Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bang Bang, You're Dead

The iconic imagery of children playing cops and robbers may be closer to coming true in adult life than one would ever have imagined, thanks in large part to the war in Iraq.

Imagine this scenario: You are in some downtown area and are startled by the sound of glass shattering. A shrieking siren immediately alerts the world that something untoward is causing a commotion near-by. You reflexively look in that direction and see a masked man who, caught in the act, grabs a nearby bystander produces a pistol and holds it to the hostages head.

A nearby police officer draws his weapon and commands the criminal to drop his pistol. The masked man refuses to do so and screams that he will kill his hostage if the police officer doesn't disarm. The actions of the kidnapper are erratic and everyone watching is convinced that without decisive action from the officer on scene that the hostage will be killed. In response to this desperate situation... to your unbelieving ears comes the following triumphal shout from the police officer.

"Bang Bang... You're DEAD!"

This farce may be unimaginable, yet because of the war in Iraq police departments across the nation are facing shortages in ammunition used by officers to train with the weapons they carry on the streets. According to the AP:
Troops training for and fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are firing more than 1 billion bullets a year, contributing to ammunition shortages hitting police departments nationwide and preventing some officers from training with the weapons they carry on patrol.

An Associated Press review of dozens of police and sheriff’s departments found that many are struggling with delays of as long as a year for both handgun and rifle ammunition. And the shortages are resulting in prices as much as double what departments were paying just a year ago.
So it turns out that not only is the war in Iraq harming our security in the global "war on terror", this mistaken war is starting to harm our security domestically. It is in all of our best interests that police officers be able to train with live fire ammunition, and demonstrate proficiency in placing rounds accurately when the occasion is called for in real life situations.

Police departments report not being able to certify officers for weapons commonly used by their departments due to not being able to secure adequate ammunition for those arms. These police departments are resorting to using paintball rounds and computer simulations in order to train in courses which normally would have the police using live ammunition.

Can you imagine, in the scenario I drew leading off this post, if rather than the officer yelling "bang bang you're dead" he had drawn careful aim and shot the hostage taker between the eyes with a paint ball?

Of course the police will scrimp and save on training so that the officer in this scenario will be shooting with live rounds. So the question then is would you rather have that officer experienced in firing live rounds and placing them accurately on target? Or well trained only firing paint-balls and laser beams, but relatively inexperienced in the actual weapon they use on the streets?

This is a real world consequence and a concrete example of how the war in Iraq affects our security on the home front. Support the troops, and local law enforcement. End the war in Iraq.

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