(Lots of places have blogged this already, so forgive me for being deeply unoriginal today).
Why do American 'gangsta-style gangsters' fire hand guns with a 'side grip' as demonstrated above by soap-suds-soaked Eli Wallach in "The Good The Bad and The Ugly"?
The question arose afresh after last week's momentary shooting in Times Square. Over to Slate:
As police chased Raymond "Ready" Martinez through Times Square on Thursday, the street hustler and aspiring rapper fired two shots, holding the gun sideways "like a character out of a rap video." According to the New York Post, Martinez's side grip caused the gun to jam, enabling police to shoot and kill the suspect. What's the point of holding a gun sideways?Well, dear reader:
During the first half of the 20th century, soldiers used the side grip for the express purpose of endangering throngs of people. Some automatic weapons from this era—like the Mauser C96 or the grease gun—fired so quickly or with such dramatic recoil that soldiers found it impossible to aim anything but the first shot. Soldiers began tilting the weapons, so that the recoil sent the gun reeling in a horizontal rather than vertical arc, enabling them to spray bullets into an onrushing enemy battalion instead of over their heads.Well, indeed. But I still shake my head when I think of how naive Raymond Martinez must have been, and how breathtaking was his youthful arrogance. That he carried an illegally-owned UZI-style gun is stupid enough. But that he thought to open fire in Times Square... against a man whom he could not have conceived was a trained professional with vastly superior skills.
Nowadays, the only time professionals use the side grip is while holding riot shields, which limit their field of vision. Turning the gun and raising it up make the sight slightly more visible.
But I bet that a 360-degree glance around Times Square that same morning would have offered at least one or two examples of the pop culture nonsense that probably influenced Martinez: effortless, beautiful violence, where each 'gangsta' triumphs over every cop, and puts a barely-aimed bullet into his brain from a handgun held, of course, with that sexy 'side grip.'
How many times had Martinez 'seen' the scenario he thought he was in, on TV, in computer games? How many thousands of times had the police officer who shot him, stood at an NYPD firing range and practiced, and practiced, and practiced?
But there's more: in Martinez' wallet was found a business card from a gun dealer in Virginia. On the back of which was written, presumably by Martinez, these words:
I just finished watching ‘The Last Dragon.’ I feel sorry for a cop if he think I’m getting into his paddy wagon.
That is what made a tragic young man's dying almost Shakespearean.