Smith & Wesson, meet Stan the Man

I found the following line on the Internet: “One fast-thinking and trained person who was armed/licensed with a concealed weapon could have stopped that SOB right in his tracks before the body count skyrocketed.”

If such a person was there I wonder how many lives he would have saved. Thinking back I wrote pretty much the same line in my column almost twenty years ago after we learned about a paranoid screwball who killed six commuters and injured nineteen others on the Long Island Railroad. To refresh your memory, in 1993, Colin Ferguson boarded the LIRR, pulled out a 9 mm weapon and opened fire. At that time I also asked myself the same question. How many lives would have been saved if a licensed, trained, fast thinking passenger was aboard the train at the same time?

Well I don’t know how many lives would have been saved in the Aurora movie house and I don’t know how many would have been saved during the Long Island Railroad massacre but I do know that I saved my own life by being with two very dear, close friends, Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson, on what could have been a tragic night a couple of decades ago.

I was the owner of a pharmacy in Queens and we handled a lot of cash because we sold money orders. We naturally also had an inventory of prescription narcotics. By producing a pile of deposit slips and a written narcotic inventory I was able to obtain a New York City carry permit. I bought a revolver and became proficient in using it. One night while I was behind the counter a man with a stocking over his face pointed a gun at me and began shouting. He was making very loud demands for money and drugs. Without thinking I pulled out my weapon and fired. It’s funny how that was done instantly without hesitation. Of course, starting that night, as I thought about the possible consequences, my digestive system commenced working overtime at both ends.

Most of the details of that particular situation were quickly blocked from my mind and I very rarely talk about it. Current circumstances have me lying in bed at night staring at the ceiling with a return of waves of nausea. Perhaps writing about it once again will cure me.

So how many lives did my quick thinking save? At least one.


Depending on the time of year that pharmacy had between twenty and twenty-five employees. I am a successful small business owner and no matter what you say, I built that business myself. You are telling me that my government built that business. Really? Sure. The Mayor came in and swept the floor. Two city councilmembers put in two hours a day waiting on my customers. Then you bring up roads and other people. The truckdriver who delivered my goods did not help me. In fact, when I first took over this bankrupt store, that man with a cap covered with union buttons drew a bigger salary than me. You talked about the roads….have you ever watched the road repair guys working on Queens Boulevard? One man digs a hole while nine men stand and watch. All ten receive healthy salaries plus perks and benefits at taxpayer expense. I repeat – At taxpayer expense!

I am one of the 73 percent of small business owners who disagree with what you said. Are we smarter than those who were not as successful? You betcha. It wasn’t just luck. Are we willing to work harder than most? I worked eighty consecutive ten to fourteen hour days before taking my first day off.

If we are, as you say, taking what you said out of context, then you should have taken the time to tell us, in simple English, what you really meant to say. Until then, I am StanGershbein@Bellsouth.net telling you in simple English – Yes! I was willing to work harder than most.

Read Stan Gershbein's column every Monday on BrooklynDaily.com.

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