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  1. I saw a friend of mine (and a member of ours) mention this in passing on Facebook, where it got no attention - the status update came, and went. However, she's 100% in-the-right, and it's time this becomes a national discussion. You don't need to be made aware of the problem our police have with using excessive force in too many situations - yes, this problem has racial overtones (not undertones; overtones), and blacks are absolutely suffering from it disproportionately, but the root of this problem is not racism. When police pull someone over on a traffic stop, they aren't scared of the passengers in the car being black - being black doesn't kill you. Police are scared of being shot with a gun. Now, are too many police on edge because they fear that blacks are going to shoot them? Yes, absolutely. Is this problem racist in nature? Yes, absolutely. The police have a big problem with racism that manifests itself in them assuming that if a passenger is black, their lives are in greater danger. That is a perfect example of begging the question. In the United States, there are 112 guns for every 100 people, and that includes infants, people without arms, etc. The only two other countries that have over 50 guns per 100 people are Serbia and Yemen. Assuming an even distribution (granted, a faulty assumption), there is a very good chance that the driver of any given car owns a gun - not necessarily has a gun with them - but owns a gun. During a pullover, the driver has almost always done something wrong, or is suspected of possibly having broken the law in some fashion. That automatically puts police on alert, and if you add to that situation the commonly held perception (*) that blacks are disproportionately responsible for crime, then you have a powder keg on your hands - for each-and-every pullover. (*) Here are the latest statistics I can find from the Department of Justice. You can break them down however you'd like, but in terms of "violent crimes against whites," I read that black-on-white accounts for 13.7% of all cases, and white-on-white accounts for 56.0% of all cases. I see a very clear double-problem here. Even if police were inherently racist, it wouldn't matter as much if they didn't think their lives were at imminent risk. As I implied up above: Being black doesn't kill policemen; having a gun kills policemen. If you get the guns out of people's hands, you lower the risk of people being pulled from their cars, beaten, shot with tasers, and killed. If you believe that police hate black people enough to want them to suffer, be tortured, beaten, killed, and abused - regardless of whether or not they pose a lethal risk - then there's nothing I can say here that will change your mind; I do not believe that's the case, however, and I absolutely *do* believe that racism in this situation is a problem secondary to possession of firearms. Again, it's a double-faceted problem - I would never contend otherwise - but it's firearms; not race, that is causing police to have one finger on the trigger when they approach a vehicle that has been pulled over. "Videos posted on Facebook" make for powerful, anecdotal, case-by-case examples, but I remain unconvinced that they represent 100% of cases of police violence during traffic stops. Do I think a disproportionate number of blacks are scaring police officers into thinking there's a potentially lethal risk, just because they're black? Yes. The internet has been the primary instrument against police targeting blacks, and is still a nascent tool. If it wasn't for the internet, this issue may not even have been brought into the public eye. If it wasn't for the internet, gays probably would still not be allowed to be married. The internet has proven many, many things that people previously thought (or wanted to think) were isolated, or rare, incidents are, in fact, widespread and ubiquitous, and I honestly believe that it's going to be the solution to a lot of our world's problems, disproportionate police violence against blacks being but one of them. Used properly, the internet will be the weapon that breaks up injustice throughout the world, promoting democracy and equality not just in principle; but in reality: It is the light that shines on all dark places big and small - from Middle-Eastern women being oppressed, to African tribes being threatened by genocide, to seemingly insignificant, good-old-boy cliques operating behind closed doors and maintaining discrimination - exposing all of these crimes and immoral behaviors for all to see.
  2. "Gunman Fatally Shoots Self After Killing Journalists on Air, Police Say" by Eliott C. McLaughlin on cnn.com Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting on wikipedia.com We've all had this discussion in some form or another, but I'm genuinely interested in hearing peoples' opinions about whether or not the 2nd Amendment provides absolute freedom of gun ownership, or whether that freedom is limited in some form or another due to the wording of the amendment (and not just a "yes or no," but some underlying rationale).
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