By Sean Glendon
It seems that every day a new headline hits the news – a police officer has killed a civilian, who, more often than not, was a minority. As I scrolled through my Facebook feed I was inspired by everybody making very long-winded posts to do something, so I’m writing this article which will surely bring significant change and reform.
My first proposed solution to this epidemic was that police should be required to wear body cameras. I had heard this idea tossed around as a solution a few times, but as I thought about it the shortcomings became clear – cameras can be turned off and there are a lot of ways that police officers could get around this detraction and continue killing minorities. As I was watching the video of one of these shootings, the answer became clear – police are not killing minorities, guns are.
If our police officers didn’t have guns, how could police brutality occur? While it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to imagine a police officer beating somebody to death with a nightstick, that would require much more effort than simply pulling a trigger. Adding such a barrier to police officers being able to kill civilians will clearly make the streets a much safer place – why would a police officer ever genuinely need a gun?
As I began to research into such an idea, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Disarm The Police movement has already begun. Legendary filmmaker and activist Michael Moore believes that there are enough guns protected by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution that police officers do not need to possess any.
The group Disarm NYPD points out that three people per day are killed by police, and lays out a very passionate vision: “Disarm the NYPD is a campaign that has an immediate goal and a long term goal. We seek the immediate disarming of the NYPD. By this we mean we singularly have to goal of making sure the police force in NYC no longer have arms.” I would assume that this refers to guns, but severing the arms of police officers is an alternative to consider if figurative disarmament proves difficult.
The FBI has found that in cases where police are killed, 50% of officers did not have the time to draw their gun before being killed. This means that even if guns were helpful to police, and clearly they’re not, they would only be helpful in half of cases. But they’re not helpful in any of these cases because the police had guns and were still killed.
According to a statistic I created using guesstimations, Police officers were killers 27 times more frequently than police officers were killed in 2015. Now, the numbers of police killings do not take wrongdoing or justification into account, but it’s probably safe to say that the police were in the wrong in 100% of cases.
Disarm The Police points out that police officers could actually be safer without guns: “An unarmed police officer is less of a threat to the public than an armed officer, which in itself reduces threats to the officer and encourages participation by the public through increased communication.” In reality, this movement is trying to protect police officers and make them safer which is quite a noble undertaking for such an organization. It’s for their own good.
I know disarming police officers is going to be a hard thing to gain public support for, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to gain it. Doing so on a national scale wouldn’t be immediately feasible, because where would we put all of those guns? We need to build a really, really big gun safe first and that could take years. It goes without saying that the guards by the safe will be unarmed. That’s why for now I propose a trial using four cities – two black cities and two white cities.
80.1% of Jackson, Mississippi’s 173,514 residents are African Americans and 74% of Birmingham, Alabama’s 212,237 residents are African American. Salt Lake City, Utah and Rochester, New York are both around 75% white. With the rest of America is acting as the control group of the experiment, we can change one variable to see the impact that it has on police brutality.
In Jackson and Salt Lake City, police officers will be disarmed. In Birmingham and Rochester, police officers will be given two guns each (the second guns will be the guns from Jackson and Salt Lake City police departments so this will cost nothing to implement except gun transportation fees). Assuming common sense holds true, and guns kill people, there will be more people killed in Birmingham and Rochester than in Jackson and Salt Lake City. Birmingham’s total deaths at the hands of police should occur at more than twice the rate of the national average since officers have two guns and more minorities live there than the national average. Rochester’s police-caused deaths should be slightly less than two times the national average because officers have two guns, but not many minorities compared to the national average.
In Birmingham and Salt Lake City, where officers have no guns, there should be no deaths at the hands of police. Although, it is possible that some deaths could still happen in Birmingham due to the high African American density. After a trial run in these cities, I am sure many other cities will want to get onboard with this program.
Disarming the police has the potential to improve overall public safety drastically. Guns are dangerous and it is time to finally implement common sense gun reform. Together we can make the world a safer place, one police officer’s gun at a time.