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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Are Officer Involved Shootings Exacerbated By Public Gun Access?

Category: Guns
Posted: 07/21/17 13:09

by Dave Mindeman

This chart shows the number of individuals killed by police officers year by year...


As you look at it, consider this:

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) -- officially, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act -- is a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a United States federal law that included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms it defined as assault weapons, as well as certain ammunition magazines it defined as "large capacity." The ten-year ban was passed by the U.S. Congress on September 13, 1994, following a close 52-48 vote in the Senate, and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton the same day. The ban only applied to weapons manufactured after the date of the ban's enactment, and it expired on September 13, 2004, in accordance with its sunset provision.

It is hard not to notice the graph. In 1994, there begins to be a precipitous drop in officer involved fatalities. Conversely, in 2004, there is an upward climb in these incidents. In the 10 years in-between which correspond to the tenure of the ban, the graph tends to hold in a range pattern.

Is this just a coincidence?

The job of being a police officer is a very difficult one. And we expect them to be making fast paced life threatening decisions at any moment.

But what about outside influences? What have gun laws in the United States done with the police officer's state of mind?

The prevalence and easy accesibility of guns, forces police officers to assume that anyone they encounter is armed. And with the demise of the assault weapons ban, they may have to assume that they are out gunned in many respects. And arguably have to act faster and with potentially more force.

Couple that with racial bias or rookie officers or hair trigger responses and you have a lot of the ingredients for tragedy.

Too many times we have had to discuss officer involved fatalities. Way too many. And it is time that we have a serious discussion about ALL the factors involved.

Race is obviously a key. Police Chief Jane Harteau first statement on the recent police shooting of Justine Ruszczyk was that "it should not have happened." Very true. But no such statement came from law enforcement on the death of Philando Castile. Which arguably also should not have happened. It seems difficult for police officials to maintain an even depiction of an officer shooting when different races are involved. The police are more willing to admit wrongdoing when a white person is shot and apparently afraid of the racial explanations and implications when a black person is killed.

That should not be.

But let's address the other elephant. Guns. Too many damn guns. It is tragically ironic that this Australian women died at the hands of a gun in the United States. This probably would not have happened in her home country of Australia. The Australian government dealt with their gun issue. They restricted access and got rid of the numbers. This is something that could never happen in the US, but we can, at least, look for common sense ideas that can reduce the outrageous prevalence of firearms in America.

Police officers have to assume that guns are everywhere. And they are. The first action an officer takes is often to draw their weapon. That was not always the norm. In the past, many would have time to assess the situation critically before feeling threatened. But now, the threat level is immediate. And guns are the cause.

The above chart does not definitively prove any kind of relationship involving the assault weapons ban. But it should at least open the conversation.

Frankly, we have to do something about all of this...and soon.
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The Common Denominator Is Guns

Category: Guns
Posted: 06/14/17 17:39

by Dave Mindeman

A disgruntled political madman shoots up a Republican sports practice, injuring 4 people. Jeronimo Yanez kills Philando Castile because he "saw" a gun and feared for his life?. Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy, is killed by police because they thought a toy gun in the hands of a 12 year old could be real. In the Bay Area today, a disgruntled worker opens fire at this workplace and kills 4 people. At Sandy Hook school, 20 children and 6 adults were murdered randomly by a mentally ill individual. Three people killed and 9 wounded at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic by a deranged zealot. Nine people killed in Charleston, SC by a white supremacist. In 2011, 6 people died and 12 were injured, including Rep. Gabby Giffords, shot by a mentally ill paranoid-schizophrenic.

That is a lot of people involved. And if you noticed properly, none of that list involved our war on terrorism. None of it came from the Radical Extremists our President likes to point to.

No, there is only one common denominator in those tragedies.


Guns, most of them automatic weapons, in the hands of people who should not have them, caused this carnage. Yes, the people were definitely to blame. But we need to stop them. And we also need to stop the improper access of guns to people who kill.

Sure, people kill people. And if it wasn't guns it would be a knife, a rock, or a hammer. We cannot stop killers intent to kill. But why make it easier? Why should the sudden rage of a person be given an automatic weapon to wreak havoc on random, innocent people? Why should domestic abusers get access to a weapon that can kill quickly and efficiently? Why are background checks still not universal?

To be honest, I am not even sure if it is really physical guns that is the real problem. It is more the gun culture. The NRA keeps pushing for broader access to guns. Law abiding citizens should have access, but with the ever decreasing restrictions, the term law abiding itself becomes a loose definition. I mean people on the no fly list are guaranteed the right to purchase a gun. How crazy is that?

The common thread is guns...and the ever increasing access to guns and the incredible proliferation of guns. No other country on earth has such a love affair with weaponry. The gun culture is not satisfied with ease of access; the gun culture wants a gun on every street corner, in every church, every government building, ever bar and restaurant. Yes, we do have some restrictions in those places at the moment - but those restrictions are also only one Republican bill from termination.

Sure, we can talk about motivations. And the attack in DC has no justification. None. Politics in the US is not decided with bullets. It is what makes our democracy unique and why it works so well.

But this is another opportunity to examine the arsenals of guns in the private sector. Arsenals that cost us huge sums of money in law enforcement and security.

Let's talk about that as well.
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Gunsense: Why Is It So Hard?

Category: Guns
Posted: 08/02/16 11:07

by Dave Mindeman

How many more surveys on gun sense do we need? Why is there no action? These questions refer to policies that will TAKE NO GUNS AWAY from anyone. They just make the attempt to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them in the first place.

This is not a radical idea. This is not the heavy hand of government. This is simply an attempt at sensible legislation.


Public Policy Polling

Q7 Do you support or oppose requiring a criminal
background check of every person who wants
to buy a firearm?

Support 86%
Oppose 11%
Not sure 3%

Q8 Would you support or oppose a bill barring
people on the terrorist watch list from
purchasing a firearm?

Support 82%
Oppose 11%
Not sure 7%

Q9 Do you support or oppose a nationwide ban on
the sale of assault weapons?

Support 56%
Oppose 33%
Not sure 11%
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