Florida Shooting – a Knife to a Gun Fight?

 In firearms, opinion
When it comes to the Florida shooting and the reaction of the Broward County Deputies involved, there can be no excuse for their failure to do their duties. They flat out failed to take action and people died as a result. There are times in the fire service when things look impossible and we may not always have the best equipment to do the job at hand but we NEVER let that get in the way of our duty to do everything possible to save a human life.  
More than one firefighter has been killed in the line of duty, going above and beyond against all odds because they thought there was a chance, however slim to rescue someone. And to be fair, more than one police officer has done the same. That being said there is one point of contention in this entire scenario that needs further scrutiny and that is our law enforcement brothers and sisters are not being properly equipped to deal with these life threatening situations.
Knife to a gun fight?
Specifically too many police departments still have restrictions on police officers carrying rifles and shotguns. This leads to a true “knife to a gunfight” scenario for far too many officers. The shooting of multiple officers in Dallas, Texas illustrated this exact scenario. A valiant police officer with a pistol was executed by a suspect with a rifle. I have discussed this exact scenario at length and in detail with friends in law enforcement and we agree on the substance of the issue.
Since the Columbine massacre the emergency services underwent an enormous paradigm shift. The practice of containment proved to be horribly misguided when a killer gained entrance into a building full of defenseless victims. The Virginia Tech attack reinforced this lesson in all its tragic consequences. Since Columbine, most police departments have adopted a “confront the shooter immediately” policy and have teamed up with fire and EMS to enter and rescue as many people as quickly as possible.
While these policies have enormous risk to responders associated with them, the thoughts of leaving victims who may possibly be saved with timely medical intervention to bleed out is unconscionable. Every police agency worth its salt has done a minimum of active shooter training including immediate confrontation of the shooter.
Not equipped for an active shooter
I have been critical of one element of this paradigm shift from the beginning- namely expecting our police officers to confront a threat they aren’t equipped to take on. In my opinion police agencies that expect their officers to confront these SPECIFIC shooters MUST also equip them with rifles. These shootings by extension cover terrorist attacks. To date we have been fairly lucky that these school shootings have been carried out by mentally ill individuals as opposed to dedicated terrorists.
When you look at this specific issue you quickly discover that these policies of not arming our police officers appropriately exist mainly in our big cities. These cities are governed most often by leftist politicians who hate firearms specifically and have a disdain for anything security related generally.
Liberals in charge- not equipped for the situation
The police chiefs that get appointed in these cities are either left leaning in general or are forced to toe the company line if they want to keep their jobs. They often extoll the virtues of disarming civilians leaving only their agencies in possession of high powered weapons. What we see in Broward County Sheriff Israel is the absolute logical extension of this policy.
His deputies clearly weren’t trained and equipped to handle the school shooting even though they were warned of it in advance. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office is most certainly in possession of AR-15’s. Why weren’t they available to deputies immediately on scene and if they were why weren’t they in evidence or deployed to kill the shooter?
I am in no way excusing the failure of these deputies to take some immediate action since the time to address those policies was LONG before this week’s shooting. But it is a valid line of inquiry.
Police, not just SWAT, need AR rifles
In Philadelphia you (almost) never see a uniformed street cop deploying an AR-15 or shotgun. Should a long gun trained officer even REMOVE their Ar-15 from their vehicle it constitutes a USE OF FORCE and requires extensive documentation explaining the reason and justification of that use of force (even if the weapon isn’t fired). Police brass want these weapons relegated for use mainly by the SWAT teams even though many officers are trained and would most certainly take them on patrol.
The department places enough restrictions on the deployment of rifles that the street cops simply don’t bother. This brings up another point of contention- the number of available SWAT teams or SWAT trained officers on duty in any given jurisdiction at any given time. Years of budget cuts to many law enforcement agencies have left their available staffing relatively depleted.
It’s all some departments can do to staff their normal shifts never mind satisfy special unit and training obligations. So the policy of immediate confrontation of active shooters is delegated to the district officers, the same ones who don’t have AR-15’s. Their mission is to kill or at least tie down the shooter(s) long enough for the SWAT team to arrive. That can be a long time in some jurisdictions. Again we saw this play out in San Bernardino with the wild shootout between Syed Farook, his wife and the SWAT teams.
Police departments are telling the district or street cops to make a decision to needlessly place themselves at a severe, predictable and avoidable disadvantage risking their lives when deciding to enter an active shooter situation. I have predicted this exact scenario in the past and unfortunately I have been proven correct.
I saw it play out in Dallas and have often thought about the extraordinary bravery of the officers involved as well as the Florida situation where some cops chose not to confront a shooter. Most police officers, like firefighters and paramedics are dedicated to their jobs, their duties their communities and the protection of innocents. They take their oaths very seriously. They pledge to do that duty and we expect no less from them. It’s high time we give our police officers the support and equipment they need to do the job we ask them to do. No more bringing knives to gunfights.

 

 Featured photo via Twitter – note the there are no rifles in this picture, only handguns

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