Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Six minutes into the latest Ricochet flagship podcast, James Lileks says he was shocked to hear the (now ex-head) of the Secret Service praise her agents for their restraint in tackling and restraining the White House intruder when they should have unleashed a “hail of lead to reduce him to ground chuck…”
Well, I too was shocked when I heard that the man wasn’t gunned down before he reached the White House. But I need to defend the Secret Service here.
First, on general principle, I appreciate when a government agent — operating inside the United States — holds his fire when he’s not being fired on. I’m okay with this. The fewer law enforcement shootings there are, the better.
Second, this doubly applies if we’re talking about the lawn of the White House. That’s our house. As old fashioned and quaint as this is going to sound, this is still a republic, and it’s supposed to be free and open. It wasn’t so long ago that you could still walk up to the front door and present your card. Unless the president (or his family, I guess) is in immediate physical danger, I’d really rather not have people firing guns on the lawn.
Third, hails of lead are generally a bad idea. Bullets travel up to a mile or two unless they hit something, and — not only is the White House located in the middle of a city — people tend to crowd 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to gawk. If someone were hit, that could cause a panic and nothing good follows from that.
But when it really comes down to it, all these things go out the window if the president is actually in physical danger, except…
Fourth, President Obama wasn’t there, and the Secret Service agents involved in this latest incident knew that. At no point was the president in any actual danger. So, given the choice between letting this guy run and get tackled or a “hail of lead to reduce him to ground chuck,” I’ll take the former.
Did the Secret Service drop the ball? Absolutely they did, and they seem to do so frequently. But did they drop the ball by not gunning this guy down on the lawn of the White House? Absolutely not.
Count me as one person who appreciate when government agents with guns show restraint.