Marshall J. Brown, reporter and Second Amendment advocate - The Buffalo News
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Marshall J. Brown, reporter and Second Amendment advocate

Feb. 28, 1936 – Oct. 10, 2014

Marshall J. Brown, a former Buffalo Courier-Express reporter and advocate of the right to bear arms, died Friday at his 63-acre “gentleman’s farm” in Colden after an extended battle with multiple system atrophy, a neurological disease. He was 78.

The native of the Bronx came from a newspaper family, with his father, Max, and two uncles, all editors at United Press International.

“Marsh was a feisty, hard-nosed old-time newsman, like one of the characters you’d see in an old movie like ‘The Front Page,’ ” said Buffalo News reporter Dan Herbeck, who worked with Mr. Brown at Buffalo Police Headquarters in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “He carried a gun when he was on the job, sometimes beat the police to crime scenes. On more than one occasion, he conducted his own investigations and helped the police solve crimes.”

Herbeck said he will never forget the time he and Mr. Brown in 1982 – both police reporters for Buffalo’s two competing newspapers – decided to go out and have lunch together. They were walking toward a small diner when a waitress came running outside, spattered with blood and screaming, “Help, he killed Ellie!”

“Marsh grabbed his gun out of the holster and we went running inside. This poor waitress was on the floor, bleeding to death,” Herbeck recalled. “A mental patient who had recently been released from a psychiatric center had jumped over the counter, grabbed a knife and began stabbing this poor woman. Then he ran out of the place. Marsh and I ran outside, looking for the guy, but he was long gone. The police came and we told them what happened.”

Mr. Brown’s first newspaper job was at age 17 as a copyboy at the New York Herald Tribune. After earning a journalism degree at New York University, he joined the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal where he worked as a reporter, photographer and darkroom technician.

An avid outdoorsman, he also wrote a column called “Bait n Bullets” in Lockport.

In 1961 he joined the staff of the Courier-Express and covered a number of sensational cases, including the .22 caliber killer case and many organized crime murders. Mr. Brown won a number of awards from the Associated Press, but was most proud of his James Madison Award from the Second Amendment Foundation.

When the Courier folded in 1982, he went to South Africa for a month where he hunted big game. He also hunted in Mexico, Greece, Denmark and Canada. He held an Open Water Scuba Diver rating and dove in the Caribbean and the Red Sea. He was an ardent sailor and fisherman.,

Mr. Brown was a life member of the National Rifle Association and the Shooters Committee on Political Education, where he was a longtime vice president. He also was a member of the Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Bear Arms and the Holland Rod and Gun Club.

Mr. Brown wrote letters and treatises on the constitutional right to keep and bear arms and appeared on radio and TV shows as a gun rights advocate. A certified NRA firearms instructor, he trained more than 1,000 students.

An expert marksman and longtime reserve deputy with the Erie County Sheriff’s Office. , he won three New York State pistol championships in marksman and sharpshooter categories.

He is survived by his long-time companion, Deborah Williams; and two sons, Kal and Steven.

A memorial service will be held later at Temple Beth Zion. – Lou Michel

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