Bader: Police officers should not carry guns


Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Daily

Cops Shouldn’t Carry Guns

Anthony Bader

After the unfortunate event on campus, I can’t stop thinking about how it all could have been avoided. The whole series of events falls into a mostly grey area. Tyler Comstock was driving a stolen vehicle and was breaking the law but didn’t deserve to die. On the other hand, the officer responsible for his death was under a great amount of pressure and had to make a snap decision. 

I would still assert 100 percent that the officer was too quick to shoot and did not exhaust all of his options before opening fire on Comstock. However, it’s easy for me to sit back in hindsight and pick apart the situation. 

Yet I still can’t help but think that Comstock’s extremely premature death could have been avoided. If it’s so difficult to make the correct decision in these high tension situations, then maybe we should remove the potential for such a tragedy to occur. If Officer Adam McPherson wasn’t carrying a gun that day, he wouldn’t have been able to shoot Tyler at all.

Carrying a gun is a huge responsibility, and too few people understand the weight of that responsibility. We’re all only human. In these high tension situations, our basic instincts kick in, and we are more likely to make poor decisions. I have no doubt that McPherson did not want to kill Comstock, but when put in such a stressful once in a life time situation, what are the odds a person will make the right decision?

The bottom line is that police officers are supposed to keep the peace and resolve disputes, not make them worse. In the case of Comstock and his family, their situation was made vastly worse. Comstock’s father responsibly called the police on his own son who had stolen a car and as a result, Comstock paid with his life. If calling the police just makes matters worse, why should the public be compelled to involve them or expect them to help?

If officers did not carry guns, then at least when they don’t make the best decision for a given situation, citizens will be much less likely to pay with their lives for crimes.

After the shooting, I heard many people say Comstock got what was coming to him and that he had every opportunity to comply with the officer, so he should have expected to have been shot. I couldn’t disagree with this idea more.

As Americans, we view justice as black and white, good guys and bad guys. In movies we see good guys with guns chasing down bad guys and many times killing them, and we think of this as justice. We have TV shows like “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted” where crime is simplified into good guys and bad guys and the lives of real people become entertainment for the masses.

Life isn’t this simple though. The criminals in these shows, albeit acting outside the law, are human beings who still possess the same natural rights as every other human being. They don’t commit crimes because they were bred from birth to do bad and evil things. In many situations, they’ve experienced a hard life, which has led them down a dirty path that pressured them to do bad things to other people. They still need to be reprimanded for their crimes, but proportionately. 

This is why criminals need to be apprehended without the use of deadly force. People make mistakes, and they deserve a chance to rectify those mistakes. Police must be trusted to apprehend criminals so they can pay for their crimes with an appropriate sentence, not with their lives. 

The idea of police without guns is not unheard of. In the United Kingdom, most police officers are not allowed to carry guns. I asked John Kilpatrick, a study abroad student from the U.K., how society in his country feels about police carrying guns.  

“In general, the U.K. is vastly opposed to police officers carrying guns as citizens are not allowed to carry them themselves. There would be a significant lack of trust with police officers if they were allowed to essentially carry around a murder weapon at all times when everyday people do not.”

He went on further to explain that he feels that police in the U.K. can very adequately help citizens in distress without the use of guns.

I can also personally say that I do not feel safer knowing that a police officer is willing to kill someone to resolve a situation. Granted, our countries are different in that citizens in the U.K. can’t carry guns, but their society is at least one example of the fact that guns are not a necessity to keep order in society. 

I understand that this problem is much more complex than simply banning guns immediately, but Comstock’s death should be a wake up call for Americans to change their mindset about guns, law enforcement and what justice really means.