Prescription for reducing police violence

Photo by Antonio DIllard from Pexels

Last night, I didn’t even start writing my blog. I did a little of my paid work instead. I have been trying to stay out of politics lately, but current events have me dipping my toes in again. If you can’t handle my politics, look away now.

I’ve been getting myself exercised over this George Floyd tragedy. I think it is past time to change the police rules of using force nationally, something the Amateur President will never do. I think there is a simple fix that would at least reduce violence, even without tackling the racial bias.

Here are a few rules that I think will take a big step in reducing police violence in the US.

  1. If an officer performs an act of any kind that results in the death or severe injury of anyone, suspect or not, they should be suspended without pay until the incident has been investigated. This would make an officer think twice about excessive or lethal use of force.
    1. A Police officer charged with unlawful killing should be treated like any other perpetrator. A jailed officer is at risk in prison. Again, that should be a deterrent, not an excuse.
    2. An officer who kills should perform only desk duties for a period of at least six months after their suspension has ended and undergo a use-of-force training program and re-certification.
    3. An officer found guilty of manslaughter or assault should be dismissed without severance pay.
    4. If the incident is found by an inquiry panel to be in the public interest or to mitigate a severe and present danger to the community, then the officer will be reinstated with back pay, but undergo use-of-force training.
  2. Officers should be fined for every round of ammunition they use. This would reduce the excessive amount of force used in an incident. Bullets should be used to disable not kill a suspect. Police officers are neither judge, nor jury, and are charged with keeping the peace, not dispensing perceived justice.
  3. Police should never use live rounds in a riot situation. Baton charges should be banned. Indiscriminant wielding of a baton should be discouraged and punished if violated repeatedly.
  4. Accessories. If officers do not act to stop another violent offending officer, they will also be suspended, but with pay at the discretion of the most senior officer, pending investigation.
  5. The use of lethal force should be rare, and performed only by special armed-response officers trained specifically for that purpose, responding to a direct kill order from a senior officer.
    1. Ordinary officers are armed for their own protection, not for aggressive use of force or to stop a fleeing perpetrator.
    2. Officers should only draw a firearm when they are in danger from an armed suspect, not to coerce a suspect.
    3. Drawing a firearm at a traffic stop is unnecessary.
    4. An ethos of keeping the peace should be ingrained in officers, to be preferred over enforcing the law.

Police officers are keepers of the peace, not a branch of the military. It is not a job for someone on a power trip. They should be role models, rather than people to be feared.

In countries where the ordinary police office is unarmed, they are treated with respect by the community. They work FOR us, not as an adversary.

I freely admit to not being a fan of the second amendment, but at the very least, it needs to revert to the pre-1994 interpretation, which allowed the government to more strictly regulate who owned weapons, and what type of weapons. A semi-automatic assault rifle is not a defensive weapon, nor a hunting weapon. It has no sport use.

In general, a gun is an offensive weapon. If you find yourself endangered by an armed intruder, it is too late. All firearms should be kept in a locked cabinet, and all gun owners should have required certification/training and licensing for each individual armament they own. They are not toys, and they are not collector’s items, nor are they a means to settle a dispute. They are weapons and anyone who carries one is a potential murderer.

Take guns off the streets and you will reduce violence by officers and criminals.

Yes, I know the arguments. There will always be criminals, and they will find ways to have guns, regardless of whether they are legal. And the idiots will also say that it will bring a rise in knife crime. You can’t kill someone with a knife at a distance. (At least it is very difficult.)

Here are just a couple of statistics (per 100,000):

UK Violent gun deaths (ownership of guns highly restricted): 0.06

US Violent gun deaths (almost completely unrestricted): 4.43

(excludes self-harm/suicide)

 Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2017)

That means for every person killed by gun violence in the UK, 74 Americans are killed. If the US stopped making guns (other than for military use), that would reduce the proliferation of weapons in other countries as well.

We are the 28th worst country for gun violence in the world, and many of the 27 worse are in south or central America, and consequently buy/obtain their guns from us. If we cut the supply, we make it harder and more expensive for their gangs and cartels to arm themselves.

Guns are also the most effective means for suicide. Remove the guns, make the means less effective. Save lives.

It is time to be reasonable, and show common sense.

Sick of it!

Google+ is my home page, but I am getting so sick of it right now. For some reason I have been receiving a lot of updates from “conservative” organizations. I’m not quite sure why. I’m about as much of a lefty as it gets, and if my feed has anything to do with what I click on, something is not right in Denmark. (Denmark is not quite as left as I am, but it’s a typical socialist European country. In fact, if someone offered me a job there, I would be happy to relocate. It would get me away from the rednecks here.)

How unpatriotic, you say? Not at all. America has been taken over by reactionaries and bigots who claim they want to take America back. Really, they mean they want to reclaim America, but if we take them literally, what do they want to take America back to? Pre-1968 civil rights? Pre-womens’ vote, pre-abolition? They just want to TAKE America.

Now I’m over-reacting. NOT!

Most of today’s hoohah was about President Obamas talk of an executive order limiting (very slightly … minutely) access to the purchase of guns by requiring a few sellers to do background checks on purchasers. If you asked me, I would start by requiring all purchasers of firearms to go on a gun safety course like they do in Canada. Then I would ban assault-style weapons, then high-caliber, and ultimately all weapons. Yes, I would repeal the second amendment (and I would do it sensibly over a decade, with gun-amnesties where owners could sell back their guns.)

Blasphemy!

I lived for over 20 years in a country (UK) where guns (other than hunting weapons, which must be kept in a locked cabinet when not in use) were banned (in 1994 after Dunblane). The UK has less than 7% per capita gun-related homicides than the US. Only specially-trained police carry guns, and they are in the minority. Gun advocates howl that it is the most violent country on Earth, due to knife violence. Frankly, I felt a lot safer there than I do here. (No idiot mass killings.)

Back to Google+. First to chime in was the NRA. “Guns don’t kill, people do.” Let’s get the facts straight. People kill using guns … should we just outlaw people? If people are the problem, dammit, ban them. Then the rednecks all chimed in. “Hand’s off our guns. Impeach Obama.” (At least have the courtesy and patriotism to call him by his rightfully-elected title: President Obama.)

He’s overstepping his powers and side-stepping Congress. 

Actually, his powers include executive orders. And he has issued fewer than your beloved President GW Bush or Ronald Reagan, in fact fewer per year than any president since Grover Cleveland. As for side-stepping Congress, that is one of the purposes of executive orders. If something needs to be done and Congress is too inept to act, that is where the President should step in. The Republican-led Congress has not passed any laws to lower gun-violence or fix the illegal immigrant issue. (Frankly, illegal immigration has decreased since President Obama took office. Some pundits have even said it is under control.)

Then Fox News waded in, and I heard more of the same, but that’s where the real wackos raised their ugly heads. “Obama is a muslim!” Firstly, who fucking cares? He is actually Christian, but we won’t go there. Where I would rather go is that even if he were Muslim, he could still be President. We live in a pluralist society. All races, sexes, and religions are allowed to be President. Read the damn Constitution. “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or Public Trust under the United States.”

Oops I forgot. The rednecks only read the parts they like in the way they like them. We are free from a state-organized religion. It doesn’t even ensure that we are Christian country. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: …”

The Declaration of Independence (not our Constitution) mentions a creator. “Under God” didn’t make it into the pledge of allegiance until the 20th Century, and “In God we trust” didn’t become our motto until 1956. The old one was much better: E pluribus unum. (Out of many, one.)

Still, Donald Trump leads the polls to be the GOP candidate … with his wall and his exclusion of Muslims from the US, and his Muslim register. Sounds like bigotry, to me. He’s playing on the fears of Americans just like a certain German leader did in the 1930s. (Wonder who that could be?) Trump will also countermand the EO that President Obama is signing. That’s counterproductive, although it does “take America back.”

The last thing we want is a bigot or a religious zealot in the Presidency.

So here I am ranting. In fact, this ranting is patriotic. I want the USA to be the best country it can be, faithful to a true reading of its Constitution in the spirit of the intentions of its founders: a pluralist society, where the state protects the general welfare of its citizens, enacts laws (through compromise) that ensure justice, and provide for the common defense. It’s all right there in the Preamble, folks. (And the right to tax and spend to accomplish the above goals appears not long after that.) The right to bear arms or form a militia doesn’t even make it in until the Amendments (Bill of Rights).

And let’s not forget about domestic tranquility. (If you comment, I will censor anything abusive, but not necessarily opinions that disagree. This is my house.)

Guns

I awoke this morning to hear the NRA’s plans to make our schools safer. They want an armed guard at every school. 

My first thought was, “This is a joke, right?” Today is April Fool’s Day, isn’t it.

Yes, the Non-Educated Rednecks Association says the solution to gun violence is MORE GUNS. Stick an old retired cop at the doorstep of a school with a gun. That will scare the nut-cases away. Can’t the collective two brain cells they possess come up with more than that?

I was looking forward to a sensible statement on what they would consider as a solution to gun violence in this country. Instead, they went back to their old formula. More guns are better. More powerful guns are better. 

You’d better equip that old cop with an automatic weapon or he won’t have a chance against those crazies. You don’t think that if he expects to come up against armed resistance, he might carry more armaments? It is already spiraling out of control.

What does this teach our kids? Carry a bigger gun?

I lived in England the past 20 years. There are 6 firearms per 100 people (mostly shotguns and hunting rifles), and only 6% of their homicides are firearm related. (Only a small specially-trained proportion of their police carry guns.) In the US there are 88 firearms per 100 people, and 60% of homicides are firearm related. There are only 3 countries in the world with more firearm homicides than the US and they are all fighting internal drug wars. (Columbia, Venezuela, Mexico)

You do the math. More guns, more gun violence.