The Gun Control Debate Might Also Open the Path to the Militarization of Us Police

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Other countries regard America as the land where guns and weapons run rampant among the general population. Although their views may seem skewed to Americans, they have some basis in truth. American citizens do possess weapons, some for hunting, protection, and others that were obtained through illegal measures to cause destruction. Although some people argue against powering police forces with more advanced weapons due to a perceived threat towards civilians and their rights, without militarization of police forces, the federal and state governments would not have the ability to match the dangerous tools of violent criminals in order to protect the majority of citizens. Therefore, militarization of police is necessary for the safety of the general population.

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American culture remains extremely protective over the right to own weapons; this and the fact that often times criminals obtain military grade weapons illegally justify police forces utilizing at least the same level of weaponry. If we do not supply police officers with appropriate tools and protection, they would remain woefully unprepared and likely to perish in attempts to keep citizens safe. In the UT Austin shooting, Helmer recalls that he saw both everyday citizens and campus police trying to find the perpetrator and take him down. The gunman had several weapons and a high point of view to take down innocent bystanders, while the police had “uniforms and radios” and some had “neither”. The only “useful weapons” they had came from “home”, and not the issued weapons they should be supplied with. (Source C) The situation could have turned out much differently if only police officers had the appropriate equipment as part of their uniform. With body armor, tools of communication, and weapons to match those of the shooter, police could have taken him down much quicker and more effectively, preventing the obscene amount of casualties. School shootings have become more common in recent years, as seen in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. Police forces take longer to respond due to lack of communication equipment and when they do get on scene they have difficulty apprehending the suspect without proper weapons and other gear. If the police at UT Austin had the advanced equipment that the shooter did, many lives would have been saved. Similarly, the Boston Marathon bombing in Massachusetts. In this instance, troops used military grade weapons, protective jackets, and gas masks, and “few people objected…when their own safety and lives are at stake.” (Source E) Because of the effectiveness the troops that intervened displayed, people could not argue against their use of military equipment. With the appropriate equipment, police effectively subdued the conflict much faster and with fewer casualties, especially due to the quick communication between medical responders and police. Furthermore, until people experience the fear and immediacy of an emergency involving weapons, they cannot truly judge the necessity of military grade weaponry. The reality remains that police officers, when provided with equipment to match the level of the emergencies they respond to, more effectively involve other parties such as paramedics and hospitals, keep citizens safe, and detain the offender more efficiently.

Furthermore, America’s military has the ability to supply local police forces with the necessary tools to provide the most safety possible for all citizens. Most of the equipment that would go to police officers comes from military surplus. (Source E) These weapons come cheaply, and save taxpayers thousands of dollars, an important value to Americans. Rather than wasting the extra weapons the army has, programs such as Pentagon’s 1033 hand them to police officers in order to provide better protection for the general public. Officers encounter more and more advanced weapons, and in order to respond appropriately, they require equipment to stay prepared. These arms programs provide weapons, Kevlar armor, gas masks, and vehicles for far less money, which results in less of taxpayer money spent, and stimulation of the economy while also finding use for those leftover weapons. In this way, police can be prepared to effectively take down their targets with less collateral damage.

People believe that given military grade weapons, police forces will turn to more dangerous and risky tactics, resulting in more casualties. Although these weapons do have more power and force, in order match with the criminals roaming the streets, they are necessary. Also, police officers use military grade weapons but not military grade ammunition. (Source H) Often times they even use rubber bullets as a countermeasure to subdue the suspects rather than kill them. Although police officers use the same equipment as military officers do, the roles they play remain separate. Police “protect and serve”, while military “defends the country”. (Source H) Because departments merely upgrade weapons, the term militarization does not apply; it implies that police use excessive force that is inappropriate for domestic situations, when in reality they only use these weapons to keep society safe. The tool does not change the wielder. Society often paints police departments as groups of trigger-happy white officials who unfairly target other races. In reality, these cops merely chase the criminal, not the color of skin. If statistically people believe one race remains more affected than the rest, a cop pursuing a criminal of that race does not constitute racism. Only if they have no legitimate reason to detain or charge them does a problem arise. US law enforcement chases criminality, not race, gender, religion, etc. (Source B) If cops were afraid of having a label of racist, they would only do their jobs less effectively, allowing criminals roam free to kill more innocents, usually of their own race. These officers deserve praise and appreciation for the continuation of their work in the face of criticism and blame. They also deserve the ability to protect themselves from danger, which comes in the form of modernized weapons, armor, tools, etc.

Police officers hold strictly to a code of protection and service, fatalities being the last resort. Although there remain corrupt cops who condone uncalled for violence, the majority has positive intentions, and only desire more appropriate equipment to reach their goal. In order to ensure the least casualties and the more efficient capture of the criminal, police militarization needs to continue. Not only does the movement of tools stimulate the economy and prevent more waste from piling up, it provides safety for the protectors of society, who we show much less appreciation than they deserve.

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