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Jewish World Review Oct. 21, 2002 /15 Mar-Cheshvan 5763

Dave Shiflett

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Consumer Reports

Varmint Hunting: Answering the call to duty -- It may soon be time to develop a new national pastime: the sniper hunt. Not only because of the current situation around the capital beltway, though for some of us that's incentive enough. At this writing shootings are reported along roadways in other parts of the country, including Long Island and near St. Louis. Perhaps the international federation of predators is on the march.

The good news is that there are a lot more of us than there are them, which is sometimes easy to forget. Predators terrorize by isolating people in their personal fear of death. Thus can one man (or a couple) alter the lives of a community of five million, as is the case in Washington and its suburbs.

We can't have that. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. We're also heavily armed, though in the current case we need only to provide information to the authorities and let them do the actual nab.

By merely going on sniper patrol — eyes peeled, cell phones at the ready — we can do much good. We assist the authorities in turning the tables on the preds; the hunted become the hunters. The inner voice changes from "I hope he's far from here" to "I hope the low bastard shows his head." That's a vast improvement over cowering at the gas pump. It is also an affirmation of community and public service of the highest stripe.

Besides all that, there's $500,000 on this guy's head. That's real money — the kind of incentive that inspires entrepreneurs, thrill seekers, and maybe even lowly hack writers with oppressive mortgages. Indeed, one cannot help but wonder how many people are already on the hunt. Put another way: What's the competition?

We know there are 2,000 police officers and employees of various government agencies involved, and now the military may join to some degree. News reports also tell us church groups have joined the Guardian Angels at gas stations — some pumping petrol while others stand lookout, searching the shadows and tree lines for the sudden appearance of a man with a rifle. Though their chances of being shot are slim, that's still gutsy behavior. Hats off to these good people.

It seems reasonable to assume some serious freelancers have been activated by this huge reward offer — including bounty hunters and professional adventurers. I got in touch with L. Scott Harrell at CompassPoint Investigations in Austin, Texas, who pointed out that we are not to refer to members of his profession as "bounty hunters," which is apparently considered something of an insult. "Bail Recovery Professionals" is the preferred term.

"Bail Recovery professionals would have no place in the investigation concerning the serial sniper," he explained. They chase people whose "identities are known but are hiding and running from law enforcement. [T]he best that a professional in my industry can do is to keep their eyes and ears open, report any suspicious behavior, and act in defense of another citizen should he or she become aware that there is a life in danger."

Point taken. Nonetheless, it seems likely some of these guys are on the prowl, especially around the outer suburbs. Chances of tagging the perpetrator may be remote — perhaps slimmer than winning the lottery — but then sometimes you get lucky. Catch this guy and you don't have to spend the rest of your time running down car thieves and other scum. .

One also wonders about professional adventurers and mercenaries. A call went in to Robert Brown, publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine, who knows that mindset as well as anyone. Unfortunately, Bob wasn't in. Perhaps he's already on the hunt. Maybe I'll see him sometime in the next couple of days. For duty calls. It's off to the front.

The plan is to motor to the Fredericksburg area, where two shootings have occurred, and follow whatever hunches might come my way. The pattern indicates the shooter operates fairly early in the morning or in the evenings. He likes murdering customers at gas stations located near major thoroughfares, and may prefer to shoot from wooded areas (we are reminded here that the so-called "deforestation of America" is greatly exaggerated). So, pick a spot, park the car, and sit low.

There was an initial thought of packing a deer rifle, yet that could complicate matters, especially should a cop happen by and see a middle-aged white guy staking out a gas station. We shall content ourselves with a set of binoculars, a cell phone — and dreams of nabbing a fiend and rocketing into the moneyed class. After which there's the possibility of a short stop at Hooters, where Geraldo was recently spotted signing the butts of lucky staff members — a reminder that predators should never be allowed to rob us of our pleasures. dime.

JWR contributor Dave Shiflett writes from central Va. Comment by clicking here.


10/14/02: News-Flow Mania: The writer gets sucked in by the Internet
06/21/02: Harmonic Convergence: Shunned by suits, traditionalists join self-recording revolution
03/07/02: In search of an Acceptable Frenchie
01/09/02: Send us huddling predators
11/27/01: The Yappy Warrior
11/15/01: Men O War: Testosterone as a weapon of war
10/15/01: The Other Shoe: Waiting
10/05/01: Future schlock
08/08/01: Life on the Lam: A travel journal of sorts
07/18/01: Another Levy lost
07/10/01: Dont Snoop on Me
06/26/01: Scams To Live By
06/05/01: Never the Twain shall they meet
01/11/01: Letter From the Bush: Not the momma!
04/30/01: 100 Days of Platitudes
04/24/01: Sluggards, Unite
04/03/01: The Inn Crowd
03/30/01: Atheist for sale
03/27/01: Can you hack it?
02/13/01: Were All New Yorkers Now: In praise of provincialism
02/09/01: Mind your manners and NEVER say "Monica Lewinsky" --- or you may well get sued!
01/30/01: A Stiff Warning: Bushies beware
01/26/01: Babes in Boyland
01/23/01: Dubya, First Philistine? It depends on how you define the word 'artist'
01/19/01: Goodbye L.A., Hello Nashville
01/12/01: Elvis and the Rock of Death
12/07/00: Col. Sauls-ders roasts some ducks
11/23/00: Democracy may be under siege, but now comes the fun
11/21/00: The dolt vote
11/15/00: Now what will we do for fun?

© 2002, Dave Shiflett