Police Violence is Still Violence

Last week the city of Pasadena agreed to pay  $1,037,500 to the parents of Kendrec McDade to settle civil cases involving two police officers that shot and killed the 19 year old on March 24, 2012. The young man was shot eight times after a brief pursuit. Police believed he was armed after receiving a call identifying an “armed suspect.” The caller later admitted that there was no weapon and that he lied so police would respond faster. An investigation found the police conduct to be “lawful and within departmental policy.” The loss is a scar that will forever leave a mark on this city. The million dollar settlement is also a painful reminder of the monetary cost of gun violence.

This story serves as one more lesson in a long list of recent tragedies resulting from gun violence.  Just because the shooters in this case were uniformed officers, this loss is no less tragic than losses at Santa Barbara, Sandy Hook or anywhere else.  America consistently has the highest rates of gun related fatalities on the planet, yet we refuse to address the issue of gun control in a more effective manner. Instead we continue to debate gun advocates who repeat the mantra “guns don’t kill, people kill.”  We have a responsibility to advance the conversation to include viable alternatives to our current reality of widespread access to fatal weapons. England is one such example where neither police offices nor private citizens carry guns. Last year while 12,000 people in America died from gun violence, England had less than 200 gun fatalities.  There may be several reasons for this disparity, and one of them is certainly the fact that handguns are not readily available to the public or the police.

At some point the lives of those thousands of victims should be valued more than our absurdly liberal gun laws. I hope that our conversations and gun policy decisions one day reflect a higher value on human life. In a civilized society the preservation of life should outweigh the right to bear arms, because lives are always more valuable than guns. Image