Down in Atlanta, meanwhile, the former Black Panther H. Rap Brown (aka Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin) was turning the tables. The 60s icon vaulted back into the headlines by instigating a shootout with police, allegedly killing sheriff's deputy Ricky Kinchen. Charlton Heston, the NRA's increasingly addled president, was quick to leap on the case. Defending the NRA's new offensives against President Clinton, in which executive vice president Wayne LaPierre frothed that Clinton is an accessory to murder for not enforcing gun laws, Heston told ABC's This Week, "If this administration had done their job properly, that Rap would still be in prison and Deputy Kinchen would be alive."
He'd have made a much better case citing Joseph Palczynski, a man with a history of mental illness and assault convictions, who was at that moment holding his ex-girlfriend's family hostage in Dundalk, a working-class suburb of Baltimore. Two weeks earlier, Palczynski had allegedly gunned down four people while attempting to kidnap and flee the state with Tracy Whitehead, who managed to escape. Last week he shot his way into her mother's house in Dundalk, and the siege was on.
"Days before the first shootings," according to the AP, "he was charged with assaulting Whitehead, but released on $7,500 bond. Relatives and friends said Palczynski had vowed that he would shoot himself or make police shoot him rather than go back to prison. In 1992, Palczynski kept police in Idaho at bay for 16 hours following a domestic-violence complaint by his girlfriend, authorities said. He was finally forced out with tear gas."
And finally, in another reminder of armed law-enforcement officers run amok, they staged a "simulation" of the Waco siege at Fort Hood this weekend. We doubt the results will satisfy those who suspect that federal agents intentionally trapped the Davidians inside their building. Perhaps its real value will be that in years to come, given the American fascination with guns and violence, "Waco reenactments" will become a history buffs' pastime, as Civil War reenactments are now.