The vast majority of American AR-15 owners don’t use their rifle(s) to kill people or commit crimes. What was true before the Clinton-era Assault Weapons Ban—most criminals use handguns for concealability—is true now. So demonizing the black modern home sporting self-defense sporting rifle requires a complete commitment to fact distortion. Here’s an example we didn’t see coming [via lvrj.com]: “See if you can spot anything troublesome with these three deadly police shootings . . .

■ Feb. 28, 2003: Unarmed African-American Orlando Barlow, a convicted felon, is on his knees and flanked by police officers when he’s shot in the back and killed by Metro Officer Bryan Hartman. Weapon of choice: AR-15 assault rifle.

■ June 11, 2010: Unarmed African-American Trevon Cole, a suspected marijuana dealer, is on his knees and flanked by arresting Metro officers when he is shot in the face and killed by Detective Bryan Yant. Weapon of choice: AR-15 assault rifle.

■ Dec. 12, 2011: Unarmed African-American Stanley Gibson, a disabled war veteran, is in his car blocked in by Metro black-and-whites and surrounded by police when he’s shot and killed by Officer Jesus Arevalo. Weapon of choice: AR-15 assault rifle.

Troublesome eh? The fact that writer cherry-picked three out of twelve incidents in which all three suspects were African-American? The phrase “weapon of choice”? It makes it sound like the Nevada PD face a smorgasbord of firearms every morning and choose the most deadly of them all.

I know! The assumption that the “weapon of choice” has anything to do with whether or not the incidents in question were “good shoots.” Especially as the three men pushing up the daisies seem to have been shot at point blank range. What was that Nick likes to say about causation and correlation?

Set aside for a moment that the DOJ will want to look at the number of unarmed minorities who have wound up in Metro’s cross hairs in recent years. Attention also must be paid to the troubling recurring theme of the officers’ use and obvious misuse of the AR-15 assault rifle.

Perhaps it’s a training issue. Metro SWAT officers, for instance, train almost constantly to prepare for complex calls. The rest of the department does not, yet its officers have ready access to semi-automatic rifles. Hitting the practice range two-to-four times a year might not be enough.

But it’s not just a training issue. It’s also a question of judgment and leadership.

” . . . I don’t see how we don’t look at the AR-15 and its utilization. That weapon and its introduction into policing, you could get people on both sides of that in regards to its effectiveness in an urban environment.”

It’s well past time to start asking hard questions about the AR-15’s use by police on the streets of Las Vegas.

Damn! He almost had it. Something about training and judgement and leadership and, I’m thinking, the increasing militarization of America’s police force. Or maybe it’s nothing at all. Just statistically insignificant (if deeply tragic and perhaps preventable) collateral damage in the war on crime/drugs, where bad things happen to bad people and, sometimes, good ones too.

But one thing’s for sure. It’s not the gun’s fault.

28 Responses to Las Vegas Review Journal: AR15s Shooting Unarmed Suspects

  1. His article wasnt about gun control but rather the militarization of the police. Sure he used plenty of ignorant liberal cliches regarding firearms but what do you expect?

  2. I love the way that the writer seems troubled that so many minorities wind up in the cops’ crosshairs, as if it might be a good idea to shoot more non-minorities for the sake of balance. I can just hear this traffic on the scanner:

    “Eagle 1 to Mother Goose, I’ve got a clear shot, permission to engage”

    “Mother Goose to Eagle 1, stand down, the subject is a minority, and we’ve already shot two of them this quarter. See if there’s a non-minority somewhere in your range, terminate same, and ask again later when the math looks better.”

  3. I picked up on this story too. I thought the AR-15 shooting was the most recent example. I saw nothing that made me think they were demonizing your precious gun, I thought it was all about demonizing the trigger-happy cops.

  4. it would make sense that AR’s are used in police shootings as they are the must have item these days for patrol cops and are standard issue in my area. In my county also, there have been two fatal police shootings within the past couple of days:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/prince-georges-county-police-identify-man-shot-and-killed-by-officers-in-capitol-heights-area/2011/12/16/gIQAYjy8xO_story.html

    http://www.gazette.net/article/20111219/NEWS/712199999/1124/landover-man-fatally-shot-by-prince-george-s-officer&template=gazette

    the militarization of the police is a serious problem county wide, but especially true in urban areas. The cops in my county are notorious for acts like this. It does not matter if you are a regular person, or the mayor of a town:

    http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2011/jan/24/settlement_reached_maryland_mayo

  5. Maybe unarmed African Americans should not be committing crimes and putting themselves in front of “Weapons of Choice”.
    Were the Po-Po charged in these cases or did they shrug it off?

  6. Twenty years ago it would have been a shotgun that went off. It appears, though, that the PD isn’t teaching their patrolmen the proper use of the AR selector switch. Kidding aside, on an AR in a tense situation the switch should be on safe until firing is immediately required. It is a glory of the AR design that the switch can stay on safe until the last millesecond. We certainly follow this in choppers or moving vehicles. This will prevent those sympathetic-twitch problems from becoming shots, which I would guess is what’s happening in these cases. If I’m wrong, PD’s simply better start installing 12 lb FCG’s on these puppies.

  7. I’m struck by something related to the AR shootings by LEO’s bit: While a non-LEO who holds a weapon aimed at an apparent aggressor will often find herself charged with Aggravated Assault simply due to the aiming point, LEO training seems not to point out that the muzzle should be pointed in a safe direction until the instant of intentional discharge. Train them on the selector switch and that muzzle discipline…and then prosecute them if they don’t bother to comply and a death results.

  8. You guys are missing the whole point of the story. Dontcha see? The Evil Black Rifles turned good cops into vicious bigoted murder death killers. If the Evil Black Rifles can do that to the fine, godlike people of the police persuasion, just imagine what the Evil Black Rifles can do to dirty commoners like us.

    Whoa, what happens if back people get their hands on Evil Black Rifles? Will they kill all the whites? Those rifles are possesed, I tell you. Mine is calling to me right now. I . . . I . . . must . . . obey.

    Sorry, I’m back now. My Evil Black Rifle made me shoot a bunch of targets. I hate targets.

      • I’ve been to Vegas too many times to count, and there have been more unjustified police shootings there than I can count. And almost all of them happened with the cops’ duty pistols. No, mikey, you’re consistently wrong. It was about the “precious” gun.

        • I agree Ralph. I used to live in Nevada and those of us who lived outside Clark County knew that the LEO’s in Clark County (LVPD and CCSD) were both as corrupt as the day is long. Carrying concealed is legal with CCW in Nevada, and you can have a loaded weapon in your car in plain sight in Nevada. Except in Las Vegas, where they want to pretend that the state laws don’t apply to them.

  9. I am African-American, and I don’t think it is racism as much as ignorance on using the weapons. The police should be investigated and charged if anything untoward is found. I don’t think all cops are racist. Some are and they should be rooted out. Most cops are decent hard-working people who want to go home and see their family at the end of their shift. Period.

    • I don’t know that I’d call it racist, but I think it takes a fairly extraordinary person to completely ignore all the stereotypes and *not* be a little quicker to make assumptions about a black guy than a white one.

    • +1 Dirk, your post encapsulates how i feel on this matter as well. as the links i posted previously show that this is a problem in some places, but it is not representative of all people i n the LEO community.

    • most cops are decent hardworking people that close ranks and back up the sociopaths that they work with when they capriciously kill unarmed non-cops.

    • I know some cops are really racist, especially the ones in Cincy and Toledo Ohio. I know a guy whose Brother In Law is a Sergeant in Sylvania and he deliberately rams into minority driven vehicles and blames them for the accident to keep them out of upper class sections of town. Cincy cops beat the heck out of a black diabetic man in a coma, thinking he was on drugs and resisting arrest.

    • Most cops are decent hard-working people who want to go home and see their family at the end of their shift. Period.

      It’s the “period” part that bothers me. I would like the cops to be at least a little concerned with me seeing my family at the end of their shift, but they don’t really give a sh!t about me or anyone else. Period.

  10. I agree with the concerns of the militarization of our police and the “no knock” tactics as in Sdog’s links, but what concerned me was the statement in two of the stories of “unarmed … is on his knees and flanked by arresting Metro officers, when he is shot … and killed “. May be more to the story but sounds like murder to me. As Ropingdown noted, if it was you or me as a homeowner we would be up for Murder One. Not enough info in the third story, but makes me wonder about what “stays in Vegas” these days.

  11. I don’t think the ARs are relevant. I do think these guys are playing for real the Magnum Force Movie of the early 1970s.

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