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Guns and cops

Open carry – meaning – walking around with a gun in plain right. There are photos of people carrying rifles, or hand guns,  posted on news pages and blogs, as well as other social media, like they are throwbacks from the wild west era. It is so dangerous “out there” that some folk feel the need to show their respect for the second amendment – the right to carry weapons.

I grew up in another culture – on U.S. Military bases, where guns were common, and yet rarely seen. The guards at the gates were always armed, being either Marines or Military Police. My father was trained on weapons use, but he entered the military as an expert marksman. He and his brother hunted rabbits to put food on their family’s table. All of the military personnel had to qualify on a shooting range. None of these military personnel needed to open carry. Most of our fathers taught us weapons safety and how to fire a hand gun. My dad also taught me how to use a rifle. We learned very early that weapons should never be misused. I have no experience with current rules about weapons on base, but many parents continue to teach gun safety to their children. (According to military dependents I have interviewed.)

The civilian world is a different culture, filled with wannabes. Dress up individuals and the play the role. 911 gets a call from a freak who couldn’t make it through boot camp, but who gave people the impression he was a Marine. This caller claimed to have seen a black guy with a rifle. That is all it took for the white cop to burst through the doors of Wal-Mart ready to kill. Motive, opportunity and another victim of police violence. No moral values – cops are not being evaluated for core moral values. This isn’t purely the militarization of the police – there is something else missing.

Yet, as usual the cops find yet another way to ramp up their kill numbers by shooting a man carrying a TOY GUN in Wal-Mart. The true numbers showing police violence has been hidden until recently. Local news media publishes obituaries and report police activity, but there has been no centralized collection and reporting of police violence on civilians. There has been a yearly tally of police killed while on duty and memorials. As it should be. That number shows us that being a cop isn’t all about doughnuts etc. That number is like a goal – to make that number LOWER every year.

The other number is humans and their pets killed by police violence. I have not read any reports of a SWAT team taking out group of white guys and gals strutting around showing off their weapons. But we do have video of cops shooting unarmed human beings. And we have eyewitness reports of cops executing unarmed teenagers in broad daylight (Mike Brown, Ferguson, Missouri). The eyewitness reports agree – which is not that common. The strongest eyewitness reports was of a worker who had a clear view of the street and the Darren Wilson murdering the unarmed teenage, with his hands up, surrendering. The road worker described what he was seeing and he raised his hands, showing what he saw Mike Brown doing. The worked had no idea his eyewitness report was being recorded. A lot of credit goes to that citizen field reporter who captured that first person eyewitness account.

The huge difference between the open carry exhibitionist and the growing numbers of unarmed people who are shot by cops is skin color. The Wal-Mart example is one of the worst, and yet these cops were forgiven by the grand jury.

Digby ends her article on Salon with these words:

Surely these open carry people, however well intentioned, should realize that nice white men and women openly carrying firearms on the street aren’t being gunned down on sight by police officers. The worst thing that happens to them is they are forced to show their ID. It’s unarmed black men (and unarmed mentally ill people of all races) who are being gunned down on sight by police officers. Are they agitating for their right to shoot cops? I doubt it. Nor should they be.

The problem isn’t that people don’t have enough guns. The problem is that police are too often using the guns they have. That won’t be solved by a bunch of average suburban white people wandering around public spaces with their rifles slung over their backs. Those aren’t the people most likely to be shot by police –whether they’re armed or not. They’re missing the point entirely.

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