Part 10 DC Mayor Thinks Arming Taxi Drivers “Nutty”

Larry Pratt

In November of 1999, Washington DC Mayor Anthony Williams met with a group of local cab drivers, telling them: “You have a right to earn a living and to be safe on your job.”

Well, terrific. Amen! And one of the best ways to ensure a cabbie’s safety would be to allow him to keep and bear arms for self-defense. But the Mayor — a strong supporter of DC’s draconian, failed, un-Constitutional, anti-gun law — is dead set against this. Speaking for his boss, the Mayor’s Press Secretary Tony Bullock, says, in the Washington Post (2/5/03), regarding suggestions that cabbies be armed:

“The proposal is nutty and, obviously, it would not be entertained by any thinking person.” He adds: “We’re not going to reduce handgun violence by introducing thousands of additional handguns throughout the city.” We note that he has not dismissed his armed bodyguards.

Another staunch opponent of arming taxi drivers in Washington DC is Matthew Nosanchuk, Litigation Director for the rabidly anti-gun Violence Policy Center. In an interview, he says:

    My reaction to that is, you know — I’m worried enough that the cab driver, you know, is not going to get in an accident, you know, when he’s supposed to be driving a cab, you know, let alone when he’s supposed to be using a gun to defend himself. People shouldn’t be shooting guns and driving at the same time.

Well now. Is it really “nutty” to suggest that cab drivers be armed? Not at all. In fact, many cabbies in our country have used guns to defend themselves against all kinds of attacks.

    * In Connecticut, the New Haven Register (6/7/02) reports Superior Court Judge Lubbie Harper, Jr. dismissed criminal charges against cabbie John Lutters who shot and killed a fare, Travis Hazelwood, who cut his throat when he was trying to rob him. Judge Harper ruled that Lutters’ cab was his place of business — thus he was exempt from felony charges of carrying a handgun without a permit.

    * The Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper (8/5/01) reports that cabbie Clyde Riley of Cheviot was sitting in his parked cab when a man snatched open the door, grabbed him and pulled him from his vehicle. To protect himself and his passenger, Riley pulled his gun, fired two shots into the air and his attacker fled. Earlier that night, this attacker had allegedly car-jacked another cab, put a chokehold on the driver and held a gun to his right cheek. Says Riley: “We are just ordinary guys trying to earn a living. The law says we have to pick up a person if they ask us. Some of those thugs out there don’t care whether we have $5 or $500. They will try to take it.”

    * The Sierra Times (9/29/00), in an editorial titled “Cabbies,” reports that in Texas, cabbie Jose Garcia of Houston, in early March, picked up two men. Shortly, they ordered him to stop. One of the men placed a knife to his throat. They threatened to kill him if he didn’t give them his money. As they counted the money, Garcia grabbed his gun, jumped from the car and fled. The robbers tried to run over him. Garcia fired at his assailants. A few minutes later the police found the cab. In the back seat was one robber, Guillermo Garza, dead of a gunshot wound to his head.

    This editorial also tells the tale of a cabbie in New Orleans who in April of 2000 picked up a fare. When taken to a residence, the fare said he didn’t have correct change and would have to go into his home to get it. The cabbie watched as the fare appeared to knock on the door. When nobody answered, the fare came back to the cab and said he’d have to knock again. Suspicious, the cabbie got his handgun from beneath his seat — just in time. The fare returned and began firing a gun at the cabbie. The cabbie returned fire. The fare fell dead on the steps, hit by two rounds.

    * The Associated Press (11/2/98) reports Scranton, Pennsylvania cabbie Thomas Ristics shot fare Charles Echols after Echols pulled a gun and tried to rob him. Echols was at the time facing charges of planting a bomb in downtown Wilkes-Barre, PA. For attacking Ristics, Echols was charged with attempted robbery, attempted unlawful restraint, attempted kidnapping, attempted aggravated assault, making terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person and simple assault.

    * The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot (10/3/96) reports cabbie James Ridley picked up Larry D. Parrish, Jr. and another man. Parrish allegedly pulled a revolver on Ridley. Ridley pulled his .38, shot Parrish in the left side of his chest and then drove him to the hospital.

    * The New Orleans Times-Picayune (7/15/94) reports that a cabbie’s life was saved because he learned to shoot left-handed as part of his Marine Corps training. The cabbie (who asked that his name not be used) picked up two men. The back seat man stuck a gun against the cabbie’s neck and demanded money. The cabbie grabbed the barrel of the gun with his right hand. The attacker fired and missed. As the two men wrestled, the cab hit a curb. The cabbie grabbed his own gun with his left hand. He shot the man in the back seat, who fell backward. When the front-seat fare raised his arm, the cabbie shot him, too. Both fares fled and were later arrested by police.

I’ll tell you what’s “nutty,” Mayor Williams. What’s “nutty” is that your city is once again becoming the “Murder Capital” of the country and you’re opposed to cabbie’s exercising their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms in self-defense. That’s “nutty”!