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Should the Police Be Armed?


Should the Police Be Armed?

Robert C. Koehler

The cellphone video “reality footage” just doesn’t stop. Black men are shot, killed, handcuffed. The shortcomings of their prematurely terminated lives soon become public knowledge, vaguely justifying the shocking wrongness of the officer’s action — always poisoning the grief.

The family, the loved ones, the sympathetic sector of the American (and global) public demand “justice.” Even when they get it, or sort of get it, in the form of an arrest or some official expression of regret, the victim — the human being they valued — is still dead.

Nothing changes.


The burning question will be: How can frontline officers protect themselves from criminals and crazies with guns? Unarmed police in Great Britain and elsewhere patrol populations where gun control exists. In Great Britain, only one person out of a hundred owns a gun in a highly regulated system. Machine guns, pepper spray, semi-automatic, and pump-action rifles, and any firearm that has a barrel less than 30 centimeters in length are prohibited; only manually loaded guns are allowed. Communities and police can safely assume cops won’t be shot. We certainly can’t say that in the US. No one is safe from gun violence in this country.

We should have some serious debate about police and gun control, but not even grammar school shooting sprees that leave lifeless little bodies soaked in pools of blood behind have forced sensible gun control legislation. A more immediate effective response to the mass carnage on display by our police, is to establish professional criteria and hold police accountable to it.

We’ll have better forces when we have officers with formal training in community policing, sociology, psychology, and the rule of law. When the only tool we give them is a gun, they are bound to use it. In addition, you get what you pay for. Cops, like teachers, are horribly underpaid, comparatively speaking. When we are willing to pay higher salaries, we’ll have a much larger pool of applicants than ex-military from which to choose.


As another poster pointed out in a different thread a couple of days ago, the training that the police are getting is in weaponry and anti-insurgency. Their mindset has been molded to perceive citizens as the enemy and not as innocents to be protected and served.

Yes, we do need to have a public discussion about “police and gun control.” However, the corporate media will never host such a forum.



Very good responses I’ve read here. In my own town, I have suggested that a trained social worker accompany every police patrol who will have complete authority to determine if a gun is to be drawn or not. The mere idea of social workers working with police have sent the police department into a rage. It is very difficult to transform our police departments into what Koehler calls “community based policing.” To make matters worse, since the 1960’s campaign of fear of civil rights gains for minorities, gun companies actively encouraged all white citizens to arm themselves to the teeth. Now we live in a country that has more than 300 million registered firearms… more than the entire globe combined! Until the American mindset shifts from demanding the “right to bear arms” to the “right to live in a gun free society”, nothing much will change.


I agree with you. As a practical matter, however, people with genuine principles are generally capable of earning a living by other means.

We should never have allowed this mess to get to the point where ordinary citizens - of any ethnicity or economic class - are afraid of police.

Boy, is Siouxrose going to be all over you for using “we.”

I know I would never call police for any reason - they are not to be trusted, as they lie and cover up their own crimes.

Again, I agree. I no longer worry about my children and grandchildren encountering criminals as much as I dread any interactions that the police may force upon them.



Once again, to emphasize a unanimous, uniform WE clause where it does not exist, Mr. Koehler strains to paint contrast between those against the increasingly flagrant demonstrations of police violence and this idea that WE all ARE armed or support ARMED conflicts, domestic and foreign.

This is the first quote I found objectionable, no doubt among many:

“And being armed is primarily a liability, a surefire means, so to speak, of increasing one’s insecurity. Socially, we cling to this insecurity, roiling matters immeasurably.”

Whose security? Men who suffer from penis envy?


WE do not all bow down before the phallic weapons that constitute the altar that Mars rules erected in HIS own image and likeness.

Opponents of my pointing out the very real Yin-Yang distinctions that when honored allow for genuine balance within a healthy partnership-based (as opposed to father god/patriarchal/male dominant/force first/aggression pivoted) society bring up the current fact that a handful of women have distinguished themselves by winning status within the world that Patriarchy built.

In precisely the same way that Blacks and Latinos procure status within this same paradigm, the existing dominant culture subsumes them into itself. But that hardly means it reflects a diversity of interests and/or perspectives.

When those who have found the moral conscience and voice to oppose the dominant paradigm, still embrace a language structure that passively reinforces it, I must point out this flaw. Ultimately what it says is that one size, i.e. one prone-to-violence “human nature” represents us all. This view takes what is the NORM for dominators within a rank-based hierarchy and applies it erroneously to all. In so doing, it keeps the witness of True Alternatives invisible.

Bad strategy if the goal is a transformed, peaceful, authentically diverse and Democratic society!


“What sort of policing do we actually want?”

Does one laugh or cry at this question’s beyond naïve frame. It’s rather like asking if citizens in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iraq choose drone or missile attacks.

The frame presupposes that citizens are the active agents in the TYPES of domestic armed forces now present. To take on this view is to show a blindness to the build-up, by design, of militarized police departments, the consequences of “shoot first, ask questions later” foreign policy protocols, the blowback of war in the form of soldiers inwardly maimed who become local troops, and the covert fascism that’s turning our nation into a veritable Fourth Reich replete with its own high-tech Stasi forces, its armed borders, its constant surveillance, and its tanks and hummers coming home.

Let’s just sing hymns and discuss “kinder, gentler” Homeland Security policing possibilities.

Insane! (Shades of “Yes we can!”)


Alas, a fair-minded seeming homage to the all-mighty, omnipresent GUN.

A world awash in weapons by necessity becomes a violent world.

So many of you guys (and it is guys) talk a good game about NOT reforming Capitalism but by some miracle, utterly doing away with it. But you can’t seem to carry this concept over to the realm of guns and weapons. You see any “reform” to these proven instruments of death–an ongoing catalogue of collateral damage that no doubt exceeds the numbers killed in recent wars–as anathema, a 3rd rail.

You want your guns and you want your weapons and then pretend there are ways to keep these within lawful frames or in the “hands of good guys.”

The fixation on firepower, one of the rudiments to Mars rules IS the problem and it’s deeply tied to masculine identity within patriarchy’s hierarchy, instituted and sustained through violence both overt and covert (in the form of financial factors).

The antidote to guns and violence in societies is actual JUSTICE. But as we see with cops out of control, wars aflame and spreading, a celebration of rape in pervasive pornography that DIRECTLY extends to how Pacha-Mama, the Earth Mother is treated, and money being vacuum-suctioned to the tippy top of the global financial pyramid, Justice has become passe.

The dogs of war unleashed on the basis of wholly fixed (as in fabricated) evidence, added to word games that made torture acceptable, added to climate catastrophes sped up due to so much blood and treasure wasted on wars of aggression instead of that same muscle being innovatively applied to preparing infrastructure for magnitudes of perturbation in the arena of climate changes… all escalate violence. It permeates the atmosphere and filters on down the line. The randy police officers are first to express it… but as violence becomes a more common expression, it becomes normalized. THAT is a big reason why so much of TV, music videos, and films reflect violent scenarios.

Film is to the collective consciousness what the water’s surface was to Narcissus.


The USA is one of the only countries on this Earth that includes the “Right to bear arms” in its constitution.

It does not end there however.

It is the SINGLE country on this Earth that as done more to elevate that Constitution into the realm of the Sacred than has any other.

It does not end there.

Those that read it and cite it are very much IDENTICAL to those religous fundamentalists that quote passages in the bible so as to justify their intolerance.

It does not end there.

Very much like many of those Fundamentalists who will quote Biblical passages as inviolate and beyond dispute even as they ignore much of what that same book says regarding other matters , that same gun crowd elevates that 2 amendment above all others. They ignore all of the rights and liberties lost to the violent poilce state even as they rally around that 2nd amendment.

Those that cling to that amendment are in my opinion irrational. They claim that liberty and justice and freedom and human rights come to us though violence and the threat of violence which suggests to me that those rights are derived by people most willing to KILL.

So this poses the question. If rights are derived through violence and the willingness to kill one another does that not suggest that those who do the most killing and who are the most willing and able to kill are the ones that are right?

I am not opposed to owning guns, although I do not own one myself. I object to the notion that we create a better world through the use of guns and visiting violence on others.


Beautifully stated.
Recent factoid learned: In the U.S., in one month (March 2015), the police killed more civilians
than the U.K. police did in the entire 20th Century.


Wow - good reading. The posts, that is. The posts are truly on a roll here today.