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.


The Solution To Racism

My heart is heavy (pardon the cliche) as I see the news about all the protests against the tragic events with a few police officers and civilians. If you want to know how I feel about the police, see my last post, “Cry For The Fallen Brave”; but this post is something that bothers me about the protests.

Mostly, from what I have seen on the news, these protests have been somewhat peaceful, and that’s a good thing. The events that triggered them are undoubtedly tragic, regardless of how they actually happened.

Not since the civil rights conflicts in the ’60’s has our country been so torn on what seems to be a racial issue. I suggest that it’s not really a race issue. There are certain influential people who thrive on every opportunity to make a problem into a racial problem. I have an idea who some of these people may be, but I won’t name them. But if a white police officer shoots or uses forceful restraint on a black person, regardless of the reason, it stirs trouble. Oddly (or maybe not so), if a black officer takes the same action toward a white (or any race, for that matter) person, it gets no attention.

There is a powerful movement to nurture racism in America today.

If the tragic events that triggered these protests really are flagrant racism by white police officers, who selectively profile and harass black citizens more than other races, then that is a serious problem that needs to be addressed by the judicial system. I’m stumped to think of any time in history when protests influenced the US judicial system.

But, here’s my main point: these protests are racist. They hold up their fists, which was the symbol for “Black Power” in the ’60’s, or could just simply represent fighting (either way, representing violence directed at white people). And they carry signs saying: “Black Lives Matter”.

Of course black lives matter. But isn’t it racist to single out one race and declare that? If there were a protest where they carried signs saying “White Lives Matter”, what do you think would be the reaction? Really, don’t ALL LIVES MATTER?

So, the title to this post may have been misleading. Other than the changing of the hearts of all people, I don’t believe there is a real solution to racism; however, I firmly believe that responding to racism (or perceived racism) with racism only creates more hatred.

I heard someone say once about black people hating whites being “reverse racism“. That’s ridiculous. Racism, hatred, prejudice, discrimination, all the same no matter who points at who.

Cry For The Fallen Brave

Since Vietnam, including the war on terrorism the US is currently fighting, there have been children who were given weapons and taught to kill. Our soldiers have the unfortunate duty of killing these children, or be killed by them. It’s a terrible thing. The children are not the enemy; nor are the soldiers bad. The evil ones are those who give the guns and bombs to the children and teach them to kill.

My heart is broken as I watch the news lately. It seems nearly every day there are violent acts targeting and killing police officers. The alleged motive is revenge for some terrible actions (or mistakes) of a few.

Let’s talk briefly about what it means to be a law enforcement officer. They are part of a small minority group, along with soldiers and firefighters, who daily put their lives on the line to protect everyone else’s lives. Does that sound stressful? Every time they put on their uniform, especially recently, they are wearing a target. They are trying to maintain peace and order in a culture given to anarchy. They are authority in a society that hates authority. Does it sound stressful now? Each day, when they leave home, they don’t know if they will ever see their family again, or if some angry thug will shoot them on the street because they’re wearing a uniform. How about now? When they are called to the scene of a crime in progress, for example domestic violence, the officers are frequently injured trying to control the situation. If they have to restrain someone, or use any kind of force, the officer has to undergo an internal investigation to prove it was necessary. They carry guns and other weapons to protect themselves and others, but every time they use them, there has to be an investigation. Okay, I think you might understand that a police officer’s job is one of the most stressful jobs in existence.

Now unfortunately, police officers are humans, just like the rest of us. And maybe some of us with less stressful jobs and lives have at times gotten stressed-out and perhaps over-reacted to a situation. If I were stressed and carrying a gun, and someone approached me pointing a gun at me, (first of all, I’m not going to take the time to find out if it’s a real gun) I’m going to point my gun at them. If I tell the person to drop the weapon, and they don’t immediately do it, I have to assume they’re going to shoot me, so I shoot them.

Sadly, our police are soldiers in a war that recruits children. Kids carry weapons. They know how to kill. And cops are their targets. The children are not the enemy. The cops are not the bad guys. The real evil are those who put the guns in the hands of these babies and fills their young minds with poisonous hate.

It’s not a race issue. It’s not an economic or political issue. The issue is the perpetuation of hatred.