Debates about guns, gun control, and excessive use of force by police have become a daily fact of life in the United States. Gun advocates continually point to the ambiguous second amendment which they claim gives everyone the right to own any weapon they choose without restriction. Americans in favor of some form of gun control suggest that the thousands of individuals killed by guns yearly, and specific tragedies such as those at Sandy Hook, and an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, should motivate Congress to pass sensible changes in our laws to protect the innocent. What about poorly trained police officers; should they carry guns?
Taking the life of another human being by using a gun is easy. It is impersonal. Death by gunshot committed by a law enforcement officer occurs several times a week across the nation.
The most recent incident caused the death of a 34-year-old woman. She was shot and killed by a policeman in front of her husband and four-year-old son. The police report says that officers were at the Burlington, Iowa home of Autumn Mae Steele around 10:25 in the morning to mediate a domestic dispute. The family dog, a German shepherd, reportedly startled Officer Jesse Hill. He shot at the dog as he was falling backwards onto the snow; as he continued to fire his weapon as he fell; Steele was struck and killed
Steele had been in jail, and the officers were escorting her to her home. An argument ensued between the woman and her husband, Gabriel, as he was placing their son in a car.
Police are quick to draw their weapons. They are fully aware that guns are easily acquired by any individual in our nation, and fear that they may be seriously injured or killed, forces them to react in a defensive manor. Poor training also contributes to their lack of ability to control unclear situations.
The debate about individuals and guns rages on, but there has also been an ongoing debate about whether or not law enforcement should carry weapons on their person.
An unofficial survey was conducted online by Debate.org. Because the poll received responses from all over the world, the results were mixed. The conclusion was far different than if the discussion was limited to the United States. Sixty percent believed that law enforcement should not be issued guns; forty percent believed they should carry loaded weapons.
Those in favor of arming police with guns offered a myriad of reasons. The prime reason was that they believe most criminals police encounter are themselves armed, and in order to subdue a suspect, law enforcement must be able to protect themselves.
The major arguments against issuing police guns were centered on two topics. Many believed that they are intended to be ‘peace officers,’ and they could be just as effective if they were issued non-lethal weapons such as batons or tonfas. The second argument pointed to recent stories in the news when officers were too quick to fire their weapons, and lives were lost.
Wherever you stand on the subject of guns in our country, logic and reason point to a necessary compromise. Our legislators no longer possess the ability to deliberate issues, or they refuse to.
No one wants to remove another amendment from our Constitution. However, universal background checks for gun purchases, and the elimination of sales of military-style weapons are reasonable.
If our government continues to make questionable decisions, or make none at all, we, the people must return to a nation of individuals who use intelligence instead of emotion to live our daily lives.
Opinion By James Turnage