him.” He never told me what he saw, but in some sense I think I know: he saw someone in the snakepit.

If you’re going to bear arms, whether as a soldier or a cop or a game warden or a civilian, you have to make a sincere and unflinching commitment to understanding the snakepit.

It’s easy to say, “those two clowns were stupid to play Russian roulette like that.” It’s so easy that it ultimately contributes nothing to the discussion.

Those two officers were stupid enough to play Russian roulette like that.


What led them to a place where that seemed like the thing to do? Where it seemed like a fun way to pass the time?

That’s the question we should be asking ourselves, not getting lost in pointless debates about the Second Amendment and its applicability to this monstrosity.

Where was the snakepit, and how did they fall in?

I’m going to be looking through my own heart long and hard for the next couple of days. The snakes are down there somewhere. And if I’m going to take the bearing of arms seriously, I need to know exactly where they nest.


  1. Living near St. Louis has made this story particularly interesting to me. Thus far the information in the news leaves so many questions it feels like we know nothing. I suppose I should be pleased at the lack of wild speculations about what led to the shooting. If it really is as simple as profound stupidity, the St. Louis police department needs to learn how such stupidity could go unnoticed.

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