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Shoot first, answer questions later?

There used to be cops who spent their entire life on the streets and never drew their service weapon. Those days are gone.

The very idea of unholstering a firearm- and pointing it at someone only means one thing- you are prepared to shoot someone. That person, has to be an immediate threat to someone’s life- an imminent danger- and then, and only then, would you be OK to shoot. At least that used to be the equation.

Guns on the streets weren’t an everyday occurrence- unless of course, you were a criminal. And despite all these people going out and getting CCW licenses- those guns aren’t out on display- they’re concealed. And since Ohio is an “Open Carry” state- it’s actually legal to walk around with your hand cannon strapped to your side- even if it does make people uncomfortable.

But lately- toy guns in black men’s hands are an instant death sentence- whether in Walmart in Beavercreek or in Cleveland on a playground.

In Dayton on Christmas eve, a 20-year-old black male was arrested for “waving a toy gun around.”

Bennie Coleman, 20, was arrested on Tuesday morning and booked in Montgomery County Jail. Police observed him in a firing stance, pointing the gun at passing motorists and waving the gun back and forth from left to right, according to a Dayton police report.

via Man arrested for pointing fake gun at drivers| Dayton, OH Crime | www.mydaytondailynews.com [1].

He was in jail on Christmas day- for “inducing panic” with a $2,500 bail and awaiting arraignment on a parole violation. Now on the 27th- it’s up to $5K. Apparently- toy guns are now weapons, because, well, any criminal could just paint the tip of a real gun orange to “fool police.”

Fooling police? Really?

The riot cops in Ferguson were shown in photos acquiring targets with military grade weaponry. This began a debate on military “technology” transfer to local police departments, not the fact that they were lining up their sights on targets- without an imminent threat.

Let’s talk about the imminent threat to a civil society- the breakdown of law and order. When the rules become so fluid, and get applied haphazardly- they begin to have no meaning. How does Bennie Coleman end up in jail for more than 48 hours for a toy gun- while my neighbor, Brandon, Demolition Derby, Crouch- is out in 48 hours [2] when caught with a real gun? Is that one is black and the other white? Is it that our laws aren’t really laws anymore? We already assume the wealthy don’t get the same treatment from the courts that the poor do- hence people like Mike Peppel who stole millions- got 7 days in jail while a poor grocery clerk- threatened with 40 years. [3]

Since the “war on drugs” began, we’ve taken a draconian puritanical approach- criminalizing mind-altering substances as if they are a threat to the health and welfare of every person in this country. Our heavy-handed approach to this “problem” has put record numbers of people in a very expensive prison system- at an alarmingly racially disparate rate. Yet after forty plus years, no one has stopped to ask if this program is working? Is it making us safer? Is it solving the problem? The answer to both is no.

Stand back and think about what it means to live in a country that puts incarceration over education, incarceration over health care, and ask if the fundamental problems we face aren’t our own doing?

We’re creating a permanent underclass of perpetually under-employable people with our system of mass incarceration. We’re taking away all hopes and dreams of an equitable and just future for an alarmingly large percentage of our population. If the number 1 in 32 doesn’t make you wonder- that’s the number of people who are either incarcerated, on parole or probation [4].

We’ve created more police apparatus to “keep us safe” since 9/11- with the entire department of Homeland Security- a multibillion-dollar operation that ostensibly is here to protect us from outside threats. Our local threats- well, we don’t really want to talk about those.

We’ve been shooting first for a long time- at a self-defined target, chosen by a politician to create mass hysteria and a revision of our social engineering. While every other civilized country treats drug addiction as a mental illness- we treat is as a crime. While every other industrialized nation believes that health care is a universal right- we create a system that criminalizes not-buying insurance from a private company that’s allowed to make billions. While the costs of our “justice system” and “health care systems” exceed every other country in the world- we still continue on the same path.

We’ve been shooting first for a long time- and no one is asking if it’s the right thing to do.

Suppose we emptied our prisons, except for those who are a physically dangerous threat to others, and spent all that money we’ve spent warehousing poor people- and instead spent it on education, health care and jobs. Suppose we eliminated the health insurance companies and went to a single payer system that paid for universal care. Suppose we treated drug addiction as a mental health problem instead of a criminal one?

Would we still need so many guns pointed at people?

Isn’t the point of a civilized society to be one where you don’t have to live in the Wild West- with a six gun on your hip? Isn’t a civilized society one where we can settle our differences without killing each other? Are we really still civilized in America today? Or have we just stopped asking questions?

I think you know the answer.


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Marianne Stanley

Bravo, David! Very, very well-said!


Agree completely! Decriminalizing drugs would have profound positive impacts on our penal system, our economy, our society, and Mexico. The price would drop so low that the Mexican cartels would dissolve and with it the government would actually become legit for the first time in it’s miserable existence. With this improvement in their society there would be less reason for it’s citizens to flee to the US (significantly reducing the high cost of the INS).

David, on another subject of commentary, it appears the DDN has ceased accepting comments on any stories on their website. Can you verify this? The thought of our one horse town refusing any comment or rebuttal makes me see red!

Dave C.

Many of our problems stem from the idea of Amercan Exceptionalism.

While it’s true that we live in a wonderful and extraordinary nation, we don’t necessarily have the best answer to every question. Sometimes other nations facing similar challenges have come up with better solutions than we have. To name a few things we’re lousy at: Our K-12 educational system is not very good, we throw a huge percentage of our population in jail, we’re not very healthy, and racism remains a major problem. Other countries do a better job of addressing these issues (and others), yet we refuse to implement changes based on observing these more successful nations.

America gets a lot correct, and is in many ways exceptional. But we don’t get everything right all of the time. Nobody does.

If your neighbor’s lawn looks a lot better than yours (and you care), ask him how he does it. Then act on his advice.

Nations can learn from each other, too.

Dr. Lawrence Kent

My genes were created by my immaculate father and my immaculate mother in an immaculate setting under immaculate conditions. My immaculate, immaculate, immaculate, immaculate (IIII) conception took place in Avondale, Mad River Township, sites now unknown but once glittering above all others in Montgomery County. This marvelous event was on an unknown day in May of 1934 in the depths of The Great Depression. I am sure that I was also an immaculate (I) mistake! 80-year-old genes don’t last forever and mine are completely wearing out even as I write this TOP NOTCH & VERY IMPORTANT comment. I have been a lifelong iconoclast and muckraker. Perhaps those who read this comment can guess how I rank the writings of Mr. Esrati.
If he and I don’t get it right, pray tell, who will?
-Dr. Lawrence Kent, IIIII, Ret’d Twilighter, 29 December 2014
(Might not see arrival of 2015.)

Ice Bandit

…thoughtful and provocative narrative or desperate cry for help? These are the questions one may ask after reading this post, dear David. Of course, your angst is understandable. The only folks more conflicted than liberals with newly issued CCW permits are Nuns with morning sickness. Packing heat legally, of course, is in direct violation of the leftist narrative that there are too many firearms that are too easily obtained yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah. After all, didn’t liberals try to tell us a dozen or so years ago, when Ohio was debating “shall issue” gun permits that every fender-bender would result in a Dodge City type shootout? But perhaps, dear David, your dissonance is the result of an intellectual evolution that many of your ideological stripe are apparently moving towards. Increasingly, dear David, the public is realizing that liberalism is an intellectually bankrupt, non scientific and emotionally-driven worldview that fails to solves problems and only creates economic and societal upheaval…

Dr. Lawrence Kent

LIBERAL vs. CONSERVATIVE and A BRIEF C/V – My dear reader: First let ye accept that this author is a very humble former Regular Army, Active Army Reserve, & Standby Army Reserve voluntary enlistee over 6y, 4m, and 7d, gaining an Honorable Discharge during the Vietnam Era. He is NOT a flag-waving non-serving ‘summer patriot’, but his is a REAL Winter Soldier who served in a god-awful, war-torn, bombed-out, starving Korea over two bitterly cold winters. He is also a non-bragging man of 80, now near death, with no ‘big head’ nor ego run amok. However, readers hereof must know certain personal truths regarding this writer before he continues so the value of his words and his projections have a given verifiable academic, logical, realistic, proven, and general knowledge depth. Please bear with him for a bit for this brief C/V will be so very boring but the reader must know of his many credentials to determine the validity of any of his many writings in all venues. He most certainly does not enjoy explaining all of this but it is a must. He was born with an IQ over 140. He was further informed, and greatly so, through his 506 past or current very diverse affiliations/memberships of many types from the 1940s to today. Some of these include Mensa and other HI IQ societies as well as several university honors societies. He was a University Teaching Fellow long ago at Miami University, Oxford. He has been a lifelong prolific reader who also pursued formal education at 36 education providers almost non-stop and continuously from 1941 through 2011, age 6 to age 76. These include 2 elementary schools, 1 high school, 1 military school, 2 finance institutes, 6 colleges, 4 universities, & 20 additional continuing education providers. Might one say that he is indeed WELL educated? All at the same time he was also successfully engaged in six distinct professions, i.e, military, banking, government, education, mental health, and social services, as well as being a lifelong creator of both professional and general writings for journals, books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, corporate… Read more »