Over the last few years, from my work on a Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council, I've gotten to know a number of Oakland cops. They're solid professionals: intelligent, polite, competent, dedicated. I'm absolutely appalled at the events of this weekend, in which two police officers died in a hail of bullets from a young man they pulled over on a routine traffic stop, and two more died later when he shot at them from a closet with an AK-47. I have several comments on this:
To the members of the Oakland Police Department: my heart breaks for you. You have my deepest sympathy and my unqualified support.
To the people who feel the police are rude to them when they pull them over for a traffic violation: if they seem a little harsh, they're wondering whether you might possibly be another Lovelle Mixon. These aren't the first police officers to be killed during a routine traffic stop, and they won't (unfortunately) be the last. If you get pulled over, be polite to the officer, and the officer will (probably) be polite to you. And yes, I do know about D.W.B. (driving while black) - but I firmly believe that's a minority of officers.
To the NRA: You've had your Supreme Court decision. You definitely have the right to own guns and keep them in your house. Can we now have a conversation about what weapons you can own? There's probably nothing we can do about the semi-automatic pistol that killed the two traffic officers; but the SWAT team died in a hail of bullets from an AK-47. An AK-47 - that's a military weapon. Why can civilians even buy this damn thing? What are you going to do with it - hunt deer? You'd cut the deer in half. At one point, in this country, civilians couldn't buy these weapons, then we elected the neocons and that was repealed; can we please discuss, again, restricting civilian access to guns normally used on the battlefield? Two good officers are dead because a civilian - no, a paroled felon - had access to a military assault rifle. Frankly, members of the NRA, I hold you at least partially responsible because of your mindless insistence that anybody, anywhere, any time, should be able to own any weapon.