One Last Thing: The Overarching Problem

I linked to this multi-part Twitter rant by journalist Julian Sanchez in the last post, but since I know some of you don’t Twitter, I thought I’d preserve it here for posterity, because this is probably the best summary of the problem I’ve seen to date:

After that, the inevitable question of “But what do we do about it?”:

And that is the tough nut to crack. The more I write on topics like this, the more convinced I become that there are very few problems we face as a country that have easy answers, and very few controversies that have simple causes. The Castile case is not as simple as straight up racism, even if race is a factor. It’s not as simple as police are too militarized, or too quick to use force. It’s not as simple as “NRA doesn’t care about black people.” It’s representative of a lot of pathologies we carry as a nation, and I don’t have easy answers.

9 thoughts on “One Last Thing: The Overarching Problem”

  1. : “Oh, he should have known NOT to keep pulling out his wallet…”

    Sanchez is wrong. The cop already had the license in his hand when Castile announced he had a permit and a gun.

  2. This is the same argument I have been making for a while. Police are held to a lower standard than civilians, not a higher one. This is exactly backwards, but it is now culturally ingrained. The entire concept of qualified immunity, as currently applied, is broken. I see no easy way to fix it.

    1. Government officials should be held to higher standards. Alas, the people who would do it are generally other government officials

    2. I have also made this argument many times and have yet to have anyone explain why police should be held to a lower standard.

  3. “It’s not as simple as police are too militarized, or too quick to use force.”

    On that point I disagree with you. I don’t mean that it is the only factor, but absence of accountability is always a major contributor to bad behavior.

    I have had incidents in my life when I could have shot somebody, and maybe ultimately gotten away with it, legally speaking, but I didn’t because I thought about it that fourth and fifth and sixth time, before deciding not to act. Just as with a cop, if my hesitation had resulted in my own death, well, it would have sucked to be me, but I hesitated while a zillion consequences raced through my mind.

    That’s how it is for us civilians, and I’m sorry, I’ve never thought there was anything so noble about cops that they shouldn’t be expected to think more than twice before shooting someone.

  4. Good post. For me, the issue is one of: What can I do to protect myself? I have a lot of control over what I do; none whatsoever over what the cop will do. Debating what we should all do to get someone else to change his behavior is nearly futile.

    I can put my wallet in the door-handle (i.e., that which I grab to pull the door closed). Now, if I am stopped on any trip, the cop won’t see me squirm to get my license and CWP.

    When a cop lights-me-up I can roll down the windows on driver’s side and shotgun side. (I don’t know which side he will approach).

    Before the cop gets out of his car I can have both my hands and wallet out the driver’s side window. I can pull my license and CWP before he reaches my car.

    When the cop reaches my car I can ask him if he wants my license and CWP.

    When the cop asks for registration and insurance I can ask him if it’s OK to retrieve it from a “wallet” on my visor. (I don’t want to reach into a dark/blind glove compartment). I can do this as slowly as possible.

    If the cop wants me to disarm I can ask him if I can open the door with my hands outside the window. Then, I’ll ask if I can stick my head through the window while he stands behind me. Then, I’ll ask if he would like to cuff me before reaching into my pocket before pulling my gun out. And, if he wants to call for back-up before doing all this.

    All this should be taking place in view of the cop’s dash-cam; provided he isn’t standing in the line-of-sight.

    The cop CAN always shoot me; whether I’m obeying his commands or not. He is not allowed to shoot me for not obeying his commands if I’m not actually DOING anything that a reasonable man could argue as indicative of a threat. Freezing with hands in view is much safer than making any movement whatsoever that could be interpreted as movement toward a gun.

    1. “He is not allowed to shoot me for not obeying his commands…”

      Who says so? Other cops?

      Once you announce and he/she knows you have a gun with you, he/she knows he/she can shoot you and get away with it. If he/she has the presence of mind, he/she may want to babble a few words like “Don’t reach for it don’t reach for it don’t reach for it. . .” before he/she does, but if there is a gun anywhere inside the car — or you have been recorded saying you have a gun, he/she is home free.

      Then there’s always that drop gun he/she bought in the cop bar a few weeks back…

  5. Cops do get shoot/don’t shoot training on simulators. They also get training on dealing with armed citizens because lots of times the armed citizen is them-out of uniform and out of jurisdiction.

    Sometimes it doesn’t work, like any training but it is given. Any one who opines on this topic should spend some time on the simulator to get an appreciation of how strange things can get.

    Probably only about 1% of non-police gun carriers get training beyond the basic CCW course. The number should be much higher or at least people should think about what they will do when TSHTF. Unlike the journalist you cite, I regard this as a failing rather than an excuse for doing stuff that can get you killed.

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