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Retrain or Restrain?

January 31, 2023
Mike Sampson

Pres. Joe Biden on Jan. 16 called for police officers to be retrained so they’re taught not to use deadly force in every situation that requires them to fire their weapon.

“We have to retrain cops,” he said. “Why should you always shoot with deadly force? The fact is if you need to use your weapon, you don’t have to do that.”

And to confound all this, Biden added, “Instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there’s an unarmed person coming at them with a knife or something, shoot them in the leg instead of in the heart.”

Well now, one can speculate Biden never has faced an aggressor, let alone one who is capable of ending your life. All of this talk is part of the president’s long-term plan to disarm America, as he promised in his 2020 campaign platform.

And if brandishing a knife is “unarmed,” I sure missed that during my police defensive training. A recent news story noted that a knife-wielding attacker who slashed an Applebee’s worker in the face in New York surrendered after a customer pointed his gun at him.

Discharging a firearm does not happen in every incident, as this account proves. But a firearm did stop the threat. No retraining and just restraint.

Any Gun Talk readers familiar with “center of mass” and “neutralize the threat?” Anyone who carries appreciates the need for restraint. Law enforcement does too, with deadly force being a last resort.

“Does Biden talk to police to see why they do what they do? Biden doesn’t understand policing,” John Lott Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, said.

Not understanding policing certainly is an understatement, but such are the liberal leanings today. Add to that defunding the police, increasing numbers of line-of-duty law-enforcement deaths, understaffing and retention issues in departments, and declining morale in the Thin Blue Line.

An Indiana friend wrote to me on this topic. He pretty well summed things up by saying “Shooting criminals in the legs makes a lot of sense, if you want more police to die in the line of service, I guess!”

“Maybe the police should try to shoot the gun out of the hand of the criminal, like they used to do in the old west with their six shooters.  It worked on TV and in films; what could possibly go wrong in today's society?”

What is wrong is today’s society is too complex to describe, although I have made attempts in regular Gun Talk articles.

And I would question if Biden could neutralize a moving threat with a round to an extremity rather than center of mass. I doubt I could.

I often write about “accountability.” As I recall, a police officer’s goal and accountability is to follow policies and procedures, and to come home safely after shift. Does coming home safely not mandate using deadly force if needed? Do we civilians deserve the same standard?

The Taser is a wonderful less-lethal weapon, but what if the Taser does not neutralize the threat? Maybe bringing in a social worker, as some recommend, might help end an aggressive armed attack. Good luck finding that trained social worker. They’re never there when you need them!

Now a larger question to consider. If law enforcement needs to “retrain” or “restrain” on use of deadly force, what will this mean for civilians and those of us who carry?

Research has shown that civilian guns prevent an estimated 2.5 million crimes a year, or 6,849 every day. Most often, the gun is never fired, and no blood (including the criminal’s) is shed. Every year, firearms stop some 400,000 life-threatening violent crimes.

Fortunately, civilians having to use deadly force does not happen often, but it does and definitely is an option when threatened or attacked. That is why we “train” and carry. If “retraining” hinders self-defense, count me out. To restrain from using deadly force always is in my plan.

With current efforts to restrict our firearms rights, expect more of the “retrain” rhetoric to dictate how we can stay safe, be prepared. ~ Mike

Mike Sampson
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home, but has lived and worked in several states and internationally. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training. In addition to work as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, he has experience in journalism, crop and animal agriculture, dryland farming for 20 years in western Kansas, plant and animal diseases, pandemic influenza, agroterrorism, bioterrorism, food safety and healthcare marketing.

He has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and has newspaper and agency writing and editing experience. At Washington State University in Pullman, he earned a master’s degree emphasizing adult education and communications.

While living in Lander, WY, Mike provided photographic coverage of the One-Shot Antelope Hunt for three years, and got to meet and accompany folks such as Chuck Yeager, Carroll Shelby, Buzz Aldrin, Dale Robertson and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf on their hunts. He also worked as an outfitter’s guide.

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