To Top

California to Restrict the Use of Police Firearms!

After the events that transpired last April 2 wherein a young, unarmed African-American man was gunned down by police officers in Sacramento, California, state lawmakers are revealing a one-of-a-kind bill that further controls when officers may or may not open fire.

Called the Police Accountability and Community Protection Act, it raises the bar in terms of limiting a police officer’s ability to fire their gun and the supporters of the bill say that opening fire should only be done as a last resort. Sacramento Assemblyman Kevin McCarty said that the proposed legislation changes California’s regulations on the use of force laws so the police may only use their firearm “only when necessary” and not ‘when reasonable.’

Show of Support

Christopher Holden reiterates that civilians should not become the police’s guinea pigs for “shoot first, ask questions later” method

McCarty is a co-author of the said bill along with Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, and it is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union as well as fellow members of the California Legislative Black Caucus.

They were joined in a press conference by NAACP Sacramento leaders, the Black Lives Matter movement and 22-year-old shooting victim Stephon Clark’s grandfather. Assemblyman Christopher Holden cited multiple other examples of unarmed black victims of police shootings.

The Goals and the Facts

Studies show that it has now become a reality that police officers execute unarmed black men more often compared to unarmed white men. The rates are leagues apart from each other, and the bill is aimed to tackle this current problem.

Supporters of the proposed legislation hope that by raising the standards for when the officers out on the field fire their weapons, it will require the police to make de-escalation or diffusing of the situation be their go-to method of bringing down suspects. According to McCarty, the current standard comes from an over 100-year old law that too often justifies deadly force incidents.

What Started It

ACLU advocate Lizzie Buchen states that the current law protects the police rather than its people.

In the weeks following the shooting down of Stephon Clark, Assemblyman McCarty’s district was flooded by protesters that were enraged by the details emerging about the shooting. Over 300 demonstrators gathered in Sacramento the Friday before last after the autopsy revealed that Clark, who was a young father, was shot at least seven times in the back whilst in his own backyard.

Buchen said this as several activists recounted eerily similar incidents involving the police and unarmed blacks. Assemblywoman Weber expresses her confidence that the state can pave the way to the resolution of this issue, saying that, “If California can’t do it, who can?”

The Other Side of the Fence

In the year 2016 alone, around 118 law enforcers died while performing their line of duties.

Some people are, inevitably, not going along with the movement that the bill espouses. As it’s well known, the job of a police officer is perilous enough, and by restricting their gun usage even further, many people will say we would expect the death of police officers out in the field to skyrocket. In fact, over 50,000 officers have so far received injuries from assault while on duty. This number continues to rise every year as more and more of our men and women in uniform are endangered while doing their duty.

What Really Matters

Though the bill is seeing a considerable amount of support, it’s not an assurance that it shall be passed into legislation soon. Such request needs heavy consideration and debate as lawmakers and leaders must balance out controlling the use of guns by police officers, and making sure that they secure sufficient protection in the line of duty.

What can be said though is that the end goal for all is to make sure that everyone is safe on the streets. Both the police officers and civilians should be as safe as possible and whether one is in uniform or not, nobody’s safety should be compromised while looking ways to make sure that the streets are not perilous to walk on.

More in Criminal Attorney