Let’s Control the Government’s Guns

2013 02 13 SWAT

You might think that that’s a sarcastic comment, but it’s not. The increasing militarization of law enforcement agencies is totally unneccesary and deeply disturbing. Deroy Murdock explains why for the National Review in one of those rare pieces that I’d expect the Nation to also grudgingly agree with. There’s a lot of scary and wrong in that article, but the worst is definitely the police murder of Jose Guerna in 2011:

Fearing that criminals were invading his home on May 5, 2011, Iraq veteran Jose Guerena, 26, hid his wife and son, age 4, in a closet. He grabbed his rifle and went to investigate. An Arizona SWAT posse seeking marijuana kicked down Guerena’s front door, saw his rifle, and lethally pumped 71 bullets into him. Guerena did not fire a shot. Indeed, his rifle’s safety mechanism remained engaged. The dead father and husband had no criminal record, and his home was devoid of contraband.

Jose Guerena, murdered by a SWAT team while trying to defend his family.
Jose Guerena, murdered by a SWAT team while trying to defend his family.

None of the officers involved in killing Guerena ever faced criminal charges. Some of Guerena’s family members were later found to be guilty of drug trafficking, but Guerena himself has no criminal record, was never charged, and had no contraband of any kind in his home. All of this leads me to two thoughts:

  1. Murdock doesn’t fully diagnose the problem. It’s not just about excess money. It’s also about incentives: No government official wants to have to explain why cops got killed when a SWAT team was available. They get held responsible for that. They don’t get held responsible for killing innocent people or shooting the family dog. (Which they do a lot, read the article.)
  2. The fact that neither the Democrats or Republicans are willing to take a stand on this issue shows you how pathetic our current political parties are, and how divorced they are from common sense and basic principles.

1 thought on “Let’s Control the Government’s Guns”

  1. I know that military tries to train (at least in special forces folks) how ‘not’ to shoot. What I mean by that is, not shooting just because something moves or someone moves. Often in populated areas there are plenty of civilians, this is important and has saved lives.

    However I don’t think the police really train that. The issue is there is a tendency to shoot when you see a gun. That’s also part of training, even in the military. If they have a gun they get bullets as a gift.

    Once a shot is fired there’s not really a definitive way to process ‘where it came from’ so muscle memory takes over and you instinctively shoot ‘back’ even if it was a guy on your side that fired.

    It is hard to set a standard for when to, and when not to charge police for excessive use of force involving guns. When used, a gun is intended to kill not deter so the only responsive force for a police officer to protect himself tends to be with that same lethal force. In the military the enemy tends to be in a direction that is generally safe to fire you weapon at, where as in a civilian area that’s not necessarily so.

    However, when mistakes like this are made (where life is lost) some form of responsibility should be taken and there should be a means of dealing with it. On the subject of dogs (which I do love and understand that we don’t want them shot) the problem is that the dog will often warn the people in the house of something going on outside.

    To prevent this, as well as prevent the dog from attacking the officers while they are attempting to apprehend dangerous men (who may kill the officer) sadly the dog is often just shot because there’s no way to know if it’s an attack dog or a lap dog. Criminals tend to keep other than lap dogs and many have trained the dogs to attack. It’s a risk issue, where attempting to restrain the dog in some way is a greater risk to loss of human life and thus leads to dead dogs.

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