editorial (2006-46)

Lambert has His Lumps All Right

Lambert has His Lumps All Right

In the process, he has shown himself to be a danger to himself and others.

His confrontation with a young man last Saturday at his dealership is an example of Lambert’s lack of judgment.

If his version of the event is to be believed, he warded off a robbery attempt by drawing his own pistol when a 19-year-old who had been feigning a car buy pulled a pistol and pointed it at him. In a standoff, he says he got the young man to drop his weapon and depart, leaving his driver’s license behind.

Then, things got a little out of hand. First, Lambert called the sheriff’s department, whose officers proceeded to track down the alleged assailant and arrest him on a charge of attempted aggravated robbery. As Metro Pulse went to press, the accused is being held in lieu of $15,000 bond. Though the car lot is in the city of Knoxville, Lambert says he called for sheriff’s deputies because he wanted “my own people” to respond.

Let’s get this down straight for Commissioner Lambert. Just because he is a county commissioner does not mean that sheriff’s officers are Lambert’s “own people.” He does not own or control the sheriff’s office. Nor should he expect special favors from that office. Besides the arrogance of the position he took on who should perform the investigation, Lambert’s explanation shows unwarranted contempt for the Knoxville Police Department.

In the ensuing media furor, which Lambert obviously enjoyed, the incident was hyped to the point where it could be characterized as a National Rifle Association wetdream—a private citizen thwarting crime because he has a lawful weapon at hand. Lambert, in fact, was wearing a Friends of the N.R.A. ballcap as the occurrences unfolded. At least he says he was. Good for him. But in the midst of the ensuing excitement, Lambert did the unconscionable. He pointed his pistol directly at a TV camera recording his description of the event. A firearms instructor’s take on Lambert’s gesture, done for the dramatic media effect, was that it was the height of irresponsibility for a supposedly trained and permitted firearms user. Pointing a gun at something you don’t intend to fire on is the ultimate no-no.

We should point out that under the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Lambert has the right to keep and bear arms, and under Tennessee law, Lambert has the right to carry his pistol concealed, having passed the required tests of his knowledge of gun safety and gun usage. His actions, however, didn’t speak to good judgment in gun handling.

First he put himself at risk by drawing his weapon when he says he saw a gun come out of the young man’s pocket. Then, lured by the prospect of enhancing his moment of fame and creating what he must have thought would be positive attention, he points his gun at a TV camera, manned by a journalist who should have ordered him to put that gun down.

The whole scenario is somehow suspect, especially since the Sheriff’s Department is notably uncooperative in providing details to the news media.

It will be up to the young man and his lawyer to plead his case, but the entire incident would be better digested and put behind us if it were taken before a Knox County Grand Jury for review. The grand jury could put Lambert under oath to get his story straight and decide whether and what crimes may have been committed.

Advice to Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale and members of his administration, toward whom Lambert has shown animosity: Steer clear of Lumpy Lambert unless you have armed security handy and have plenty of witnesses around.

We said Lambert was a clown and shouldn’t be elected to the Commission, and what he’s been displaying since he was sworn in does nothing to change our opinion, which worsens with each of his show-off maneuvers. We didn’t think he was really dangerous. Now we’re not so sure.