Anyone remember a New York City gang known as the Westies? They were a bunch of Irish hoods from the West Side dock area known as Hell’s Kitchen who basically were responsible for maybe more than 60 murders from the 1960s until the gang was finally busted up around 1985 or 1986. Actually, what led to the gang’s demise was the gentrification of Manhattan’s West Side, the appearance of a new neighborhood called Clinton, and the replacement of block upon block of tenement, slum housing with condos and co-ops costing a million dollars or more. But in their heyday, the Westies gang were considered a bunch of guys you didn’t mess with, because if you did, there was a good chance you would wind up dead.
In fact, it’s not clear that the Westies actually did a job on most of the victims whom the Gambino crime family paid them to rub out. Because I happened to live in another neighborhood in ‘da city’ and the gang on my street corner, who called themselves the Spades, were the guys to whom the Westies actually sub-contracted out most of the Gambino crime family work. Imagine that – a gang of white kids who called themselves the Spades. Oh well, those were the days.
Anyway, the guys I knew who called themselves the Spades worked construction, which meant that every day they showed up at some high-rise being built somewhere in Manhattan and hung around. And when they did a job for the Westies, what this meant was that a van would pull up at the construction site, some guy with a bag over his head would be hustled out, then grabbed by the Spades who would trundle him up a few flights of stairs. Six guys would go up the stairs, five guys would walk back down. The other guy would fly back down through the elevator shaft, or out of a window, or whichever way worked best.
Dig this. The Spades were very dangerous and very violent but none of them ever carried guns. And the reason they didn’t carry guns is because they knew that on a regular basis, usually once every evening as they were hanging around on the corner, the cops would come by, push them up against a wall and administer the Miranda warning which meant taking out a blackjack and clopping them over their heads. And if anyone was found with a gun, he was going away. A knock on the side of the head was nothing compared to three to five in the joint.
Now you would think that guys like this would always have guns. But what was the point of carrying a gun? They didn’t need one to do what they did for the Westies; heaving someone off a roof had a much cleaner and guaranteed end. And they didn’t need guns for self-protection; after all, who was going to mess with them?
I thought about the Spades and their attitude towards guns when I saw those jerks in Texas swaggering along with assault rifles slung over their backs. Do any of these open-carry morons actually believe that walking around with that gun is going to protect them from who knows what? For that matter, would it make any difference if instead of an assault rifle openly displayed they had a Glock stuck in their pants?
I think that someone who goes around carrying a gun, particularly someone with absolutely no idea of how to use the damn thing, is just a case of arrested development playing out a childish fantasy about how big and tough he’d really like to be. Because it’s easy to pretend standing your ground by pulling out your banger and firing away. But what would you do if you had to deal with a difficult or dangerous situation and had to use your brain? Oh my God! Behave like an adult? Why me?