On March 28, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry suggested the push away from gun control and toward expanded gun rights–which means more armed, law-abiding citizens–actually puts police lives in danger.
Harris-Perry read a summary from a recent Department of Justice report on police activity in Chicago and New York City. She then specifically focused on Philadelphia police, whom the report claims “averaged about one shooting a week from 2007 to 2013.” She said that during this time period “the percentage of unarmed suspects shot by the police increased from 6 percent to 20 percent.”
Harris-Perry then paused and asked, “Is is possible that our lack of national, common sense gun control laws leads to a situation where it is more dangerous to be a police officer and so police officers begin acting in ways that they expect everyone to be armed?”
In other words, instead of adopting the gun control measures pushed and rejected on the federal level in 2013, we are now seeing a push to repeal gun control and expand concealed carry and could it be that these things make police feel that their lives are in danger?
What Harris-Perry failed to note is that Chicago and New York City–two of the prime focuses of the DOJ report–are not cities with a high rate of concealed carry permits. Moreover, New York City is in a state where the SAFE Act mandates the very gun control measures rejected on the federal level in 2013. But gun control does not impact criminals and criminals are the ones who endanger the lives of police officers.
Police are not getting into shootouts with the father who takes his son out to dinner on the way to a Boy Scout meeting, nor are they in a shootout with the mom who keeps a Glock 42 in her purse to protect her daughter en route to dance class. Rather, they are getting into shootouts with criminals and suspected criminals who do not even read, much less follow, the gun control laws of a given state.
John Jay College’s Jon Shane alluded to these things when answered Harris-Perry’s questions by pointing out the need for “context.” He told her guns are not a new thing, that they have always been part of American society and “always will, and have always been a factor that’s trained on in policing tactics.”
And because he made his point successfully, Harris-Perry shifted the conversation away from how more law-abiding citizens with guns put police lives in danger and focused instead on how police are racially biased.
She said: “I guess part of what I will say is my concern that because of racial stereotyping that creates implicit bias, that for officers who are making a judgement call about whether they are in fear, that an African-American male body can be perceived as more dangerous than it actually, empirically is.”