CA bill would require police to wear guns, Tasers on different sides

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Whenever we write about California, it’s almost always something critical of what they’re doing, have done, or trying to do.

In fairness, California does a lot of stupid stuff.

But a new bill in the Golden State seeks to keep officers from accidentally firing their pistols when they mean to use their tasers. It’s not the worst thing I’ve seen out of the state.

California is moving to require police officers to holster their handguns and stun guns on separate sides of their equipment belts to prevent accidental shootings after two people were killed in Oakland and Minnesota.

A bill passed the state Assembly on a 68-0 vote Monday and now heads to the Senate.

The separation of lethal and less-lethal weapons will make it less likely that officers will confuse the two or inadvertently draw the wrong one, said Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey.

Officers involved in the high-profile slayings of Oscar Grant in Oakland and more recently Daunte Wright in Minnesota said they thought they were using their Tasers but instead fired their handguns.

Lackey, a former police officer, argues that wearing both on the same side has led to problems.

Meanwhile, another former police officer, Democrat Jim Cooper, argues that the bill goes too far to address what is a rare problem.

Now, I agree that it’s a rare problem. It’s not exactly common for an officer to draw their firearm when they mean to use their Taser.

But if we go with something being relatively rare, I expect Cooper to oppose the next bit of gun control legislation proposed by his party.

Look, what this bill is proposing is already accepted policy at a lot of police departments as it is. Why? Because if you’re forced to cross-draw your taser while straight-drawing your firearm, you’re very unlikely to confuse the two should you need to pull either.

It’s just that simple.

Because it’s policy, it’s probably not the worse idea in the world to mandate it across the state.

Yes, I get that these mistakes are rare. However, when they happen, they’re fatal. Moreover, their fatal at the hands of someone who works for the government.

That means the onus really is on the government to prevent them from happening at all.

If this bill isn’t the solution, then maybe we should be talking about what is. I’m more than open to having that discussion because people have been killed by the police who weren’t actually threatening them. It’s not a hypothetical situation. It’s actually happened.

Further, it doesn’t just end one life, it ruins another.

The officer who makes the mistake–and it’s an easy mistake to make, I’m sure–finds their career over and will possibly end up in prison for taking someone’s life like that.

So yeah, I think this is probably a good bill. If people have a better idea, I’m willing to listen. Until then, why not at least consider using the best practice we’ve found so far to prevent a horrible tragedy from occurring again when it can be prevented.

Especially when no one has managed to show me how putting the two weapons on opposite sides will make things worse.