Do we need more use of guns by police and endangered citizens?
In view of the headline, I should pause to allow a moment for the hardcore anti-gun folks to regain their composure … unbunch their undies … and put out the hair fire. The very idea of possessing and using one more gun results in an emotional meltdown on the left. But let us – for one moment – calm down and look at some facts about gun deaths in America.
About 48,000 Americans die each year at the business end of a gun. Fifty-four percent of them are suicides. Some suicides make sense – especially those associated with nasty terminal illnesses. Others are obviously the result of mental issues triggered by depression, loss and feelings of inferiority. Taking away guns is not likely to reduce that number significantly. People determined to end their own lives have innumerable other means to accomplish their sad mission. That situation is not correctable by law enforcement or gun control. It is more of a mental health issue.
That leaves around 22,000 dying in other circumstances. Approximately 20,000 of those are victims of murder. Those are the cases we focus on myopically – as we should. But we should not ignore the other deaths.
Despite all the focus and angst over police shooting, they represent the lowest number of gun deaths. Surprised? Deadly shootings by police account for only 2.9 percent of gun related deaths. That is lower than justifiable homicide by citizens defending themselves, loved ones or even property. That runs around 7.3 percent – more than double the number killed by police. Ponder that. Citizens defending themselves or loved ones kill more criminals than police. Even accidental gun deaths – around 3.0 percent are slightly higher than the police number. That leaves a small number of gun deaths as “undetermined” – about 400 per year.
In analyzing gun-related deaths in America, one might conclude that the bad guys are winning. Allow me to explain.
Let us put aside suicides, accidents and unknown causes. That leaves around 20,000 gun deaths – 43 percent — the result of murders by the bad guys (and gals) and approximately 10 percent by the good guys (and gals) — police and defending citizens. That means that the bad folks are out gunning the good folks by 4-to-1.
That raises the question as to why the good law-abiding folks – including the police – are not using all those guns we have in America more often? That is a good question in view of the unprecedented level of crimes we see being perpetrated across America. To put it bluntly, we are experiencing a surge in violent crime and a reduction in dead criminals.
Initially, we can blame the soft-on-crime philosophy that has overtaken the prosecutorial arm of law enforcement. Seeing repeat offenders spinning through the revolving door at the prosecutor’s office has demoralized police. Why risk life or limb to make arrests that have no meaning?
Add to that the radical left movement against policing. Police risk everything – including prison – any time they shoot a prospective criminal. Yes, there are bad shootings – and those need to be addressed through the criminal process. Those on the anti-police left want virtually every police killing to be treated as murder. They want to defund police … take away their guns in favor social workers with clipboards … even abolish policing, such as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) … and provide foreign criminals with sanctuary. Federal agents refuse to cooperate with local sheriffs and police departments.
Police departments have been ordered to stand down as rioters rampage – looting, burning, assaulting and vandalizing. They must stand down even as rioters and other bad guys attack them with knives, rocks, Molotov cocktails, urine, spit and even brandishing guns. Police cars have been set on fire with officers in them — and no one gets arrested, much less shot.
The legal justification for using lethal force is a belief that the officer or others are in imminent danger of bodily harm or death. That also generally applies to a citizen’s use of a gun.
As the theory goes … if the crook is not engaged in a capital (death penalty) crime, they should not be killed in the commission of it. As a result, we have the victims of crimes being arrested for simply defending themselves or their property. In some instances, criminals have actually sued the victims for “excessive use of force.” A rapist who was beaten by the victim’s boyfriend sued and won a settlement. That is just crazy.
But that legal license to use deadly force has been undermined by laws and court decisions that say one can only use a gun if they are certain a person is going to kill them. You are not allowed to shoot and kill a person who simply breaks into your house and threatens with a knife or gun.
We are seeing mobs of violent criminals bursting into retail establishments to steal, destroy and injure, and yet clerks and owners are prevented from using guns for protection. They can only standby … allow the merchandise to be taken … knowing none of the perpetrators will ever be arrested, convicted and sent to prison.
We can do two things at one time. We can reduce the restraints — official and psychological – on police use of guns and still come down hard on rogue police who, themselves, commit murder with guns. The same with private citizens. We can separate murder from justifiable homicide. With regard to the latter, we can consider the use of deadly force justifiable anytime a person breaks into a house … starts grabbing merchandise in a store … attacks on the street … resists arrest. We need to expand the definition of when deadly force is justified.
Crimes have to be considered on a case-by-case basis, but swinging the pendulum back in favor of greater use of the gun to protect and defend by police and law-abiding citizens is not an unreasonable notion. A better ratio between murders by bad guys and taking down bad guys by good guys would be a positive outcome for everyone.
So, there ‘tis.