Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Deadly Proposition

Yet another person shot by a police officer.  As of September 22, there have been 34 officer involved shootings in South Carolina, promising to beat last year's 42.  I am thankful that my son and daughter are not police officers.  And I hope that they are never in a potential conflict situation with one.  Because shooting has become the default option for police.

And while I hold the individual officer responsible for shooting innocent members of the community they patrol, the situation they find themselves in is not their fault.

The NRA is happy to promote the need for more guns to defend ourselves from threats that are unlikely to materialize -- unless we allow more people to indiscriminately own and carry guns.  They have made lemonade out of the blood of victims for years, increasing the profits of the arms manufacturers that they truly represent.  They seem to be having a great time doing it, too, filling their own coffers and convincing our pols that it is the NRA that is really in charge.

Which leads us to the other group that has been bought off by the arms industry, our very own legislators.  We can laugh at Lindsey Graham's hysterical wanderings, once again recently featured by Jon Stewart.  When Graham suggests that mothers should be armed with assault rifles at home:

“One bullet in the hands of a homicidal maniac is one too many. But in the case of a young mother defending her children against a home invader — a real-life event which recently occurred near Atlanta — six bullets may not be enough. Criminals aren’t going to follow legislation limiting magazine capacity. However, a limit could put law-abiding citizens at a distinct disadvantage when confronting a criminal.”

it's fine to snicker, but we must also remind ourselves that he is one of the idiots that has the power to make our laws.

More locally, we have addressed the situation of gun violence with the bizarre legislation that allows those who feel naked without their guns to frequent bars and restaurants with their muzzles by their side.  And in a partnership from hell, towns all over South Carolina and the nation have lined up for military gear, including tanks as well as assault rifles, from our own federal government, who despite all that talk about budget deficits just can't stop buying these things.  And once you own a grenade launcher, doesn't your finger just itch to use it?  The downside being the cost of training and practice, and, by the way, the lack of call for those particular services.

All the post 9-11 paranoia that has led to arming our local community governments for war naturally has resulted in a backlash of fear from citizens, with more and more instances cited of warrantless (and unwarranted) acts of violence against citizens.  When you are all suited up for battle and have no terrorists to fight, it seems the next best thing is the local pot smoker or poker game, and sometimes the family dog becomes the collateral damage.  In the case of the Texas German Shepherd Vinnie in 2013, the officers were at the wrong address in the wrong neighborhood, looking for someone wanted for god's sake for an expired vehicle registration.

Obviously, what happens next is we all need to get armed to protect ourselves from our own government, hence, all the phony fourth amendment nonsense.  And when scared citizens get armed, and you have scared police wielding weapons, you have the daily barrage of unnecessary death in a war zone of our own invention.

On September 18, in Georgia, police shot a man who was handcuffed in their cruiser after being arrested, when they failed to find the gun he was carrying in their search.

And South Carolina made international headlines in March when a York County officer shot a 70-year-old man who was reaching into the back of his car for his cane at a traffic stop.

The community response to the shooting of Michael Brown in St. Louis is a reflection of the national fury over a country that encourages its citizens and its defenders to see each other as potential combatants.

So it's really a matter of who will be next.  Police get shot at by fearful citizens, who are too quick to shoot at citizens for fear they will be shot.

And meanwhile we have the NRA cheering on fools like Lindsey Graham for stoking that fear, and our federal tax dollars buying so many military weapons that they are trickled down to our local governments.  For our local police, it may seem like Christmas, but they may want to rethink the situation when faced with a frightened citizen.  And we just might want to elect lawmakers who are less likely to want to fan the flames of distrust encouraging an armed citizenry and militarizing those whose mission should be to protect and defend.

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