When Guns In Police Hands Spontaneously Fire Themselves

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Krystal Barrows, a 35-year-old mother of three, was resting on the couch in her living room in Chillicothe, Ohio when her life was needlessly brought to a violent end by a police officer during a narcotics raid. Barrows was not a suspect.

Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt insists that none of the police deliberately fired his gun into the home. While not ruling out what he called “user error,” Schmidt suggested that a “malfunction” might have been responsible for the errant gunshot.

Using the familiar passive voice construction favored by government-aligned publications when describing state-sanctioned criminal violence, the Chillicothe Gazette reported that the round was fired “from the weapon of a law enforcement officer,” a conveniently ambiguous preposition intended to disguise or diminish the fact that unless the gun suddenly became self-aware, it was fired by a police officer.

A similar circumlocution can be found in the Associated Press’s initial coverage of an incident last October in Chino, California: “Authorities say a police officer’s gun accidentally fired during a school safety demonstration in Southern California and three children were treated for minor injuries.”

The gun in question was an AR-15 rifle of the kind that in the “wrong” hands (that is, those not consecrated to the task of committing state-sanctioned violence) are usually described as “assault weapons.” The official story is that the rifle, which was locked into a weapons mount on a police motorcycle, was left unattended and attracted the interest of a curious student. One of the students recalled that while the officers were handing out anti-drug propaganda (my word, not his) “the kid got hold of the gun and he shot it at the ground….”

One of the children wounded in the “safety demonstration” required surgery to remove shrapnel from his eye.

If the gun had been a privately owned weapon, its owner would have been arrested for child endangerment. But this act of potentially lethal irresponsibility was committed by sanctified agents of official coercion, so criminal charges won’t be filed.

A school “resource officer” in San Antonio was placed on paid vacation last May when his gun somehow fired itself inside a local middle school. One local news account explained that “the officer was inside his office at Jordan Middle School when the gun accidentally fired around 8:45 a.m.”; no explanation for the gun’s aberrant behavior was offered.

Last March, a gun carried by Officer Sean McCutheon of the Lloyd, New York Police Department spontaneously discharged while the officer was patrolling the halls of a local high school. This story had an unusually positive outcome: The incident prompted the school district to suspend its “resource officer” program.

Given the frequency with which police-owned guns fire themselves, it’s clear that cops should be disarmed in the interest of public safety.

1:03 pm on December 16, 2013