The Ryan Report -- Episode 409 "Kill Shot"
It’s 22.04 ounces unloaded, add another 9.87 when it’s got all the rounds in there. It’s got a synthetic polymer frame to cut down on wear and tear - still sets off a metal detector though, don’t worry. 17 round capacity, 7.32 inches long, 5.43 inches high and with 5.5 pounds of pressure to the trigger it can change from a symbol of authority, to the last thing someone sees in this life.
Now imagine that strapped to your hip. It’s not comfortable. I see people on the subway shifting around, trying to keep their keys from digging into their leg and I think they have no idea how bad it can be. Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every time my Glock digs into my side, every time my hand bumps into it, heck, every time it makes my pants sag, I’m reminded of what it means. Its weight on my hip is a reminder of the weight I have on my shoulders. The city of New York has entrusted me with the right to take the life of another. That is not something I take lightly.
I still remember the first time I pulled a trigger. I expected the recoil to knock my arm off, and it didn’t tickle, but it didn’t dislocate my shoulder either. It felt kinda nice. A little jolt of power pushes into the base of your palm and then echoes up your arm. By the time it reaches your shoulder it’s like the force didn’t even come from something outside of you, but instead it feels like it is a part of you. One moment you are holding an inert piece of steel (or synthetic polymer in this case), then the next a hole is ripped through the chest of your paper target and you think, I did that. It is an intoxicating feeling. It’s what I imagine Arthur felt when he took Excalibur from the lady in the lake. It is a feeling of raw, inhuman, almost mystical power.
But if I learned anything from Spiderman it is that with great power, comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, not everyone took that same lesson from our friendly neighborhood web-slinger. Some people take that power, and they feel it surge through them, but they don’t think it’s a responsibility, they don’t think it is a gift - they think they deserve it. They think this instrument is a lost piece of themselves and now that they’ve found it they are complete.
I wish I could say I didn’t understand that feeling. I wish I could say I was better than those low-lifes, but the truth is I’ve felt it too. I was a skinny Irish kid growing up New York. I’ve been kicked in the ribs, I’ve had my money stolen and I’ve been beaten down more times than I’d like to admit. You try to fight back, but when that big Italian bully who eats lasagna Bolognese three meals a day gets it in his mind that you are going to stay in that trash can, you don’t have a lot of say in the matter. You feel subhuman. You feel powerless. You feel weak.
But that all changes when the lady in the lake hands you Excalibur and you feel that strength. You suddenly feel like the tables have turned and no one can mess with you. But there is a line here, the line that separates criminals from the rest of us. It’s easy enough to cross. The memory of all those times you were pushed around, nudges you from behind, urging you to step over. But if you resist for long enough, and stare at that line, you start to understand something - lasagna Bolognese for breakfast, lunch and dinner doesn’t just put a spare tire around your middle, it puts all four tires around your middle and saves the spare for your ass. That’ll make a chubby little kid feel pretty insecure – insecure enough to put his skinny Irish classmate in a trashcan. Then you realize that he, and all of those people who pushed you around, once stood at the very same line you are standing at now, and they crossed it. So you can cross it too, and be just the same as them, or you can stop, turn around and be better.
Because who is stronger, really? The person who allows the baggage of their insecurity to push them into doing wrong, or the person who feels that push, turns around, and pushes back?
The city of New York has entrusted me with the honor, and the burden, of knowing that line. And it has given me the responsibility and the power to cross over it.
That is real strength. Having that power and using it responsibly. That responsibility sits on my hip at all times.
And, ow, it’s kinda digging into my side.