Sunday, July 29, 2012

A cop's take on the Aurora tragedy

I should have linked to this opinion piece by Michael A. Black when I first read it Thursday, but I got busy.

Black was a Chicago police officer for thirty years and has this to say about those who clamor for easing restrictions on gun ownership and concealed-carry laws:

Imagine the scene: speakers blasting, larger-than-life heroes and villains on the screen, and suddenly real gunshots, a man in a gas mask firing one of three weapons — a shotgun, handgun and rifle, with extended magazines for extra ammo capacity — into the panicking crowd. Even a highly trained, armed police officer would have been caught off guard. Try adding a bunch of untrained, armed civilians into the mix — this type of intervention could have made things much worse.
What I imagine is random firing by guys who own guns but who aren't used to thinking clearly when literally under fire. What I imagine is a police officer coming onto the scene, trying to figure out who the bad guy is (or who the bad guys are).

Which of the gun toters was the aggressor and which were merely defending themselves? Do the gun toters themselves know? What if, in the heat of the moment, the true aggressor diverts law enforcement's attention to a self-defender: "That guy in the tan jacket just started shooting!" You might think your fellow innocents, armed and not, would attest to your own innocence, but even assuming they are all law-abiding (and that nobody in the crowd holds a grudge against you), how many of them will have been thinking clearly enough to have been able to keep track of who started what in the chaos?

Oh, and by the way, if a bystander was hit by a shot from a self-defender, does that make the latter an aggressor by circumstance?

Yes, you're entitled to defend yourself against someone shooting at you. The thing is, if a lot of guns are floating around, it becomes a lot harder to sort out who started a gunfight or a shooting rampage. The likelihood of other people being hurt goes up a lot, too. Cops are trained to avoid hurting civilians; can you say the same for your neighbor who is merely a gun enthusiast?

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