We live in a very violent world. For better or worse, violence is all around us. While most of us may live the bulk of our lives without it directly impacting us, that’s not an option for millions of people. It’s especially true for police officers in our most violent cities who may have to determine who lives and who dies in a split second.
It’s not an easy thing to live with in the least.
That’s especially true when you’re dealing with a kid with a gun that sure looks real.
A Baltimore Police officer shot and wounded an armed teenager Saturday afternoon only to find out the boy’s weapon was a replica gun, the police commissioner said.
Commissioner Michael Harrison said two officers were patrolling Erdman Avenue in Northeast Baltimore shortly before 5 p.m. when they came upon the 16-year-old holding what appeared to be a gun. Harrison said the boy was engaged “in some type of incident.”
At least one of the officers fired and shot the boy in his arm. The police department released the boy’s age Sunday.
“It appears the gun on the ground was some type of replica,” Harrison said.
Now, I’m not going to second-guess the police officers in question. I don’t know what happened, what they were responding to, what they saw, any of that.
What I will say, though, is that we parents need to do a better job of teaching our kids what to do if the police approach them and they’ve got a toy gun in their hands. I’m not blaming this kid for what happened, mind you, but instead using this opportunity to talk about some real problems.
Baltimore has some odd rules about “replica” guns, of course, and can take them without a warrant (though I don’t see how that can be constitutional), but I’m not talking about just Baltimore. This happens all over the nation and it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t be an issue.
You see, our children need to understand that if they have a gun-shaped object in their hands, police officers don’t have time to figure out if it’s real or not. If it looks real, they’re going to treat it like it’s real. If the officer says to drop it, you drop it. You comply with their orders and all will generally turn out well enough, especially if they’ve done nothing wrong.
The last thing they want to do is to try to show the officer it’s not real, especially by pointing the barrel at them. They’re going to interpret that as a hostile act. That will generally not end well for anyone.
However, I’ve seen too many people not teach their kids how to act in a case like this. Maybe it’s the result of being raised by a cop, but this was part of my life going up and my kids have gotten this as well. It’s probably a good idea for parents, even non-gun folks, to teach their kids how to not antagonize the police.
They have a tough enough job as it is. Let’s not add to it.
Of course, there’s also an argument to be made about everyone not being twitchy at the sight of a gun, and we can get into that another time. After all, it’s valid.