This is not a radical proposal — it’s actually simple common sense.
This week, Alton Sterling was shot by the police — his “crime” was either having a gun (which, as the NRA frequently tells us, is perfectly legal) or selling CDs, which may have been illegal, but did not to be dealt with with violence. It’s telling that no one can even say what he did wrong to justify his execution.
Yesterday, Philando Castile was killed for having a broken brake light, right here in my state, in Roseville.
Both murders were caught on video. I expect none of the police officers will face any serious penalties for murdering black men.
But I have a serious question about these incidents. Why are the police armed? Do you need a gun to issue traffic citations? I remember when the police would send a representative to my public school — that “Officer Friendly” crap — and they always had a great big scary handgun strapped to their hip. Why? Were they concerned that a firefight might break out in the fifth grade?
All those policemen patrolling the streets, looking for parking infractions or speeders or jaywalkers…they don’t need guns to do their job. Given that many of them are turning out to be bullying cowards, having a gun is even a detriment to their role of defending the law and the public peace.
So disarm them. Keep a few weapons back in the police station that can be issued to deal with specific situations in which they are necessary, but for the most part, guns are totally inappropriate for the job at hand. This would have a number of beneficial effects. For one, the swaggering assholes who need their firearm to be tough would quit, and good riddance to them. For another, the police would actually have to take non-violent approaches to confrontations seriously. Maybe they’d live up to the title of “peace officer”.
I know what the arguments against this proposal will be: but then civilians will be more heavily armed than the police! After all, Philando Castile had a handgun — which he openly declared, and had a permit for — so what is the policeman to do?
That’s easy. If he were scared, the appropriate response would have been to run away, and call for assistance. But in this case, there was no sign that the man in the car was a threat. All escalation was caused by the armed policeman. Except for the fact that the policeman drew a gun and shot the man, this whole incident should have ended with a warning or ticket given to the driver, and everyone would have gone on their way.
You know what else tells me that the police don’t deserve to be armed? What they did with the murdered man’s girlfriend. They had just shot the man, she was weeping and worried about her daughter, and they handcuffed her and took her to the police station, when they should have been helping her get to her boyfriend’s side at the hospital. That made no sense. She was not a threat. She had done nothing wrong, other than maybe having a car with a broken taillight. Yet they treated her like the criminal, after murdering her boyfriend in front of her.
I’m white, and I don’t trust the police. They’re out of control everywhere. It’s time to change.