February 23, 2006
POLITICS: Shoot to Die
This is one of the worst ideas I've ever heard, and makes you wonder how tough Eliot Spitzer's administration would be on criminals with weapons rather than Blackberries:
[State] Sen. David Paterson is pushing a bill that would require cops to shoot to wound, rather than using deadly force - drawing outrage from officers.
The bill also would create a new provision for second-degree manslaughter that would be reserved specifically for an officer who "uses more than the minimal amount necessary" to stop a crime suspect.
Paterson, who is on Eliot Spitzer's ticket as lieutenant governor, has reintroduced the bill twice since first sponsoring it in 2001, refusing to let it die.
In a memo urging its passage, Paterson wrote: "There is no justification for terminating another's life when a less extreme measure may accomplish the same objective."
Current law gives cops a wide berth to use deadly force when a suspect presents a danger to another person's life.
Paterson (D-Harlem) wrote that a police officer, under his legislation, "would have to try to shoot a suspect in the arm or the leg."
First of all, this man has obviously never fired a gun - not that I have either, but I at least respect the fact that it's extremely difficult to hit a moving target in the arm or leg. My dad was NYPD and always told us the cops were told to shoot for the middle, that way you have a chance of hitting something and stopping the guy. As any soldier or cop knows, you don't shoot with intent to kill or intent to wound; you shoot with intent to stop someone coming at you (or at someone else) - you shoot to immobilize, to incapacitate.
And second, cops are also (wisely) instructed that firing a gun is deadly force, which it is. You start shooting, somebody could die. That's a lesson that shouldn't be diluted with fantasies of sci-fi style stun-setting shootings and Hollywood marksmanship. Shoot to kill or don't shoot at all is the only sensible rule.
UPDATE: I forgot until after I'd posted this that Paterson has been blind since infancy. Maybe that makes him less of a fool for having no clue how hard it is to shoot to wound, but it doesn't make this any more practical as public policy.
There is a term for cops who shoot to wound. They are called dead cops.
In a stressful situation you are not as accurate as tv and movies would lead you to believe. Shoot for center mass and you are fairly likely to hit your target.
This guy, Paterson, should not hold any position of authority. He is either an idiot (if he believes that it's a good idea to shoot to wound) or he is a typical pandering politician (hey criminals, vote for me I'll handicap the police on your behalf).
There are actually two very good reasons why 'shoot to wound' is a bad policy. The more obvious one, of course, is that it's bad for the cops, since they are likely either to miss, or to leave a wounded suspect still able to fire a gun. But it's also bad policy from the standpoint of suspects and bystanders. A cop who thinks he can shoot to wound is more likely to shoot, and any shot can kill. It's always important for the cops to keep in mind that if you aren't willing to kill, you shouldn't shoot.
What all you guys said...
Terrible bill. And being blind is no excuse for Paterson. Somebody should be nudging hims a saying, "Don't go there."
The US Army taught me to shoot as many rounds as possible at the enemy, cause that was what he was going to do to you. When your life or someone else's life is in danger, that is no time to stop, aim, and shoot a single round hoping that it will find its target. Yes, give him an excuse for being blind. Since he introduced the bill in 2001, has he talked to a single law enforcement official about this? Either he is just uninformed and has not made an attempt to be informed or he is pushing an agenda. Either way it does not seem like the kind of judgement one would want in the CEO of the state.
RE: "You start shooting, somebody could die."
...especially when Dick Cheney is involved.
It's got to be one of the dumbest ideas ever (and it matters not that Paterson is blind). One more reason not to shoot to wound is (as mentioned) the chance of missing. And missed shots are potential killers of innocents.
Of course, the worst part is Paterson fails to learn from his past mistakes. (And I assume someone has been smart enough to tell him he is making a mistake.)
It's interesting how you fail to note that Spitzer distanced himself from these remarks. Interesting, but perhaps none too surprising.
"First of all, this man has obviously never fired a gun - not that I have either"
Should you find yourself a little more easterly, I'd be happy to take you to the range and change that.