We watch a lot of British mystery shows. In them, almost without exception, cops turn out to be the good guys. Yes, there are references now and again to a “bad cop”, but that is the exception. Plus my personal experiences throughout my relatively long life tells me that most cops are good guys, even the ones who ticketed me for, in my view, questionable reasons—even there, not many.
But, I live my life as: “Waiting for God, while White”.
Now, to be fair, I have lived my long life largely in pursuit of honest causes. I have tried always not to break the law, although the 60’s and 70’s may have tested that notion in small ways. I ask you, does this dude look like someone who breaks laws?
So, for many years, I have been observing the zeal with which so many Americans pursue the gun thing. I understand the desire to hunt, having done it myself. But that really does not define the American obsession with guns. No. Largely, one does not take an automatic machine gun on a deer hunt, or any hunt for that matter. And, to be fair, most hunters do not hunt with handguns, automatic or otherwise. No, they largely rely on rifles or shotguns.
So, where does this obsession with weaponry that exceeds all reasonable definitions of hunting originate? It seems to me that it begins with folks, mostly but not exclusively Male, who are afraid, or who feel in some way inferior, folks who fear losing out, or who actually feel threatened by people who are in some way different than they are. In America, that translates into anyone who is non-Anglo-Saxon—folks who physically look different, and, often who speak a different language. So, guns help such fearful folks to again feel robust and equal to all those people who live around them, but who are in some way, different.
Now, in the US, this preoccupation with guns also translates into the arming of police. Throughout the US, police forces are armed routinely, regardless of the mission. So patrolling for traffic violations, or patrolling for gang activity are the same. Police are armed in both cases. And the result? Well, in one study, 957 deaths were caused by police in 2016 alone. In Britain, by contrast, 23 people were killed by police between 2006 and 2016. So, one effect of arming our police is that more civilians are killed by police. Now it is equally the case that more police are killed in the US than in Britain, partly a result of the citizenry being more heavily armed here.
So, basically, more guns equals more deaths by firearms. The more guns, the more deaths. But the deaths by police shootings are unequal by race. In one study:
In an analysis of 4,653 fatal shootings for which information about both race and age were available, the researchers found a small but statistically significant decline in white deaths (about 1%) but no significant change in deaths for people of color. There were 5,367 fatal police shootings during the five-year period (2015-2020), according to the Washington Post’s database. In the case of armed victims, Native Americans were killed by police at a rate three times that of white people (77 total killed). Black people were killed at 2.6 times the rate of white people (1,265 total killed); and Hispanics were killed at nearly 1.3 times the rate of white people (889 total killed). Among unarmed victims, Black people were killed at three times the rate (218 total killed), and Hispanics at 1.45 times the rate of white people (146 total killed).
So, then we come to the George Floyd killing, where guns were not an issue. Here, instead, we have a policeman, Derek Chauvin who murdered Floyd by handcuffing him, throwing him to the ground and then kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes. But he was filmed in the act of committing murder, and then he was tried in a court of law and convicted. And most folks breathed a sigh of relief, because of the prior belief that, somehow he was going to be acquitted. A small cheer went out throughout the land. Yes, a conviction. Why the cheer? Simple. White police officers are almost never tried and convicted for killing Black folks. But stop and think about that. We are excited that someone caught on video killing a black man was actually tried and convicted. Is that not pathetic? I wonder whether we would be so thrilled had a white man been caught on tape killing his wife out in the middle of Fifth Avenue? Or better yet, how about if an ex-president been caught on tape walking out on Fifth Avenue and then just shooting someone at random?
This all leads me to two parallel tracks of study—maybe studies by a National Panel of some kind.
Track One: There have been many groups out and about shouting that we “defund the police”. And by “defunding”, I assume folks intend that we get rid of all our official police agencies around the country. Were we to forge ahead and rid ourselves of all those pesky police forces, I’m sure certain folks would be delighted—the Mafia, all organized crime gangs, the Mexican Drug Cartels, and every small-time crook in our Land. It would be like a giant shot in the arm for every crook in our country.
But maybe, instead of acting terminally stupid, we could consider alternatives. Maybe “Disarm” the police units not involved in pursuing violent crime events--British police offer a case study here. . Maybe our traffic cops on duty downtown and on our highways don’t actually need to be armed. Or how about the cops stationed in our public schools? At any rate, what I suggest is that a National panel study police-public interactions by type of units and try to reach some logical conclusions about which units need to be armed and which do not.
Track Two: A National Commission on gun control. Yeah, maybe our citizenry is now, by almost any standard, overarmed. The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms. It was ratified on December 15, 1791, along with nine other articles of the Bill of Rights. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court affirmed for the first time that the right belongs to individuals, for self-defense in the home, while also including, as dicta, that the right is not unlimited and does not preclude the existence of certain long-standing prohibitions such as those forbidding "the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill" or restrictions on "the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons". In McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) the Supreme Court ruled that state and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing upon this right.
And this “right” has been argued to death over many decades. I understand that the NRA, acting as the surrogate for our Nation’s gun manufacturers, would oppose ANY form of gun control, and will continue to do so. Apparently gun manufacturers have no limits to their Chutzpah. Neither do they seem to possess even the slightest degree of ethical or moral principles. Money tops everything. It is almost as though auto manufacturers were to oppose driving tests and licensing. Oh, they don’t? Huh!
Clearly under a Trump Administration, chances of such studies approach the chances of snowballs in Hell. But Trump was voted out of office on November 3, 2020. Remember that big vote??? Yeah, that one. So, now we have a Biden-Harris Administration. Maybe there is a marginally greater chance of moving forward on such study tracks. To be fair, we now have Mitch, and Teddy, and the Proud Boys, and the KKK, and Trump’s KKKNeoNazicultische clan that will certainly oppose any study involving guns. But maybe the Nation’s electorate needs to understand what motivates the republican party—that would be MONEY and Opposition to anything Democrats propose—ANYTHING.
So, go for it, Joe and Kamala. The soul of our Nation is at stake here.
Oh, and then, after we finish those studies, maybe a third National Panel needs to examine Racism in America. It’s real, folks. It really is, and it lies at the heart of Republican politics (remember that Donald Dude? He was/is a RACIST. Yeah, I said it).