ASK THE SHERIFF: Can violence be solved with more guns?

Sheriff Brad Rogers

DEAR SHERIFF: Why do you always want to solve problems of violence with guns? Guns in schools, guns in homes, guns here and there; that’s all you talk about. Why not address conflicts in a peaceful fashion to avoid gun violence?

ANSWER: I recently met with a group of citizens that were concerned with my community conversation to arm a limited number of school staff to protect our children. The meeting was very respectful, but we disagreed on many of the discussion points. They said I am trying to solve violence with guns.

There is a misconception among some people that those who defend gun rights and/or promote the removal of gun free zones in public places, are solving problems with violence. Likewise, there is an impression among some pacifists that law enforcement officers are violent people. Both concepts are false!

I am a peaceful person; a peace-loving person. I don’t like violence. I prefer to avoid violence. Every officer I know would prefer to avoid violence. I always try to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner. Any officer, or person who carries a firearm, and who arrogantly and haughtily desire violence in resolving a conflict, should not be carrying a firearm, in my opinion.

In law enforcement, the goal is to resolve conflicts peacefully, thus the title that should be every officer’s banner, that of a “peace officer.” But any violence that occurs is typically dictated from the choices and culpability of the criminal.

If a criminal takes someone hostage, peace officers will attempt to resolve the conflict without bloodshed, including the use of negotiators. The last resort of force is only taken if there is someone killed or imminently in danger of being killed or seriously injured. Most hostage situations are resolved in a peaceful manner due to the restraint shown by law enforcement.

In a mass murder situation, where multiple people are shot and the murderer is on a rampage for a body count, I know of no situation where I, or any pacifist, would be able to set up a table and invite the murderer to sit down and initiate a peace conference. It’s just not going to be successful.

What will be successful in that situation? The matching of force vs. force while neutralizing the threat, either through the fear of the use of force, or the actual use of force. Sometimes this is necessary. Sometimes there are no options remaining. Then, there is peace.

If you are in the midst of a mass murder situation, and you believe the situation should be handled without violence, and you call 911, you are calling the force of government to protect you from the murderer. Officers will arrive prepared to defend you, putting themselves in harm’s way, and use the reasonable force necessary, up to and including deadly force, to resolve the situation. Your action of calling 911 may facilitate the use of deadly force by officers.

In a mass murder situation in progress, if you choose to peacefully resolve the situation yourself without the use of violence or calling the police, please let me know how that works out for you. The police will come and take photos of the bodies, call the Coroner and investigate the crime.

Those who are serious about concealed carry of a firearm, including peace officers, do so because of the love for their fellow man, to place themselves between you and the threat, to protect others and keep the peace.

Every year firearms are used 2.5 million times in the use of self defense or preventing a serious or violent crime. As a lover of peace, your premise that those who carry a firearm or support gun rights, or even discourage gun-free zones, are trying to solve conflicts through the promotion of violence, is just not accurate.

Ask-the-Sheriff a question by emailing Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers at brogers@elkhartcountysheriff.com.

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