Put Down The Gun

My brother and I never heard our parents say the phrase “I’m not going to tell you again” when we were growing up. It was understood there would be no second warning. In fact, if we had not stopped whatever we were doing wrong by the time the words had finished leaving their mouth, we knew the consequences would be immediate. That’s how I was raised.

Lately, some tragic events have filled the news almost daily of police officers encountering young men who were either armed or believed to be holding a weapon. After repeated warnings, the police fired, and unfortunately, young men lost their lives. These terrible occurrences have incited violent protests, injuring many people and doing immeasurable property damage. This hatred of police and authority has led to murdering officers, and a racial division in this nation perhaps worse than the civil rights protest era in the ’60’s. Certain individuals in the African-American (or black, whichever is appropriate right now) community thrive on making any such occasions a racial issue.

This post will either be unread or controversial, but I want to speak the truth as I see it on this matter. I would hope that this truth would help heal. I use “you” not in any accusatory way, but in a conversational tone because I am not just rattling off opinion. I hope I’m speaking to someone.

If you are holding a weapon, or anything that police may perceive as a weapon, expect the officers to approach you with their sidearms drawn and pointing at you. This not a race issue. This is called they are trying to stay alive. It does not matter what color your skin is, you are apparently holding a weapon.

Now, regardless of what you have in your hand, before the officers say anything at all, you should be putting it down. But, let’s say it’s not a weapon in your hand and you don’t understand why they are pointing their guns at you. Then they order you to “Drop the gun!” This is not a suggestion. For whatever reason, they believe you have a gun. You have a few seconds to keep this situation from escalating. Your action is simple. Do not make them tell you twice. Whatever you have in your hand… PUT IT DOWN! If it’s not a weapon, they will see that when they get close enough; but in ┬áthe meantime, you have shown them you are not a threat.

If for some reason, they must repeat the order, and you have not obeyed, now you have shown yourself to be dangerous, to them or anyone in ┬áthe vicinity. They have to make a split-second decision. If they hesitate, you are likely to shoot someone. It’s past the point of wrestling you to the ground. If you have a gun (as they believe), and your actions suggest you do, you apparently intend to use it. Otherwise you would have surrendered it.

Trust me when I say, at that point, it makes no difference what color your skin may be. You will be shot.

Now there are those who say that a young black man is statistically more likely to be involved in these incidents than any other race or ethnicity. That is probably true. This is where I’m going to get really controversial.

A woman wearing a nun’s habit sends a message. You know something about her just by looking at her. Right? If you see someone with calloused hands, dirty work cloths, work boots, toolbelt, and a hardhat, that sends a message about them. Wouldn’t you agree? I could go on with other examples, but I think you get the idea.

When a young man (regardless of race) dresses and behaves the part of a THUG, that sends a message. That message is a very negative one. One of violence, lawlessness, lack of respect for anyone (especially authority), weapons, and drugs (there’s more to that message, but I think you get the idea). This is not racism. This is reality. When someone reacts to the message sent, don’t blame them. The THUG image and behavior makes people feel threatened. If that’s not the message you want to send, do not present yourself as a THUG.

Of course not all of the victims of these shootings presented themselves as THUGS. But the rule of put it down still holds true.

But if you dress and act the THUG part and you are holding something in your hand that police officers think is a weapon, and they’re approaching you with guns pulled, you have just a few seconds to change their minds about you. Putting down whatever is in your hand is a really good start.

PLEASE STAY ALIVE. AND PLEASE STOP THE VIOLENCE AND HATRED