Batuhan: No grave threat

Allan S. Batuhan
·3 min read

Where have all the flowers gone?

Long time passing.

Where have all the flowers gone?

Long time ago.

Where have all the flowers gone?

The girls have picked them every one.

Oh, When will you ever learn?

Oh, When will you ever learn?

The last lines of this song echoes the lament in most people’s hearts, every time there is an incident of police violence in America.

Just the past week, the infamous case involving the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer finally concluded, with the jury deciding that Derek Chauvin was guilty as charged of causing the death of Mr. Floyd while under his custody. Just deserts, it seems, for a heinous crime that played out in front of the whole world.

Unfortunately, it seems, as the song so hauntingly echoes — it seems the police in America never learn. Because just minutes after the Floyd verdict was released — and even before Black America could start celebrating — black teenager Ma’Khia Bryant was shot dead by responding police officer in Columbus OH. Apparently, the teenage girl was wielding a knife and threatening to harm another person, hence forcing the police to shoot her and cause her death. But was it all justified killing of a “dangerous criminal”?

All over the world, officers of the peace are always authorized to use force to deal with grave violence that threatens public safety, including the safety of police officers themselves. What has always been controversial as far as America is concerned is the level of tolerance that police exercise before they respond with deadly force.

The case of teenager Ma’Khia Bryant is a perfect illustration of this threshold. And it seems the answer is — zero tolerance.

Armed, yes. Dangerous? Probably not. The teenager was all of 5’0” it seems, and some make her out to be even smaller. Knife or not, to a trained police officer she would have been easy to disable and disarm without necessarily harming her, let alone causing her demise. But that didn’t seem to enter the mind of the policeman who shot her. Four times. Yes, not just once. Not just twice. Not even just three times but four times. And shot not to disarm or disable, but to kill.

Now I’m no police officer in America, and thus I cannot judge the way they deal with threats over in the US. But being somewhat familiar with martial arts and self-defense, my first instinct would be to disarm and neutralize the teenager, rather than shooting to kill her. Likewise, having lived in the UK for many years, where ordinary policemen do not carry firearms, I am somewhat used to news of officers routinely disarming attackers armed with knives, even those physically more imposing and potentially more dangerous than the female American teenager.

But of course, there is one obvious difference.

In the US, the default weapon for crooks is a gun. Elsewhere where the Second Amendment is not sacred above all else, it’s a knife. So police officers outside of the US train to disarm attackers with knives; in the US, they don’t bother. Gun or no gun, as long as there is a weapon of any kind, the automatic reaction is to shoot... most of the time to kill.

Which brings us to the point in our last piece? Is it time for America to rethink their romantic attachment to the Second Amendment?

Clearly, this is more than just an issue with constitutional rights anymore. The whole American psyche has been so steeped in gun culture that even those who are tasked to keep the peace, can’t. Instead, their first reaction is to shoot. Even if there really is no grave threat to them or to the public.