Monday, April 11, 2005

My Town, USA

A few months back, the sheriff of my hometown (it's not broken through the town persona yet), armed the police force with taser stun guns and set them upon citizens in their streets, homes, storefronts and school yards. This was a remedy to the use of force in restraints. Parents complained. In other Florida cities, (remember this is Bush Country) people were dying as a result of medical complications after taser jolts. An 18-year old man was stunned with a taser not once but twice, while he was under restraint in a hospital bed. Why? Because he refused to give a urine sample by catheter demanded of him. The young man's comment: "I was basically raped."

The sheriff decided to step down from his taser remedy. This is just a temporary measure, however. He intends his police to use the tasers once they have training in first aid should one of the stunned victims undergo additional medical suffering or complications from the 50,000 volts of electricity.

The news of the taser overlaid what is an even more alarming story: the Jacksonville police force have access to a semi-automatic weapon, the AR-15, usually reserved for military use. The AR-15 will put the police force on a "level playing field" says a source in the news article. Police like the scope for long distance shots (sniper fire), the extreme accuracy (allows for poor shots) and a thoughtful safety feature which tends to prevent the bullets from burrowing into the flesh of innocent bystanders, who might inadvertantly be walking behind the heavily armed, vicious criminal.

Now the Wild West gets wilder yet with the Florida legislature's bill which lets residents use deadly force in a "dwelling, residence or vehicle" to protect themselves from an intruder or attacker. The governor supports the measure. What about the people of Florida?

I for one find this concept incompatible with the argument that police must protect themselves with tasers & army style, semi-automatic weapons against an armed populace. Why is the populace armed? Because the governor is allowing it, encouraging it, even. Everybody go out and buy your favorite weapon and make sure you shoot first and ask questions later. So what if it was the babysitter? So what if you're paranoid? The hell with conflict resolution, forget about peace.

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