According to data published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), approximately 93% of the 511 non-federal law enforcement officers feloniously killed in the line of duty between 2004 and 2013 were killed by a firearm. Is our great nation really in such a state of despair that shooting officers is a viable solution for managing frustration?
Multiple states, from Massachusetts to South Carolina to Minnesota have reported significant increases in officer-related shootings over the last 5 years. Recent headlines such as “Louisiana Deputy Shot Three Times in Ambush“, and “Walmart Brawl Leaves 1 Dead, Officer Shot“ rattle our emotions. In these days of body cams and social media, horrific videos flash before our eyes within minutes of an atrocity, and we are quick to jump to conclusions about what we think is true with limited perspective and almost no contextual understanding.
Yet somehow, violent crime as reported by the FBI is decreasing nationwide when looking at 5- and 10-year trends — 2013 being down roughly 12% from 2009 levels, and 14% lower than in 2004. There must be a reasonable explanation for the perceived increase in violence, whether or not it’s due to mere elevated media exposure.
Arguments aimed at explaining these recent shootings range from the availability of firearms (legal or not), to racial tension, to levels of officer training and more. Perhaps societal responses themselves fan the flame, where innocent intentions of covering stories fuel addictive cravings by those who fantasize of fame. Regardless, each argument has a common thread, and that thread is the lack of respect. For human life.
At the risk of oversimplifying a very complex issue, first look at the definition of respect: “to hold in esteem or honor; to show regard or consideration for; to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with.” Can you imagine a nation where every individual held esteem and honor for everyone else? EVERYONE else. That would wipe out selfish entitlement, racial tension and fear itself. We wouldn’t even need locks on our doors, let alone safe rooms.
What about the other facets of respect: simply showing regard and consideration for each other, or refraining from intrusion or interference? That would eliminate violent altercations, felonious activities and even political party bashing. True respect for one another would reverse the demise of healthy marriages, eradicate forms of modern slavery and certainly reduce the frequency of shootings we’re seeing today.
Until that ideological society unfolds, where every citizen equally adheres to and practices mutual respect, perhaps a little schooling in noble character would benefit us all — starting where we have the most influence — in ourselves and in our own homes. Then may it spread to our classrooms, our places of work and between civilians and their government.
I’ve heard of such a vision. It was written in the Declaration of Independence by a new nation called the United States of America. It outlines principles based on respect — both for authority and from authority — and promotes “certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Our stand holds fast: honor those who secure your rights in the first place, respect the law and those who enforce it.
Dave — Angel Armor