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SWAT (courtesy

“Multiple studies, including from the Justice Department, have shown that the guns used in homicides, including the killing of police officers, overwhelmingly tend to be small-caliber handguns. Moreover, gun ownership has increased over the past 20 years — the same period in which both the violent crime rate and the killing of police officers have been in decline.” – Radley Balko, Five myths about America’s police [via] [h/t JP]

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  1. When I see a cop restricted to a 10 round mag and bullet buttons I’ll be more willing to listen to claims of being outgunned.

  2. If law enforcement were limited to S&W Model 10’s, and some cops were being found dead with all six primers punched, OK, maybe.

    When innocent people are being hosed down with a couple hundred rounds, when unarmed suspects are being killed with dozens of rounds fired, only a few of which connected…. yea, I’m not buying the “out-gunned” argument at all.

  3. The relative lethality (whatever that means) of a given item is almost insignificant compared to the methods and mindset of a person willing to employ an item. Thus claims that police are over or undergunned are meaningless.

    If an attacker has any creativity at all and is determined to kill another person — regardless of whether or not that other person is a police officer — the attacker is almost guaranteed to succeed. For example an attacker with a single shot .22 caliber Derringer can easily kill just about any police officer. All the “imagination” it requires is coming up with some casual, non-threatening reason to approach a police officer and then staying calm until pulling the trigger. The unfortunately victim would never see it coming or even hear the shot.

    For that matter that previous approach will work just as well with a short club or sword or even a Garrote wire. Of course using a common deer hunting rifle from a distance is equally effective and impossible to prevent — as Eric Frein just demonstrated in September of this year.

    Rather than all of this focus on potential weapons, policy makers should focus on reaching the hearts and minds of the people of our nation.

    • Totally agree, its the person not the tool that does the murdering. The antis seem to overlook this alot.

      Maybe we could suggest they try putting the pistol on trial and letting the person go? See how that goes over with them. Lol

      • “Maybe we could suggest they try putting the pistol on trial and letting the person go?”

        I hadn’t really thought about it before but that is EXACTLY what they are doing!

    • That is basically Radley Balko’s entire point, and has been for years. He’s an advocate for increased community policing, a staunch opponent of no-knock raids and the excessive use of SWAT for warrant service. He was the journalist who brought publicity and prosecution to the rogue LAPD “bust dealers, then sell their drugs” ring. He has brought intense scrutiny to the Taser reality, that they increasingly are not used as gun substitutes, but for punishment in non-violent cases in which a gun would not previously have been deployed. He is probably the only journalist working today that I admire, despite his having worked for HuffPo for a time.

      His point is that it isn’t the type of guns that perps or cops have that matters in the apparent rise of over-aggressive policing, but rather the SOPs of the employing PD. The problem isn’t the increase in military-style weapons, but rather the fault is military-style thinking and behavior. And I believe he is correct.

      We need feet on the beat, not SWAT rocking the block.

  4. I thought the following paragraph was just as interesting:

    “One version of this argument advanced recently by Vox and the New Republic is that we can’t demilitarize the police without gun control. But even if it were true that criminals were arming themselves with bigger guns, it isn’t clear that gun control would demilitarize the police. First, gun-control legislation would probably not do much to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals, particularly in the short term. Second, the argument assumes that the law enforcement community would accept such a bargain. That seems unlikely. “

    • More than that, gun control would also put these cops in direct, forceful conflict with the exact people who have these “evil”, “dangerous” guns. Yeah, that’ll make them put down the heavy weaponry, for sure.

  5. Great job by the Washington Post! In this age it is becoming rare to see such an insightful and non-political article. The sad part is that journalistic excellence stands in such contrast to the normal junk out there…at one time objectivity was the rule.

    • Balko is one of the few writers out there that I enjoy reading. In his opinion pieces he tends to use hard numbers, not emotionally slanted studies, to back up his assertions. It is amazing that HuffPo and WaPo publish anything he writes… then again, WaPo brought in Eugene Volokh’s blog too, so maybe their falling readership numbers finally forced them to try and balance their editorial staff.

  6. Perhaps we’re taking the term “outgunned” too literal. It can also mean to be at a disadvantage. Maybe a mental disadvantage? With the whole IQ quota thing going on in some departments. Maybe a moral disadvantage? With asset forfeiture, no-knock raids, shootings of dogs for no good reason, the immoral war on drugs, and the general quota system to generate revenue instead of the implied idea to serve and protect leaves most officers on the side of tyranny. Some don’t care and enjoy the power, most fool themselves into thinking they’re serving and protecting the community from the community, and others realize the problem and fact they can’t change it so they get out. I liken it to the moral problems of the recent wars in the middle east and the high rates of suicide in the armed services.

    • It’s worth remembering that there was a time when, for many if not most officers, their police work was actually defined by the idea of “protect and serve”. But in many departments police work has changed in recent years. Long service cops, the one’s who always saw themselves as serving their communities, have noticed the change the most. Police work now has a harder edge and they no longer fit.

  7. By the way I read the PRINT version of this article. I recall it saying the following:
    “Moreover, gun ownership has DECREASED over the past 20 years — the same period in which both the violent crime rate and the killing of police officers have been in decline.”
    (EMPHASIS added by me.)
    Do you think WaPo will publish a correction on the 1000’th page next week? Or is the point to make sure the damage has been done already?
    (edited–grammar, spelling)

    • UPDATE: nevermind.
      my mental faculties are going…..the print version *did* in fact say “increasing”.

      File under – “my bad”

  8. In my 20 years in Law Enforcement I have never been “Outgunned”. That is not why I use long guns. Simply, anyone who thinks any handgun is the right tool against a rifle has never actually been in that situation. It’s easy to sit behind a computer and spout off opinions. Unless you worked as a soldier or a cop then you really dont know.
    All it would take is ONE hostage/ Barricade situation where the offender had a long gun to convince you. Just one entry into a fortified drug house.
    Nearly every long gun cops use on the street are the same ones any citizen can buy. No difference. If I don’t need it in my job, why does anyone else?

    • Citizens can not own the same firearms as Police Departments examples are: California, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, South Bend, Washington D.C., Maryland, etc. Want me to continue.

      • That has nothing to do with this issue. That is a “Gun Control” Issue. Those who live there have the power to stop it.

    • I think the bigger point is that no one has the right to define for us, and thereby limit our choices, as to what we might NEED. Whether or not you have ever (previously) needed a long gun to do your job or even in your personal life, I’m willing to bet you have one available to you just in case.

      I’m 65 and own an M1SA in 7.62. I have never needed that rifle and with any luck never will, but I damn sure WANT that rifle handy just in case and I especially fer damn sure don’t want anyone in government telling me how many rounds my magazine can hold or what features I’m “allowed” to have.

    • I don’t believe the police have an “outgunned” problem. Regardless of how you train or what you carry the chances that you will find a situation exactly like your training scenarios is virtually nonexistent and someone having a bigger/better weapon is always a possibility. Preparing for EVERY situation you MAY run into is not possible. The M4 poodle shooter, shotgun and .40 whatever will probably suffice for 99% of what you may run into. The other 1%, well, see the second sentence above.
      If you wish to use the, “If I don’t need it in my job, why does anyone else?” item then I believe you have just nuked the ATF rulings on Class III stuff. Besides, as we are so fond of saying, what the heck does “need” have to do with it. Most police officers, heck, all but one I have EVER shot with, are half trained people. Half trained with firearms, hand to hand stuff and just talking to people. What makes police effective are numbers, tactics and time…..all are on their side. In fact, the only thing that really keeps them safe is that most transgressors they run into are much better than they are at any one or all three of the things mentioned. It is just the the police generally have nothing to fear from people who have trained for years to fight and or shoot. Oh, yes I was a police officer, was a military trained sniper on a SWAT team, was in MANY physical confrontations while on the street and have lots of years in martial arts/ Tai Chi, Aikido, Jeet Kun Do etc. That said, I am not a master at anything, the longer I train the more I realize I know nothing. Anyhow, more and bigger guns are not the answer.

  9. Gangbangers generally do not want to have a war with police.
    They have a war with rivals, they try to out gun their rivals not the police.
    So just because after a raid on a gang house they find ARs and AK-47s that does not mean that they would have ever been used in a battle against police.
    They want to out gun the rival gang.

  10. I wonder if he ever thought the reason police deaths are down but police killings are up is because they are simply shooting the bad guys with more regularity BEFORE they get shot by them. Am I the only one here that is connecting the dots on that?


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