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Back to School

by Joe Markowitz
August 2013

Mediation's Place by Joe Markowitz

Joe Markowitz

Wayne LaPierre owes an apology, or at least an explanation, to Antoinette Tuff, the Georgia school employee who successfully talked down a gunman who entered her elementary school with an assault rifle and some 500 rounds of ammunition. Remember it was NRA spokesman LaPierre who responded to the Newtown shooting by advising us that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to rely on a good guy with a gun. That's right, he said that more guns is the ONLY way to stop violence. Antoinette Tuff instead showed that engaging in an hour-long empathetic dialogue with a dangerous gunman might be an equally effective way to stop a bad guy with a gun. In fact, her method could be a more effective way of preventing violence, as no one was harmed in the incident.

Tuff's interview is a textbook explanation of how to calm down a disturbed individual. You do that by listening carefully to he is saying, and by telling him, as Tuff explains, that she understood what he was feeling. Then she started sharing some of her own stories, and establishing a personal connection with him by noting that her mother's maiden name was the same as his, and that she remembered his previous visit to the school. Here was a person determined, as he said, to end his life and take many people along with him. Tuff assured the gunman that he did not have to die that day, and that he might have something to live for, and he agreed to surrender peacefully.

Few people would deny that guns have their uses, and most people agree that armed security is appropriate in some situations. What we need to be wary of, however, are people who claim that the only way to respond to violence is with more violence. There are lots of other ways to deal with violence, and many effective means of resolving conflict that do not require force. We need to study those methods. Listening to Antoinette Tuff tell how she did it would be a good place to start.

 

Biography


Joseph C. Markowitz has over 30 years of experience as a business trial lawyer.  He has represented clients ranging from individuals and small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations.  He started practicing with a boutique litigation firm in New York City, then was a partner in a large international firm both in New York then in Los Angeles, then returned to practicing with a small firm and on his own.  In addition to general commercial litigation, Mr. Markowitz has expertise in  intellectual property, employment law, entertainment law, real estate, and bankruptcy litigation.  Mr. Markowitz has managed his own firm since 1994. Mr. Markowitz was trained as a mediator more than 15 years ago, and has conducted a substantial number of mediations as a member of the Mediation Panels in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the District Court and Bankruptcy Court in  the Central District of California, as well as private mediations.  He has served since 2010 as a board member of the Southern California Mediation Association.   



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Website: www.mediate-la.com/

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