On November 22nd, Emantic J. Bradford was gunned down by police in an Alabama mall; so far, per all the information released to date, it appears his entire ‘crime’ was being present at the scene of an active shooting while holding a gun, which immediately resulted in a law enforcement bullet going through his head.
However, by all accounts, there is zero evidence that Bradford had anything to do with the actual crime, and he appears to have simply been a citizen with a concealed carry permit (this, we do know) who unholstered his weapon when he heard gunshots….as one would hope, since protection in the face of imminent mortal danger is precisely the reason people carry concealed handguns.
So, to recap: Someone gets shot in a mall, and when a responsible citizen with a firearm makes an effort to stop the shooting….he gets gunned down by responding law enforcement who can’t take two seconds to figure out what’s actually happening. On November 11th, Jemel Roberson, a security guard, was taken out by a police officer after apprehending an active shooter and holding him at gunpoint while awaiting law enforcement; instead of asking a single actual question to the man holding another man at gunpoint (without having fired his weapon), the officer strode in and shot the man wearing a vest with the word “security” on it as onlookers screamed that he was security and detaining the shooter.
The predetermined conclusion of American law enforcement appears to be simple: If you have a gun, you are the enemy.
Unfortunately for everyone, that is simply not the truth. The fact is that in 2017, there were 17,284 homicides in the US; as of 2016, there were 14,500,000 concealed carry permit holders throughout the US, and approximately three million people reporting always carrying a firearm. There are also several states with “constitutional carry” laws, which means an unknown number of people in those states are legally carrying concealed without a permit, and thus are not included in these statistics.
Now, even if we were to presume that every single one of those homicides were committed by different people, AND that ALL the murderers used guns they legally held (which is very much not the case)…..you’d still be left with 0.01192% of those with a concealed carry permit ever using their gun for a crime. Look over that statistic again – law enforcement automatically assumed a gun they see is being used for a crime, despite that fact that a truly infinitesimal number of guns on the streets, legal or not, are ever used to commit crimes. The boring truth is that nearly every firearm owned by civilians in the US just sits in a safe, case, or holster, and makes the occasional trip to the shooting range or the cleaning bench.
This ought to raise serious concerns for anyone who regularly carries a weapon, as I do.
One of the reasons I carry a weapon is so that in an event such as an active shooter scenario, or any other ongoing violent crime, I am in a position to stop said act, and save the lives of others around me; I’m fortunate enough to live in a state where this is entirely legal, as it ought to be everywhere, based on the most fundamental of human morals. Surely, many others regularly carry their firearms not only to defend themselves, but to potentially save the lives of others who may not be in a position to defend themselves in the face of mortal danger.
But what now, in light of recent events? Say I were in that mall, and forty feet away from someone who brandished a pistol and shot a man dead before me. I’d have pulled my gun, gone after the shooter, and….well, probably have been cut down by law enforcement when they showed up, because they apparently cannot be bothered to take a moment and figure out the actual situation.
I firmly believe that this can be chalked up to poor training. This is another instance of panic in a situation that law enforcement is supposedly trained for. Panic has exactly zero place in any professional role, ever. If a surgeon panics and kills someone, a malpractice attorney is there to burn them; if a police officer panics and guns someone down (which happens again and again and again and again and again and again and again ad infinitum), usually nothing happens beyond perhaps loss of their job, and, occasionally, there’s a manslaughter charge that sticks, despite numerous cases (including at least three in the above-provided links) being outright murders that would stick to any civilian in a heartbeat. I’m being generous in presuming all the above instances are panic-induced; many would contend (particularly in the Daniel Shaver case) that some of these indeed are calculated homicides.
So, what are law-abiding, legally-carrying Americans to do in the face of incompetent law enforcement agencies, and perhaps even the incompetence of American law enforcement as a whole? Are we to choose between the moral obligation to save the lives of others, which puts ours directly on the line, or simply walk away to let others die? I don’t know the answer.
What I do know is that the incompetence of the American law enforcement machine has found a whole new way to screw and endanger the citizenry it is supposedly sworn to protect. I know it has to stop. And I know the only way to stop this madness is to hold people accountable. For every shooting such as this one, the officer should immediately be fired once the facts come to light, charged to the fullest extent of the law, and punished with the utmost legally available if convicted; the officer’s direct commanding officer and all responsible for their training should also be suspended without pay for no less than 90 days, and the entire department should be forced to undergo mandated training by a private agency (chosen via an open bidding process to be reviewed by the city/county council with outside law enforcement or military consult) that comes out of their own annual budget, perhaps forcing the entire department to forgo bonuses or other shiny amenities.
The biggest problem in the entire United States is accountability. Murderers run the streets because there’s no real fear of execution as their consequence, and law enforcement agencies across the nation continue to perform poorly because they answer to no one. It’s time we hold law enforcement to the higher standard they’re due as a result of supposedly having task-specific training.