Yesterday, perhaps a mile or so from me, a man was shot by the police.

I’m not going to quote the entire police blotter article, but feel free to read it in the Phinneywood Blog. The Cliff Notes version of the story is this dude was holding a knife to his father’s throat, the police were called, was tazered to no avail, ran a bit, held a “large piece of metal” that he pulled from his belt over police officer on the ground, then was shot multiple times. In the end he wound up passing away in the hospital.

Now I will quote the entirety of the first comment from Michael W. Perry:

“Forced to fire THEIR duty weapons.” These are.40 calibre Glocks which pack quite a bit of punch. Can’t SPD officers coordinate their firing, letting one guy shoot just once and then wait a second or two to see what happens. It’s not like someone who’s hit even once poses the same danger as they did before.

Why do these incidents, here and across the country, so often result in multiple shots from multiple officers firing as fast as they possibly can? I suspect I know why. I read some of the training these officers get. It involves a rigid and inflexible response. Once behavior crosses a certain line and a certain distance (about 20 feet) officers are taught to regard themselves as not merely authorized to use ‘lethal force’ if absolutely necessary, but immediately blast away with all they have. It’s amazing that this guy, hit several times, is still alive.

And why do officers assume that someone with mental issues or on drugs MUST follow their “verbal commands” or get pounced on or shot. I used to work with drug addicts and at a homeless shelter in Alaska. I was once threatened by someone with a case cutter. It makes far more sense to talk calmly and, whenever possible, avoid brandishing guns. As one wise officer told me, pulling out your gun often makes matters worse.

A typical cop may regard gun-pulling as just doing his job, but someone whose mental state is altered will see that as life-threatening and act accordingly, in this case by ‘holding a large piece of metal”–whatever that means.

Let’s look at this piece by piece, shall we?

First, bullets, even when fired from a .40 caliber Glock, are not magic. Just because someone has been hit once does not mean that individual will stop. The movies are lying to you when they show someone being thrown back from one shot. If you want me to get into the physics I can, but I’ll pass for now.

Second, you have a police officer on the ground near a known armed threat pulling something out of their belt. I’ve talked to police officers before. My father-in-law is one. The concealed carry course had two of them teaching us, one of whom had been in a similar situation. In this position you need to neutralize the threat. This does not mean that you take the time to talk to the person when a blink of an eye can get you or your brother killed, no, you do what it takes to make the threat not a threat. A person hopped on on drugs, like this guy is suspected of being, might not even feel pain. You don’t shoot someone and then wait to see if they try to kill you back.

Third, again as I heard from police officers that I trust, you don’t want to be in this situation. In fact most police officers are never in a position where they have to decide if they should pull the trigger. Since this happens so rarely, you need training to make the actions you need to have an appropriate reflex. The “rigid and inflexible response” is exactly what you need when you don’t have time to think. This is not a soap opera or a movie where you can slow down time and have a good think over the matter. An aggressor is about to attack an innocent victim, you do what you’ve been trained to do.

Lastly, no cop that I would trust regards pulling a gun as a routine part of their job. It’s the last line of defense. It’s not how you ought to get your jollies.

I can understand that some people are afraid of guns and argue that only the government and the police should have them. I personally think it’s irrational and contrary to what is good and safe for all of us, but I can at least comprehend it.

What I can’t get my head wrapped around is the notion that “dude, who we already know is armed and deranged is about to do god-knows-what to a fellow officer” should have his poor feelings considered. Maybe he had a bad childhood. Maybe he’s having a bad day. Perhaps he has issues with inadequacy. Dude was trying to kill his father. Dude wasn’t listening to simple commands. Dude threatens a cop.

I’ve heard the phrase “when seconds count the police are only minutes away.” The police are there on the fucking scene. Dude is acting irrational and about to cause harm.

If you argue that only the police should have guns you may as well let them use them to protect you, no?