Another innocent black man unjustly shot, another hashtag, and another community left asking what is it going to take for police to be held accountable. And more importantly, are cases of police brutality relevant to the ongoing debates over gun control?
As the heat rises in the controversial conversation of gun control amidst the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that happened just barely a month ago, an unarmed African American, Stephon Clark, was recently shot 20 times in his grandmother’s backyard.
An always present debate, the restrictions on the purchase to the general public are constantly argued over. Yet cases of police brutality are events that occur systematically, with trained officers who are granted access to weapons as part of their job and their role in gun control should be included in the debate. They are just as impactful and should also be a part of the conversation.
Some feel that because the police force have experience and rigid training with guns, they have developed a more controlled environment for how they handle their weapons,so their connection to the gun control debate is not relevant.
But it is.
Just this year alone, we have accounted for 264 people who have been shot and killed at the hands of the police according to data collected by mappingpoliceviolence.org.
A research study by the American Journal of Public Health Association, was conducted to examine the effectiveness of laws implemented at the state level over firearms and see the effect on fatal police shootings.
The study concluded that, “although further research is necessary to determine causality and potential mechanisms, firearm legislation is a potential policy solution for reducing fatal police shootings in the United States,” with less guns out on the streets, there is a smaller chance of police being placed in “life threatening” situations.
We need to be open and honest when discussing and sharing reports of fatal police shootings and keeping track of the police officer’s who are responsible for deaths of nonthreatening suspects.
“Over the years, lawmakers have tried to open up some information. But law enforcement groups have fought back, arguing that disciplinary records should remain private to protect officer safety and limit the sensationalizing of such incidents” according to an article by The LA Times.
Cases of police being killed as a result of their name being released after case hearings are rare. The few cases that are available were crimes committed by people who already had a history with a specific officer but not because a case led them to harm them.
Police should be held accountable and stand by their actions when they decide to make the heavy decision to take someone’s life. When they pull the trigger they should know the weight of their decision and the least the police department can do is be open with the public about it.