Monday, June 24, 2013

Convenient? Or crowded? What about public buses brings out the worst in us?

When it comes to the whole issue of “concealed carry” of firearms, the part that particularly astounds me are the people who have problems with the idea that mass transit is a place where firearms ought to be restricted.

Because while I believe in the concept of mass transit (and particularly like riding the “el” trains, even when they become subways), I’ll be the first to admit the mix of individuals of all sorts can create a volatile situation that is easily triggered.

THE IDEA THAT someone who is of a paranoid-enough nature to think they need that pistol tucked into their waistband (or in a shoulder-holster, if they’re really hard-core and have watched too many cop movies on the late show) in order to feel safe might just as easily be the type who gets provoked into pulling it out at the least little incident.

Just this past weekend, a CTA bus driver wound up having to receive medical treatment for burns to his face. What happened?!?

It seems that a passenger got on the bus at the Jefferson Park transit center, recognized the driver as one who passed him by earlier in the day, then persisted with this feeling of being “wronged” by attacking the driver.

No, the passenger was not armed with a pistol. But he did have a cup of coffee, which he used to toss into the driver’s face!

FORTUNATELY, THE DRIVER wasn’t actually driving at the time. So it wasn’t a moving vehicle that could have harmed many other people.

But it makes me wonder if this person who felt wronged could have been a serious threat if they had somehow been permitted to have a firearm on their person.

Watching old “All In The Family” reruns makes me realize that for all the nonsense spewed by actor Carroll O’Connor’s “Archie Bunker” character, he wasn’t that far off when talking about the odd mix of people he encountered while riding the New York subway.

He’d call them “creeps,” “weirdos,” “preverts” and other sorts of slurs. But it is accurate in that it is a mix that people shouldn’t toy with if they don’t know who they’re dealing with.

BECAUSE, AS THE Chicago Tribune reported, this weekend there was a guy who was all upset about having a bus drive right past him to the point where he felt the need to seek revenge with a scalding cup of coffee.

It didn’t even matter that the person wasn’t at a properly-marked bus stop – which justified the driver’s actions in driving right on by. That was a person who felt wronged, and used what he had on him in order to get back at the CTA.

Throwing ammunition and a weapon capable of discharging it in a lethal manner into the mix is only asking for trouble.

Fortunately, the person in this incident was arrested at the scene. There will be some sort of criminal charges against the individual. Although I’m sure some pundit will try to twist this into one of those incidents in which government runs amok over the rights of the individual.

THEY’LL PROBABLY TRY to claim that the CTA and the police are wrong to seek punishment against a coffee-cup wielding person – as though he were merely someone trying to enjoy a beverage, but couldn’t because of the inept mass transit service.

Actually, we ought to be thankful that all this incident had was a cup of coffee. Because at least the facial burns suffered by the driver were easily treatable.

Throw a pistol in to the mix, along with a self-righteous belief that someone is somehow standing up for their rights, and the incident instantly becomes a national mess.

Something like the early Sunday stabbing of a man at the Red Line’s Belmont Avenue “el” station


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