Friday, July 08, 2016

Marco Rubio's Good Statement on Police Shootings; Bad Statement on Guns

I always try to give credit where it's due, and I'll thus give Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) credit for a stronger-than-expected statement regarding police shootings:

"Those of us who are not African-American will never fully understand the experience of being black in America," he said. "But we should all understand why our fellow Americans in the black community are angry at the images of an African-American man with no criminal record, who was pulled over with a busted tail light, slumped in his car seat and dying while his four year old daughter watches from the backseat." 
He was referring to Philando Castile, the man killed Thursday in a Twin Cities suburb. Alton Sterling was shot Wednesday in Baton Rouge. 
"There are communities in this country that have a terrible relationship with their local law enforcement. We need to recognize that," he said. "We also need recognize that law enforcement officers in this country are truly among the best that we have. What these people do on a regular basis, you never hear about it. You never hear about the great things they do. No one is capturing that on video or online. It's only when some bad actor or some bad incident occurs we hear something about it."
 On the other hand, this came contemporaneously with him saying "I'm not sure there's a law we can pass" to staunch the flow of gun violence. He argued that the Dallas shooting -- where of course, the victims had guns -- did not falsify the tired "if only everybody was armed" contention because "This is a very unique situation, You have snipers that are in rooftops, picking off police officers -- a very difficult situation." The report continues:
The officers were armed, Rubio conceded, but didn't know who was firing at them or from where. "The police officers found themselves in a very vulnerable situation: They are wearing uniforms," he said.
It is not immediately obvious to me that, in the relevant respects, this is all that unique. One suspects there are many circumstances where it will not be immediately obvious who is firing or from where, or who is the good guy with the gun versus the bad guy with the gun. One further suspects that the difficulty of ascertaining who is who will increase, not dissipate, the more people who are packing. Finally, recent experience makes me pretty confident that the way we'll resolve these difficulties is be simply assuming brown people are the bad guys. Which is to say, we'll persist in our all-too-normal status quo of black men being automatically treated as threats -- all the more so when they're carrying a gun.

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