Jewish World Review Oct. 24, 2002 / 18 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Snipers are people, too! | According to the San Francisco Chronicle, snipers, sharpshooters, tactical weapons experts, and marksmen are up in arms, so to speak, about the so-called DC sniper being CALLED the DC sniper.

For one thing, he's a bad shot. "Any deer hunter could be making the kind of shots this guy has made," sneered retired Major John Plaster, erstwhile Special Forces special weapons trainer.

And at, which I believe contains all your sniper needs, there is a claim that a "true sniper" is either a soldier or a policeman. "The Maryland gunman is neither." Furthermore, the site claims, he is a coward.

An anonymous staff member at TacFire, a Ventura California-based sharpshooter training company, says that calling this killer a sniper "is an insult to the police and military that serve as snipers."

I hadn't thought of snipers as belonging to a community before, certainly not as people with feelings that bruise as easily as grapes, as fragile trembling victims. Apparently though, they are as sensitive as hothouse flowers - flowers with high caliber weapons and night scopes.

Sniper support groups have not yet arisen, as far as I know, and a Million Sniper March has yet to be organized. I'm not holding my breath, either. Frankly, I don't think the notion that only GOOD snipers can be called snipers is going to fly.

I would venture to suggest that the apellation "sniper" itself may be at risk. Just as secretaries are now administrative assistants, janitors custodians, prostitutes sex workers, galloping tintypes movies, and pusillanimous poltroons politicians, perhaps snipers need a fresh name and a fresh start, some name that will restore luster to the time-honored profession of killing people from a distance.

Just off the top of my head, here's a little list:

Long Distance Mortality Consultant.
Weapon-Enabled Activist.
Calibre-Enhanced Lethality Facilitator.
Rifle Worker.
Real-Time Ballistics Specialist.
Life Cessation Delivery System Analyst.
Long Range Bullet Dispenser.
Trigger-Based Casualty Giver.
Termination Provider.

For all you formerly-known as-snipers on the side of good out there, I hope this helps, and please don't take it the wrong way. Believe me, I do not want to ruffle the feathers of the besieged and belittled sniper community. I try to make it a personal policy not to alienate people who possess high caliber weapons and know how to use them. I don't have many ironclad rules, but that's one I certainly live by.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


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12/11/01: KNITTING!
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10/17/01: Pathetic me
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09/11/01: The end of Mom
09/07/01: Boy Loses Girl, Boy Bites Girl, Boy Gets Girl
09/05/01: Virtual elegance?
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08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
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07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
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© 2001, Ian Shoales