Updated on May 19, 2016
Longtime readers of this blog know that I’ve been talking about gun rights for about 10 years here. The constitution is something I feel extremely passionate about. I am especially protective of the 1st, 2nd and 4th amendments. It’s not that the others are less important, but more that I feel those are more under attack. I think these days gun rights are most endangered of those three. If I were to rank the most endangered of the three, it would be 2nd, 4th, then 1st. Right behind those – but not far – would be the 10th and 9th.
As I began my fight to repeal antiquated and reconstructionist Jim Crow gun law here in Texas, I’ve heard it all. Nothing has angered me more than those who think only cops and our military should be armed as if they are somehow better, safer people than the rest of us. They don’t realize that the entire reason the constitution protects our inalienable right to self defense is exactly because of those two entities. Our founding fathers were highly suspicious of a standing army, as they should be. However, in the 1700s, there weren’t police forces like we have now, which I would argue are the standing armies of our time.
Before I go further, I’m not anti-cop. I think it’s a great institution with a lot of people who truly want to make society better. There are also those that don their uniform because they crave the power, the respect, the authority, and the “rights” they think they have that others shouldn’t. There was a time not even three years ago where I would give cops the benefit of the doubt in every situation. When I’d see videos of people being beaten, handcuffed, or assaulted I was sure that those people did something to deserve it. That is, until it happened to me.
After I was assaulted and falsely arrested, my eyes were opened. I began paying more attention and noticed that these weren’t isolated cases of police misconduct. This is a systemic issue in America. In the same year I was arrested, the same department broke the collar bone of a 15-year old kid for spitting on the ground and tased a man for refusing to stop while he was trying to get to the hospital to see his dying brother even though at one point he jumped out of his truck and the told the chasing officer exactly what he was doing. Instead of escorting the guy to the hospital, he called in backup and when the guy got the emergency room, tased him for more than 9 seconds as he got out of his truck. His brother died while he sat in jail.
I don’t think it’s disrespectful or even anti-cop to highlight and criticize those bad cops for what they’ve done. I think that the unwillingness to do so is what enables them. Our courts enable them by virtually giving them limitless power to do whatever they want under the umbrella of “qualified immunity.” Our government bodies enable them by exempting them from the laws that us plebes must obey. And the citizens enable them by apologizing for their behavior and dismissing it as “a few bad apples.”
The main point I wanted to talk about in this post is a recent incident here in Texas wherein a University of Texas Police Officer shot himself in the leg.
University of Texas Police officer, Cory Morrison, was injured Tuesday morning when a weapon accidentally fired while in his holster. The bullet went into and out of his right leg according to UTPD Chief David Carter. The accident happened in the parking lot of UTPD headquarters at 7:30 a.m. when Carter said Morrison was talking to two colleagues. Morrison was standing outside a patrol car while talking to the two men inside when the gun went off.
See, if this happened to you or me, we’d be arrested for endangerment and have to prove in court and plea out to a prosecutor that it was “an accident” in spite of the fact that there is no such thing as an “accidental discharge.” Instead, police officers get paid administrative leave. They are called negligent discharges because a gun doesn’t shoot itself. If someone is safely handling their weapon it will NEVER “go off” or “accidentally fire,” especially one that is “in his holster.” There’s more to why I wanted to specifically mention this incident. I guarantee you that the officer was “playing” with this gun when it went off. I’ve witnessed many times where officers standing around have their hands on their guns unseating it a few inches and reseating it repeatedly. They play this “in and out” game nonchalantly perhaps not even realizing it. This is most likely what happened to the UTPD officer. There is no reason to so much as touch a gun unless you’re about to use it.
During the committee hearing on open and campus carry, the Austin police chief (where the University of Texas is located), the UT police chief, and the UT Medical police chief all testified against campus carry. They were concerned about “accidents” and “friendly fire” incidents. They were clear that they had officers on campus that could respond to incidents and were trained with firearms.
Now, here we have a situation where those officers who will respond to incidents and are “trained” with firearms are shooting themselves in parking lots on campus. What this proves is that law enforcement officers aren’t omnipotent. They are no better than you and me. They are people just like you and me are. They are not infallible. Police officers have shot themselves or others again and again and again and again and again and again and again and…you get the point.
I’m not so stupid as to think that there will never be a negligent discharge somewhere on a college campus as some point in the future. The odds that it will happen eventually are high. We’ve seen it on occasion with teachers allowed to carry guns (or not). In the future, however, the student or teacher won’t be given the benefit of the doubt. Upon the first incident occurring, there will be a steady drumbeat of “I told you so’s” and attempts to repeal laws allowing campus carry. This is in complete contradiction to what is occurring right now with this UT incident in which people are basically just shrugging their shoulders and “investigating” it. The officer may or may not be reprimanded or even fired. Regardless of what happens to him, you can bet that there aren’t calls to disarm law enforcement.
When Chief Acevedo testified, he remarked about how it took three minutes to arrive on the scene of an active shooter with an AK47. THREE MINUTES! The UT chief testified that they can respond to incidents at the school within five minutes. At Fort Hood, it took military police seven minutes to respond to the last active shooter and even longer for Nidal Hasan.
There is a double standard that needs to be addressed about incidents involving the use of guns (notice I didn’t say “incidents involving guns”). We must return to a time when Americans were free to defend themselves wherever they went. A holstered gun is not a threat to anyone, whether your a police officer or a 21 year old adult. Guns don’t fire themselves without interaction from its owner.