Thursday, April 22, 2021

Cops and Guns

There has been a lot of public discussion lately of why police are armed, and why armed police are called to situations which could be - and maybe should be - solved with something other than armed force.  This is especially the case when unarmed people of color end up being shot.  On one NPR discussion the other day, I heard a commentator ask why cops need guns anyway; and I didn't hear anyone respond with the reason that came to my mind.

Full disclosure here:  I am a community policing volunteer, and have been for over a decade.  I'm on the steering committee of a local council that is supposed to be a conduit between Neighborhood Watch groups in our area and the police.  I've worked with a number of cops, who were about as varied as most groups of humans.  As for their attitudes toward people of color, I couldn't tell you.  The neighborhood I live in is about as white and upper income as Oakland, California gets.  But I never heard of any of the cops we worked with shooting anyone; and believe me, in this area when a cop shoots someone, it makes the news.

But why do cops need to be armed?  British cops aren't, among quite a list of others.  I say American cops need to be armed because Americans, as a group, are armed.  In a 2017 survey cited in Wikipedia, there were 120.5 firearms for every 100 citizens in the U.S., the vast majority of them not registered.  And Money magazine says that, during 2020, nearly 40 million guns were bought legally (note the caveat!), and another 4.1 million just in January 2021.  There are literally more guns than people in this country.

This has nothing to do with how cops are trained to handle situations, or their general attitude toward people of color, which is a whole different issue.  But an unarmed policeman in America would be an absolute sitting duck.  He assumes the people he's looking at are  armed because, in fact, they may be.

Our problem in the U.S. today is not cops with guns.  Our problem is too many guns, generally.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021


 We will all remember January 6, 2021.  That was the day a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building, pushing past the Capitol Police, breaking windows to get into the building.  If you were living under a rock and missed this, you can find details in any major newspaper or online; I followed it on CNN and in the New York Times.  You might prefer the Washington Post, which provides the coverage free.

Donald Trump sat in the West Wing and watch the television coverage as his supporters mobbed and ransacked the Capitol Building, forcing the evacuation of Congress.  I watched the coverage and was amazed that I saw so few firearms among the mob, although one woman was shot and killed.  I gather from CNN that as the situation got worse, his staff begged him to go on television and try to calm the mob, and he refused.

These people think they are patriots; I think they are a mob.  I know Donald Trump is no patriot; his only interest is his own interest, the state of the country means nothing to him, as we can tell by the way he ignores the pandemic death toll.  Unfortunately, Donald Trump is one of the greatest con men since P. T. Barnum, and he has somehow managed to convince these people that everything he says is gospel, and if he says the election was rigged, it must be so.  So the "patriots" mobbed the Capitol building and accomplished - absolutely nothing.

I suspect today's rally was intended to whip up the crowd to where they would do something, anything, to stop the certification of the electoral college vote, in hopes of delaying Biden's inauguration.  It failed.  Congressional leaders have already said they will continue the process tonight.  

It is not patriotism to refuse to accept the outcome of an honest election, just because a liar says it wasn't.  It is not patriotism, when an election has taken place and been certified by every state, to try to overturn the results because you don't like them.  I've voted in a number of elections where I didn't like the results.  I don't care what their t-shirts say, nobody who took part in that mob was a patriot, and I hope any who did actual damage (like, breaking windows) will be arrested and charged.

I have two worries about this.  First, Trump is in office for 2 more weeks, what in God's name will he try now?  Second, all these people will still be around after Joe Biden is inaugurated.