The city of Overland Park passed an ordinance on Monday allowing the open-carry of firearms, which has its residents and those of neighboring municipalities divided along predictably partisan lines. There’s been plenty of handwringing over the issue, with dissenters expressing concerns that just anybody will be allowed to carry a weapon, and how it’s entirely unnecessary, being this isn’t the wild west.
I share their concerns over this issue.
Where I find myself differing slightly is that I’m far more troubled by the idea of allowing individuals to carry firearms who also possess the legal authority to kill or severely injure anyone, often under dubious circumstances. I speak of course about law enforcement officers, who not only carry weapons, including pistols, shotguns, rifles, and tasers, but also operate under what’s known as “qualified immunity.” In essence, it need only be proved that they acted in an official capacity when someone is injured or killed, and police are granted legal immunity from prosecution.
Take the case of John Adams, a 61 year-old man who was shot to death by police in his own home while his 70 year-old widow was handcuffed in the other room. Law enforcement officers were executing a drug warrant (on the wrong house as it turns out) and Adams, who thought he was being robbed, fired at his assailants, who returned fire and killed him. This is unfortunately typical, as William N. Grigg frequently highlights at his blog.
Were qualified immunity revoked, and government agents forced to operate under the same legal framework as everyone else, it’s doubtful so many would fall victim to the police in such an awful way. Of course ending the heinous war on drugs would also prevent the needless deaths of thousands of innocent people. As for the claim that we aren’t living in the wild west, I’d say it’s worse; at least on the frontier gun fighters had to face a jury if they killed someone.