The recent shootings of a Sherriff in Houston and a reporter and Cameraman in Virginia, along with the unforgettable shooting of 9 church goers in a church in South Carolina has reignited the ongoing debate of the accessibility of firearms in the hands of the mentally ill or those with criminal backgrounds.
As a national organization of Law Enforcement Professionals, as we mourn the death of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth and our heart-felt sympathy goes out to his family and any killing should be condemned.
As a national organization of Black Law Enforcement Professionals, It is also our opinion that Deputy Goforth death should not be used as a police political football by Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman who in recent statements has tried to equate the deaths of police officers to the national outcry of police accountability over police shooting of unarmed black men.
Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said the attack was “clearly unprovoked,” and there is no evidence that Goforth knew Miles. Investigators have no information from Miles that would shed light on his motive, Hickman said.
As a national organization of Black Law Enforcement Professionals, we ask the question how can Sheriff Hickman use the “Black Lives Matter” movement to create an atmosphere claiming the actions of the movement is to blame for the shootings of police when he himself had “No exact motive in why Shannon J. Miles killed his Deputy”. He has failed in his responsibility as a law enforcement leader and has invoked race when investigators still haven’t found a motive of the killing?
What Sheriff Hickman should be focusing on is how Shannon Miles whose has an extensive criminal record including disorderly conduct with a firearm could so easily obtain a firearm in his city.
Law Enforcement management like Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman should use this time to address the issues on the continuous re-occurrence on how mentally ill or those with criminal backgrounds can easily obtain firearms. According to an article in the Washington Post there have been 204 incidents of mass shootings as of July of 2015.
USA Today reported Bill Johnson, National Association of Police Organizations executive director, said officers face a tremendous amount of on-the-job risks. He believes the current climate — one of frequent clashes and heated rhetoric — makes officers more susceptible to violence from people inclined to commit it.
NYPD President Pat Lynch has went as far to say that only real New Yorkers support Law Enforcement after the shooting of two police officers and dismissing the calls for police reform other New Yorkers and has many times used inflammatory rhetoric toward victims families.
Even The Milwaukee County Sheriff Clarke , who is Black, blames President Obama for the “war on police”, has attacked the need for police accountability and publicly said that the “BlackLivesMatter” was responsible for the killing of the Deputy and called the activist “slime”.
As Black Law Enforcement Professionals, when we see the continuous shooting of unarmed Black men, we know the victim, we know someone who knows the victim, the victim is a family member or in many cases of mistaken identity shooting we are the victim when we are plain cloths or off-duty. According to the Washington Post, 24 unarmed black men have been shot and killed by police – one every nine days, according to a Washington Post database of fatal police shootings.
The Washington Post reported this year that the number of officers killed in the line of duty nearly doubled last year over the year before — rising to 51 — that number still dramatically falls below what the country saw in previous decades.
In a report called Guns used to kill police officers: Where they come from and how they get in the hands of criminals by the Washington Post. The report found that there were many cases in which felons have been able to acquire guns even though they shouldn’t, and also found cases in which people who have criminal [misdemeanor] records but remain eligible to buy guns do buy those guns and then kill cops with them. But instead of addressing these issues law enforcement management and police unions attack victims families and organizations that call for police reform.
The fact of the matter is; gun violence has continued to cover front pages of newspapers across the country. What you will find is that many police unions and fraternal organizations have members and receive some type of sponsorship from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its allies in the firearms industries.
In many communities of color it is easier to get an illegal gun than a legal job!
According to a report called “Protect Children, Not Guns”, by the Children Defense Fund, in 2008, 2,947 children and teens died from guns in the United States and 2,793 died in 2009 for a total of 5,740—one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years. In 2008 and 2009, gun homicide was the leading cause of deaths among black teens. Homicides in big cities like Chicago have outpaced the murders of US troops overseas.
The most recent analysis of data from 23 high-income countries reported that 87 percent of children under age 15 killed by guns in these nations lived in the United States. And the U.S. gun homicide rate for teens and young adults 15 to 24 was 42.7 times higher than the combined gun homicide rate for that same age group in the other countries.
With all the homicides of children and innocent people organizations like the (NRA) continues to lobby against any legislation that is designed for public safety. The NRA has gone to great lengths (and spends a huge sum of money) to defend the right to bear arms. It is opposed to virtually every form of gun control, including restrictions on owning assault weapons, background checks for gun owners, and registration of firearms. Between 2001 and 2010, the NRA spent between $1.5 million and $2.7 million on federal-level lobbying efforts. During the 2010 election cycle, the NRA spent more than $7.2 million on independent expenditures at the federal level — messages that advocate for or against political candidates. These messages primarily supported Republican candidates or opposed Democratic candidates. The NRA also used their political clout to influence members in the United State Congress to hold the US Attorney General in contempt. This political move by the NRA is a prime example how money can influence any politicians vote and their agenda even if it puts our public safety in jeopardy.
Unfortunately, the NRA is not so generous or sensitive to families of victims of gun violence. In the wake of many mass murders across the country, the organization has had no response. According to a Daily News report, months after pretending to empathize with a Harlem mother, Mrs. Jackie Rowe-Adams whose two sons were victims of fatal shootings. The National Rifle Association’s CEO Wayne LaPierre was a no-show at a rally against gun violence in Harlem, New York which NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and Rep. Charlie Rangel attended. Mr. LaPierre gave his word to work with Harlem mothers that children have been killed by gun violence. “I feel it’s disrespectful of him to say he was going to work with Harlem mothers, and he never answered any of our calls,” Jackie Rowe-Adams told the Daily News. “That is rude and unforgettable and unforgivable.”
Public Safety refers to the welfare and protection of the general public. It is usually expressed as a governmental responsibility. It is up to the government to ensure a balance between the right to own a gun and legislation that will keep illegal guns off the street.
Organizations like the National Rifle Association and police organizations should be at the forefront to insure that less illegal guns are in communities across the nation. Instead the NRA has used their influence against public safety legislation. Police management, unions and fraternal organizations have been unwilling publicly confront the NRA like they have been willing to confront families, friends and organizations like “BlackLivesMatter” that strive for accountability of law enforcement while illegal guns kill thousands of men, women and children each year.