No Such Thing…As A Toy Gun!

It’s time to Break It Down!

The last half of this year has been more than a little eventful with the shooting of Michael Brown, 18, (August 9th), and what by most accounts appeared to be the choking related death of Eric Garner, 43, (July 17th), both by police officers. Those deaths have sparked numerous protests, many of which have been caustically panned by Police Unions and other Law Enforcement Organizations.

The fact that neither Brown nor Garner was armed, yet the officer was not indicted by the respective Grand Jury in either case, has led to concern among many African Americans, as well as other people of good will and a sense justice. There is an understandable sense that the system did not work to produce an appropriate result for survivors of either Brown or Garner.

I will stipulate up front, as I have before, police officers have a difficult job. I cannot imagine any circumstances under which I would want the responsibility they are charged with, each and every day. Having said that, the simple truth is, I do not have that burden; officers, however, do. It is therefore their obligation to manage the duties, obligations, and responsibilities with which they are charged, with a sense of care that will enable them to go home unharmed at night. But I think, and I hope, they will act in a way that also permits unarmed citizens to do the same…or to be taken into custody alive, if custody is warranted.

The cases of Brown and Garner have been elevated and parsed ad nauseum. Two cases, which in my view are just as controversial, but which have received less attention to date are those of John Crawford, 22, who was shot and killed in a Beavercreek, OH Wal-Mart, August 5th, and Tamir Rice, 12, who was shot to death in a Cleveland Park, November 22nd.

Both Crawford and Rice were shot after 911 callers reported they were wielding weapons. That was true, in a manner of speaking, and up to a point. That is to say, there were carrying facsimiles of weapons. However, pertinent details were not communicated, or were miscommunicated in each instance.

For his part, a caller reported Mr. Crawford was pointing his weapon at store patrons, and that at one point he was loading the gun, which looked like an AR-15, with ammo. However, when interviewed later, the patron, who incredibly enough was allowed to view the Store’s Security Video, as he made his official statement, amended his version of events to reflect that Crawford did not ever raise the weapon or point it at anyone. Ultimately, of even greater importance was, he did not load the weapon with ammo because…it was not actually an AR-15, but a BB Gun that he had picked up in the store. Oops!

In the case of Tamir, a 12-year old, the caller actually told the 911 receptionist that the gun looked as though it might be a toy. This information was never relayed to the responding officers, or so it is reported. This oversight or lapse proved to be critical, as Tamir’s gun was a toy. In both cases, the officers shot the victims within seconds of confronting them.

Edward Abbey, an American author, and essayist, noted for his anarchist political views, is credited with a number of quotes, including the meme, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” If the Crawford and Rice cases are apt barometers, Abbey’s meme will have to be expanded to include toy guns.

As a kid I grew up playing with toy pistols early in life, only to have them taken away later, with the prescient warning that guns are not toys. Undoubtedly, I resented the advisory at the time, but as with so many other things, I have come to see the limitless wisdom of my elders.

In a world where police, and even Neighborhood Watch Captains, may use deadly force, without consequence, even when you have no weapon at all, it certainly does not serve one’s best interest to have a toy gun. While I am on record as supporting placing reasonable limitations on access to guns, I am rapidly moving to the point of view that every adult of sound mind should have a gun, a real one, and the willingness/commitment to use it to protect him or herself against the pending tyranny of someone who may wantonly employ deadly force against them, and not even be held accountable for having done so.

“#NOSUCHTHING…ASATOYGUN!” I’m done; holla back!

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