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by Peter Moskos

November 18, 2015

Why police need big guns

My man Eugene O'Donnell wrote this in the Daily News. It's worth reading, given general opposition (including some from me) to the militarization of police:
At present only a handful of police departments have the capacity to intimidate would-be terrorists and, if need be, wage sustained combat against them in the streets of America. This is a weakness to correct, not a condition to celebrate.

10 comments:

KSR said...

Rather than up-arming the cops, why not require consistent range time and basic tactical training? What training is going to be cut to make room for Mumbai/Paris curricula? And who's going to take responsibility when Officer Schmuckatelli has his Light Machine Gun stolen for the 3rd time in a year?

john mosby said...

Prof, what do you think of 2 possible counter- or collateral arguments:

1. Decriminalization of private gun ownership will instantly put approx. 300 million guns of various calibers on the street to counter a terrorist attack wherever it happens;

2. The patrol rifle (a semiauto or even bolt-action, large-magazine, military-caliber rifle readily accessible in the RMP) is useful not only for anti-terror applications, but plenty of more ordinary law-enforcement scenarios that require long-range precision fire that can penetrate common building materials. Having a couple hundred yards of standoff from an armed subject may indeed help resolve a situation without hurting anyone. For example, the Cleveland playground kid: if the regular patrol cops could have set up at the edge of the playground and observed the kid thru a scope from a distance where he couldn't hurt them, but they could knock him down if he posed a threat to anyone else, perhaps he would still be alive.

JSM

Peter Moskos said...

1) I think a lot more people will die from 300 million guns of various calibers than terrorists will ever kill.
2) Maybe. I don't know. But I do know you can't have a specialized unit respond to every "man with a gun call." There are too many.
3) Where is private gun ownership in American criminalized?!

Concerned citizen said...

"At present only a handful of police departments have the capacity to intimidate would-be terrorists and, if need be, wage sustained combat against them in the streets of America."

When you consider the low probability of Mumbai-style or Paris-style attacks in the U.S., the implications of Prof. O'Donnell's remarks don't stand up to rational cost-benefit analysis with regard to any particular police department.

BTW, I mean "low probability" as compared to Europe, etc.

Peter Moskos said...

How do you even begin to measure "cost-benefit" with regards to this? Money? Fear? Lives? Liberty?

john mosby said...

Prof, in response to your question #3: true, thankfully, private gun ownership is not 100% illegal anywhere in the US. However, private carry and use of guns outside the home as an effective, convenient means of defense is certainly still criminalized. I am using an elastic definition of "criminalized" which includes jurisdictions where a citizen can own and carry a gun, but only after surmounting various legal and regulatory hurdles, any slight technical violation of which could result in criminal penalties.

Not to put words in your monitor, but the way you seem to be interpreting "criminalized," we could say that oxycontin is "decriminalized," since some companies succeed in getting a license to produce it, some doctors and pharmacists manage to write and fill prescriptions, and some patients actually receive it legally.

Come to think of it, there probably are more legal private users of oxycontin in NYC than there are legal private gun carriers...

JSM

Adam said...

John, private carry outside of the home is perfectly legal in the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions:

http://www.usacarry.com/concealed_carry_permit_reciprocity_maps.html

campbell said...

Only a handful of police departments? Are long guns not a thing out east? Out here we have a lot of AR's in patrol cars and a lesser presence on the shotguns.

Concerned citizen said...

The other night the police in St. Denis fired an estimated 5000 rounds and nobody, friend or foe, was seriously injured by the gunfire.

How is this possible?



Charlotte J. Gravely said...

1) I think a lot more people will die from 300 million guns of various calibers than terrorists will ever kill.
2) Maybe. I don't know. But I do know you can't have a specialized unit respond to every "man with a gun call." There are too many.
3) Where is private gun ownership in American criminalized?!