30 Years Ago Today

goetzBernhard Goetz shot four muggers on the New York City Subway, and got the country talking. He was acquitted on all charges, except for carrying a firearm without a license, for which he was sentenced to a year in prison, of which he only served eight months. Newspapers everywhere called his act of self-defense vigilantism. In fact, he was called the “subway vigilante” by the media.

This incident is regarded as being a prime contributor to the concealed carry movement that would begin to sweep the nation starting with Florida passing the Jack Hagler Self-Defense Act in 1987.

6 thoughts on “30 Years Ago Today”

  1. Well he was clearly a racist white supremacist because the muggers he shot were “youths”. He should have just cowered in a bitch-ball and allowed them to beat him because white guilt.

  2. Can’t help but speculate that Goetz seized his fifteen minutes of fame in the same way political fringe groups claim responsibility for terrorist acts they really could not execute.

    No physical evidence. Anybody know if he knew material facts not alluded to him by police during interrogation?

    1. No physical evidence? D’ya think that, maybe, just maybe, the critters from the subway would have spoken up if some guy they’d never seen before came forth and took the credit for shooting them?

  3. I’ve long thought that “vigilante” is one of the most spectacularly misused words in the news media. Originally it meant “one who is watchful.” In normal contemporary use, it means “someone who commits a crime in pursuit of justice.” But in the news media, it means, “someone who is not a police officer, who lawfully halts a crime in progress.” I usually see it used to dishonestly imply that the person in question broke the law or did something ethically wrong.

    Of course, in the case of Goetz, some of the things he said in his statement to the police (according to Wikipedia) do support the characterization of him as having done something wrong or criminal in the pursuit of justice or perhaps revenge.

  4. There is more to the story. He was convicted after 3 years of highly publicized Grand Jury investigations. The NYPD was in the press often during that time making him an example to discourage acts of self-defense by other.

    If you look at the crime data before the shooting and after, you’ll see crime was decreasing in NY City prior. After the NYPD’s crack down on self-defense crime rose dramatically.

Comments are closed.