In our world, you tend to have two rather broadly defined groups. One is the good guys and the other is the criminals. Now, I say “broadly defined” because this is a somewhat simplistic view of things, and the truth is that rather than just being groups, people are somewhere on a spectrum. On one end, you have the people who never knowingly break any law and the other has those for whom laws mean nothing at all. Most of us are somewhere in between.
After all, I’ve been known to go above the speed limit from time to time.
Because of that reality, though, police need to have various tools to combat the threats facing the public. That sometimes includes the AR-15 rifle.
In the aftermath of something particularly bad, law enforcement will use that recent event to describe why they have those weapons and train on them. It helps bring home the kind of threats police may face. But it’s not the totality of them.
For some people, though, that’s too difficult to grasp.
Some days the newspaper provides true insight of real benefit to readers. Last week, the Pensacola News Journal did us all an important public service in that spirit.
The March 26 PNJ article “Santa Rosa deputies train with new AR-15s” was an eye opener, raising serious questions for politicians, local sheriffs, law enforcement leaders around the country, and our valued and respected police officers who risk their lives daily to maintain public safety to the benefit of us all.
The article quotes the Santa Rosa County Sheriff and lead firearms instructor.
I don’t know about you but reading those words left me coldly taken aback. So accurate a description of life in gun-rife America, and so accurate a description of the dangers, stresses, and fears that our police face continually, particularly when they are called to intervene in situations involving weapons of any type or firepower.
The article left me with many serious questions that scream for responsible, intelligent answers in the wake of Boulder, Atlanta, El Paso, Las Vegas, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Virginia Tech, Parkland, Virginia Beach, Sandy Hook, Aurora, San Bernadino, Columbine and so many other mass shootings, and in view of so many deaths among rank-and-file law enforcement as well as the civilian population from individual incidents.
The questions for our local county and city police leadership, their counterparts around the country, and our political leaders: Why haven’t you supported national efforts to limit or ban assault weapons, the kind of weapons you are now buying in your effort to match the firepower of the “bad guys” as you and the NRA describe them? Will you now?
Why haven’t you supported national efforts to require formal weapons training when purchasing a firearm (of whatever type) since your own organization requires more than two days of training to learn to use and deploy the AR15 responsibly, particularly in stressful situations? Will you now?
Wow. So much fear in one person. It’s downright sad.
But it’s a fair question. Why have so many police officers opposed assault weapon bans? Will they now?
Probably not, and the reason is the same reason so many rank-and-file officers generally oppose gun control of any stripe. For one thing, they know the problem isn’t with the average citizen and never has been. The flip side is that they also know that criminals of any stripe, including mass murderers, will find other ways to inflict horrific atrocities on the public.
Just because the Nice truck attack was terrorism doesn’t mean some deranged jackwagon couldn’t try to do the same thing.
Meanwhile, numerous people use the AR-15 and similar rifles for sporting purposes, such as shooting competitions and varmint hunting, as well as personal defense. It’s a better system for some people to use because it’s adjustable, unlike your average shotgun.
Plus, as bad as that list of mass shootings sounds, let’s think about something for a second. The author was able to list mass shootings.
Go ahead and list gang shootings.
You can’t, right? That’s because they’re so plentiful. They’re common as hell, and pretty much none of those aren’t carried out with AR-15s. That’s where the greatest loss of life actually is. It’s not mass shootings, but gang shootings.
Mass shootings don’t even account for one percent of firearm-related fatalities each year. They’re a blip on the statistical radar.
Because of that, though, they’re news. See, there’s a certain paradox when it comes to the news. The media doesn’t generally report on the common, but on the unusual. Dog bites man isn’t a story. Man bites dog is.
In this case, mass shootings are the man bites dog kind of story. They’re rare and horrific, so they resonate.
Yet that media reporting creates fear. It creates hysteria over these kinds of events, so people like the author demand our rights be infringed just so they can feel a little safer.
That’s not how our rights are supposed to work, though.
And yeah, a lot of police officers know that. They know that the gangbangers killing each other are using stolen guns, completely bypassing gun control. They know that AR-15s are useful for them for a variety of reasons, including responses to mass shootings, but also allowing them to respond to heavily armed criminals who will still get guns no matter what.
The author asks a question, but I suspect he can’t even begin to comprehend the answer.