Monday, January 24, 2011

Police Being Targeted

A couple nights ago there were shots fired in my normally-peaceful neighborhood, very close to my home, just before 9PM (first one shot, then a series of three).  I called 911, and police were dispatched to patrol the neighborhood minutes later.  As far as I know, though, nothing out of the ordinary was found.  Still, after locking my doors and turning on my house alarm, turning on outside lights, and talking to neighbors by phone, I watched the police drive slowly around, wondering if they would be fired at next.  They weren't, thankfully.

I had reason to worry about them.  It's a disturbing phenomenon in the last couple weeks:  shootings involving attacks on policemen.

Shootings of law enforcement, many fatal: in Detroit, MichiganPort Orchard, Washington; Indianapolis, Indiana; Lincoln City, here in Oregon; Miami, Florida; Lakewood, New Jersey; Ranier, Washington; Huntington, West Virginia; Hamburg, Pennsylvania; Savannah, Georgia; St. Petersburg, Florida; Portland, Oregon -- 12 shootings (that I have heard about, anyhow)!

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Website, we have had as many law enforcement shooting fatalities in the U.S. in just January of this year as we had for the entirety of 2010!  (14 deaths)

Some are clear ambushes.  Others are shootings more typical of officers investigating a crime and the criminals shooting at them as they arrive or are being arrested, which happen all year round.

Here is a good article reviewing some of the recent shooting, from

Our police officers put themselves in harm's way every day for our safety.  They train very well and are openly armed, and yet, clearly, still able to be ambushed and (sometimes) out-gunned -- even at a police station!

We need to insure that the police are better armed than their opponents.  We need to increase funding to many police forces, to insure adequate number of officers on the beat (vote for those bond measures!).  We need to tighten controls to help reduce availability of guns to people like these, through better and ubiquitous background checks on all gun purchases and better NICS reporting (see today's two-step proposal from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, for instance) [Police chiefs all over the nation support tighter gun control legislation].  And we need stricter sentencing, more prison space, and better rehabilitation services, to protect against recidivism with violent offenders.

As yet there is no clear pattern to the shootings (NOTE: I am not claiming one!), other than the targeting of people in authority (let's not forget the shooting of a Congresswoman and federal judge in Tucson, as well).  However, this rash of attacks on police illustrates one thing for certain:  crazy people out there with guns are willing to take on a clearly better-trained and openly-armed opponent. 

What does this say to the "open carry" movement and laws to allow gun owners to walk around with loaded weapons strapped to their bodies, outside of their clothing?  If these criminals will take on law enforcement, wouldn't they take on armed civilians playing "Wyatt Earp"?  I argue that officer shootings such as these illustrate that open-carry potentially marks you as a good target to these nutcases, doesn't guarantee you a jump on your opponent, and endangers those around you.

Related article:



  1. There's some major differences between law enforcement and an open carrying citizen. First of all, police officers directly inject themselves into dangerous situations as part of their job. Peaceably armed citizens don't. Police carry firearms to enforce lawful commands and for self defense. Citizens are only carrying for self defense.

    There have been many, many instances of police officers having their gun taken and used on them, but I have never heard of one single incident of an open carrier getting their gun taken from them, never heard of an open carrying citizen being shot first in a robbery, in fact the only stories and reports I have heard about open carrying citizens getting their guns taken from them has been instances (many of them documented) of police harassing open carrying citizens because the cops don't know the law.

    I respect police officers, and believe the overwhelming majority of them are good cops, but their job is not to protect you. They have no legal duty to protect any individual. Not that most cops wouldn't TRY to protect an individual they knew was getting attacked, but they have no LEGAL obligation to respond to any call for help. Their job is to investigate crimes, enforce the law, and serve warrants.

    The two step proposal from MAIG is flawed at the outset. Even if it were implemented, it would not reduce violent firearm related crime, because prohibited persons intent on breaking the law will just circumvent the NICS system - they don't have to pass a background check now, they won't have to pass a background check once all so-called "loopholes" are closed. When that plan doesn't work, they'll just claim more needs to be done, and push for more laws that don't work... one nibble at a time until our right is no longer allowed be be exercised.


  2. I mostly agree with you on open carry. Seems like there are more downsides to it than upsides.

  3. There's a time and place for everything. In our modern society, it's not usually appropriate to open carry.

    Gun owners/advocates/enthusiasts need to show some sensitivity to the population, especially following public tragedies we've seen recently.

    Just as inflammatory speech is a right protected by the 1st amendment, that does mean it should be exercised.

    Unfortunately I don't think it's possible to legislate gun restrictions any more than you could legislate good manners.

  4. "wouldn't they take on armed civilians playing "Wyatt Earp"?

    First. No one that is carrying openly or otherwise is "playing" at anything. Your statement is insulting. We all understand the potentially lethal ramifications of carrying a firearm. None of us are looking for a gunfight, as your Wyatt Earp comment implies nor are we looking to do the job of the police. In fact, all we want is to go about our lives in peace. Some states only allow open carry, some only concealed. I was at a truck stop/ McDonald's in PA recently, with my kids, when a father and his two kids walked in. The father had a revolver openly carried on his hip. It was lunch time and at least 40-50 people there. Not a single person seemed to care. I know I didn't feel in danger. I've been at conferences where everyone (200 people) were carrying openly or concealed. When some of us went to Tim Horton's for lunch (about 10) none of the other patrons fled. The manager didn't seem to care. If you were looking to rob Tim Hortons that day, would you have proceeded with 10 armed people sitting there? I don't think so.

    Imagine we went there everyday for lunch. Wouldn't that just about guarantee that only a crazy person would start a gun fight there?

    Why would criminals single out an armed civilian when there are so many more unarmed ones unless they already intended to harm people and needed to get the guy with the gun out of the way first. I think your idea that they would not have attacked had there been no armed people is illogical.

    I argue that officer shootings such as these illustrate that open-carry potentially marks you as a good target to these nutcases, doesn't guarantee you a jump on your opponent,"

    There are no guarantees except what happens when an armed man confronts an unarmed man. The armed man wins almost every time. Again, if someone is willing to start a gunfight with an obviously armed opponent, then something bigger is going on and that is just the opening move.

    Do you think bank robbers shoot the guard first because he was armed or because they needed to get rid of him before they rob the bank?

    "and endangers those around you."

    And for that same reason I argue that concealed or open carry provides a level of doubt in the criminals mind about the outcome and protects those around you.

  5. You are making a huge, and mistaken, assumption that people do not care about open carry, and you give the example of an open carry at a MacDonalds. People do not comment because they are afraid of their lives, because they are afraid of saying something in case the "armed carrier" will turn on them. I , and most particularly, my children are frightened to death if I were to see an open carry at a MacDonalds or Starbucks. Why would anyone need or want to do this? I am there with my children and it frightens them because they do not see the reason for it. This is not their America. It is wrong.

  6. Every day, every single day we hear about senseless shootings - tragedies in our neighborhood and within our families. Every single day. Having a gun isn't making America safer- it's doing the opposite. We are now truly a frightening country. Where does it stop; where does it end - when everyone owns a bazooka? Does that make it safe for everyone?

  7. I come from a family of which half hunts and the other half doesn't. We all enjoy the moose sausage that my brother-in-law makes. But all, yes all, of us, and especially the hunters, feel that there is no place for semi-automatic and assault weapons. There is a huge difference between weapons for hunting, a regulated sport, and the rest of the weaponry.

  8. Many top hunting rifles are semi-automatic. I think you meant to refer to FULLY automatic (machine guns), but these are already highly regulated. Most modern rifles and handguns are semi-automatic--you pull the trigger once and one bullet comes out.

  9. Baldr:

    According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Website, we have had as many law enforcement shooting fatalities in the U.S. in just January of this year as we had for the entirety of 2010! (14 deaths)

    Um . . . wrong. From the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund site (page 2), there were 61 shooting deaths of law enforcement officers in 2010. Notice this part, too:

    While the 2010 total was high compared to the rest of the decade, fatal shootings have decreased more than 45 percent since the 1970s.

    Since we have a great many more cops now than we did in the 70s, the per capita decrease is even more dramatic.

  10. @Anonymous: "I , and most particularly, my children are frightened to death if I were to see an open carry at a MacDonalds or Starbucks"

    So to be clear. I could be carrying concealed and since you don't "know" it, you are ok, but if you actually SEE the firearm, you are 'frightened to death' as are your kids. Same person, same behavior (intent on buying a hamburger for his kids) but the mere sight of the gun is scary.


    Think that through. Robbers tend to conceal their guns until they are ready to use them. (element of surprise and all that..) Logically dads waiting in line to buy a hamburger for their kids, that happen to be openly carrying, have got to be way, way down on the list of people you need to be afraid of.

    Do armed police openly carrying GLOCKS, with "high capacity" magazines, send you into a panic? Probabley not, because you don't expect them to run amok. Why would you think they guy getting burgers for his kids is any more likely? Do you believe that most people are inherently evil or inherently good?

    Don't believe for a second that the police are better trained. They practice with their firearms WAY less than the typical person that bother to carry openly.

    May I respectfully suggest that you educate yourself enough that you are not frightened by the sight of a firearm when being carried by a fellow citizen. All but 7 states allow or are friendly to open carry, so you are going to encounter this situation in your life and panic is not a successful coping strategy.

  11. @Anonymous: "But all, yes all, of us, and especially the hunters, feel that there is no place for semi-automatic and assault weapons"

    No place?

    So you believe that all of the police, the BATF and countless other government organizations (except the military) should go back to bolt action rifles and revolvers or do you think that they have been sprinkled with some magic fairy dust that gives THEM the ability to use semi-auto firearms responsibly, that an average citizen lacks?

    Banning them would reduce crime? BEFORE the AWB they were used in less than 2% of all gun crimes. Why would anyone care about the 2% and ignore the 98%? Makes no sense, but that's just me I guess.

    What about us ex-military? We are better trained than most of the police and have actual combat experience with FULL auto firearms.

    What about all of us in the shooting sports? We shoot more on a single weekend, under the stress of a clock and competition, than most police shoot in several years of official qualification. Can we get sprinkled with some of that fairy dust?

    As for 'assault weapons' that is a political definition of ugly rifles. A real 'assault weapon' is capable of selective fire (full auto) and they are already regulated almost out of existence.

    You really need to understand that your average shooter is not going to be able to lay down 8,000+ dollars for something that costs hundreds of dollars a minute to shoot. (what? You didn't know that a 650 round per minute firearm is EXPENSIVE to run?)

    Owning a full auto firearm is not a hobby for the poor and is not an issue worth bothering with if all you want to do is to "reduce gun violence".

    That's starting at the wrong end of the horse so to speak.

  12. Zorroy, that's a good link. My number had been for police, not all law enforcement, but the total law enforcement number is a better way to look at it. It's still a shocking number, and an increase over 2009.

    From that link: "Firearm fatalities [of law enforcement] increased 24 percent, from 49 deaths in 2009 to 61 in 2010. Even more alarming, multiple fatality shootings accounted for nearly 20 percent of all fatal shootings. Five incidents occurred in: Fresno, CA, San Juan, PR, West Memphis, AR, Tampa, FL, and Hoonah, AK, accounting for 10 officer deaths."

    The decrease from the 70's is reassuring, and may have some relation to better equipment and training practices, from what I've read.

    Do you have a link to information on the number of law enforcement over the years that you wish to share?

  13. Anonymous, you THINK firearms have a negative impact on our country because all you know is what you see on the news.

    The fact is that most firearms in this country are used safely, and for good purposes, like self defense, hunting, and sport shooting. Unfortunately, the news only reports the evil things firearms are used for, with the occasional self defense story, which is way out of proportion to the truth.

    The fact is that firearms are used at LEAST 770,000 times every year in self defense, according to the most conservative figure from a legitimate study:

    Many studies show upwards of 2 or 3 million defensive gun uses per year.

    Compare that with the number of firearm related violent crime, which is around 400,000 per year.

    Compare the amount of ammunition civilians use in the united states every year (around 7 BILLION) to the number of gunshot wounds (around 200,000 per year). That clearly shows that the majority of times firearms are used in the US is NOT for crime or harming people, but for other good, legitimate uses.


  14. "They train very well and are openly armed, and yet, clearly, still able to be ambushed and (sometimes) out-gunned -- even at a police station!"

    Less than 10% of police training involves handling a firearm. I don't call that very well trained. And considering most police officers don't fire their guns for months at a time, I wouldn't say they are well practiced either.

  15. AztecRed, I know you think very little of those in authority, but your denigration of our law enforcement is offending to me. The police I know train constantly.

  16. It's not a denigration of law enforcement. It's reality. I have a family member and a family friend who are both cops.

    The bulk of their training and practice is on a square range at static targets. They may occasionally shoot from behind a barrier or from a non-standing position. And that's at a well funded department. With the budget cuts going on around the country, most officers are lucky to get that.

    The good training is reserved for SWAT and a handful of officers who are designated to respond to active shooter events. Of course, any officer has the option of seeking out better training, but the department will only pay for so much of it.