How Many John Crawfords Before We Admit There’s A Problem?

How Many John Crawfords Before We Admit There’s A Problem? September 25, 2014


I went to bed last night grieved.

I woke up this morning grieved.

Grieved for John Crawford, and grieved for my own children’s future in the land where there is supposedly “liberty and justice for all.”

The question I’m wrestling with is, “how many?”

How many John Crawfords, how many Mike Browns, how many _______ (fill in a name from the growing list of dead brown and black bodies) do we need before we admit that America has a serious (and I mean serious), problem?

Unlike the Michael Brown case where, to my knowledge, there’s not a video that completely captured the last moments of his life, there is such a video of John Crawford’s last moments. The video was released to the public yesterday (you can view it here) after a grand jury decided that the police officers who shot and killed him would not be held accountable for his death.

Crawford’s crime? There wasn’t one. He was shopping in Walmart and holding a BB gun that he picked up off the shelf– thus making him guilty of being a black man apparently with a gun. People called 911, the police responded, Crawford dropped the air gun, and then police shot and killed him. It’s all caught on tape, so one can watch it themselves as I have several times.

There is absolutely, positively no reason why John Crawford shouldn’t be alive at this very moment. As hard as it is for some of you to hear this, I think we need to be honest about our problem: white America is often afraid of brown and black bodies. We’ve written into our laws that homicide is justifiable if one feels scared (as demonstrated by the lack of police accountability, stand your ground laws, etc). When we combine our fear of brown and black bodies with a legal system that often justifies violence if done to assuage the emotion of fear, it leaves us with a growing list of dead people and no accountability for those who took their lives.

Now, I know some of you are thinking, “holy cow, are you an idiot? The dude was carrying a gun around Walmart!”

Only partially true– he was carrying a BB gun– one that came off the shelf and was available for purchase. When the cops showed up, he even dropped the BB gun, but they killed him anyway.

But let’s say he was actually carrying a real gun around Walmart… well, that leaves us with another big problem: white people do this all the time. There’s actually a big “open carry” movement where folks bring their assault rifles to Walmart or wherever, and demand to shop without being hassled.  A quick Google search will bring up plenty of photos of folks open carrying in public:



This is a problem folks, and it’s one we need to keep talking about and keep exposing until we fully shine light on this darkness. One can attempt to downplay the racial bias in our entire social system all they want, you can keep emailing me and telling me that I’m a “race baiter” and that Jesse Jackson is the “real” racist, but that doesn’t make this growing list of injustices go away. It is a reality– a deadly and all too actual reality.

There is no other way for this to be interpreted by us: our children’s brown and black bodies are not as valuable to this society as the white ones.

It is unjust. It is unbearable. It is causing a great cross section of Americans heartache and grief– these are not just passing news stories to us. In these faces, we see our own children, and we grieve not only what has passed, but also grieve what may come.

And what is it that we want? We just want our kids to have the right to not be gunned down for no reason. That’s it. That’s all we’re asking– you know, that “right to life” thing that folks are always talking about. That’s ALL WE WANT.

For our kids to live.

We are weary from seeing our own children in the dead faces that appear on our evening news. We just want them to live.

But they are not. Instead, they are being gunned down and killed though they be unarmed. Take for example, this video recently released where a young man was shot multiple times just for reaching in his vehicle to retrieve his license, just as the officer asked: (warning, it’s disturbing)

To make matters worse, those who are killing our children are not being held accountable– and this only drives home the point that much of America does not value our children.

If I’m wrong, prove me wrong. Change this culture. Show me with actions and accountability that America truly values my children as much as yours.

But until that happens, we must keep shining light on this darkness, damn the consequences.

The real question we must begin to face is this: how many John Crawfords do we need before we are willing to admit that we have a problem here?

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  • Kerry Thomas

    As I have made known in the past, I am a CHL ” person.”
    However, carrying an assault weapon into a sandwich shop or a department store scares me to death. I do not know what they are thinking…..and the man holding his finger outside the trigger housing in the photo above, I’d seriously consider drawing my pistol in anticipation of him using the assault weapon…and I own assault rifles….but would never carry one into a store…

  • I live in Shanghai, China, and although there are many foreigners in my part of the city, I go to parts of town from time to time where white people are more scarce. And when I do, no matter how low key I am, people everywhere notice me. But I don’t have to wonder how many people are watching me in the clothing stores to see if I’m going to steal something, or looking over their shoulders worried that I might savagely attack them.

    It’s insane that in a place that is as diverse as the United States and has gone through as much national soul searching that it has, there exists so much fear and distrust of “the other.” The gospel reconciles us to “the other,” and I sincerely hope the church will be at the forefront of the movement to change things. We’ve got a hard, long road ahead of us.

  • Von Runkle

    Benjamin wrote: “As hard as it is for some of you to hear this, I think we need to be honest about our problem: white America is often afraid of brown and black bodies.”

    And Jesse Jackson once said: “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps… then turn around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” Hmm? Go figure.

    Check out this chart.

    And this one:

    And this one:

    Yes, Benjamin, there is a problem.

  • Trev

    I am Canadian and I do not understand what is up with the open carry movement.

    This most recent news really troubles me. Praying for the souls of those murdered.

  • AJ

    Does anyone else find it odd that a groundhog getting dropped is generating
    more concern than unarmed people getting shot by the cops?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    ‘the answer is blowing in the wind’…the wind of the holy spirit. I pray all the time to understand the hearts of ppl who project their fear on others. To be wise as a serpent I believe, is to process my pain w/ confinence that I will eventually have compassion for my enemies. To be harmless as a dove I believe I will be given strength from a higher power and presents in my life to be able to overcome my desire to resort to violence. I know America hates and fears it’s children. I witness it everyday on the street. Strongholds may be pulled down by our prayers. I believe we aren’t fighting against flesh and blood and thats why I need the gift of discernment to know the difference between human agency and powers and principalities.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i imagine someone carrying openly like that knows and loves the fact that they have taken everyone’s attention hostage. ‘happiness is a warm gun.’ a gun may make one feel important, in control, and god like. Everyone carrying could kill or be killed at any moment. Maybe that is the point of the drama: to feel excitement & alive instead of numb & powerless. After my mom died my elderly dad got depressed & developed alsheimers. After he died 24 riflels were found stashed in a secret space in his closet. His chest of drawers were filled w/ boxes of bullets. We figured he was prepared to make his last stand.

  • Von Runkle

    Well, your second to last paragraph contains what I consider a false premise by you and Benjamin, and that is the “unfair or unusual targeting of black males by frightened hyped-up police officers.” Have you ever been a cop?

    You have to demonstrate systematic “unfair and unusual targeting” of black males by the police. One way to do that is to produce evidence that they are receiving such treatment disproportionate to their crime rate.

    And if your rhetorical out is that you said “seemingly” before it, then I would say . . . yes, it may “seem” like that to some, but it is in fact not true.

    p.s. Based on the crime statistics I marshaled, I agree with Jesse Jackson. Does that make me a racist, or him?

  • gimpi1

    That does not address Ben’s point. Both young men were unarmed and not engaged in any criminal activities when they were shot by police. One person’s action has nothing to do with another’s. Your stats, reliable or not, don’t address that.

    For example, I assume by your name, you’re a man. I’m a woman. Men are much, much more likely to engage in violent crime than women. Should I therefore assume you are criminal? Your stats say I should.

    How can we stop innocent young men from being shot in the street by police officers when they are not engaged in any criminal activity, if, in fact, they are obeying police orders, as in both cases cited above. That is the question.

    (Edited for code.)

  • gimpi1

    I have a friend who’s a black man. He’s an amateur boxer. He’s also an artist and illustrator, who specializes in children’s books.

    Saying because some black men are criminal, all black men are criminal is no more logical than saying because one boxer is an artist, all boxers are artists. We recognize the folly of the second statement, but not the first. I have no answer as to why.

  • Von Runkle

    Your last paragraph is full of assumptions that have been fed to you by racial agitators and the news media (redundant, I know). Why don’t you wait for the evidence to come out in trial before you make such statements.

  • Von Runkle

    Who is making the argument, “All black men are criminals”?

  • gimpi1

    “Racial agitators?” Really? Excuse me, but Mississippi, 1963 called and would like its phrase back. That phrase alone tells me you have an agenda, and it’s not a pretty one.

    The evidence in the case that spawned this article is in. It’s the trial that is being commented on. The young man shot in the wall-mart for carrying a bb-gun that he took off the shelf and was apparently intending to buy and that he put down when ordered to do so by police was settled in favor of the police. Their actions were ruled justified. I believe that ruling to be a miscarriage of justice. I assume you don’t.

    If that ruling is correct, why would it not be OK to shoot any of the white men photographed in the “open carry” movement?

  • gimpi1

    When you argue that shooting an unarmed young man obeying police orders is justified, you are saying that fear of black men to the point of essentially shoot on sight is justified, that any black man is so suspect that they can be killed if anyone is afraid of them. That is essentially saying “guilty until proven innocent, if you survive to be proven innocent.”

    It’s sort of like the old witch-test; tie someone up, and toss them in the pond. If they sink and drown, they are innocent. Dead but innocent. If they float, the water is rejecting them so they’re guilty. Kill them. Either way, the accused is dead.

  • Von Runkle

    I have a feeling that the John Crawford jury heard more evidence than you did. Somehow, they ruled in the police’s favor.

  • gimpi1

    And I have a feeling a bias in favor of the police may have been a factor, as well. However, jury ruling aside, the young man was still dead, apparently because he considered buying a bb-gun. No matter how you look at that, it’s tragic. It’s also wrong. The police officer in question may have been ruled justified (an error, in my opinion) but he wasn’t in the right. He took the life of a young man who had done no wrong. He killed for no real reason. That doesn’t bother you at all?

  • Von Runkle

    And yes, I’m calling Al Sharpton a racial agitator. It appears I’m not alone.

  • gimpi1

    No, you’re just in bad company.

    We’re not on the same page, here. I see no point in continuing a conversation. Good luck and goodbye.

  • Von Runkle

    I think his death is a tragic, unfortunate occurrence. But not criminal and not racially based. I read reportage that the man who called the police told the dispatcher that, “A gentleman is walking around the store waving a gun.” That’s all the cops knew when responding.
    The video is unclear exactly what the cops said to him, when they said it, and what his reaction was to the verbal commands. All we see is the visual documentation. That’s why they had a trial to get the full picture.

  • Amazing that you seem to think that the daily reality most minorities experience is just a figment of their imagination. Such is the supremacy mindset: “I know what they experience better than they do”.

  • Von Runkle

    I wasn’t commenting on what you claim most minorities experience. I was commenting on her presumption that the cops acted wrongly.

  • Von Runkle

    I know all of you have rolled up on scenes where all you knew going in was, “There is a gentleman waving a gun around. He’s pointing it at people. He’s loading it.” That’s all the first responders knew going in. I’m sure you’ve all been in the same situation.

    If you have even 20 minutes (and who doesn’t), I invite you to watch part of this “Shoot/No Shoot” scenario training.

  • paganheart

    And yet all black men still get treated like potential criminals. I used to work with black man who was one of the most intelligent, well-read, kind and thoughtful people I have ever known. He was extremely good at his job (systems analyst) and made very good money. He could afford to shop in high-end stores and eat at high-end restaurants, but seldom did because he could not walk into places like Nordstrom or even Macy’s without being followed by store employees. If he walked into a high-end restaurant by himself, he was often told that no tables were available (even when he could see multiple empty tables.) If he came in with his wife, who happened to be white, they could usually get a table, but often got sideways glances and even dirty looks from fellow diners and staff, not to mention slower service than tables with all-white customers (something my husband and I, both white, experienced firsthand a couple of times when we dined with them.)

    We have a long, long way to go.

  • gimpi1

    My husband and I have gone out with my illustrator friend and his wife, I’ve gone to hotels for seminars with my friend alone. He’s commented that he sees the ratio of mistrust go down based on his companions. His wife, who is also black, down maybe 25%. Out with a white woman in a professional setting, about the same. Out with his wife and another couple, 50%. Out with a white-male friend, also 50%.

    It’s weird.

  • Von Runkle

    I agree with you.

  • Von Runkle

    You know what I find interesting, and telling? Here we are weeks into a violent campaign against ISIS, and not a word of denunciation from Benjamin against the man who ordered it on 8 August. Thousands of sorties have been flown, tons of munitions dropped, and hundreds of people killed, and what do we get, “Pray for ISIS,” and “We brought this on ourselves.” (And when he says “We,” he means Bush.) And this is coming from a guy who claims to be “an Anabaptist who has committed to a life of total nonviolence.”

    Instead we get articles about spanking children and removing flags from churches, and re-trying cops after they’ve already been cleared by a jury of their peers.

    Benjamin, do you think you could squeeze in an article denouncing this president’s warlike actions? Excoriating him for the violence he has ordered to be unleashed in our name, on enemies we are supposed to love? For failing to seek a U.N. authorization, or Congressional approval? For drone strikes that target and kill American citizens – and which violate another country’s air space? For killing innocents. Even Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink have called him a “war criminal.” Where is your courage???

    What bothers you more, war or spanking unruly children?

  • Nimblewill

    What if the media responded to every black on white killing, or black on black killing the way it does on white on black?

  • John A. C. Kelley

    The morbidly ironic thing in both videos is that the officers gave an order in both (quite faint in the John Crawford due to the poor audio) and waited less than two seconds before firing. Even more ironic is that both the men were complying with the officers. Officers are under-trained and trigger happy.

  • Von Runkle

    “I have a friend who is black” LOL!!!

    Hey, guilty white liberals from the 1960s are calling and they want their magic incantation of self-absolution back.

  • gimpi1

    Ha Ha.

    Actually, I have several friends who are black, including three sons of another friend who regard my husband and myself as surrogate grandparents. The fellow I referred to, however, is more of a professional relationship. He’s a illustrator, as I mentioned, and I’m a graphic designer. We’ve worked together on several projects. I used him as an example, because the juxtaposition of illustrator of children’s books and boxer pointed out the foolishness of assuming that if you know one thing about a person, such as their occupation, hobbies or race, you know anything else about them at all.

  • Von Runkle

    Good for you! I have several friends who are black, too. As a matter of fact, most of my neighbors are black; 80-90%. Aren’t I wonderful! Doesn’t that give me the right to say inane things? Doesn’t that give me the knowledge to know that the cops shot John Crawford BECAUSE he was black?

  • gimpi1

    Apparently we have profoundly different opinions on what constitutes inane, as well as other things.

  • Von Runkle

    Did you read the court testimony of the Crawford shooting case? Did you even watch the “shoot/no shoot” video I linked on this site, or have you simply made up your mind based on . . . what you’ve been told by race agitators?

    I’m glad we live in a country that has trial by jury, following rules of evidence and procedure, rather than trial by angry mob, or court of public opinion.

  • Proud Amelekite

    My uncle is a cop so I usually try to stay neutral with these sorts of cases but seeing some of the defenses thrown up have slowly drawn me towards the side that says that racism is still a giant problem in the US.

  • I am really sad for the man in the second video who feels the need to APOLOGIZE to the man who just needlessly SHOT him.

  • ahermit

    Apart form the obvious racism, that second video shows us what you get in a society where anyone can carry a gun…contrary to the NRA’s propaganda the assumption
    that all others are armed does not make anyone safer; it’s makes
    everyone more likely to shoot first…

  • $120619225

    Once cops manage to stop being trigger happy cowards we’ll get right on that.

  • $120619225

    Racist goons like you.

  • JJ Smith

    To be objective, the man did reach into his car, out of the cop’s sight. He did so to get his license to comply, but the cop doesn’t know that. The cop probably expected the guy to reach into his pocket, but I’m sure many men take it out when driving due to discomfort of sitting on it. Hindsight is 20/20, but he should have told the cop he was reaching in for his wallet, as the cop could reasonably think he was reaching in for a gun. As for the cop, he could have told him to back away from the car when he started to reach in rather than shooting as a first option, but in the time he did that, if the guy was reaching for a gun, it might have been too late. Sometimes, it’s a real catch-22. But it just seems the cops have become quite trigger-happy, shooting first, asking questions later. But, then again, people seem to be getting weirder and more unpredictable. At least in this case, thankfully the guy was alive to be questioned!

  • You mean you want the media to dig up every single bad or questionable thing a white victim has ever done, the way they do with black victims?

    EDIT: Or maybe you meant that you want the media to treat black suspects as troubled but upstanding citizens, with such a perfect life prior to the event in question that nobody would’ve seen this coming. I think I could maybe get behind that one. Maybe.

  • Ron McPherson

    I try and ask myself this: What would my reaction be if either one of those innocents happened to be my white son killed by a black cop? If that sparks outrage in me but these real life incidents do not, then I would be a racist hypocrite.

  • Ron McPherson

    Agreed. I watched it for the first time yesterday and I’m still in shock. One of the most profoundly troubling things I’ve seen.

  • Guthrum

    I have known police officers who have never drawn their gun, let alone fired one during the many years of service. Perhaps one answer is to devop certain procedures and protocols to follow before unholstering a weapon, similar to those procedures used by FBI agents. They should be trained on facilities much like the FBI uses that simulate real life situations.
    In the last several months we have seen the town of Ferguson erupt, with peaceful protests taken over by outside radicals and insurrectionists who came in well armed and proceeded to burn and bomb. Who is behind that ? That needs to be investigated.
    In many cities dozens are killed or injured in gang shootings. Yet there is no huge outcry. No opportunists show up to make grandstand searches such as what we saw in Ferguson and Florida (Martin case). The news media gives it passing coverage, not the 24 hour wall to wall deal in Ferguson. There the reporters and camera crews outnumbered the demonstraters. There is a lesson in that somewhere. One criminal who had shot someone in Chicago had a record of 21 prior violent convictions, yet he was out on the streets looking for more victims.
    How could this be ?
    We live in a democratic country in which we elect our leaders in elections. Yet the percentage of people voting is low. What about that ? How many of the Ferguson protestors vote ? Will some of them step up and run for local offices ?

  • Rob Smith

    Except, recent research seems to indicate that the more restrictive gun laws can actually lead to more gun crime ( ). In other words, more liberal gun laws haven’t lead to more “Dodge Cities”, as the opponents insisted would happen, they’ve lead to less.

  • Rob Smith

    Mike Brown and John Crawford were both killed by police officers, not by some “George Zimmerman – Stand your ground” type or open carry advocate. People advocating for liberalized gun laws had nothing to do with it. I don’t know who assumed that Crawford was a danger, but I doubt it was someone who was experienced with firearms, it was more likely a “hoplophobe” like yourself.

  • axelbeingcivil

    Wouldn’t it be more likely that the places with more restrictive gun laws are places that already had/have more gun-related crime and, therefore, are the sorts of places that require those laws? Furthermore, don’t regions with more restrictive firearm laws tend to be more densely populated and thus have large concentrations of poverty within cities?

    Cause and effect isn’t really being considered here; just raw data. Correlation, not causation, etc. etc.

  • Ah, yes. Jesus followers are hoplophobes…

  • Rob Smith

    So cops and soldiers can’t be “Jesus followers”? What a narrow view of Christianity you have.

  • Rob Smith

    I don’t know, Dallas (slightly lower) and Houston (slightly higher), TX have comparable murder rates to Chicago, IL, and yet Texas has much less restrictive gun laws than Illinois. Chicago also seems to have somewhat higher violent crime rates (robbery, aggravated assault), while Dallas and Houston seems to have higher non-violent crime rate (burglary, larceny). If restrictive gun laws made a difference, you’d expect the opposite to be true.

  • axelbeingcivil

    I didn’t actually see him drop the gun. At 1:30, in the linked video, when the first shots are fired, he’s swinging it back and forth, still in his hands. That, to me, doesn’t seem like him dropping the weapon. At the same time, he doesn’t even seem to realize the police are there… Just kinda staring at the bulk foods, swinging his arms, then “PUT IT DOWN!” BANG.

    Didn’t even know they were there.

  • Von Runkle

    Jesus’ own apostles carried swords.
    cf. Jn 18:10

  • Sergio

    Nearly 50% of all black males and 38% of white men will be arrested by the age of 23. A 2012 study by the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention revealed that in 2010 black youths committed six times more murders, three times more rapes, 10 times more robberies and three times more assaults than did their white counterparts.

    Similar statistics were released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the “Uniform Crime Reports.” They determined, “In the year 2008, black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58% for homicide and 67% for robbery.” By contrast, the only categories where white youths surpassed blacks were in liquor law violations and driving under the influence.

    Even black civil rights advocates such as Van Jones, President Barack Obama’s former green jobs czar, confirmed these findings. In his October 5, 2005 article, “Are Blacks a Criminal Race?” Jones wrote, “African American youth represent 32% of all weapons arrests [and] were arrested for aggravated assault at a rate nearly three times that of whites.”

    Does it require a quantum leap in intelligence to comprehend why those we hire to protect us might be apprehensive when they find themselves involved with a person of color? Many black leaders and spokespersons acknowledge this apprehension. And truth be known, most of you who have weighed in with your objections would not walk through a predominately black neighborhood during daylight hours, yet alone at night.

    As believers we know that any lost life is a tragedy. We need to work harder to present the Gospel to every living soul because it is Christ alone that changes lives, not pundits or forums. Let’s get busy about the cause of Christ.

  • Rob Smith

    I still don’t understand why you’re blaming “open carry” advocates for the actions of supposedly highly trained police officers. I’m not aware of any incidents of “open carry” advocates gunning people down. And yet, your side argues that only the police should be able to legally carry guns. Given the recent news we’d probably be safer allowing “open carry” to carry whatever firearms they want and restricting the police to one bullet, that they must keep in their pocket.

  • Not narrow at all. Read Matthew 5 where Jesus cites being enemy lovers as a requirement of being called a child of God.

  • That’s already been covered in-depth. You have to read the second half of the verse– they weren’t carried for self defense or violence, as he prohibited the use of violence against enemies.

  • Rob Smith

    I think your interpretation of Matthew is lacking context, but setting that aside, I’m not sure why it’s relevant. You’re damning “open carry” advocates for the sins of police officers. It’s not “open carry” advocates that are shooting black men in WalMarts.

  • Rob Smith

    Benjamin believes that Jesus was a pacifist, a position not supported by the early Church, or by Jesus’s actions in driving the money changers out of the temple.

  • It’s entirely supported by early church, so you might want to double check your history.

  • Okay, I’ll give the context of Matthew 5: “you know those Romans who are constantly hanging you from trees and brutally murdering you? I tell you to love them and to not respond to them violently so that you will be called children of your father in heaven.”

  • ahermit

    Better research suggests otherwise:
    Liberal gun use laws like “stand your ground” lead to more deaths:

    High rates of gun ownership correlate with high rates of shooting deaths.

  • Not supported by the early church? You mean the early church that preferred martyrdom to self-defense? That early church?

  • Yup, that’s the one ;-)

  • Jason K.

    …I’d seriously consider drawing my pistol in anticipation of him using the assault weapon…

    You feel frightened, so you contemplate escalating the situation into a full scale gun battle in the middle of a crowded store. Way to be completely mindless of everyone else’s safety. And thank you for perfectly demonstrating why all guns should be banned from public spaces.

  • AmyHerrmann

    I think you’re absolutely right. I also think these people are seriously paranoid, like needing medication paranoid. Believing that you could be attacked at any moment, to the extent that you feel it’d imperative to carry around such weaponry is not normal. The flip side of it is the hero complex – ‘I will save everyone around me when the crap hits the fan’ is also not normal.

  • AmyHerrmann

    It’s the same thing with that other poor soul shot a few days after Michael Brown in St. Louis. The police arrive and less than 10 seconds later, maybe less and shoot the obviously mentally ill guy dead. Trigger happy is definitely the word.

  • AmyHerrmann

    That’s truly awful. I hope that all of this is a catalyst for real change.

  • AmyHerrmann

    Excellent analogy.

  • AmyHerrmann

    No one is blaming the open carry guys here. The point being made is that somehow they avoid being shot by the police. So far.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i am concerned that this is the ‘new normal’ & some places in U.S. are gearing up for local regional confrontation. remember ruby ridge? i agree that paranoid ppl are everywhere but thats not keeping me awake at night. I’m working a 12 step program that’s keeping me sober and serene so I don’t have to carry a rifle.

  • Nimblewill

    You know exactly what I meant. That’s not what I said. Comment to the comment!

  • Nimblewill

    Like your buddy, you missed what I was saying.

  • I might be wrong, but I think the officer in the shooting you show at the end has been charged, unlike Darren Wilson or Crawford’s killer or many others. And fortunately the victim has recovered as he was shot in the hip, not anywhere more dangerous. That one even got significant airtime on our Canadian news.

    So that’s something, but obviously not nearly enough. We still need to get to a point where that officer never even assumed that because he was black he had to be shot.

  • No, Nimblewill, I do not know what you meant. That’s why I asked “is this what you mean?” I gave you a chance to clarify, and instead you’ve chosen to throw a tantrum. And yes, my call for clarity had a bit of a bite to it; I took a reasonable guess as to what you meant (based on how you ordered your post and based on what you excluded, i.e. white-on-white killing) and provided the plain and simple truth for what that would look like.

  • Let’s be fair, though: Rob said more “gun crime,” and thanks to the profoundly stupid way that stand-your-ground laws get applied, technically none of it counts as “crime.” Come to think of it, that’s probably why I usually see the phrase “gun crime” so much in arguments against gun control: redefine the terms so they’re more favorable.

  • Kerry Thomas

    You are not a gun person. I will take it for granted you are not, the pose with the finger outside the trigger to me signals he is ready to shoot.
    Btw: the gun battle would be quick and over fast. I would win. I practice . 150 rounds minimum a week. I would not miss.

  • ahermit

    Yup; that’s why the research which looks at rates of gun deaths and injuries is a better indicator.

  • gimpi1

    I think the “open carry” movement is cited to show that white men can carry actual weapons around publicly without anyone calling the police, or the police shooting them. Whereas, the mere suggestion that a black man might have a gun can get them shot.

    It’s the same thing with the protests around that rancher in Nevada. People protesting actually threatened federal officers, but they were handled with kid gloves. They were also white people. Compare that to the protests in Ferguson, and the military-style action that is brought into play when the protesters are black people.

    It’s hard to not see this as a racial issue, though some folks are trying hard. Too hard in my opinion…

  • Jason K.

    You have a delusional cowboy mentality and are a danger to others. Gun culture is a sick culture.

  • Honest question: how many of those 150+ rounds per week are in high stress situations? Because it’s been proven that there is a measurable difference between one’s performance on the range (in a low anxiety situation) and one’s performance in an actual combat (high anxiety) situation.

  • Rob Smith

    You’re confusing “concealed carry” laws with “Castle Doctrine” and “Stand Your Ground”, they are not the same. Castle and SYG have nothing to do with concealed carry. For example, both Maryland and New Jersey have very restrictive carry laws but both have laws respecting the “Castle Doctrine” and “Stand Your Ground”.

  • Rob Smith

    What about the context of Jesus healing the Centurion’s servant and then praising his faith? I don’t remember him condemning his military service, do you? Or perhaps John the Baptist telling soldiers to be content with their wages as opposed to “leave the military”? Many of early Christians were Roman soldiers. Do you have any record of early Church fathers condemning their service or denying them Communion? You’re on pretty weak theological ground for claiming pacifism was part of early Christian doctrine.

  • Rob Smith

    Can you cite a few of the early Church fathers condemning members of the Christian community who where Roman soldiers? Denying the Communion? Or where Jesus condemned military service? I don’t recall any.

  • Centurion is a moot point, because you’d be forced to argue that a lack of condemnation equals approval, and there are multiple times when Jesus hung out with sinners and didn’t condemn their sin. There’s also good evidence that the Centurion’s servant was his gay lover, and I’m guessing you wouldn’t see Jesus’ silence on the issue meaning approval of it.

    As far as the early church, from the New Testament era until AD 174, no Christian served in the military (or in government)– that’s not even a historical debate, so I’d re-do your homework, because it’s not weak ground at all. Even for around the next 200 years after that, soldiers who wanted to become Christians were told to repent. It wasn’t until Constantine paired Christianity with Empire that the early church was polluted by the force of government. It’s called syncretism and it’s the blending of faith with culture. Until syncretism kicked in, Christians were exclusively nonviolent– including all of the disciples who died instead of fighting their enemies.

    Even folks who don’t believe in nonviolence recognize that the early church was universal in their condemnation of it as being incompatible with following Jesus. So, no weak theological or historical ground at all. You can argue that the early church was wrong, and that all the disciples got it wrong, but you can’t rewrite history to argue that they were pro-violence. They weren’t.

  • ahermit

    No I’m not confusing anything and I didn’t say they were the same thing.

    I’m looking at the whole picture, not just at the one inconclusive, narrowly focused study you linked to. And when you do that one simple truth becomes obvious.More guns = more dead and injured people, more families torn apart.

  • Rob Smith

    Just out of curiosity, what’s the evidence for the Centurion’s servant being his gay lover? There’s nothing in Scripture that talks about it, or nothing in the writings of the Early Church. Not saying that it’s not possible, only that there’s no contemporary evidence to support the assertion.

    Regarding Christian in the military, 174 AD was over 100 years before Constantine. Even if we accept your assertion (which I don’t), that means early Christians were serving in the military long before Constantine or even Augustine. Do you have any contemporary evidence that these people were denied Communion or encouraged to leave service? There’s nothing in Scripture that states that.

  • Rob Smith

    Stand your Ground and Castle Doctrine have nothing to do with gun availability, so yes you are confusing the two, or deliberately using a non-sequitur. Which is it?

  • The hint of there being more to the relationship is in the Greek nuance of the original phrase in Greek.

    And, you don’t have to accept that Christians were totally nonviolent in the early church, or that all the church fathers universally condemned violence, kicked magistrates out of church, and called on converts to leave the military… but that’s sort of like saying you don’t believe Lincoln was president. I’m not citing my opinion, I’m citing historical facts that all historians agree on. Simply because it comes into conflict with your American flavor of Christianity, doesn’t make history wrong. But, I can’t do the homework for you- after 7 years in seminary, I’ve done my work. If you seriously want to study what the early church wrote, read up on it. I’m just pointing your to a few basic facts that historians agree on.

  • bz

    I’d like to thank you for taking the time to post this. There is a truth that many of my fellow Christians in america especially, it seems, those of the politically conservative variety often vehemently deny. The truth is that some of us avoid cops, not because we have police records, but because we feel they are a danger to our lives. Some of us are used to people crossing on the other side of the road at high noon. Some of us have grown used to the sound of clicking car door locks and the sight of purses clutched tighter. We’ve been told by are mothers and father’s that it is unsafe to run at night. We have avoided rushing in to assist little old ladies, and have patiently waited for people to enter the car parked adjacent to ours and leave before even approaching our cars…just so we wouldn’t scare them. We have mastered cheesy non threatening smiles to put whoever is stuck on the elevator with us.

    I haven’t lived very many years, but I have made a few conclusions. 1. Life is full of double standards and pervasive subconscious perceptions and presuppositions that are ingrained culturally not just individually. 2.Professed conservative Christians are the most adamant that conclusion #1 is completely false. 3. No amount of protesting, rational debates, or legislation can change anyone’s heart. Only Jesus can do that.

    Here’s where my view of eschatology comes in. You’ve said in past posts that it shapes your worldview and also how you treat others. My view of eschatology says that Jesus will bring justice and vindication, It tells me that I shouldn’t expect the church to be Christlike because we are,in the words of Jesus, “wretched pitiful poor blind and naked”. It tells me that im not going to change human nature and Im not going to change the mindset of earth’s societies, but I am supposed to be light and salt by planting seeds that Christ can water in individuals. Its frustrating. Its angering. Its unfair. But its the Christian walk.

  • Rob Smith

    Yes, the original phrase in Greek can be read many ways, including that the boy was the Centurion’s son, but there’s no actual evidence for either position.
    There’s a big difference between the Early Church begin pacifist and some of the early Church fathers being opposed to violence. There’s very little Scriptural support for the idea that Jesus was a pacifist as his actions in driving out the moneychangers demonstrates.

  • Odd. You strike me as being completely unlearned in the language and in history. “Can be read many ways”… Koine is a precise classical language. But whatever.

    The opposition to violence in the early church was universal, all of the church fathers and all of the church was in agreement. It was all of the church, as in, nonviolence is the position of the entire, total, early church– thus nonviolence is the historic, orthodox, Christian position. Amazing that you want to hold to your American Jesus and not take a single step towards doing an ounce of historical work.

    And no, the clearing of the temple never once says that Jesus actually harmed people- just that he drove the animals out, kicked over tables, etc. He obviously wasn’t a liar or hypocrite and didn’t violate his own teachings against violence.

    Again, hard to argue about Lincoln with the one person in the room who says he was never president.

  • ahermit

    Its not just about the number of guns its also the rules around owning and using them.

    They are all part of this absurd idea that if more people are armed with deadly weapons we’ll somehow be safer.

  • Rob Smith

    Who claimed that Lincoln was never President?

    Regarding the cleansing of the temple, every translation I can find describes Jesus as casting or driving out the money changers, not their animals. I think this discussion highlights Chesterton’s comments about Protestent faiths. They tend to overemphasize one aspect of Christ’s teachings and ignore that which doesn’t confirm. You see it the a lot in Pacifist movements and also the Temperance movements.

  • Nowhere in any text does it say that Jesus violently harmed people. This is an extremely weak text, and is an argument of silence. The entire early church, including Augustine, agreed that killing is always wrong even in self-defense. Citing the cleansing of the templeas if this overwrites Jesus nonviolent teachings of Matthew five is an extremely weak argument. If you want to show that Jesus was mistaken in Matthew five, and that the early church got it wrong, you would need a different proof text- One that would explicitly show we need not love our enemies, but instead may kill them.

  • In what way is driving out the money changers a violent action? And please note, John’s Gospel is the only one that mentions a whip, and looking at the Greek it seems John intended to say that Jesus used that whip on the animals: in the Greek, the only mention of people in relation to Jesus’ actions is that he poured out the coins of the money changers.

  • And may I take a moment to point out that this is true of this story in all four Gospel accounts. The whip is only even mentioned in John, and it’s pretty clear from the Greek that Jesus was only using it on the animals.

  • Ron McPherson

    Great post

  • Realist1234

    ‘good evidence’ of a gay lover? See .
    Why are some people desperate to accept gay sex and even have Jesus seemingly endorse it? And as far racism is concerned, of course America is full of racists as is Britain (where Im from) and the rest of the world. I think we are all a little racist if we were honest about it, as any ‘difference’ tends to make human slightly ‘suspicious’. But if the USA got rid of its stupid gun laws, such deaths would not be happening. As I said in another post, judgement is coming on America for the continued deaths of innocent children which the government has done nothing about.

  • Jason K.

    They tend to overemphasize one aspect of Christ’s teachings and ignore that which doesn’t confirm.

    You mean like how you keep bringing up the *one* story of Jesus “violently” driving out money-changers while ignoring the totality of his New Testament message?

  • Ron McPherson

    “Does it require a quantum leap in intelligence to comprehend why those we hire to protect us might be apprehensive when they find themselves involved with a person of color?”

    I don’t deny the statistics you cite, but I doubt such facts would provide sufficient justification or comfort for the families of the innocent victims. Geez, if a police officer’s apprehension raises to such a level that it provokes them to shoot an innocent person, they probably need to find another line of work – something that doesn’t involve a gun.

    “And truth be known, most of you who have weighed in with your objections would not walk through a predominately black neighborhood during daylight hours, yet alone at night.”

    And you know this to be true based on…..?

  • Did you actually read the article, Rob? Ben’s not blaming the open carry movement, he’s pointing out the blatant double-standard at play. Ohio is a traditional open carry state. All of those white people shown were able to carry their firearms around a Wal-Mart (or other store) with no repercussions. And yet John Crawford was gunned down on the suspicion that the item in his hands was a real firearm – which, if it had been, he would have been legally allowed to carry.

  • One could infer, as it seems you do, that those statistics are the reason that police are more apprehensive around black people. However, one could just as easily infer that those numbers are so high because police are apprehensive around black people: one could argue that police are more likely to arrest black people than white people for the same crime. As is, all we can say with certainty from those numbers is that a greater percentage of black youth are arrested than white youth. The cause behind those numbers, and the relationship between those numbers and any feelings of apprehension, is entirely conjecture.

  • Sergio

    First, I base it on the scriptures…King David as a shepherd boy is probably my favorite, but there are numerous accounts where people were apprehensive or feared a different race.

    Second, I base it on personal experience. As a nurse I worked in a LTC facility located in a predominately black neighborhood. On a daily basis I could watch as folks avoided that neighborhood. Even my friends in the facility advised me not to engage anyone in conversation when I left in my car at the end of my shift, to keep my windows closed, doors locked and only look straight ahead when stopped at a traffic light until I was clear of the area. Considering their concern for my safety and my subsequent apprehension, by your logic I should have sought another line of work.

    Third, now as a missionary serving in a barangay where I am the only white person, I am also apprehensive at times and according to my neighbors I should be. They suggest that I remain inside the gate at night and travel with one of them when I go out. Again, by your logic I should forego what God called me to do. So if you want firsthand knowledge so you will not have to ask, “And you know this to be true based on….” just come on over. I’ll be more than happy to show you around.

  • Ron McPherson


    First, I never suggested that people are not apprehensive concerning other races. My point is that you made a declarative statement of fact (not opinion) about people on this forum I trust you don’t know. You don’t have “first hand knowledge” about THEM to make such a statement of fact. You may or may not be right; only God knows.

    Second, I appreciate your mission work, and yes, I have done mission work in a third world country before as well, so I understand there are dangers.

    Third, it seems you may have misunderstood my point about finding another line of work. I never meant to suggest that one should find another line of work merely because they were apprehensive about it. If you came away thinking that, then I failed to make my point, which was this: If my job requires that I carry a weapon and I’m so apprehensive that I am in danger of killing innocent victims, then yes, I should find another line of work. I would never suggest that a missionary should find another line of work merely because they are apprehensive, unless of course they are shooting innocent victims, which I trust is not happening in your case. I hope you can see the difference.

    Finally, I don’t want to be argumentative. Just trying to clarify some points. Peace brother, and thank you for sacrificially serving to further Christ’s Kingdom.

  • Von Runkle

    Such historical surety coming from someone who wrote, “the books of the Apocrypha were added into the Bible at the council of trent during the reformation (1500’s) in a response to Luther.”

    Beware, Benjamin, anyone who says “The church always taught,” or “The entire, total, early church,” etc. The entire Church didn’t always at all times believe any single doctrine, to include the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the humanity of Christ, what baptism is, what the eucharist is, and so on.

    You neglected to mention St George (275-303 A.D.), or the Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste (320 A.D.), who give witness to early Christians serving in the military. Nor did you mention St Augustine’s teaching. When, to you, does the early church begin and when does it end? Do you hold, like Luther, in the “consensus of the first five centuries”? And if you do, then you would have to include the teachings of St Augustine. Do you accept the Ecumenical Councils? If so, why? If not, why not?

    It’s also interesting that you would cite “the early church fathers” in defense of your position. Do you not hold to sola scriptura? So what’s with marshaling the early church fathers (whom you never name individually)? Do you also accept said fathers’ teaching on apostolic succession, the role of the bishop, the significance of the Eucharist, the Virgin Mary, slavery, and the perfidy of the Jews? (about which topics, they did not universally agree, either)

    There is no doubt that many church fathers would be considered pacifists and that Jesus’ own life and teaching highlight the “turn the other cheek” morality found within Christendom. But they are not the only, to the exclusion of all others, teachings on the use of violence, self-defense, and a well-ordered society.

    Here’s a little something to read:

  • Noah

    When he says the entire early church, I’m thinking he means the majority…

    Of course there are some who believed differently.

  • Von Runkle

    He said, “entire, total,” and “all the church fathers.” I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant. Of course, you know and I know that his assertion is not true. It seems he doesn’t know it. But let’s see if he replies to my post. He can clarify for himself what he meant.

  • Noah

    As he’s pointed out before….someone not condemning something does not mean it is approved of. I don’t recall Jesus approving military service. Do you? Seeing that he said ‘love your enemies’ and ‘turn the other cheek’, I’d say hurting other people isn’t good for them. At least on an individual scale.

    Martyrdom seems to indicate they gave their lives up for their identity in Christ and didn’t seek to not be killed.

  • Noah

    I agree w/the long standing race issue and double standards, but it isn’t worse now than it has been (not saying you’re saying it is). The amount of ‘3rd’ eyes out there recording things and the immediate media cycle (and how we’ve been trained to pick at it) just makes all this, awful, stuff more apparent.

  • Noah

    I think it’s obvious how much against violence he is….

    He’s kinda focused on American stuff.

  • Noah

    He shouldn’t -have- to have told him he was going to the car to get the license. Why should he -have- to? If the cop wasn’t amazingly scared, he would have reacted calmly and asked him where his id was.

    Not all IDs are on a person 24/7. Mine is lose in the car and I would have done exactly what this guy did. That said – a lot slower. He was nervous also.

  • Guest

    Being white (male) in a predominantly black neighborhood is generally -way- more safe than being black. Because of those statistics you site…and that whites are afraid of blacks.

    I say this as someone who’s driven through Compton (during the day) and thought “hey, they have houses and lawns here, this is way better than NYC”. I’ve lived next to the inner city in Boston and often jogged through it and traveled through it. I’m not going to say I’ve never been nervous, however.

    Not to mention how messed up the system is against those in poverty. If you look at the stats on those in poverty, white and black, they start to even out.

  • Noah

    Ah. I missed total. W/out Ben’s weigh in, I still imagine he doesn’t think someone in the early church might have been pro-violence.

    And yet, I don’t think anyone was. Unless you can come up with anyone in the early church who was pro-violence?

  • gimpi1

    We don’t know the cause of the higher arrest rate for black men. One possibility is the old “you see what you look for” effect. For instance, drug-use appears to be about equal between black and white young men. However, young black men are much more likely to be arrested for drug-crimes, perhaps because law-enforcement is watching them more closely.

    Another issue is less pleasant. Do you remember the Rampart scandal in L.A.? The CRASH unit, an elite SWAT-style unit, was involved in framing many innocent people. They carried “war-bags” to plant guns on suspects. They were given plaques for shooting suspects, and additional honors if the suspect died. They framed people, and perjured themselves in court to make the frames stick. This all apparently had the approval of higher-ups. Money and resources were brought into the department because of its “success.” However, when the corruption was brought to light, many convictions have been overturned and over 100 million in settlement has been paid out.

    While that level of corruption is not common, the fact that it happened, and that it went on so long and was so successful in obtaining convictions tells us something about our justice system. The fact that it was black men who were targeted tells us something, too.

  • Ron McPherson

    Just for the record, I wasn’t the one who cited statistics. Just to clarify.

  • Noah

    My bad – I was replying to the original post! Maybe I should try that agian. :)

  • Noah

    Being white (male) in a predominantly black neighborhood is generally -way- more safe than being black. Because of those statistics you site…and that whites are afraid of blacks.

    I say this as someone who’s driven through Compton (during the day) and thought “hey, they have houses and lawns here, this is way better than NYC”. I’ve lived next to the inner city in Boston and often jogged through it and traveled through it. I’m not going to say I’ve never been nervous, however.

    Not to mention how messed up the system is against those in poverty. If you look at the stats on those in poverty, white and black, they start to even out.

  • Ron McPherson

    Haha no prob : )

  • Rob Smith

    The text says that Jesus drove out the money changers and tipped over their tables. I’m not sure how you read that as Jesus acting non-violently. That the text doesn’t specifically say that anybody was hurt is a pretty weak reed to hang your argument on. Also, there were without doubt Christians in the Roman legions as early as 174 AD ( ), and probably earlier. Early Christian writer Tertullian credited the Roman victory in the Macromannic War to the prayers of Christian soldiers serving with Marcus Aurelius.

  • Rob Smith

    I don’t overemphasize, I just choose not to ignore it. When the actions of Jesus and the early Apostles contradict my interpretation of the Bible, I tend to assume that I’m missing something. The Beatitudes must be read in the context of the actions of Jesus to fully understand them. A Christian can’t just dismiss the passages that make him feel uncomfortable. For Benjamin, that appears to be most of the Old Testament, and a pretty good chunk of the New as well.

  • I’m not hanging my hat on that text, others brought it up. The hat hangers are the ones who say “it sounds like Jesus must have hurt some people (aka violence), therefore God condones violence”.

    I hang my hat on a host of other passages, real easy stuff like “love your enemies”, “do not resist (respond with violence) to an evildoer so that you will be children of God”, “he who lives by the sword will die by the sword”, “do not repay evil with evil, but repay evil with good”, etc. The burden is on those who accept violence, especially lethal violence, to show how one can both love their enemies and kill their enemies. The temple passage for me is irrelevant, because the direct teachings are pretty darn clear.

    And yes, by 174 some crept into the army and this was a big discussion in the early church, and it was condemned. In some cases, they would allow a soldier to remain part of the church if he took a vow to disobey orders to commit violence. Also, Tertullian wrote at length against Christians serving in the military, so that’s an interesting person to bring up.

    However, even if the church fathers accepted violence (they didn’t) the barrier is still to show why Jesus was wrong since Jesus is the standard.

    Here’s a decent, short piece:

    Or more comprehensive:

  • Jesus and the apostles, less John, bled and died for and at the hands of their enemies– choosing to love them and die rather than to kill them. That seems to be a kick in the teeth to your position, by your own admission.

    I accept all of the New Testament. Jesus didn’t accept all of the OT as being applicable for all time either, such as when he said “you have heard it said an eye for an eye, but I tell you, do not respond with violence in kind to an evildoer that you may be children of God…” (translation: violence used to be permitted, but I’m telling you that there’s no room for that in the Kingdom God is building”.)

    You have a mountain of evidence to overcome, which you haven’t done other saying “you need to be able to understand it in context” which, not to blow my own horn, as a theological scholar, I happen to have a little practice at doing.

    As I said earlier, you have a burden to show why Jesus didn’t really mean that we have to love our enemies, why Paul didn’t really mean that we are to repay evil with good, or why the example of Christ and the disciples is that of nonviolent enemy love, or why the early church completely misunderstood Jesus on this issue. You haven’t refuted any of that, but simply say “you’re not reading it in context”.

    It seems that you are doing the very thing you accuse: you’re ignoring passages as if they don’t exist.

  • Sergio

    Have you served as a frontline soldier in a war zone?

    I can say from experience that many of us were apprehensive and we obviously carried weapons. And from experience, I would much rather have the person next to me foster such as opposed to a gung ho warrior that exhibits no fear. Even today, I remain apprehensive when I travel in Vietnam because I am keenly aware of what occurred there and the valid statistical proof of their culture. As yes, I am licensed to carry a weapon.

    Even stepping before a congregation and handling the Word of God, I still sweat bullets; hence, apprehension is necessary to keep from shooting from the hip or going off half-cocked.

    If you don’t have a sensation of apprehension when you handle a weapon in the line of duty, you are in the wrong business.

    Having knowledge regarding people who jump on the liberal bandwagon and touchy-feely causes was evident by their lack of comment; it spoke volumes.

  • Ron McPherson

    I must be doing a lousy job at making my point.


  • JJ Smith

    You’re right, he shouldn’t ‘have’ to have told him. But the cop shouldn’t have to think there’s as much chance of the guy reaching in for a gun as he is reaching for his ID. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in today. There’s no denying it was an unfortunate situation, and I think errors were committed by both parties. As I noted, many men may take their wallets out while driving, so it’s understandable it wasn’t in his pocket. Maybe the cop should have thought of that, but I also noted that people are getting weirder every day, often doing the unexpected and unreasonable in a situation, without much respect for the law; maybe the guy should have thought of that. Did the cop overreact? In this situation, yes; had there been a gun, no. So, what the cop ‘should have’ thought of, what the man shouldn’t ‘have to’ do, all subjective points. Hindsight is always 20/20. I’m just saying that in watching the video, both parties were at fault by virtue of errors in judgment, in my opinion. Avoidable errors, yes, but understandable errors.

  • paganheart

    This is true. I’ve worked in the court system, mostly on the civil side, but I’ve spent some time on the criminal side as well. One thing I observed, and which coworkers concur, is that justice, like everything else in the US it seems, is swayed by wealth. You can, and do, often see two people arrested for the exact same crime, possession of marijuana as an example. Both suspects were in possession of the same amount, both had no prior criminal history. But one is from a middle or upper class background, while the other is poor. The poor suspect (more often than not from a racial or ethnic minority group, but not always) usually ends up in jail, while the middle- or upper-class suspect (more often than not white, btw) ends up with just probation and fines.

    Why? Money. The middle- or upper-class suspect is much more likely to be able to afford to hire a private defense attorney (or have their family hire one for them), and that attorney will have the luxury of money and time to spend getting to know the client, doing research into their background and the appropriate laws, and take the case to trial (if necessary); or to enter a lengthy negotiation process with the judge and prosecutor for a plea deal that will result in probation instead of jail for his client.

    The poor suspect, however, will more than likely have to rely on a public defender since they cannot afford to hire their own attorney. That public defender more than likely will be overworked and underpaid, lacking the luxury of time and resources to spend on their client. The public defender will fashion a boilerplate plea bargain, which most often will include some jail time, because judges and prosecutors aren’t willing to consider pleas with no jail time unless a compelling case can be made, and the public defender does not have the time to get to know his or her client, and do the research necessary to make that compelling case. The public defender then drops the plea bargain in the suspect’s lap and says “here’s your deal. Take it or leave it, I advise you to take it. Hurry up, I haven’t got all day.” (And he doesn’t, depending on the size of the court system he may have 50 to 100 other cases on his docket.) The poor suspect is also more likely to be uneducated and not know what their rights and privileges are under the constitution, so they take it, thinking they are unlikely to do any better. And so they end up in jail, where they are either traumatized or taught how to be a better criminal, and when they get out they have a record that makes it near impossible to get a job or a place to live, setting them up to re-offend in a vicious and never-ending cycle.

    Justice is not blind in the US. Like virtually every other institution in this country, money talks, and all else walks.

  • Noah

    I get you, but the guy didn’t do a single thing wrong, from my perspective. The cop asked him to get his ID and then he proceeded to do so.

    But we still agree he now wishes he did so slower or told him it was in the car.

    What I didn’t see is how he was out of the car already, that’s a bit strange.

  • JJ Smith

    If you mean the guy already being out of the car, I think he was already getting out of his car to go into the station as the cop pulled in. It looks like he pulled up behind someone just to run in for something, not for gas. If you mean the cop, yes, he was a very eager Johnny-on-the-spot for nothing more than a seat belt violation. I totally agree he seems to be looking for/expecting trouble before there was really a reason. And, having shot and downed him, and seeing no weapon, yet his main concern was to cuff him, which seems heavy-handed. Maybe it’s standard procedure, but… Incidentally, from what I read on Huffington Post, the officer was fired and has been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, a felony which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

  • Noah

    Regardless of that, it seems you’re random anger against them saying they have a black friend is offbase. They were using it in an example – not for an example: “I’m not racist, I have a black friend!” vs what gimpi said. Making an example that you don’t know someone based on what they are. Not – “I’m not a racist’!

  • Noah

    Seems to make sense!

  • Sergio

    Obvious racism? Now that is a quantum leap. What mystical powers you must possess to draw such a conclusion from a short video clip.
    Oh, I get now. Any time the police officer is not black, but the victim is…then it is racism by default.

    You just might be a liberal if:

    You blame every shooting on racism and the NRA.

  • Sergio

    The Guardian? Hahahahaha!!!! They bill themselves as the leading liberal voice. Now ain’t that convenient. And where are they headquartered….you got it…in Great Britain. Imagine that….a leading liberal media outlet justifying the socialist policies of their home country.

    Best research: Consider the source and their agenda.

  • Sergio

    Under-trained? Same goes for those getting a Driver’s License. I would much rather dodge a bullet than a 2,000lb object that is 5-6 feet wide. Check your stats and compare yearly traffic deaths to deaths by shootings. They are not even in the same universe. Let’s ban all vehicles. That will put an end to untrained drivers killing people on our highways. Ah, no that won’t work because it will infringe on somebody’s freedom.

    It is not a perfect world and it never will be. Some are unjustly convicted and some have died a needless death, but to live in a nation without an armed police force and military would have much greater ramifications.

  • John A. C. Kelley

    Not according to Jesus, but you’re entitled to your opinion, even if it contradicts God’s. Good day.

  • Sergio

    Well John, as you have such a close relationship with Jesus Christ, please give us one verse, just one, that speaks of trigger happy anyone.
    I won’t lose any sleep waiting for a reply, because you will not find one. And mine is not an opinion….I only deal in facts.

    You might just be a liberal if:

    You only get your information from NPR and PBS.

  • ahermit

    instead of shooting the messenger (pardon the expression) maybe you should actually read the article. If you take the time to do so (and it won’t take long, I promise) you will notice that the research was not done by the Guardian; they just reported on it. The authors of the study are from NYU and Columbia U, and their findings were published in the American Journal of Medicine

    Best research….actually read the material you’re responding to instead of dismissing it out of hand because someone you don’t like was talking about it.

    If it helps you can also read about it in Science Daily or Medical Daily or perhaps UPI or any of the dozens of other news organizations which reported on the study.

  • ahermit

    Yeah, I’m sure race had nothing to do with and that cop would have shot a white man in the back just as casually…

    I’m sorry, but you have to be awfully naive to believe that…maybe when you’re done actually looking at the research on gun ownership which I linked to above you can look into racial profiling statistics.

    Here, let me google that for you….

  • John A. C. Kelley

    Well good sir, I in fact do have multiple versus of Jesus not condemning gun violence, but condemning violence in general. Asking for a verse where Jesus condemns gun violence is an ignorant thing to ask for unless you would like to argue that online pornography is OK because Jesus never explicitly says that online porn is wrong.
    Jesus explicitly states on the sermon on the mount that we are not to fight back when attacked, but are to just allow it to happen. He also says that we are to bless those who curse us; harming someone in any way is not blessing them. In the case of the defense of others, Jesus tells an unnamed disciple in Luke 22:51 not to violently protect Jesus from certain death and in Matthew 26:52 Jesus told the disciple that all who live by the sword die by the sword. What can we draw from this? Jesus does not allow the people who follow Him to use violence in self-defense or in defense of another for those who use violence will die by violence. One of Jesus’ many messages was of non-violence and He never condones violence.
    I am most definitely not a liberal, but neither am I a conservative because both are too extreme to one side or another in politics and miss the bigger picture. I do not conform to any kingdom of this world because you can only have one master, lest you hate the one and love the other. My only master is God and I am a citizen of His kingdom, not of the U.S. or any other empire.

    You just might be a political extremist if:

    You try to validate your position by polarizing the other person into a position that makes them seem immoral.
    You believe that any political position has everything (or most things) figured out and is undeniably better than the other side.
    You try to relate governmental politics to every conversation.

    I have no doubt in my mind that you will tear these scriptures out of their context and try to make a claim that Jesus didn’t really mean what He said, but that He meant something different, but I hope that you are able to see that the Kingdom of God is a peaceful kingdom and there is no place for violence. Good day.

  • Sergio

    All good points. Yes, it should be our desire to settle our differences in a non-violent manner. Unfortunately, we live on a sin cursed world, an imperfect world to say the least.

    What most fail to take into account is that God has a “perfect will” (Ex. …”all should come to repentance..” and a “permissive will” (…Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.)

    Between the fall in the garden and the return of
    Christ in judgment, God is sovereign by right but not exercising that sovereignty over everything. He could but he doesn’t. Thus, sin, evil and innocent suffering, and especially hell, are not God’s antecedent will but God’s consequent will. God’s antecedent will is what he perfectly wanted to happen—including our willing obedience out of love and everlasting fellowship with us. God’s consequent will is what God permits to happen that is contrary to his perfect will.

    I find that the overarching presupposition about Jesus when interpreting his teachings is whether he retained his Judaism or not. Jesus affirmed his Hebrew Bible with his life and teachings and never contradicted Moses or what God had previously revealed. He observed the Sabbath and kept kashrut, and so did his Jewish followers. What I find very interesting, is that so much of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mt can be found in the “Old Testament” and rabbinic writings. Even verses about loving your enemy and seeking revenge. So if we are to affirm his teachings regarding loving our enemies, let’s also affirm his attitude toward his Bible in Matt 28:18-20, connecting this also with the great commission – “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”. Jesus did not abolish his Bible which affirms the use of violence when life is in danger. Ex 22;2 – “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed.”

  • Sergio

    Columbia U? The hotbed and breeding grounding for Socialists, Communists and Marxists. No wonder the liberal media sources you cited picked up the story.

    Best research is always an eyewitness account. Read the book by Wayne Root who was Obama’s classmate and graduated with him. And I quote, “My classmates hated America. They spoke with glee about one day ”taking the system down.” They blamed America for “unfairness, racism, inequality, and lack of social justice.” “Recognize those words?” “My classmates proudly called themselves socialists, communists, and Marxists.”

    NYU….same story there. AJM, I am a retired healthcare professional and the AJM also supports abortion and euthanasia. UPI….just another liberal tainted source.

    So let’s focus on empirical data. Have you ever visited or lived in Israel? In Israel every man and woman is required to serve in the military. That provides every citizen with weapons training, including the use of handguns and automatic assault rifles. It is common to see teachers (both male and female) escorting their students on field trips with an automatic weapon carried in a sling. Shock!

    In 1974, three Palestinian gunmen attacked a school in Israel and killed 16 teenagers. Since then, Israeli schoolteachers have been allowed to carry guns.

    Utah school personnel have had the right, beginning in January 2001, with concealed weapon permits, to carry firearms in schools and universities. There have been no injuries to students injured in either Israel or Utah since teachers were allowed to have firearms.

    Dems da facts man! Read em! Read em closely.

    On a lighter note, I truly believe we should settle our differences in a non-violent manner. In a perfect world, that would be God’s “perfect” will. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world; hence, God’s “permissive” comes into play.

    Between the fall in the garden and the return of
    Christ in judgment, God is sovereign by right but not exercising that sovereignty over everything. He could but he doesn’t. Thus, sin, evil and innocent suffering, and especially hell, are not God’s antecedent will but God’s consequent will. God’s antecedent will is what he perfectly wanted to happen—including our willing obedience out of love and everlasting fellowship with us. God’s consequent will is what God permits to happen that is contrary to his perfect will.

    I find that the overarching presupposition about Jesus when interpreting his teachings is whether he retained his Judaism or not. I believe that Jesus affirmed his Hebrew Bible with his life and teachings and never contradicted Moses or what God had previously revealed. He observed the Sabbath and kept kashrut, and so did his Jewish followers. What I find very interesting, is that so much of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mt can be found in the “Old Testament” and rabbinic writings. Even verses about loving your enemy and seeking revenge. So if we are to affirm his teachings regarding loving our enemies, let’s also affirm his attitude toward his Bible in Matt 28:18-20, connecting this also with the great commission – “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”. Jesus did not abolish his Bible which affirms the use of violence when life is in danger. Ex 22;2 – “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed.”

  • ahermit

    I’m truly sorry to see you carrying all that anger. It must be very heavy.

  • He fulfilled the law, which functionally does the same as abolish- it just gets there a different way. But to say that Jesus affirmed violence is to ignore Matthew where Jesus explicitly disagrees with the OT on violence– “you have heard it said an eye for an eye, but I tell you do not resist an evildoer that you may be children of God”. That’s not exactly affirming the OT law on violence as having any role in God’s new Kingdom.

  • John A. C. Kelley

    Using the “we live in a sinful and imperfect world” card is nothing but an excuse to avoid doing the extremely controversial and difficult teachings of Christ.

    Yes, we have a choice to do what is right or what is wrong; however, that’s not the choice that matters the most. We can choose to rest in God’s perfect and unconditional grace or we can choose to reject God’s grace and allow our sin to destroy us (not God).

    I believe that you most likely have a skewed view of what judgement and justice look like. As a result of what I believe is your skewed view of judgement, I believe that you also have a skewed view of Hell as well as God’s wrath. I will only delve into these topics if you ask.

    To believe that Jesus never contradicted Moses or any other Tanakh author is incorrect. Jesus broke many commandments that we find in the Torah and spoke out against many of them. Also, according to the Pharisees, Jesus broke the Sabbath. Also, Jesus said himself that He did not come to abolish the law and the prophets (the Tanakh), but to fulfill them. What did He say about the law elsewhere? He said not a stroke of the law would pass until it has been completed or fulfilled. Well Jesus fulfilled it. Furthermore, your excerpt from Exodus blatantly contradicts the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said both that if someone steals your shirt, then gibe them your coat, and not to strike your enemy.

  • John Michael Crofford

    Unless there are other factors that contribute to the homicide rate such that, in Chicago, it should be higher. Ideas off the top of my head: percentage of the population unemployed long-term, historical self-reinforcing crime trends (if joining gangs is necessary for survival, then more people will join gangs), and perceived or actual differences in police enforcement across communities.

  • So I’m a little late to this conversation, but I have a question that is more in reply to Rob, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on it because it’s something I’ve wondered about how to respond in conversations where people bring up this issue of Jesus overturning the tables in the temple as evidence that he was not non-violent. What sticks out to me, and that no one has really mentioned, is that Jesus was angry at the “religious” people who were defiling the temple of God and twisting and distorting the worship of God in His house, correct? Isn’t it important to understand the context of the circumstances when were looking at Jesus’ response? I really do not understand how that example be used to condone gun rights or other violence in our world and culture today?

    Thanks for this post and your courage in addressing this important topic, I appreciate the conversation!

  • goatmama

    ‘Liberal gun use laws’? Are you sure that liberals agree with laws like ‘stand your ground’? I’m thinking that is something the NRA likes, but I certainly don’t and my friends think I fit into the liberal category. Just trying to clarify what I think you said.

  • ahermit

    I’m using liberal in the “small l” sense (ie less restrictive policy) not in the political sense.

    “…5. favoring or permitting freedom of action…”

    You’re right though, not the best word choice in this context. Sorry for the confusion.