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Concealed guns and stupidity: A deadly combination

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on March 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm with 7 Comments »
March 28, 2012 5:27 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Ask George Zimmerman – if you can find him – if he still thinks it was a great idea to pack heat while doing neighborhood watch patrols in Sanford, Fla. This wannabe police officer may be rethinking the whole idea of looking for trouble with a lethal weapon at hand.

Witnesses have given wildly conflicting accounts of just how Zimmerman came to shoot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month. Whatever happened, the confrontation ended with Martin dead and Zimmerman despised by millions as a racist gunslinger.

He may never be arrested or convicted of anything. But he’s won immortality on the Internet, and a stigma will follow him for life.

The theme of “guns in the hands of foolish people” plays out every day, everywhere in this country. In Pierce County Superior Court, a man and a woman have just been charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of 3-year-old Julio Segura-McIntosh ­– the woman’s son – in a car two weeks ago.

It’s a pathetic story. Police say the man was carrying a handgun with a legal permit; he shoved the weapon under the seat when he got out to buy gas at a Tacoma convenience store. The woman, reportedly worried that her son might get the 9mm pistol, reportedly retrieved it and put it under her own seat.

Then, police say, she left the car with the gun unattended. The 3-year-old got it and accidentally shot himself in the head.

The criminal justice system will have to decide how culpable the man and woman are. They should be held to account in some way.

Subject to reasonable restrictions, gun ownership is a constitutional right in the United States. But this particular right comes with an exceptionally high burden of responsibility. Many people can’t handle it.

Police officers receive exhaustive training in the use of their firearms, including emphatic lessons on when they shouldn’t draw or fire their handguns. They’re taught techniques for de-escalating confrontations. Contrary to the Hollywood version of police work, they rarely fire them at criminals.

Very few private citizens have received anything remotely comparable to that training. Responsible firearms instructors teach gun owners to go out of their way to avoid situations that might escalate into violence.

Yet some civilians – Zimmerman seems to be a case in point – are foolishly emboldened when they carry guns. They walk in dark places they’d prudently avoid if unarmed. Some fantasize about showdowns with “bad guys.” (In their own minds, they’re always the good guys.) A few act on their fantasies, with tragic consequences.
Others are careless about handling handguns, devices engineered to devastate the human body.

Police officers know that their weapons can shoot both ways if they aren’t handled within precisely defined restrictions. Civilians often don’t have a clue. Anyone who thinks a concealed gun can be carried casually as a proof against risk should study the fates of George Zimmerman and 3-year-old Julio.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. GeronimoV says:

    Certain police officers can’t handle that exceptionally high burden of responsibility either, just ask that officer and his wife in Marysville. Oh, yeah, they’re not being held to account so they don’t have to answer.

  2. Objective says:

    Concealed guns and stupidity: A deadly combination: Should tell that to former Clark County Sheriff’s deputy Ed Owens and Officer Derek Carlile of Marysville. Does anybody in here think they would trust one of those two and their extensive training, instruct you in gun safety? I doubt it!!!!! Neither one of them are facing charges for their acts of stupidity like others.

    My point is, in this case guns. Not matter what you are going to have stupid people doing stupid things. These are supposedly two people, who have received all this great training mentioned above.

    You also have stupid people getting behind the wheel of cars everyday and doing stupid stuff. Getting people seriously hurt or killed probably far more than guns.

  3. UnbiasedReporter says:

    “Police officers receive exhaustive training in the use of their firearms, including emphatic lessons on when they shouldn’t draw or fire their handguns.”

    Forgot about Ian Birk already?

  4. Former Seattle chief of police and current Obama administration member Gil Kerlikowske had his duty gun stolen from his police car.

    A friend of mine is a guard at the Federal Court here in Tacoma. They are given 20 rounds of ammunition each year to practice and qualify with. Now tell me again about the commitment to professionalism.

    We trust police with weapons and an ever expanding arsenal of military grade vehicles and weapons. Yet statistics show police are more prone than most in society to be high risk for suicide & domestic violence.

    The News Tribune editorial board is going to have to do better than this silly opinion piece.

  5. moms4marijuana says:

    I wondered why the police officer whose child shot and killed their sibling 2 weeks ago wasn’t charged with manslaughter as well or why this newspaper editor didn’t address the discrepancy in the handling of these two cases. That policeman should be held to an even higher standard when it comes to the handling of firearms.

  6. TheOriginalPhred says:

    I got the main point of the op-ed, that being ‘Stupidity’. Plenty of them out there. Perhaps the best way to address this is to require a gun safety course with a passing grade of at least 95% as part of the permitting process. Granted education doesn’t necessarily ensure wise and responsible use, but at least it may keep total meatheads out of the picture. Don’t punish the thousands of responsible owners in Washington because of a few idiots.

  7. Objective says:

    UnbiasedReporter stated: “Police officers receive exhaustive training in the use of their firearms, including emphatic lessons on when they shouldn’t draw or fire their handguns.”

    So, how many hours of weapons training such as shooting and when to draw and fire? Some people would find an hour or two, to be exhausting.

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