One of the rare occasions when a denizen of the political Left acknowledges that “policing is tough work” came last night when Juan Williams, one of the cohosts of Fox News Channel’s “The Five,” conceded the point. Unfortunately, the observation was preceded by some pretty terrible advice on how police should have behaved in their encounter with 16-year-old Makiyah Bryant, who was about to slash another woman with a large knife. Said Williams:
I guess I would shoot the gun not at anybody but maybe shoot the gun and maybe — ya know — run at the person and try to disarm them. I don’t know.
He should have begun with the last sentence — I don’t know — and stopped there. Like most liberals, who think the answer to decreasing the number of deadly encounters between police and black Americans is to neuter or eliminate altogether the former, Williams was firing blanks in his argument.
Ditto for Joy Behar, of “The View,” who helpfully suggested earlier the same day that police “shoot the gun in the air as a warning, Tase a person, shoot them in the leg, shoot them in the behind. Stop them somehow.”
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Firing in the air and aiming for the leg are two recommendations that Joe Biden has also shared. During a town hall in October 2020, he advised, presumably based on his own extensive police training, “You have to teach people how to de-escalate circumstances, de-escalate. So, instead of anybody coming at you and the first thing you do is shoot to kill, you shoot them in the leg. There’s ways.”
But as Jeffrey Denning, a former officer with the Dallas Police Department, has written:
An officer can be a near-perfect shooter on the range, but the stress of a real firefight is totally different. Shooting a gun out of a person’s hand is nearly impossible, and it would be dangerous to attempt in real life.
Even if an officer wanted to shoot someone in an appendage (leg or arm), doing so would be incredibly difficult to do under stress. Real gunfights are not static; they’re mobile. Trying to hit a moving leg or arm would put an officer at a greater disadvantage than he or she already faces.
Even if hitting a leg were simple, Connor Narcisco, a combat medic in Afghanistan and husband of an ER provider at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, has noted the grave risks associated with striking the femoral artery, which runs down the thigh and supplies oxygenated blood to the leg. Bleeding out is a very real possibility in the event of such a wound.
As for firing a warning shot in the air, Rob Wiltbank, a gun rights advocate, warns:
It would be incredibly irresponsible of a gun owner to blindly discharge a firearm into the air. What goes up, must come down and this specific behavior has been the cause of many negligent homicides over the years.
This is not to say there aren’t ways of curtailing tragedies like the one that took Makiyah Bryant’s life. But perhaps the media and our leaders in government should explore alternatives, such as in the case of the Columbus teen explaining why she was in possession of a large knife in the first place.