There is not a word – not one – that I can use to respond to Dr. Loretta P. Prater, whose letter in Chattanoogan.com just condemned the idea that proposed volunteers in the Chattanooga Police Department be armed. Dr. Pater signed her letter, “Mother of Homicide Victim Leslie Vaughn Prater” and I’ve no doubt there is nothing in this world that will assuage the lifelong horror she must bear having lost a son while he was in police custody.
But it should be noted firearms, the basis of Dr. Prater’s letter, were not involved in her son’s death and to suggest our police go unarmed during a nationwide shooting epidemic is as wrong as it can be.
I hardly mean to argue with her, or detract a word from her beliefs, but – please – let’s be very aware that in this month of August alone – through noon on Monday, August 22, 2016 -- there have been 29 separate mass shootings within our borders – and we still have with eight more days in August to go.
A “mass shooting,” by FBI terminology, is when four or more are killed or wounded during the same incident. On Sunday we had 13 people shot at a party in Bridgeport, Conn., and four more shot in Boston. Last Saturday there were four shot in Hamden, Conn., five killed in Citronelle, Ala., and five shot in Tacoma, Wash. Late Thursday night four were shot in Oakland. Total them up and you’ve got five dead and 34 wounded just last weekend in mass shootings.
Individual shootings are much worse. In our greatest shooting gallery last week, there were 100 people gunned down in Chicago – 14 dead and 86 wounded – in the bloodiest week of the year. This year so far? In 2016 there have been 2,743 shot inside Chicago’s city limits with 465 deaths. Of the victims, 80 percent are black and 15 percent Hispanic. In all of 2015, 2,996 were shot or killed in Chicago so, thus far in 2016, shootings have increased 30 percent over a year ago.
Quite obviously we have a major problem and it is time we get our heads out of the sand. The way you stop a mass shooter is by shooting the villain. That’s right; I am convinced it takes a “good gun” to stop a “bad gun,” most especially during the five-to-seven minutes it takes a law enforcement officer to arrive.
Many others share my belief. It is estimated that about 500,000 Tennesseans have “legal carry” permits right now, including myself. And you are worried about a volunteer police officer after intense training and instruction? One in every 13 people in Tennessee are already legally armed but it is the illegal gun that Dr. Prater and everyone who carries a “good guns” must worry about.
A half-million people in this state have taken gun safety courses, passed background checks and paid over $100 each for the license. Back in 2008, one-in-42 had legal carry licenses in Tennessee but times have changed, oh have they ever.
According to GunViolenceArchive.org, the numbers are staggering. Since Jan. 1, 2016, there have been 248 mass shootings in the United States, again where there are four or more victims. For comparison, today (Aug. 23) is the 235th day of the year; that's just over one mass shooting every day. To date, there have been 35,565 gun “incidents” in the United States in 2016 with 9,129 dead and 19,030 wounded.
Thus far, there have been 206 police officers shot or killed while law enforcement officers have shot or killed 1,184. There have been 1,927 teenagers (ages 12-17) shot or killed and 427 younger than that shot or killed. During home invasions there have been 1,462 shot or killed and another 1,391 shot or killed in accidents.
In May an analysis of 358 mass shootings in 2015 revealed three-fourths of the victims were black. One third of those were gang-related and another third were due to arguments, usually among those who were drunk or high. One in 10 mass shootings were domestic violence, with whites the majority, and 31 percent of those victims died. The ratio: Blacks are six to 10 times more likely to die from guns than whites.
Gun control is never going to work. Nobody will ever outlaw gun ownership and, as a society, we would do much better dealing with blacks’ alarming disregard for one another, our hate groups, mental health and a solid education as a much more tangible way to save lives.
There is no way I would ever ride as a volunteer in a patrol car without a way to protect not only myself but the life of the police officer beside me. Anything less in stinkin’ thinkin’ and the fact there have been 35,565 gun “incidents” in the United States already this year is, on its face, absolutely undeniable.
Police chiefs and sheriffs across America – most especially where mass shootings have occurred – are urging citizens who have permits to carry guns as often as possible. For a law enforcement officer to go unarmed in unthinkable.