The Answer to ‘Police Shootings’ is Not To Be Found In Police Shootings

As police-involved shootings have come to dominate headlines, the question nobody wants to ask is perhaps the most obvious: Why are we seeing the need for police shootings in the first place? The answer to this question is neither easy nor comfortable, which is why most people, especially on the Left, do not ask it but consistently keep the focus on the police and not the broader and deeper issues.

Every police-involved shooting represents a failure of some sort. Certainly, in some cases, they are the product of poor training or shoddy investigation, other times simply the result of circumstances beyond the officer’s control.

Far more important than police shootings being considered as the result of specific circumstances at the time of the shooting, however, they are indicative of a community failure — a breakdown of the normal safety nets that keep people from hitting rock bottom where, in the midst of crisis, their irrational behavior spills into public view and becomes a threat to others.

The teenage girl shot by a police officer just last month in Columbus, Ohio who was a split second away from stabbing another girl, or the 13-year-old gang member who had a handgun he was firing just prior to being chased and shot by a police officer, represent tragedies birthed not by the police, but by society.

The breakdown of the nuclear family, the substitution of digital “friendships” in place of actual human contact, the waning role religion plays in people’s lives, and the failure by governments and taxpayers to fund programs needed to care for the mentally ill, constitute but a few of the factors accounting for the increased violence in today’s society.

Add to this list the many political factors at play, such as the permitted influx of illegal aliens that include gang members from Central America, and the unwillingness of public schools to discipline students who commit violent acts against other students and teachers, and we have a society primed for violence.

Police officers do not wake up in the morning looking for someone to shoot. However, in the cultural dystopia prevalent in so many metropolitan areas today, it should surprise no one that these men and women in blue find themselves ever more likely to be drawn into circumstances not of their own making that require the use of force.

Making matters worse, instead of tackling the far tougher issues such as those noted above, the popular cop-out is to simply blame the police.

This is much the same way the Left looks at mass shootings as a form of “gun” violence because it is an easy gambit from which to push the political agenda of gun control.

Experts who objectively and apolitically study mass shootings conclude that these rare events are hardly at all related to actual “gun violence.” If the goal of studying such tragedies is to discern actual causes and develop meaningful solutions, what we really need to be looking at is our culture’s current obsession with “violence” as a means of catharsis; whether shooting up Asian spas because of sexual insecurities, or setting city blocks afire as a way to protest racial injustice.

Answering these questions, and the pathway to seriously addressing violence-involving guns (not “gun violence”) becomes far more clear.

Just as Democrats will never solve mass shootings with more gun control, we will never stop police-involved shootings by waiting until such shootings occur and then dissecting them. Whatever justice comes from after-the-fact trials does absolutely nothing to address the root causes of the shootings in the first place. Such proceedings do not answer the fundamental question of why there is a need for the use of lethal measures by police.

The answers to police shootings are not to be found in police shootings, but rather in all those many moments leading up to when the trigger is pulled. Only, for example, when we take the time to begin to figure out why teenage girls feel emboldened to pull out knives as a way to win an argument, or why 13-year-old boys join armed gangs in order to gain “respect,” will we have any hope of being closer to solving the problem of too many “police shootings.”

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Bob Barr
Bob Barr is a former Congressman who represented the citizens of Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. Bob heads Liberty Guard, a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty.