This was not a good year for police officers according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which keeps track of law enforcement fatalities that included 68 who died from gunfire, and Washington State corrections officer Jayme Biendl, murdered by an inmate while on duty at the Monroe Reformatory in January.
Reading through the list of names is an eye opener, for more reasons than one. Several officers died while on training exercises, one was struck by lightning and another was killed by an injured animal while he was directing traffic at an accident scene.
But there was something else this column noticed while going through the list. Among those identified as “killed by gunfire” were Tiffany Bishop, Geoffrey Breitkopf and William H. Torbit, Jr. and Sgt. Paul Stuckey.
A little digging uncovered the following from brief narratives on the NLEOMF site:
· Probation Officer Tiffany Bishop was accidentally shot and killed while participating in a departmental training exercise. Officer Bishop is the 53rd law enforcement fatality caused by gunfire in 2011.
· Police Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a knife-wielding suspect. Officer Breitkopf is the second police officer from the Nassau County (NY) Police Department to be killed in 2011. He is also the 19th law enforcement officer to be killed by gunfire in 2011. According to the Officer Down website, “Police Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf was accidentally shot and killed after being mistaken for a suspect by another police officer.”
· Hundreds of officers, family and friends filled Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in North Baltimore for the funeral for Baltimore police Officer William H. Torbit Jr., who was shot and killed Jan. 9 when four of his fellow officers mistook him for a suspect during a fight outside a club near downtown.—Baltimore Sun
· Sergeant Paul Stuckey was fatally shot while responding to reports of night hunting in West Feliciana Parish.
Sergeant Stuckey had notified his supervisor at approximately 2:15 am that he had received a report that someone was hunting near St. Francisville. A fisherman located his body at daybreak at an old ferry landing along the banks of the Mississippi River suffering from a shotgun blast to the chest.
Investigators believe that his own shotgun may have accidentally discharged and struck him in the chest.
The Memorial Fund website, which is a tribute to the police officers, sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement professionals who die on the job also noted the following:
· Police Officer Anthony Giniewicz died as a result of gunshot wounds sustained 26 years earlier during an exchange of gunfire with gang members. Officer Giniewicz is the tenth law enforcement fatality from the State of California in 2011.
· Police Officer David Roberts was shot in the face and partially paralyzed while assisting in the arrest of two robbery suspects in 1985. Officer Roberts succumbed to complications from a blood infection.
· Officer Tom Hayes died 31 years after he sustained a gunshot wound in the line of duty.
That’s three killed by friendly fire and one who apparently died by accidental discharge of his own firearm. Plus, three more passed away apparently from complications from gunshot wounds suffered years before.
Others who died from gunshot wounds included officers shot by wanted fugitives, armed robbers confronted in the act and frequently dangerous “domestic disturbance” participants who may, or may not, legally have firearms.
Deputy Sherri Jones was killed with her own gun after being overpowered and disarmed by a prisoner in the basement of the Bowie County, TX Courthouse.
However, trust the gun prohibition lobby, led by the Brady Center and Violence Policy Center, to throw all of these fatalities in as just a statistic and blame: a) lax gun laws, b) shall-issue concealed carry statutes, and, c) gun rights in general.
The argument will be that because there are more firearms in circulation – a demonstrable fact by the increased gun sales over the past few years – and more people are legally carrying with more than 6.2 million concealed carry licenses and permits in circulation (according to some estimates), this is the reason more police are dying from “gun violence.”
However, a look at some of the people responsible for these officer slayings again reveals that many if not most of them could not legally purchase or possess firearms under existing laws. People who jump through the legal hoops to get a concealed carry license do not normally turn around and start pulling armed robberies.
Nor will you typically find them as the objects of manhunts.
Some of the dead were in states where it is exceedingly difficult for private citizens to get a legal carry permit, such as New Jersey, where Detective Michael Morgan was killed while off-duty. He intervened in an armed robbery and died for it.
Officer Brad Jones was murdered by a man on probation while he was going to a meeting with a probation officer.
The list, sadly, goes on. Blaming right-to-carry laws and adding restrictions on a constitutionally-protected civil right will not make the list shorter.
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SECOND AMENDMENT FOUNDATION
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Assault on Weapons: The Campaign to Eliminate Your Guns
Shooting Blanks: Facts Don’t Matter to the Gun Ban Crowd
Washington State Gun Rights and Responsibilities