Friday, May 10, 2013

Hasan's pistol instructor will testify at trial

10,000 N. Hwy. 183 – Stan's Shooting Range is a spot on a high-speed artery as straight as a rifle shot that connects Lampassas with the north Austin suburbs.

If you don't know it's there, you sail right on by. But there is a fraternal and informal feel to the recognition that men who go there give each other.

The place is equidistant from Ft. Hood, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Belton, Leander – and, of course, Austin.

Plus, the town of Florence, which is close by, is just a hoot and a holler off State Highway 195, which runs south from the fort, right past Guns Galore, a purveyor of firearms, reloading supplies and ammo - everything it takes to attract the attention of gun enthusiasts with its average inventory of 3,000 weapons.

In the depths of its narrow aisles, one finds Henry, Springfield, Winchester, Remington models in off-beat chambering unheard of by modern riflemen - .30-40, .44-40, .45 Long Colt, .30-'06, their well-machined profiles marching along in shades of the military precision they represent, a tour of many battles, wars half forgotten, the walnut, spring steel models of the former brides of soldiers who walked the walk, married them on the drill field.

It's the place where Jason Abdo, a conscientious objector who was over the hill from his 101st Airborne unit at Ft. Knox, inquired about the difference between black powder and smokeless powder, their relative volatility and explosive power.

A sales clerk who served his time in that special hell Marines know only too well, then retired from police work, later said it just didn't sound quite right. He picked up the phone.

Jason Abdo, a devout Islamic jihadist who shouted about American war crimes as U.S. District Judge Walter Smith sentenced him to multiple life terms, fled to a waiting taxi under the man's withering gaze. Police arrested him the next morning as he left his motel.

You take a quick jog west on 138 and turn south on 183, and you're almost there.
One of Maj. Hasan's empty cartridges, a 5.7x28
Herstal next to a .22 long rifle round

Major Abu Nidal Malik Hasan found it convenient to commute to Stan's from his home and office near Ft. Hood. He wanted to learn combat shooting techniques – aiming at and hitting multiple targets, clearing rooms, keeping covered in a gun fight.

Stan Buchhorn is of the age to have served in Vietnam. Asked if he has military experience, the licensed handgun instructor replies, with a wry expression, “Senior trip across the pond.”

Later in the conversation, he mentions that one of his doctors at the VA is “a Vietnamese girl.” She is the one who specializes in treating cancer, he adds.

“She asked me if any of that bothers me, now. I told her, 'Shoot, honey, I got over all that when I was about 35.'”

And then he rivets you with his eyes.

“That's why I don't want the trial to be delayed.”

He is under subpoena. He will testify because he is the one who trained Dr. Hasan how to shoot a handgun with deadly effect. Asked if his testimony is sought by the defense or the prosecution, he said, “I don't know...

“He's the last one I ever trained; I ain't never gonna train another one,” he said. “What do you want to know, what kind of shot he was?”

One suddenly finds the time to look at his feet, looks back, and the glance that passes tells the story, all about how the lady took her elderly parents to Luby's Cafeteria for lunch, and ended up fleeing a mad man with two handguns who cut the old couple down in cold blood after he drove his pickup through the window, how she became a legislator, sponsored the concealed carry law, shepherded it through the capital maze with its committees and rules writers - to the Governor's desk...We know the story well, we two. That, we do.

"Weekends," he says, "there are guys out here with stuff - enough of it to start a war - or finish one." He shakes his head.

There are no firearms allowed on post, where the deadly attack Dr. Hasan directed at his fellow soldiers took place in November, 2009.

“No firearms allowed on federal property – period,” Mr. Buchhorn says.

He is a Concealed Carry Handgun License instructor. These days, he keeps his four firing ranges open from 9 to 5, 7 days a week. Other instructors train their classes at his place, he sells ammo, collects a modest range fee from his customers.

Could I get a picture?

“Have at it. They used to sit over there,” he points to a corner of a rural road across the way, “ABC, CNN – hell, all of them, taking pictures.”

We mention the fact that the doctor offered to plead guilty to the offense of unpremeditated murder.
“He don't want to die,” Mr. Buchhorn mutters. Then he stabs his interlocutor with another one of those piercing glances.

Informed I will be sitting in the courtroom, listening to his testimony, Mr. Buchhorn said, “I won't see you. I'll be looking straight at him...” There is steel in his tone. But, then, he lightens up.

“Tell you what you do. Quick as I finish my testimony, you come on back. I'll tell you anything you want to know.”

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