Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Amy Bishop...

Amy Bishop's history makes Clark Rockefeller's antics seem dull. Sure, a couple of his Californian housemates disappeared mysteriously. But where are the investigators and the headlines?

These are elements of Amy's story: Pipe bombs. Neighbors throwing parties after she moves away. Socking a woman over an IHOP booster seat. Student petitions protesting her teaching ability and general scariness. Husband clueless about her in all ways, apparently. (Cousin to John Irving? Eh, whatever.) Her friend describes talking with her "like crawling to the bottom of a coal mine with the lights off." No charges filed for threatening three men with a shotgun. Or for allegedly killing her brother inside their lovely Victorian house.

Shooting your little brother. Getting away with it.

My dear, departed cousin Ed used to advise me to keep a large pump-action shotgun in my apartment for safety. He'd say, "The scariest thing in the world is a woman with a shotgun she can't handle real well. All you need to do is let a burglar hear you pump that thing. Then point it in his direction. No need to pull the trigger. Any sensible criminal will be out of your house in two seconds if he hears that sound."

Pump-action, 12-gauge shotguns, like the one Amy Bishop used in 1986, are powerful, heavy, and a bit tricky to shoot. Every time you fire, you have to pump it first (making a second accidental shot unlikely — and she killed her brother with her second bullet). Many such rifles have safety buttons or releases that you must hold down as you pull the trigger; I don't know about hers. But I know, from listening to Ed, that you have to really figure out how to use a pump-action shotgun. You don't just pick it up and fire.

I have a difficult time believing that if a person shot someone by accident, she wouldn't instantly put down the weapon and run either to her victim or to the phone to call 911. She would not normally carry the gun around and keep shooting it. A person unfamiliar with guns would be terrified of the thing at that point. A shotgun makes a deafening blast, especially when fired indoors (which her mother claims she didn't hear). It also has a recoil, enough to knock a slight person off balance or even dislocate a shoulder if it's held improperly. Firing it can hurt.

In other words, Amy seems to have known how to load, hold, pump, release, and fire that shotgun. She might even have known how to aim it, not that good aim is all that important with a shotgun at close range. According to reports, she loaded and pumped the gun, shot it once in her room, and then came downstairs, having pumped it again, and shot her brother. Then she pumped and shot it a third time, leaving the house. This was after she set it down to put on her coat. She also waved it at a passing car and at two mechanics. And a policeman.

That gun was not strange and scary to her, it was her weapon.

1 comment:

  1. She's an Everywoman Anima, I think, which is why she's so bizarrely fascinating. I loved her getting into the policecar saying nothing had happened, everyone was still alive....always thinking, our Amy...

    And yes, she really puts old Clark in the shade....


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