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The news of the death of Laquan Macdonald last year is shining a spotlight on the training and ethics of the Chicago police force. This is a situation that we’ve seen far too often, but my question is, why is it that the police forces of cities like Chicago seem to have problems with basic marksmanship? Is it because there’s no history and culture of civilian marksmanship to flatten the learning curve when it comes to gun safety?
Handguns were banned in Chicago for almost an entire generation, and despite recent changes, it remains a steep uphill climb if you want to own a gun in that city. Something in Chicago and other cities such as Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles seems to have affected the quality of the police forces in those cities, and one thing they all have in common is a mistrust of common citizens owning guns. In fact, we’re seeing a trend of over-reaction and ill-advised police shootings in all manner of “gun free” locales.
Los Angeles will pay two women $4.2 million for wounds suffered when police mistakenly shot up their truck during the February manhunt for former officer Christopher Dorner, who went on a revenge-fueled killing spree before dying in a Southern California mountain cabin.
Margie Carranza, 47, was shot twice in the back and her 71-year-old mother, Emma Hernandez, was cut by broken glass when seven LAPD officers fired at least 100 rounds into their blue Toyota Tacoma pickup as they delivered papers before dawn Feb. 7.
Two officers fired three shots before the unarmed man was brought down with a Taser, the NYPD said. He has been charged with menacing, obstructing governmental administration, riot, criminal possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, the NYPD said in a statement issued Sunday morning. Those charges may change once he goes to court, however.
A 54-year-old woman was shot in the knee and a 37-year-old was grazed in the buttocks, police said.
It’s difficult to imagine that police recruits who have never touched a gun until their first day on the training range can step up and deliver the shot when needed. Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York have turned their backs on America’s rich tradition of civilian marksmanship, and it’s beginning to affect the safety of their citizenry. I just can’t imagine that 30-plus years of trying to remove guns from the hands of potential police recruits can have a positive effect on the quality of the recruits walking onto the range. Good marksmen are made, not born, and a few days of gun safety training and pistol qualification will not make up for coming of age in the culture of safe, responsible (and fun!) gun ownership enjoyed by the rest of America.
There’s a common saying in the firearms training community that in a gun battle, “you won’t rise to the occasion, you will sink to your lowest level of training.” If the police in Los Angeles are trained to a standard that 91 percent of the “civilians” at a practical shooting match can achieve, what does this say for the quality of LAPD officers who have never touched a gun before they joined the force? I’m positive there are officers on the LAPD and other departments who are well-trained marksmen because I’ve shot alongside them at major practical shooting matches. The ones who can shoot, can shoot very well, but they are the exception, not the rule.
This isn’t the first time in our nation’s history that a lack of a trained, experienced civilians has affected the safety of the general public. The National Rifle Association was founded because of poor accuracy of Union riflemen in the Civil War due to an unfamiliarity with firearms. If we want our police to be better shots, they need make up for lost time and start training with firearms before they join the police force. After all, good marksmen are made, not born.Published in