Most Police Officers Should Not Carry Firearms
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Debate Rounds (4)
Most Police Officers Should Not Carry Firearms
Con must agree to the following definitions before accepting this debate.
Round 1 will be acceptance. No arguments will be presented by either side. The subsequent rounds will consist of opening arguments, counter arguments, and closing arguments.
Most Police Officers
The following kinds of officers are included
"State police officers, sometimes called state troopers or highway patrol officers, arrest criminals and patrol highways to enforce motor vehicle laws and regulations."
"Uniformed police officers have general law enforcement duties, including maintaining regular patrols and responding to calls for service. Much of their time is spent responding to calls and doing paperwork. They may direct traffic at the scene of an accident, investigate a burglary, or give first aid to an accident victim. In large police departments, officers usually are assigned to a specific type of duty. Many police agencies are involved in community policing–a practice in which an officer builds relationships with the citizens of local neighborhoods and mobilizes the public to help fight crime."
"Specialized assignments Officers can specialize in a particular field, such as chemical and microscopic analysis, training and firearms instruction, or handwriting and fingerprint identification. Others work with special units, such as horseback, bicycle, motorcycle, or harbor patrol; canine corps."
"Detectives are plainclothes investigators who gather facts and collect evidence for criminal cases. Some are assigned to interagency task forces to combat specific types of crime. They conduct interviews, examine records, observe the activities of suspects, and participate in raids or arrests. Detectives and state and federal agents and inspectors usually specialize in investigating one type of violation, such as homicide or fraud. They are assigned cases on a rotating basis and work on them until an arrest and conviction is made or until the case is dropped."
"Fish and game wardens enforce fishing, hunting, and boating laws. They patrol hunting and fishing areas, conduct search and rescue operations, investigate complaints and accidents, and aid in prosecuting court cases."
The following kinds of officers are not included.
Any Officer involved in a raid or planned felony arrest for the duration of the operation.
i.e. SWAT forces, Detectives, DEA, etc.
Special Jurisdiction Police agencies have special geographic jurisdictions and enforcement responsibilities. Public college and university police forces, public school district police, and agencies serving transportation systems and facilities are examples.
Understanding the Situation
Unfortunately, it has become all too common to hear the disturbing news of yet another incident in the United States where the use of Deadly Force via Firearms by the Police has resulted in yet another death.
In 2014 alone, the FBI reports 396 "justifiable homicides" committed by Police. This represents "the killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer", and doesn't include any persons killed by a law enforcement officer who were not felons.
So, what exactly is "Justifiable Homicide"?
"a killing without evil or criminal intent, for which there can be no blame, such as self-defense to protect oneself or to protect another, or the shooting by a law enforcement officer in fulfilling his/her duties."
Discussions regarding the appropriate usage of firearms in the line of duty aren't new. This essay, written in 1950 by associates at Northwestern University School of Law, depicts a strong outline for proper behaviour.
One of the strongest and most emphasized points in this essay is the need for a felony to have already occurred or be currently in progress.
If an arrest is being made for a misdemeanor and the arresstee is resisting or attempting to flee, the use of a firearm is not justified.
Even if the crime is a felony and the suspected felon is resisting or attempting to flee, every effort should be taken by the officer to not use his firearm.
A firearm is a not to be used as an intimidation device or in an effort to make a subject comply with orders.
If we are to agree that this model of behaviour is ideal, it should be reasonable to think that officers who do not routinely deal with suspected felons have little to no need to have a firearm. Even officers who do carry should only use their firearms as an absolutely last resort.
Setting The Bar
Listen, as silly as it may seem, I am certainly not the first person to have this idea. There are many countries that do not permit their officers to carry or use firearms in the line of duty. These aren't new developments either.
"In Britain, Ireland, Norway, Iceland and New Zealand, officers are unarmed when they are on
patrol. Police are only equipped with firearms in special circumstances."
Even in countries, like Iceland, that have relatively high percentages of armed citizens this strategy of low-armament by the police force seems to work.
Let's get one thing straight, despite not carrying firearms, these officers are not entirely "unarmed" or "defenseless". It's common to see many officers of type being issued Tazers, Billy Clubs/Whacking Sticks, and Mace.
Again, I'm not trying to say that all officers must be unarmed. There should definitely be a contingent that is armed and ready to respond. In Iceland, the only officers that are allowed to actually carry are called the "Viking Squad". These armed units specialize in hostage scenarios, anti-terrorism, and other high-stakes operations.
This all culminates in the fact that countries that restrict firearm usage by their Police have significantly lower rates of "justifiable homicide". Even when Police in these countries do use their firearms, they do not shoot to kill unless absolutely necessary.
Moral and Philosophical Questions
I hold that it is the duty of Police to protect citizens at peril to themselves. Much like the military, these brave men and women should be expected to put their lives on the line in order to protect our freedom. To these few brave individuals we grant the power to take the lives of others. A monopoly on violence, given through the consent of the governed.
There is nothing honorable about taking the lives of others.
We grant Police and the Military this power not because they risk their own lives, but so that they don't have to risk the lives of the people they are supposed to protect.
This is what makes these occupations honorable and commendable. This why we as a society should be able to look up to these individuals. They don't kill in order to protect themselves, they kill to protect us.
Traffic Cops do not need to be packing heat when they pull over your grandmother for running a red light. Beat Cops do not need to be packing heat as they patrol your neighborhood. Uniformed officers do not need to be locked and loaded as they respond to general calls.
Am I arguing that the Police shouldn't be able to kill other people? I certainly am not. The use of deadly force can be justified in certain situations. We need armed officers to mitigate situations like Georgia Tech, the Aurora Theater Shootings, and other incidents where the lives of citizens are in grave danger. However, we have good examples of other modern countries that are able to keep the peace without arming every Officer.
Obviously, these other countries are not the United States. There are a lot of other factors that affect the ability of Police to do their jobs without firearms. Officer education and training, officer pay, community relationships, and overall cultural attitudes play a major role in how successful they can be.
This is by no means the solution to the the problems manifested in recent years by United States Police.
However, I do believe that restricting firearms to select officers will be a major stride towards creating a relationship of trust and respect between Police and Citizens, reducing the potential for abuse of power, and creating a safer society.
My opponent seems to miss the obvious distinction that these killings were JUSTIFIED. These officers were acting in their official capacities and acted in a legal manner to defend themselves or the public. My opponent omits that during the same year, 48,315 officers were assaulted while performing their duties , and 51 were feloniously killed . It is not hard to imagine how many more officers would be dead were it not for the 444 justified homicides.
Dealing with suspected felons is not unusual for police, but the majority of officers killed were not killed under this circumstance, but under circumstances where my opponent has insisted they should not carry firearms. Of the 51 officers killed, only 8 died during an arrest or tactical situation. 11 were killed responding to disturbance calls, 9 were fatally injured during traffic pursuits or stops, 7 officers were killed in ambush situations, 5 officers were conducting investigative activity (surveillance, search, interview, etc.), 3 officers were handling persons with mental illnesses, and 1 officer was killed in an unprovoked attack.
Of the officers killed, 31 were assigned to vehicle patrol at the time of the incident. These would be the officers my opponent was derisively referring to when he said "Traffic Cops do not need to be packing heat when they pull over your grandmother for running a red light. Beat Cops do not need to be packing heat as they patrol your neighborhood. Uniformed officers do not need to be locked and loaded as they respond to general calls."
My opponent does not argue a rampant abuse of force by officers, in fact he doesn't cite a single example that would justify rendering helpless those assigned to help us.
Woops. I'll concede that I did make a mistake with that first link. I had several of the same looking UCR FBI pages open and must have copied the wrong one. However, to be fair, Con missed some fine print as well. Here are the correct statistics.
392 Citizens Killed by Police in 2010 Using a Firearm
442 Citizens Killed by Police in 2014 Using a Firearm
Let us not forget that these statistics are self reported by the Police to the FBI. The actual number of civillians unjustly killed by Officers wielding firearms is likely to go uncounted and unreported to any commitee dedicated to larger oversight.
First, I'd like to give a little more context to these "assaults" that Con cites.
There were 627,949 Officers employed Full Time in 2014.
48,315 of those officers were assaulted.
13,645 of those officers sustained injuries from assault.
51 of those officers were feloniously killed.
46 of those officers were killed by accident.
48,315 / 627,949 = ~0.077 AKA 7.7%
13,654 / 627,949 = ~0.022 AKA 2.2%
51 / 627,949 = ~0.00008 AKA 0.008%
46 / 627,949 = ~0.00007 AKA 0.007%
Put It All Together
7.7% of Officers are Assaulted.
2.2% of Officers receive Injuries from Assault.
0.008% of Officers are Killed Feloniously.
0.007% of Officers are Killed By Complete Accident.
How dare Police say their job is dangerous!? :D
I kid you not, more constructions laborers (208) died in 2014 than both Felonious and Accidental Police Deaths combined. (107)
Of all officers who were assaulted in 2014:
Weapons of Assaulters
Weapons of Assaulted
Of the 61 officers that were killed feloniously, only 5 managed to discharge their firearms while another 7 attempted but failed.
Maybe a good offense is not always the best defense? Not if you miss or get killed before you even have the chance to fire.
My opponent seems to believe that I aim to "justify rendering helpless those assigned to help us". Con wants You to believe that it is necessary for me to prove that Officers display "rampant abuse of force" in order for this debate to be won.
This is not the case, because I certainly am not calling for our protectors to be "rendered helpless" and Officers do not have to abuse a power for them to be unjustified in weilding it. We shouldn't be giving other people power just because they haven't fudged up using it yet.
Helpless is the 100% of non-assailants that were otherwise involved with the police in traffic stops or investigations. Helpless is the 79.9% of actual assailants that only had their hands and feet to fight with when the Police had guns, tasers, billy-clubs, and pepperspray.
Helpless is not the 100% of Police that would still have tasers, peppersray, and billy-clubs.
Please don't get me wrong. We need for our Officers to be packing when it counts.
No, I'm not talking about when the 4% of the assailants that actually use their guns against police are attacking.
I'm talking about when the lives of citizens are in danger because another human being has pointed a knife or a gun at them. I'm talking about when another human decides they want the power to take another's life.
We need our Police armed and ready to kill when this is the case. We give them the power to beat, maim, and kill other human beings. This power we grant them is not for their own salvation, but for ours.
Even if Police Officers must risk being injured (2.2%) or killed (0.008%) by an assailant in the line of duty, it is a fair price to pay.
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