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Steve Hansen: Is common sense dead in America?

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Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 12:00 am

Recently, a 13-year old boy was shot and killed by police. He was carrying a pellet gun replica of an AK-47 assault rifle. The police reportedly told the youth to drop the object in question, but he refused. As a result, the young man was shot dead.

Of course, this was a tragic situation for all involved.

But immediately, some began to imply that the police were somehow at fault. After all, the victim was only a young teenager, did not have a real gun and was part of a minority group.

As usually happens in these types of cases, the pot was stirred — perhaps by agenda-based reporting on the part of some media outlets. The result was that several folks rallied in support of the “victim,” all in the name of “justice.”

But no one seems to care about what these situations are like from a law officer’s perspective.

Stereotypes created by these repeated scenarios are that cops are out to “get” minorities and are insensitive to their plights. For the vast majority of law officers, nothing could be farther from the truth.

The primary objectives of officers are to do their jobs, be safe and get home to see their loved ones at the end of each shift. They are fully aware of obsessions with class and racial conflict in this country. They do whatever is necessary to avoid these types of situations for the sake of their careers as well as their own personal protection.

Many civilians have no concept of what it is like to look down the barrel of an assault weapon. They cannot comprehend the instantaneous threat to life that these instruments of death impose. Police-issued body armor can be effective against legal ammo, but worthless against illegal rounds that could be discharged from an AK-47.

Semiautomatic assault weapons already shoot fairly rapidly. But if they are unlawfully converted to their original purpose of being fully automatic, results may be catastrophic. An officer has no way of knowing the status of these situations until a weapon is closely examined.

Secondly, while standing several feet away, it is impossible to distinguish a replica rifle from the real thing. Several years ago, the California Legislature tried to solve this problem be requiring replica firearms to have a bright orange tips at the end of the barrel.

Exact replicas are illegal here. But of course, those with nefarious purposes can skirt these laws quite easily.

A small brush and black paint can quickly change that image. Also, some criminals have been known to paint orange tips on the barrel of the real thing and therefore confuse officers even further by delaying their reactive approaches to life an death situations.

If some people want to push an agenda, how about one that actually helps everyone in these potentially mortal confrontations? Rather than promoting victimization, how about encouraging people to actually cooperate with law enforcement directives? Would there have been a death in this case if this young man had simply complied? Chances are, there would not have even been an arrest!

In the rare event that an officer does give a unlawful command, it can easily be resolved after the fact with an attorney or in a court of law. Certainly, it is not necessary at the point of incident.

It’s time to return to principles of common sense for all — especially in circumstances where a needless death could have been so easily avoided.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer and trains with the Weapons Training School in Tuolumne County.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Eric Barrow posted at 3:26 pm on Wed, Nov 13, 2013.

    Eric Barrow Posts: 1604

    What a thoughtless title to this column. Way to blame the victim Steve you are one class act.

  • Brian Battles posted at 7:57 pm on Wed, Nov 6, 2013.

    SinEater Posts: 1

    Well maybe we have come to the root of the problem.
    According to the information I have received elsewhere on the internet there was a 10 second time delay between the officer reporting they were on scene and the boy lying on the ground shot.
    Ten seconds is a very short time for someone to realize that:
    1. There are police behind you.
    2. They are yelling orders at you.
    3. What those orders are.
    So maybe, just maybe, that kid never had a chance.
    The cops rolled up, only had time for one to get out of his car, and shot the kid dead *ten seconds* later.
    The current meme on the gun blogs is for you to run up behind someone you know (who doesn't know you are there) and click a stopwatch. Then order that person to do something. See if they "comply' with your lawfully given order inside of ten seconds. (actually less than ten seconds as the boy was on the ground dying at the ten second mark)
    Your life can be ended before ten mississippi by a cop who is fearful.
    The life of your child or your wife can be ended by a cop inside of _ten_ _seconds_.
    So there are no protocols to follow for an active shooter in this police force?
    They don't call for backup or call in a SWAT team?
    Just shoot a person carrying something that looks like a gun. If you are carrying a prop for a play *pow* *pow* *pow**pow*pow**pow**pow**pow* THEN the police will attempt to determine if you are actually a threat.
    If you are carrying a hair dryer *pow* *pow* *pow**pow*pow**pow**pow**pow* THEN the police will attempt to determine if you are actually a threat.
    Here is the fun:
    If it *was* a real AK47, this would still have been manslaughter.
    No one called in any crime. It is legal for eligible persons to own firearms in California. It is legal for eligible persons to carry those firearms to their cars and to their homes from their cars.
    It is *not* a shoot on sight offence to be either a 13 year old, or a Hispanic-American, or a person holding a gun shaped object, or a 13 year old Hispanic American who is holding a gun shaped object.
    Honestly this boy died because of fearful cops.
    They should get jobs in any other employment that doesn't put them in this type of situation as obviously they are lacking in some critical areas.

  • Jake Thompson posted at 7:50 am on Wed, Nov 6, 2013.

    jsaga Posts: 1

    Wow. Absolute authoritarian, simpering hogwash.
    "The primary objectives of officers are to do their jobs, be safe and get home to see their loved ones at the end of each shift."

    Really? I guess in the authoritarian mindset, peace officers (remember when they were actually called then, in the days when we still lived in a republic, and not a neofascist police state?) no longer have the primary duty of serving the public, even at the risk of their lives. Now their primary duty is to "be safe."

    If your primary goal is to "be safe," you should choose another line of work. Otherwise, you will throw commonsense to the wind, and slaughter children. Yes, the boy was child, not a "young man," as the sophistic purveyor of causistry Hansen would have us believe.

    Well, might as well line up, citizen, and "cooperate with law enforcement directives" by standing still so you can be shot by the commissars.

  • Debbie Meade posted at 4:10 pm on Tue, Nov 5, 2013.

    DebYZ Posts: 13

    When I first saw this on the news I thought why in the heck didn't the kid drop the gun when they told him 3 times? I'm sure I'll get a ton of flack but I am anti gun. Now a days everyone thinks we should be armed to the teeth because it's our god given right as an American! Well, I don't. Other countries don't have nearly as many gun related deaths as we do. Sure google it, you'll fine one that fits your cause. I have an 8 year old son, I have been very strict on toy guns, and violent video games because kids don't understand the consequences of actions yet. He knows what death is, but can't really comprehend it. TV shows you get shot and you live or you have a dispute, kill someone. What is the attraction to having a gun? After a mass shooting you hear lots of people say that's why we need guns, that's why I have a gun. Really? The fact that you have a gun, at home, locked up prevented the Sandy Hook shooting, the Colorado movie theater shooting, the kid who just shot his teacher, etc. It didn't, but Americans have this mentality where no ones going to take my right to away from me.


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