The revolution could start with: No guns allowed
No guns allowed
The ills of a society
America needs to address its ills with all deliberate speed. A total ban on firearms for citizens and law enforcement should be given serious consideration, at all levels of government. It would be America’s second Revolution but it would be fought without weapons so casualties would be minimal. Taking a closer look at the states and comparing America’s attitude towards policing with other countries yields some much needed food for thought.
The thirteen colonies were established as an independent nation after the Revolutionary War and the near obliteration of Native Americans. All in all, America was, and is a very violent country. In 1924 Captain John Dillin gave much credit to the long rifle, he wrote, “[the long rifle] made possible the settlement of a continent; and ultimately freed our country of foreign domination. Light in weight; graceful in line; economical in consumption of powder and lead; fatally precise; distinctly American”.
The use of firearms has become a staple in American culture. We kill our children, our children’s children, our neighbors, our neighbor’s children, school children, church goers, college students, club attendees and police officers kill citizens. America is a country of mass killers.
On June 30, 2016 in the City of Detroit an uncle and nephew got into an argument (http://www.wxyz.com). The uncle picked up a gun and killed his nephew. A family member stated that the uncle and nephew were close; however, they did argue often, but, “….if there had not been a gun in the house, the argument would have blown over with both still being alive.” “If there had not been a gun in the house” are simple words but they carry a message of revolutionary proportions.
If guns had not been available for the Sandy Hook killer; if guns had not been available for the killer in the Charleston, North Carolina church; if guns had not been available for the shooter at the Pulse night club in Orlando; if a gun had not been in the hands of George Zimmerman; if a gun had not been in the hands of an uncle in the City of Detroit; if a gun had not been in the hands of the Baton Rouge police officer who took the life of Alton Sterling, and if guns had not been in the hands of an untrained trigger-happy Minnesota police officer, Philando Castile could have gone home. Moreover, if guns had not been available Dallas would not be in perpetual mourning over five fallen police officers.
Washington Post writer Rick Noack observed that the practice of walking unarmed patrols is a fact of police life everywhere in the U.K. except from Northern Ireland. “Since the 19th century, British officers on patrol have considered themselves to be guardians of citizens, who should be easily approachable. There are far fewer incidents of deadly clashes between police and suspected criminals”. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report there were 461 “justifiable homicides” committed by U.S. police in 2013, there was not a single one in the United Kingdom the same year. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/02/18/5-countries-where-police-officers-do-not-carry-firearms-and-it-works-well/
There is a general consensus among criminologists and sociologist that to abruptly disarm police officers in the United States would initially be detrimental, but the long term benefits of lives being saved would be remarkable. Such a radical undertaking would need to address the origins of crime, as well as addressing renewed policies that would tackle economic and racial equality, according to Oddsson Guðmundur, sociologist at Northern Michigan University.
“Since January 1, 2015, police officers in the U.S. have killed more than 600 people, with 100 of those deaths occurring in March alone. The most visible incidents depict law enforcement as a system that is inherently prejudiced toward people of color” (Chris Weller). Moreover, the obvious conclusion dictates that police officers are hazards in the community, especially in the African American community.
Suffice it to say that people of color in America are marginalized inhabitants and this marginalized group remains persona non grata. What does it mean to be a marginalized inhabitant in the country of your birth? Namely, it means to be constantly battling for economic gain, striving to become political accountable, continuously warding off stereotypes and ultimately fighting a system that was never designed with you in mind.
The first year of Barack Obama's presidency marked an upward spiral in the purchase of firearms. U.S. gun manufacturers reveal that they drastically increased their output during the Obama years. In 2009, according to the ATF, manufacturers produced 5.6 million guns. By 2013 their annual production had just about doubled, up to 10.9 million guns that year. The calculation of this gun onslaught is fundamental: One black president equals several scared white communities.
Civilians and law enforcement believe that having guns is the only way to stay safe, because the perception is that everyone else has a gun. However, Weller cautions us that”…. pumping more firepower into an already broken system won’t fix it”. http://www.techinsider.io/american-police-kill-more-people-in-one-day-than-norway-cops-have-in-10-years-2015-7
Sara Miller Llana, writer for the Christian Science Monitor discloses that U.S. police training lasts on average of 19 weeks. German police train for at least 130 weeks. This additional training prepares German officers for a broader knowledge and understanding of an array of situations.
Financial stability and pay grade is also a serious concern for police officers in America. Statistics Canada, a government agency, revealed that more than half of the Toronto Police earns six figures when counting overtime pay. The chief of police indicates that police officers view their work as a career rather than a job, with good benefits and opportunities to advance. “Everybody comes on as a frontline uniform patrol officer, and there’s opportunities to specialize in different things”
The most immediate solution in the states, according to Noack, involves radically rethinking how law enforcement is done. Examples from other countries might be a starting point. Other experts point out that police no longer come from the communities they serve. Cops are often out of uniform and in unmarked vehicles while performing their duties. This is a recipe for disaster. The undercover cop lying in wait for a victim is Hollywood’s box office success but it is a civilian’s nightmare. Patrolling where one lives makes for better policing outcomes. Foot patrols and face to face communication is a far better strategy than counting the dead.
M. David believes that whatever position one takes on how we disarm the police, this discussion is clearly one that we should be having in our communities ( Current News |). Instead of talking about how many bullets the people need in their magazines, [semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines as well as semiautomatic, center-fire rifles with bullet buttons] one should be asking why police are patrolling our streets with guns in the first place, and is open carry a throwback to the Wild West?
Those who live in America, or visit it, might do best to regard [mass shootings] as an endemic [and] local health hazard which, for deep-rooted cultural, social, economic and political reasons, the country is incapable of addressing. http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/06/charleston-massacre
No guns in the home. No guns on the streets: Simple words to start a revolution.
A nation pauses
© 2016 Linda Joy Johnson