Legislatures (largely white) in 32 states have enacted statutes that allow citizens the privileges of concealing and carrying firearms.
Now it occurs to us, in light of the two most recent incidents of police action against armed citizens that have resulted in death for those citizens – Baton Rouge and St.Paul – that the error made in pushing for gun rights for all was in failing to inform police departments across the country that the landscape had changed. More, that police departments in 32 states needed to revise and redraw procedures for dealing with armed citizens – apart, that is, from simply shooting them because “He’s got a gun!”
Well, of course, he’s got a gun.
If police department personnel continue to think that only they should be armed, only they should have the right of “preserving and protecting” Americans, without being retrained to include in their responses to violence non-death scenarios, we’ve got a BIG PROBLEM on our hands. (We already know that to be true.)
What this reality includes is the economic inability of small and large towns and cities alike to actually concoct new procedures and new solutions to meeting armed citizens who may, or who may not, be doing anything threatening. Just carrying a gun today can lead to an action in which the carrier is shot or killed while the police involved feel threatened by the very presence of that firearm. Local police departments may not be flush enough to take the time to retrain and rearm their own forces. Working on limited budgets with the same old standards in place doesn’t cut it, can’t cut it anymore. And thinning the ranks of local police by age and background and habit and attitude without having the loot to hire new, younger, more sophisticated troops who can begin to get a grip in 32 states on this problem simply takes too long.
The young woman and mother in St. Paul who bravely streamed her boyfriend’s arrest and death and continued to stream what happened to her and her child at the scene took an enormous risk. And thank God she did. She may have saved countless lives in the next few weeks by having done so.
The man on her right in the front seat of her car told the on-the-scene officer that (a) he had a gun and (b) that he had a carrying permit, and that (c) he was reaching into his pocket to get the permit to show the officer. That, folks, was as far as he got. The officer pulled out his weapon and shot him in his right arm, and then shot him three more times, killing him.
But his girlfriend stayed cool. Incredibly cool and adult, speaking softly, narrating what had happened, obeying the officer even as he ordered her from behind the wheel and to walk backward towards a line of other police officers, all of whom had their weapons out and aimed at her back. In the background, of course, was her child, watching and confused, certainly.
The eventual disposition of this case will remain unknown for a short time. St. Paul citizens last night had already gathered to protest.
But the incident itself, as the incident in Baton Rouge, clearly illustrates (a) the fear of the police in the face of a carrying citizen, and (b) the confusion over what to do facing him or her: reason or fire.
What many feared would become “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” when carrying concealed weapons became epidemic is on our horizon.
We have about ten minutes to stop it.
Maybe after Dallas we’re down to eight.