Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author of "Cool Creatures, Hot Planet" and "Endangered Edens."

Shouldn’t be being shot by a police officer be one of the most difficult things to happen to a human being?

Marty Essen

After watching videos of the police shootings of the black men in Tulsa and Charlotte, I have to wonder: why are police officers even issued Tasers? In both situations, if violence was even necessary, a Taser would have done the job just as effectively as a gun.

Not all police officers are bad. I remember back in grade school when a policeman spoke to my class and proudly stated that in 30 years on the job, he had never drawn his gun. Now, apparently, guns are the first option, not the last.

Shouldn’t be being shot by a police officer be one of the most difficult things to happen to a human being? And where is the NRA on all of this? They make it their mission to arm every American—as long as they are white. But if a black person open-carries and then gets shot for it, they are hypocritically silent.

And where are the Republicans? They get all blustery and offended if you accuse them of racism, yet it is they who consistently defend police shootings in the media and in Internet news story comment sections.

As a white man, I can only imagine what it would be like to be black and see flashing lights in my rear view mirror. Camera phone filming of cops is a recent phenomenon, and even now countless incidents go undocumented. Presumably, now that all police in America know they could be filmed, they are on their best behavior. Think back even ten years and imagine what things were like when it was much easier to plant a gun and blame the black guy.

Yes, if I were black and saw the flashing lights, the urge to push the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal would be overwhelming.

If America can afford to arm our police in advanced military garb, surely we can afford to send every officer back to basic training—this time teaching them that guns are a last resort and skin color is irrelevant. Or better yet, let’s make the NRA and gun manufactures pay for the retraining. They’ve been a part of the problem for way too long; it’s time they become part of the solution instead.

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