Protecting the police from the law

A few years ago in Indiana, a cop illegally entered a man’s home after he refused entry. As a result, the man shoved the cop. This, naturally, brought about charges. In an appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court, an utterly stupid decision was made which said the people of Indiana don’t have a right to defend themselves against police who illegally enter their homes. Just about everyone thought this was stupid. In turn, Indiana passed a law specifically overturning the Court’s decision. This was a great example of the government actually managing to protect its people and their rights. Law enforcement threw a fit, but they often do that when confronted with constitutional principles.

Fast forward and move a bit east and we have an entirely different mindset. Here in Maine we have someone who wants to pass a law designed to protect police from prosecution:

State law enforcement officials said Monday that a bill that would ban BB guns and non-firing replica firearms in schools is necessary to protect students from potential tragedies, but opponents contend it is too broad and would do little to improve school safety.

Supporters of the measure say police officers could easily mistake the realistic-looking firearms for the real thing, especially with security concerns running high in light of school shootings across the country. They say a scenario of a student entering a school building with such a firearm could end badly if an officer is forced to make a quick decision, pointing to incidents like one in California last year when a 13-year-old boy was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy who said he thought a BB gun was an assault rifle.

The only purpose this serves is to shield trigger-happy police from prosecution. If there is a law which says things like BB guns are illegal, then a cop has a built-in defense for shooting any child who happens to have one on school grounds.

School resource officer Rachel Horning, with the Kittery Police Department, told the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee on Monday that’s the type of tragedy she’s trying to avert.

Oh, really? So Rachel Horning doesn’t want a situation where a student is fatally shot because a cop believes a BB gun is an assault rifle? Interesting. If that’s the case, then I’m not sure how she reconciles that stance with what she said next:

“I will do 100 percent what I need to protect myself and others,” she said. “So, if the juvenile presents that lookalike weapon and refuses to drop it, I will act.”

Are you fucking kidding me? Rachel Horning is not interested in protecting the lives of anyone – especially students. She’s interested in creating a law which gives her and those on her side of the blue shield an automatic defense; she wants to create a law where she’s allowed to “act” – that is, murder a person – because she isn’t good enough at her job to distinguish a BB gun from an assault rifle.

Other issues with this bill include putting more kids into the prison system. It’s bad enough that we have legislators who want to ruin people’s futures, but many of these elected officials actually think our ‘justice’ system works:

Democratic Sen. Dawn Hill of Cape Neddick introduced the measure in response to Horning finding a BB gun that looked like a real weapon in a student’s car outside a Kittery high school last year. Horning said the student had a mental health diagnosis and intended to use the fake firearm as a showpiece in case someone tried to fight him. Without a law regarding replica firearms, Horning wasn’t able to get the student the help and services he needed in the juvenile justice system, she said.

Given that Horning has already contradicted herself pretty overtly, I don’t believe her. The student could have forgotten the gun in his car for all we know. Even on his alleged “mental health diagnosis”, he could easily just have ADHD or some other minor/non-affliction. Indeed, a classmate of mine back in high school left his shotgun in the back of his car one day, then parked on school property. Realizing what he had done, he went and moved his car within the first couple of classes of the day. He later mentioned what happened to a teacher. Fortunately, that teacher just told him to be careful and that was that. And guess what? The classmate likely had ADHD or could have easily been diagnosed with it. The juvenile ‘justice’ system had no place in the matter; our ‘justice’ system only could have derailed his life – which, incidentally, seems to be going fairly well since he’s an engineer at Lockheed Martin these days.

I’m not going to be surprised if this bill passes. Legislators are hard-pressed to say no to law enforcement, no matter how obviously harmful to justice a law may be.

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6 Responses

  1. After having a few experiences with the police in my youth, both personally and witnessed from afar I have felt like they should be subjected to some sort of mental state evaluation, designed to weed out the gung ho shoot first and ask questions later types.

    My experiences with cops never involved gunfire or anything like that, but the very distinct agressive attitude from some of the cops I have seen was very obvious. This legislation looks like it would be quite encouraging for those kinds of individuals that would prefer to just walk in shooting before any attempts are made to diffuse a situation.

    You will see a lot of Barney’s before you run into an Andy. If you don’t know what that means to I envy you.

  2. I’m pretty sure I forgot about at least one comment string, so apologies, but I’m a busy man. I’m here now though.

    Being something of an expert on the subject of firearms I don’t understand what this bill would actually do. The law already makes no distinction between a firearm and a firearm looking object. A person, police included, would be justified in using deadly force against a person pointing a BB gun at them.

    Indeed, I had every legal right to shoot the young man who did just that to me outside Wal-Mart a few Halloweens ago as I am sure you remember. It was only his good fortune to have pointed the thing at me that kept him breathing, a less discerning individual, probably including many police officers, might just have put two rounds center mass and been done with it, and who could blame them.

    In so far as it makes any sense to ban guns from any place, the bill is wholly redundant. I’m not really clear on what this would do or how it would protect police or anyone else from any prosecution they are not already protected from.

    But maybe I’m missing something.

  3. It’s a great bill if you’re a cop or a defense lawyer.

  4. I just don’t see what this does to protect police, or really anyone else for that matter, it’s just a completely unnecessary law. Should we ban things that could be mistaken for a knife? Christ, more people are killed with “hands, fists, and feet” than are killed with rifles every year, what if someone mistakes something a student has for one of those three things? I guess we ought to ban those as well.

    Of course the real lunacy is found in thinking that banning anything inside of an area you have just drawn an arbitrary line around can ever be effective. I thought everyone learned that in grade school playing tag.

    “I’m in the safe zone, you can’t tag me!”

    “The hell you are.” (pushes kid out of “safe zone”) “Tag, bitch.”

    Everyone is already permitted to use deadly force to preserve their own life and that of others around them if they truly feel threatened, no matter what is involved. Inevitably that is going to lead to some tragedies, but what doesn’t? Clearly what we need is more laws.

  5. Notice, though, how infrequently the police are prosecuted for using improper deadly force. This law, whether effective or not, is designed to make those rare prosecutions even rarer.

  6. Fair enough, and I don’t disagree, but still, the instances in which such a law would actually protect a police officer is so rare as to almost never happen.

    Another thing that just occurred to me is that the real tragedy is going to be when students have their lives ruined for having a BB gun, which might be okay if such a law as this would actually increase anyone’s physical safety.

    However, If this were to come to pass I think that vaguely gun shaped objects, like partially eaten pop-tarts, ought to be banned just to be extra super duper safe.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/07/pop-tart-gun-bill-in-florida-advances_n_4744941.html

    Now that is a law you should be able to get behind. This whole gun thing turned long ago into a case study in rule internalization. Take the guy in DC facing 6 months+ in jail for having a single, inoperable, shotgun shell in his home without having it registered.

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