On Saturday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings had the following to say while speaking on the mass shooting of Dallas police officers last week.
“It’s logical to say that in a shooting situation, open carry can be detrimental to the safety of individuals.”
Following this, the logic would be: If there is a shooting, then the cops will look for people with guns. I’m no cop, but I think that’s about as fundamental as could be expected.
Rawlings’s comments came as the details of the police response emerge after Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed the Dallas Police Department during a Black Lives Matter rally being held in the city’s downtown district.
Texas is an open carry state, meaning that citizens can legally display firearms in public. Critics of this policy, as well as private gun ownership in general, dispute the notion that “one good guy with a gun” would be able to prevent a mass shooting. A notion which is often peddled following mass shootings ad nauseam.
The scene of a shooting in which several people are brandishing and firing guns does not seem to be an appealing scenario for law enforcement.
Its conclusions? They align well with the point that Mayor Rawlings sought to impress upon the public with his comments of concern after the incident in Dallas, echoed by Dallas Police Major, Max Geron.
“There was also the challenge of sorting out witnesses from potential suspects,” Geron said. “Texas is an open carry state, and there were a number of armed demonstrators taking part. There was confusion on the radio about the description of the suspects and whether or not one or more was in custody.”
Geron was making reference to about 20 people who attended the evening’s demonstration with rifles slung around their shoulders.
“When the shooting started, at different angles, they started running … we started catching.”
It’s not hard to determine why such a situation would be not only confusing, but potentially deadly. Innocent people become suspects and police have seconds to react. If a cop shoots the wrong suspect, or if they hesitate upon seeing the actual perpetrator and die, this creates a whirlwind of controversy.
Almost tragically, a report by the Dallas Morning News in 2015 carried the story about a survey conducted by the Texas Police Chiefs Association, which showed that up to 75 percent of participating police chiefs opposed open carry in the state of Texas.
The survey also revealed that 90 percent of participants recommended licenses for open carry, while 94 percent said that open carry handguns should be holstered and 71 percent thought that holsters should have retention tags to help secure the guns.
The dangers extend beyond life-threatening mistakes, as can be seen with Mark Hughes, the man whose face was Tweeted by the Dallas PD and CNN as a suspect, as he is receiving death threats in the wake of the shooting.
As for mouthpieces on the right, the process broke down as expected.
Step 1) Blame Obama. Blame him good.
#DallasPoliceShooting has roots in first of anti-white/cop events illuminated by Obama…Officer Crowley. There were others.
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) July 8, 2016
Step 2) Keep blaming Obama.
I wasn’t calling for violence, against Obama or anyone. Obama’s words & BLM’s deeds have gotten cops killed. Time for us to defend our cops.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) July 8, 2016
Step 3) Did we blame Obama yet?
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) July 8, 2016
There’s extra credit available if you have the presence of mind to fit the President’s middle name in any reference to him.
After properly following steps one through three, you can blame Black Lives Matter, deny that racism still exists (even when people commit violence in the name of racism) and double-down on gun rhetoric in any order you see fit.
As Dallas Police Chief David Brown noted that protesters who weren’t only brandishing guns, but also dressed in body armor and wearing masks made the situation in the city confusing, C.J. Lewis, president of Open Carry Texas, seemed determined to refute the assumption that open carry policies make policing difficult by providing a non-first-person account:
“The fact is that there is ample evidence on social media that law enforcement was not confused during the shooting about who was a good guy and who was a bad guy with a gun.”
Ample evidence, like the tweets of Mark Hughes and the actual statements of members of the police afterward which directly challenge Lewis’s armchair analysis.
Knowing full-well that he himself will never be in the position to determine if someone carrying a gun is a bystander or a perpetrator, Lewis offered advice for police, contrary to the statements of police, that the ease in identifying bad guys rests in the fact that they’ll be the ones shooting.
If that’s too hard for the cops to determine, then Lewis has a solution for that as well:
“If you can’t identify a threat, you shouldn’t be wearing a uniform.”