Giffords Tucson Shooting

Violence, Government Violence, and Anti-Government Rhetoric

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Thanks to the folks at the Show Me Institute, CoMoCitizens, and Keep Columbia Free for obtaining and posting this video and the information surrounding it. It's footage of another raid carried out by the Columbia, Missouri Police Department.

Like the widely-viewed video released in May, this was a drug raid. Unlike the prior video, it appears that in this case the police found strong evidence that someone in this house was dealing drugs. But I think that actually makes this video particularly important. If we're going to continue to fight the drug war, America ought to see just how literally the government is taking that war to our homes, streets, and neighborhoods. (Note the presence of children in the home.)

As with the first video, this raid isn't specific to Columbia PD. It's typical. It employs the same violent, volatile tactics used 100-150 times per day in this country to serve search warrants for drug crimes. They're the same tactics that have led government employees to terrorize, injure, and kill dozens of nonviolent drug offenders. Below is video of such a killing. Todd Blair, a meth user, was shot and killed by Utah police during a SWAT raid on his home last year. There's no evidence he was dealing. He had four dollars in his pocket when he died. When police broke into his home, he confronted them with a golf club. So they shot him in the head and chest.

They're the same tactics that, last week, caused Framingham, Massachusetts police to shoot and kill 68-year-old Eurie Stamps, an innocent, unarmed man whose only apparent transgression was to have allowed his girlfriend's son to live with him. And they're the same tactics that led police in Georgia to shoot and kill Jonathan Ayers, a pastor whose only transgression was to have ministered to a woman the police were investigating for drugs and prostitution. Below is the map I put together for Cato, which I'm certain is not comprehensive, of other completely innocent people killed in drug raids. These are people who weren't even using, much less dealing. Click here to read their stories.

Of course the drug war is merely one of a number of government policies that result in violence against its own citizens. We're going to hear a lot of talk in the coming days about putting an end to anti-government rhetoric. I've been listening to it all morning on the Sunday talk shows. Let's get the obvious out of the way, here: Initiating violence against government officials and politicians is wrongheaded, immoral, futile, and counterproductive to any anti-government cause. As is encouraging or praising others who do.

But it's worth remembering that the government initiates violence against its own citizens every day in this country, citizens who pose no threat or harm to anyone else. The particular policy that leads to the sort of violence you see in these videos is supported by nearly all of the politicians and pundits decrying anti-government rhetoric on the news channels this morning. (It's also supported by Sarah Palin, many Tea Party leaders, and other figures on the right that politicians and pundits are shaming.)

I hope Rep. Giffords—and everyone wounded yesterday—makes a full recovery. It's particularly tragic that she was shot while doing exactly what we want elected officials to do—she was making herself available to the people she serves. And of course we should mourn the people senselessly murdered yesterday, government employees and otherwise: U.S. District Judge John Roll, Dorothy Murray, Dorwin Stoddard, nine-year-old Christina Green, Phyllis Scheck, and Gabe Zimmerman.

That said, I long for the day that our political and media figures get as indignant about innocent Americans killed by their own government—killed in fact, as a direct and foreseeable consequence of official government policy that nearly all of those leaders support—as they are about a government official who was targeted by a clearly sick and deranged young man. What happened this weekend is not, by any means, a reason to shunt anti-government protest, even angry anti-government protest, out of the sphere of acceptable debate. The government still engages in plenty of acts and policies—including one-sided violence against its own citizens—that are well worth our anger, protest, and condemnation.

NEXT: Suspect in Tucson Shooting Has History of Death Threats, "Nonsensical Outbursts"

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  1. “Get on the ground” seems a bit superfluous after two kill shots.

  2. Jesus, Radley – couldn’t you wait till Monday for the kick to the groinal region?

    Thank you for what you do. But my nuts HATE you…

    1. This statement by Balko-“What happened this weekend is not, by any means, a reason to shunt anti-government protest, even angry anti-government protest, out of the sphere of acceptable debate. The government still engages in plenty of acts and policies?including one-sided violence against its own citizens?that are well worth our anger, protest, and condemnation.”

      -it may be the best nutpunch I’ve ever received. Like a nutpunch for the ages.

      It will be important to remind everyone in the coming weeks that the nutpunches Balko delivers on a weekly basis are just -if not arguably more- painful than the Giffords incident.

      Or at least they should be.

  3. Very good article, Radley.

  4. Todd Blair should have never used Meth. Swat team would have never showed up.

    That said, SWAT teams do you excessive force. Sometimes they’re even killed by drug dealers who have guns and not golf clubs.

    1. So I guess his violent death was justified because he smoked something his masters didn’t want him to?

      1. No, but if he hadn’t been into Meth… this wouldn’t have happened. Right?

        1. It also wouldn’t have happened if the cops knocked on his door and served his warrant with words instead of bullets.

          Or if drugs were legal.

        2. There are numerous cases of wrong-address raids by cops.

          1. this is where officers who have extensive knowledge with computer databases, etc. can be very useful. our protocol is to cross check via several sources (assessor, court records, utility bills, etc. etc.) when checking addresses. it’s a basic way to better manage risk and have a much higher probability.

            good faith civil immunity should nto be an excuse for shoddy investigative tactics. USUALLY, there is ample time to do due diligence and MAKE SURE you are at the right fucking address.

            furthermore, dynamic entry should be a LAST resort, and rarely used.

            getting the wrong address (whether through no fault of your own or a mistake) when you simply knock at the door is usually not going to result in tragedy.

            dynamic entry, not so much

            1. 1. Making sure you have the right address when you bring incredible violence to a situation still has you bringing incredible violence to a situation. It is incorrect to promote the idea that a legit way to arrest drug users/dealers is via SWAT raids.

              2. Checking a computer is a terrible replacement for putting eyeballs on the suspect.

              3. Any SOP that validates shooting suspects after invading their home is the wrong SOP.

              SWAT raids must end now.

              1. I want to clarify that we’re talking about a suspect important enough to send a $50k (my estimate) SWAT team to capture–at great risk to the everyone. Put eyeballs of the suspect. Know who will be in the home…and then don’t send SWAT.

        3. Yes, of course! Why didn’t I think of that!?

          Only those who break the law need fear the Authortah! Of course!

          Thanks for that, Lyle! I never looked at it that way! Man, I’m glad the cops never make a mistake…

          1. That was in response to Lyle’s “right?”

        4. WTF??? So anybody that breaks the law or MAY have breaken the law deserves the death penalty??? WTF??? Do you realize that drug possession or drug trafficking are nonviolent offenses?? Do you realize that our top elected officials are guilty of violating the same laws that this guy was murdered for?? Do you realize that every time you ingest caffeine, alcohol or tobacco that you are essentially guilty of the same offense – deciding to ingest a mind-altering substance?? Do you think you should also be shot?? Do you believe in individual rights, the right to live your life the way you please without harming others or being murdered in your home?? Do you believe a jury by your peers or that people should just be shot if they MIGHT be breaking a law???

          Grow an f’ing brain you fascist pig.

          1. look i’m firmly on the decriminalization side of the drug argument, and watching this video is sickening to me too as I can’t help but think there were non-deadly means of subduing this guy, but let’s be intellectually honest- he wasn’t executed *solely* for being a meth user, he was shot because he was ready to swing a golf club at a police officer’s head and crack his skull open.

            1. … because they broke into his house.

            2. …he was shot because he was ready to swing a golf club at a police officer’s head and crack his skull open.

              Because no one could ever say “Police” without actually being the police. Never.

              Also, considering their Kevlar helmets, I think it would be tricky to break their heads open.

            3. Watch the Blair video again.
              1. It’s the middle of the night.
              2. Somebody broke in Blair’s door, yelling something unintelligible. (I expected what was about to happen, and knew what they were yelling, and it was still hard to make out “Police!”) It could just as likely been a home invasion by criminals.
              3. Blair was standing with his back to a wall, golf club raised, clear across the living room and into the well-lit hall, maybe fifteen feet away. The average effective range for a golf club is maybe four feet. At that point the officers were in absolutely no danger unless they rushed forward, or Blair charged. Blair’s body language gave no indication he was going to charge or make any aggressive move.
              4. OTOH the police had to keep moving forward because there were at least eight officers coming through the door.
              5. Had the first officer been able to stop long enough to order Blair to drop the club, and give him five seconds to comply, the shooting would have been totally unnecessary. But that isn’t SWAT training. SWAT training is “Police!” Bang! “Down on the floor!” Bang! “Drop the club!”
              Then look at the map, where it becomes obvious that once a SWAT raid starts it makes no difference whether you have actually broken any law.

              1. He shot early. Fast is slow slow is quick.

                There were also some pretty egregious sweeps of friendlies in that video. They aren’t that well trained or they wouldn’t be sweeping friendly targets with their muzzles. That shit will get you tossed in any decent CQB/CQC training.

              2. I’m surprised more people haven’t been killed in these crazy raids. What do they think will happen if they bust into people’s houses in the middle of the night? Someone’s half asleep and hears strange men breaking into their house, it’s natural that they’d try to defend themselves. What is so hard about knocking on the door, during the daytime and waiting for someone to answer to serve the warrent?

                1. Ayup. I mean, if you wanted to be really sure that someone was going to fight to defend himself and had access to any weapons he might have, where better to confront him but in his own home? You’d think it would be easier to pick people up on the street, but apparently that’s not as cool as midnight raids with guns drawn…

            4. “he was shot because he was ready to swing a golf club at a police officer’s head and crack his skull open.”

              He didn’t appear to know what was happening. Looked to me like he was responding to a disturbance. If I hear a bunch of shouting and my door being broken down I’m pulling a gun, not a golf club. If uniformed police enter, I’ll put it down. If thugs in ski masks enter, I’ve got a tough split second decision to make. Is it SWAT for some inexplicable reason or is it unofficial criminals?

            5. If you see armed men with guns breaking into your home in the middle of the night screaming at the top of their lungs, and you sit there quietly and smile when they destroy your entire home to search for drugs, either a) you are one brainwashed motherfucker or b) you’re mentally handicapped

        5. If a stupid law didn’t exist the SWAT team would have never been at his house. I like this first infraction game…

          1. works for me. the first people to blame for the war on drugs are the legislators who pass such laws. and the judges who think it’s a “reasonable search and seizure” to enter thusly cause somebody , god forbid, has done or even sold – some drugs.

            even in my own dept. i’ve had to fight the militarization. at one point, we actually set a policy that ALL drug warrants MUST use SWAT. not necessarily a dynamic entry, but at least a SWAT team.

            nonviolent 18 yr old selling XTC to his schoolmates out of his mom and dad’s house with no history of violence whatsoever warrants a SWAT team?

            ridiculous.

            balko is on the side of the angels here.

            i am NOT against SWAT teams. they are a very good thing – when properly used. abusing them, otoh, frequently results in disaster.

            1. They aren’t a good thing. Never have been. Most dynamic entries to hostage or hold out situations end poorly by the standards departments themselves set.

              It’s nothing more than a bunch of marginally educated low IQ egotistical chest thumping morons who either need to be serving in a more rigorous command structure (military) or out of uniform.

              1. those are entirely different things. SWAT teams serve a valid purpose and are a benefit to society WHEN properly used. when misused, mismanaged, etc. they are an immense evil.

                hth

                at least in my agency, i’m not aware of any bad shoots, heck ANY shoots during any raids by SWAT drugs or otherwise.

                they were grossly misused when our policy was they must be used on all drug raids. that is no longer the case, thankfully.

                the last swat shooting we had was one of our swat snipers took out a guy on a roof with a rifle sighting in on an innocent. that was a perfect example of where SWAT is/was needed and was properly used.

                this same guy set an explosives booby trap that only through blind luck didn’t kill somebody.

                1. That’s like saying lynchings serve a purpose.

                  When properly used by the government they are a great thing, when misused they are horrifying and can kill innocent people.

                  There’s no situation that can’t be handled by just well trained officers not running around in military style raids. Government always has time on its side.

                  1. that’s simply false. SWAT can be used properly and often is. often, unfortunately, it isn’t.

                    SWAT is a collection of officers, trained with special tactics, given tons more training, as well as fitness (physical) requirements, as well as various team tactics, and such are often useful and the most effective way of safely (with less risk to suspect, innocents, and officers) resolving a problem

                    just like hostage negotiators, long guns, etc. they have a place and time.

                    unfortunately, in many drug raids , they are contraindicated.

                    1. You know, if you reiterate the definition enough time I might capitulate that you know the definition. It isn’t going to help your argument though.

                      SWAT teams are useless. They were born from riot control and quickly moved into the drug war realm. The initial SWAT was responsive, not proactive. Even as a responsive group the idea proved to have more than enough failings to stop it.

                2. Using a sniper or sharpshooter as example is a pretty big cop out. You don’t need swat to have snipers.

                  SWAT exists for dynamic entry and CQB for the purpose of apprehension. Some go as far as to include hostage recovery. Which is laughable.

                  1. actually,. no SWAT doesn’t exist merely for that. first of all, there are units that do that stuff that aren’t SWAT

                    second of all, SWAT has snipers and they don’t do dynamic entry or CQB

                    SWAT means, and was invented to mean “Special Weapons and Tactics”

                    a Sniper is an officer with a special weapon (and specialized training) and he is almost always part of a SWAT team

                    again, you display ignorance.

                    1. No kidding they have snipers, that was my point. They don’t need a SWAT team to have snipers.

                      So what is the purpose of special weapons and tactics teams? Saying that there is overlapping responsibilities doesn’t mean that SWAT wasn’t started for those responsibilities. Welcome the world of non mutually exclusive events and purposes.

                    2. they don;’t NEED a SWAT team to teach dynamic entry, etc. EITHER. but that’s one thing the SWAT team spends a lot of time on. patrol has (now) ASAP teams that are also trained in that stuff, just to a much lesser extent.

                      the purpose of a SWAT team is to have a group of officers who are specially trained, equipped and tasked to deal with certain rare events wherein the average level of weaponry training and tactics amongst patrol would lead to a much less desireable resolution, in many cases.

                      there ARE situations where a SWAT team is very useful. i gave one. you now want to differentiate sniping (a conventional SWAT function) from SWAT in general, because it doens’t fit your metanarrative

                      i would expect nothing less from the person who still can’t admit simple error in his erroneous claim that cops are firearms ‘experts’

                      another example of SWAT’s utility is dealing with reinforced, well armed compounds and where the occupants have a verified history of violent assmunchery.

                    3. Same definition again is the same definition again.

                      Oddly enough LA which started SWAT had two guys running amok with AKs for what 20 minutes? How’d that SWAT response work out?

                      You know, a guy stole a tank one time, maybe we should start arming SWAT teams with TOWs. Just incase.

                      Get off the expert thing dude, you’re looking like a moron and not doing anything for your profession.

                      Sniping is a conventional SWAT function? I could swear people have been sniping deer, people, grouse, elk, and anything else for a long fucking time. Just because the title falls under what you understand as SWAT doesn’t mean that a SWAT team is fundamentally needed. I know it’s confusing.

                    4. nobody said a SWAT team is *needed* to have police snipers. again, with the strawmen. the rest of your post, as usual, is gibberish

                    5. Like Waco or Ruby ridge? Where the government was on complete control yet chose to initiate force? Or how about the cops that charged into the room in Cali where the guy was hold up with an AK I remember you defending the moronic idea of entry into that situation.

                    6. who is justifying either WACO or ruby ridge?

                      again, nobody. i guess your point, if you had one, was that snipers, like any tool can be misused/abused. nobody disagrees with that. it doesn’t make snipers a bad tool. it means they must be used properly.

                      it’s like guns, or cars. they are not evil or good. they are tools. used properly, they are a good thing. used improperly, not so much. ANY police resource can be misused.

                    7. It’s actually refreshing to have LE come on here and reiterate that using SWAT to serve drug raids is bullshit.

                      We need more of that. A lot more.

                      hmm is correct that SWAT will most likely not be deployed in time for those instances where criminals are prepared enough to be armed with kevlar, explosives and automatic weapons.

                      The North Hollywood shootout was an exception in that the bank robbers, although heavily armed and shielded, were too dim to realize their own time constraint.

                      Dunphy is correct, however, that in these types of very select occurrences, the police need to have the right response.

                    8. “SWAT means, and was invented to mean “Special Weapons and Tactics””

                      No, that is the cover euphemism – the real meaning is “Special Weapons Assault Team”.

        6. No, but if he hadn’t been into Meth… this wouldn’t have happened. Right?

          And if your mother had an abortion like I told her to, you would’ve never shown up here to act the fool, right?

        7. Unless he knew someone who did Meth or the police got the wrong address.

      2. Maybe his violent death was justified by his occupying the cops who might otherwise have killed someone else.

    2. Are you retarded? Radley specifically cites raids in which the pigs were 100% wrong in the address or target, and innocent people were killed. Even if there were something wrong with taking drugs (which there isn’t), they still kill people who weren’t.

      Ah, you’re just a troll anyway.

    3. … and the Jonathan Ayers story is not a good one. “Understandably tried to escape”… not really. He wouldn’t have been killed if he just stopped and allowed the cops to arrest him.

      The cops were wrong and incompetent, but they wouldn’t have killed him if had just put his hands up.

      1. Really? What did Pastor John Ayers menace the cops with, Lyle, before they blasted him into Kingdom Come? A benediction?

        1. His automobile I believe.

          I agree the cops were incompetent, but if Ayers had just stopped, he wouldn’t have been killed.

          Balko makes a ludicrous about Ayers “understandably wanting to escape”. You don’t flee from the cops though. You let them detain you and then you move on with your life.

          1. Cool story, bro.

          2. You’re assuming Ayers knew they were the cops. The next time an SUV blocks you in at a gas station and gun-wielding men pour out shouting at you, you tell me if you notice that they’re shouting “police” and that those things hanging from their necks are badges.

            1. They were also wearing ski masks. I would say it doesn’t sound cop-like to hide your identity like that, but if you are going to light up an innocent man while he is fleeing I think it might be a good idea.

              1. Why do SWAT cops wear ski masks anyway?

                1. I’ve always found that particularly offensive. Why does an honest man need to cover his face? Unless of course he is ashamed of what he is doing.

          3. You do that.

      2. If two black men in wifebeaters jumped out of a car and pulled out their guns claiming that they’re police, are you REALLY gonna stop? fuck outta here.

        1. I hear ya bro. A couple white guys in wife-beaters and I might give ’em the benefit of the doubt, but big scary black dudes? Fuck, outta here is right!

    4. Sorry dude, but when you start blaming an unarmed victim for lunatics breaking into his home and killing him, you need to step back and examine your priorities.

    5. “Rep. Giffords should never have become a politician. Lunatic assassin would have never showed [sic] up.”

      . . .

      “If she hadn’t been into politics… this wouldn’t have happened. Right?”

    6. —“Sometimes they’re even killed by drug dealers who have guns and not golf clubs.”—

      It would be interesting to find out how many SWAT officers have been killed by drug dealers vs. how many innocents have been killed by SWAT officers.

      1. Whatever the ratio is, it is completely unacceptable.

    7. “Sometimes they’re even killed by drug dealers who have guns and not gold clubs.”

      [citation needed]

  5. How am I a troll? I don’t even know what that means. I just gave my opinion on the man’s shooting.

    If you don’t want a Swat team coming to your house, don’t use Meth. Mr. Blair had a choice, and he chose Meth.

    1. JUST SAY NO…to trolls.

      1. NO…to trolls

    2. If you don’t want a Swat team coming to your house, don’t use Meth.

      Or live next door to a meth user.

      1. Or be the mayor of Berwyn Heights, MD.

      2. Or live nowhere near a meth user.

        You’d be surprised by how little it takes to “incriminate” people when cops are looking for forfeiture goodies.

      3. or get falsely accused of using meth, or get mistakenly accused of using meth, or get your legal drugs mistaken for meth, or get a vindictive witness sign a statement that you have meth or…

    3. And therefore deserves to be shot by police. Why do you suppose we even HAVE the Bill of Rights? If you never made that anti-Stalin remark, the police would never HAVE to arrest you.

    4. how should merely putting a substance inside your body that the powers that be prohibit be justification for a violent dynamic SWAT raid?

      if a “right to privacy” justifies aborting a fetus, it certainly justifies putting a stimulant inside your bloodstream.

      1. Or more importantly the “right to privacy” shouldn’t expanded to the government control or interference of either…

        1. the point is that the federal constitution does not recognize a “right to privacy” penumbras and emanations aside.

          MY constitution (WA state) DOES!

          I *wish* the federal constitution had one, but it doesn’t. that’s why i use scare quotes to refer to it.

          hth

          1. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

            It sure as hell does with regard to the state… Now if you want to argue the expansion of that enumerated right that’s fine, but to say it does not outright enumerate a right to privacy is wrong.

            1. no, it doesn’t. it means exactly what it says. you cant be selective with that. it protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, but it NOWHERE says we have a right to privacy.

              contrast with numerous state constitutions that DO recognize such as right. as such, they recognize much broader restrictions on search and seizure than are recognized under the federal constitution – and for good reason – there is a right to privacy w/in those states, and state, county, local agents are prohibited from violating same (federal agents are not, assuming the case is handled in federal court – see: dual sovereignty).

              the framers could have been clear cut and mentioned privacy. they didn’t. when the constitution says “the people” it means it, when it says “no law” , it means it, etc. unfortuantely, it does not mention privacy.

              thankfully, my state does. the independent readings grounds then in re: constitutional law places greater restrictions on LEO’s etc. as it should be.

              see: State v. Ladson etc.

              good for us.

              1. “It sure as hell does with regard to the state.”

                Miss that part? Now that has been expanded to health information, personal data and so on. But it is enumerated that the government is restricted in its ability to violate my privacy.

                1. nice goalpost moving. typical of you.

                  like i said, there is no “right to privacy” under the federal constitution.

                  PER-I-OD. read the 4th. again.

                  i damn well wish there was. and there IS in my state. but there isn’t in the federal constitution.

                  like many statists on the left and right you will twist the constitution and ignore it, when it conflicts with your ideology.

                  those of us in the reality based community recognize its shortcomings as well as its strengths.

                  1. There is, however, a right to life, which the government violated by shooting these individuals.

                  2. Wrong Amendment.

                    Ever hear of the Ninth? It says the people have all the other rights that the Constitution missed on the first go around.

                    All of them.

                    Privacy included.

                    … Hobbit

                    1. It appears and is argued in more than one place. The 4th being the broadest application to the interaction between state and citizen.

                  3. The 4th is quoted above. The discussion is framed with the general parameters of citizens and cops, people and government you fucking dolt. So yes the constitution applies. Yes the 4th applies and does address certain privacy issues in a narrow scope when it comes to government and citizens.

              2. Amendment IX—

                The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people

                Are people really so dense as to think there is no right to privacy. Find me the clause that allows the Government to invade my privacy at their leisure.

                Idiot.

                1. That was for Dunphy

                  1. That was for Dunphy

                    but Dunphy doesn’t care.

                    1. “I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted” -Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 84

      2. Or more importantly the “right to privacy” shouldn’t expanded to the government control or interference of either…

    5. Right Lyle, spoken like a true tyrant: “All you must do is obey and nobody gets hurt”.

  6. Balko for the motherfucking win

  7. Christina Green doesn’t have an “e” at the end of her last name.

  8. At least they spared me this time.

    1. Good dog!

    2. *boom* *boom* *boom*

      1. You knocked this time.. So sweet 🙂

  9. Lyle = Dunphy’s younger, stupider brother

    1. Or he’s dunphy and Juanita’s bastard ass-baby.

      1. oh, i’m skewered by the rapier wit!

        1. I LIKE RAPIST WIT TOO!

  10. I count a whopping 5 seconds between the police battering down the door and them murdering that guy in his own home. If I were in that situation I’d have the exact same reaction, and I imagine a similar consequence would ensue.

    1. The cops were just avoiding the problem seen :45 into this instructional video.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..re=related

  11. Good thing members of congress are protecting us and looking out for the american public!

  12. Excellent, Radley.

  13. “The particular policy that leads to the sort of violence you see in these videos is supported by nearly all of the politicians and pundits decrying anti-government rhetoric on the news channels this morning.”

    To paraphrase some guy, the death of one official is a tragedy, the death of dozens or hundreds of Americans during blotched government actions is…not worth discussing.

    1. And if you DO criticize it, it’s hate speech.

      1. what a savage hypocrisy?!

  14. I note, with some irony, that the lead ad when I come to this article, is by:

    “Front Sight Firearms Training Institute”

    Hey – that’s real-time marketing, right there.

    1. The “related videos” that it showed for me in the Utah video were all tips on improving your golf swing.

  15. Meanwhile Frum thinks increasing the drug war is the answer.

    http://tinyurl.com/22uuv2u

    1. Pot. Really? The guy was more likely to be high on a cocktail from Pfizer or Eli Lilly.

    2. Wow, the statists are throwing their whole list against this guy. Not only is Loughner an anti-government libertarian, demonstrating the need for European style gun control in America, he also smokes marihuana cigarettes! Reefer Madness!

  16. Markos Blames Palin for Giffords Shooting ? But There’s Just One Problem: Kos Put a Bulls Eye on Giffords
    …Naturally, putting a bulls eye on someone isn’t actually violent rhetoric. Stuff like this is just invoked by soulless ghouls to make a cheap political point. If you want actual violent rhetoric, you’d have to to go . . . well, Kos himself:

    That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. [sic] They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

    Now that’s violent rhetoric!…

  17. How is the Blair video not straight up murder? I realize it is because a cop is doing it, and that they don’t have to play by the same rules as us plebians, but still…

  18. fuck the police. fuck the police state.

    1. That is so profound.

  19. These strong hard working, moral and strictly ethical individuals all deserve medals for carrying out such dangerous work with little to no training.

    well, got that out of the way

    1. which strawman are you referring to? hint: most SWAT teams, contra your average police officer, receive metric assloads of firearms training

      1. Sure, breaking into unarmed people’s homes gives them loads of target practice.

      2. If these guys receive assloads of training can you explain the kills on people not significantly armed enough to warrant a shot? Jesus Christ Marines operate under stricter standards in door to door operations than most of these morons.

        Maybe we can shift that “assload” of training money away from SWAT and towards the larger volume of monkeys with guns? You know, since serving warrants on homes with children with a group of men with fucking M4s is fucking ridiculous.

        1. how do i explain it? some of them are idiots, and many should not be in the positions they are in. and they deserve to be held responsible when they violate the rules regarding UOF etc, to include civilly and criminally when appropriate

      3. Let me guess you’re the CQB and entry instructor too?

        1. not at all. and i am not an apologist for excessive force, whether by SWAT or patrol. SWAT receives MUCH more training, and thus should be held to a higher standard. many, to put it mildly, don’t meet that standard and should be held civilly and.or criminally liable where appropriate

          1. Many? I watched a local department turn down a decorated Army Ranger with combat experience for a guy with tenure. The whole system is a joke from the start.

            I watched a bunch of local SWAT guys thump their chests at a local 3 gun tourny. They all finished in the bottom 10. It’d be funny if they weren’t able to kill civilians without being punished. Your last argument was that officers were not accountable because of their lack of training, now the argument is that there are bad apples.

            Seriously, you need better arguments if your going to tote the blue line bullshit.

            1. you need to stop lying. what i said was that officers shouldn’t be held as “experts” when they weren’t, and the vast majority are not firearms experts.

              you made that false claim, and you’ve backpedaled, evaded, and done everything but simply admit “my bad” in your claim that line officers are, in general, firearms experts.

              they aren’t.

              obfuscate away, but that was your claim, it’s false, demonstrably so, and you cling to it… like your god, guns and religion 🙂 (sorry, political flashback there)

              1. Not experts? Then they shouldn’t have weapons. I expect law-enforcement to be “experts” with their weapons, or not have them.

                1. great, then advocate for that. i am saying AS a police firearms instructor, that *i* am not an expert. that’s true even though i have far more firearms training than the average cop.

                  hmm was simply wrong on his claim and is too childish to admit it.

                  line officers are rarely experts in firearms use. it’s simply not required.

                  the average officer receives a week or two of range training in the academy, many more hours on legal issues (deadly force law etc.) and then , at least in our agency, is only required to shoot 100 rds a year.

                  i’m the first to advocate for more and better firearms training for cops.

                  however, not to get all rumsfeldian, but i am reporting on the world as it is , not on how we want it to be

                  1. Neener neener neener Maybe you’re too childish to admit being wrong. Neener neener neener.

                    For fuck’s sake you for a guy who proclaims to have learned Latin in high school for some greater enlightenment and understanding your reliance on a simple semantic argument is hilarious. An argument that when confronted with the definition of the word “expert” is even more hilarious.

                    Here ya go:
                    Definition of EXPERT
                    1
                    obsolete : experienced
                    2
                    : having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience

                    Again…

                2. Every Marine is an expert with a rifle. If we can train 18 year old snot nosed kids to be expert rifle men then I’m pretty sure we should expect our civilian officers to be experts. Since they are going to be interacting with people not inherently trying to kill each other in damn near every instance.

                  Do we need to bust out the definition of expert, it shut you up last time. And I’m not opposed to the Mariam Webster tactic when your sole argument hinges on some retarded notion of semantics.

                  1. it didn’t shut me up any time because it’s more of your idiocy.

                    attending a 80 hr “glock school” as your sole firearms experience and then shooting 100 rds a year makes NOBODY into a firearms “expert”. the idea is laughable and you know it.

                    for fuck’s sake, a “passing” score is 175 out of 250 on a 50 rd course with a 10,9,8,7 silhouette target.

                    I get pissed off when i score less than 240 and i use way less time than we allowed. and *i* am not an expert.

                    i’ve testified and attended numerous officer involved shooting inquests and in none of them was the cop admitted as a “firearms” expert based on this level of training.

                    it’s laughable

                    this is the problem with the internet is that some people have no intellectual honesty, since they can remain anonymous trolls, like you do.

                    1. since they can remain anonymous trolls, like you do

                      Pffffffffftttttbaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahaha!

                    2. So can that little rant be extrapolated to we should disarm our police force? Cause it sounds like we have bunch of chest thumping retards running around with a license to kill and a new Glock.

                      Really this line of argument is pretty pathetic and you really are doing your chosen profession and argument a disservice.

                    3. You haven’t even managed a decent argument other than the definition of the word expert and how it applies to police officers.

                      That freakin horse is a stain in the dirt at this point, you’ve beaten it into nonexistence. Yet you seem perfectly happy to have these marginally trained retards running around with guns.

  20. If anything this teaches you not to bring a golf club to a gun fight, and every encounter with an officer might become a gun fight.

  21. Rock On Balko!

  22. Appalling

  23. If politicians choose to live by the sword then it’s only fair that they die by the sword.

  24. Seven seconds from the time you hear “Police, Search Warrant!” until a man is dead. Justifiable my ass.

  25. Guess it’s unsafe to “defend” (golf club) your house now.

  26. “Another development over the past half-century that deters civil-rights violations is the increasing professionalism of police forces, including a new emphasis on internal police discipline.”

    So, obviously, this kind of shit never happens.

    1. Not in our neighborhoods it doesn’t, Tony, so there is obviously nothing to worry about.

  27. I am getting sick of my hometown being Columbia. Bad things: high property taxes, stupid bike lanes that don’t make sense, hippies, SWAT raids that went viral and make us look bad. Good things: Columbia Area Career Center, Blue Note, Daniel Boone Regional Library, the dog parks, shopping.

    1. I care for Rock Bridge park a great deal, as well as G&D’s Pizza and Steak. Just make sure you aren’t holding or face the long SWAT of the law.

  28. Coming soon, the war on crosshairs:

    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes…..crosshairs

  29. Surrender your voice and you have surrendered your liberty.

  30. I’m writing through the haze of a severe migraine, so bear with me. I’m, just now, watching a documentary about John Lennon and the government’s attempt to get rid of him. It talks about John’s association with various “radicals”. I’m a child of the sixties and remember well all turmoil of that period and as repellent as I have come to view most of the whining, spoiled brat “radicals” (in spite of having been a “freak” myself at the time) as a bunch of dickheads, meaning that I tend to side with the “squares” in terms of sensibility, I have to say that they were exactly right in their description of and contempt for the predator state and what a horror it really was and is. Their solutions, generally, could not have been more wrong – socialist, collectivist stuff, but everything they were saying about what is wrong with society and nations was and continues to be dead right..

    1. I’m a child of the sixties and remember well

      Liar, no one who lived through the sixties remembers it at all. Except maybe a few hazy recollections.

  31. If there had been an armed police officer stationed at the site of the Giffords shooting, the killer would have been put down after the first shot.

    I find it sickening that Balko is using a tragic shooting carried out by an armed criminal to argue for disarming the police officers who face armed criminals.

    Using heavily armed SWAT teams to serve no-knock drug warrants protects everyone, *including* the criminal, by neutralizing him before he can draw a weapon or present a threat. For those people who have weapons in hand when the SWAT team arrives: if they don’t drop the weapon immediately, they deserve whatever they get. No one has the right to use violence against police officers and other government agents. The only moral difference between Todd Blair and Jared Lee Loughner is that the latter has mental instability as an excuse.

    1. Piggy’s right. Unarmed people shot dead by SWAT teams are neutralized, and safe in the sense that they no longer have to worry about pain of any kind.

    2. Holy shit.

      No-knock raids not only endanger citizens, but cops as well.

      Most states have Castle Doctrine laws on the books, allowing the use of deadly force against intruders.

      Joe Horn shot and killed two men burglarizing his neighbor’s home and was never indicted.

      OTOH, Ryan Frederick defended his home against armed intruders and wound up killing a cop, barely escaping the death penalty.

      Mad the Swine’s mentality is part of the problem in this country. It’s not target graphics being superimposed on election maps that put me at risk, it’s the general public’s blind acceptance of the government exercising deadly force against its citizens.

    3. Yeah because when you wake up in the middle of the night to people breaking into your house, the first thought in your groggy mind would be, “Hey, that must be the police. I better put my hands up and cooperate.” Not “Oh my god, I’m being robbed, I need to defend myself!”

  32. ???
    Rep. Giffords shooting = SWAT Teams and Cops that kill
    ???
    Ladies and Gentlemen Welcome to Reason…
    Please check your emotions at the door..
    thank you

  33. Want to rethink who you think the worst sheriff in Arizona is? Cause I think we have a new winner.

  34. Let’s get the obvious out of the way, here: Initiating violence against government officials and politicians is wrongheaded

    I think your definition of “initiating” differs from mine, Radley, as the whole fucking point of your post illustrates. Who exactly do you think is behind having laws on the books that allow these killings? Or throwing people in cages for resisting having over half their income stolen without their consent? Or …

    By your logic, would the people who wrote the Declaration of Independence and shot at British soldiers “initiating violence”?

    1. I think a key difference was that there was no representation in that situation. The Founders didn’t think you could just up and use force against governments that allowed you a say. They thought their local representative bodies should make laws and taxes for them, not Parliament where they were not represented. This is perhaps a key thing for many libertarians to get, perhaps a key element that distinguishes what our governments do from “theft”, “tyranny” and “teh slavery!”

      1. Well, OK, but what if you’re just outvoted? Should the one use violence against the many if that’s the only way to overcome them? For instance, if the many are good at politics but the one is a better shooter? Each side using its own strength in its own way.

      2. Funny, but the whole D of I rails about the abuses of George, not Parliament (who were the real authors of the afflictions in the colonies). It ain’t like George was the Sun King.

        1. Funny, but the whole D of I rails about the abuses of George, not Parliament (who were the real authors of the afflictions in the colonies). It ain’t like George was the Sun King.

          It is easier to blame a man than a faceless organization.

    2. only if you consider civil disobedience to be an act of provocation or initiation of violence. Saying that you refuse to obey an unjust law and then bunkering down to defend your castle from the authorities when they come after you is quite different from carrying out assassinations of politicians you think are passing bad laws.

      1. But what if you don’t want to bunker down, and like to walk around? Why shouldn’t you carry your castle wherever you go?

        1. of course your castle is ultimately your body and you can walk about with it. i was merely setting forth an illustration to differentiate defense of principle and immoral provocation.

    3. Well, maybe the idea — and I’m not saying I agree with it — is that that was a long time ago, and that we shouldn’t allow history to ratify violence by our observ’n that the status quo is a result of it.

    4. That’s the required boilerplate to preempt the morons out there who would make the strawman claim that he’s somehow advocating violence against the government when says he supports protest and even angry protest or points out that there’s a lot more outrage from the government when one allegedly crazy guy kills a congressman then when the well trained supposedly mentally stable police kill an unarmed guy.

      At least some of us don’t post what we actually think or wish would happen because these forums are indexed by search engine and we’re not interested in having a shootout with the police at the moment and/or having a current or prospective employer see it and do something to us.

  35. The last estimate I read said that 2,000 Americans die each year from the War on Drugs (Wall Street Journal Spring 2008). That comes to about 6 per day, everyday, but the mainstream media will never cover the vast majority of those deaths.

  36. “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

    -Barack Obama – June 14, 2008

  37. “Let’s get the obvious out of the way, here: Initiating violence against government officials and politicians is wrongheaded, immoral, futile, and counterproductive to any anti-government cause. As is encouraging or praising others who do.”
    Sorry, was this “obvious” to Samuel Adams and the original tea partiers? I can imagine a few other founding fathers that might have disagreed with the obvious there. Things are coming to a head.

    1. The Founders delared their Independence from England, And DEFENDED themselves when the English tried to suppress them. What initiation of force did the Founders engage in?

      1. The patriots engaged in countless acts of aggression against other Americans — colonists, Canadians, and Indians — in prosecuting a war. You don’t think New York accidentally caught fire, do you? If you were known to be on the wrong side locally, you were in deep shit.

        1. don’t think he wasn’t denying, that once war broke out, things got messy and ugly. what he argued was that it was a gov’t crackdown that initiated the violence.

        2. —“The patriots engaged in countless acts of aggression against other Americans — colonists, Canadians, and Indians — in prosecuting a war.”—

          Precisely my point. In prosecuting a war they did not start. Or do we expect that the Framers would have used the now standard US restriction that we wait, in each individual instance, for the enemy to fire first and only then return fire.

          It was a war that we did not start (in terms of aggression) and we defended ourselves.

    2. Things are coming to a head.

      Yes, but not in this case. A nutjob babbling incoherently who shoots a group of people does not a movement make.

      Balko’s correct – meeting in public with constituents is exactly the course of action elected officials should take.

  38. But like…for the children…or something.

  39. Another casualty of the libertarian war on drugs.

    The Obama administration, and Democrats in general, want to dial down the war on drugs, the the libertarian right wing blocks his efforts, and this is what happens.

    1. I agree that you will find more Democrats than GOPers among those who want to ameliorate the ills of our drug war, but it’s far too few and they are fare too timid to make the difference very apparent Tony. The right wing that blocks any movement on this is not a libertarian one. Libertarians have taken a consistent, principled stand on drug legalization for a long time. They actually take a great deal of heck from conservatives over that frequently…

      1. I can’t believe how many times I have to repeat this. There is absolutely no difference between libertarians and the Republican Party. None whatsoever. It is essential that I hold libertarians responsible for what happened during the Bush Administration.

        1. Absolutely. If it weren’t for the libertarians out there, the average liberal would have a real difficult time choosing between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. It’s those anti-abortion, war-mongering, religious-nutcase, free-speech-hating libertarians that put the evil in Republican. It’s only a matter of time before Scooby-Doo and his teen-age friends expose it for what it is.

    2. “the the libertarian right wing blocks his efforts, and this is what happens.”

      Thanks for the plug! Can’t say I agree with the politics you lads espouse, though.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y64S4hzcejk

    3. Let me be clear. I will not be ending any wars. Not Drugs, not Terror, not Afghanistan, and not Iraq.

      1. And I might even start a war against guns. If you own a handgun, you might just get a SWAT team at your door. All in the name of safety, of course.

    4. Tony logic: Libertarians are not Democrats therefore they are Republicans.

  40. ^ MNG and some other fools get trolled ^

    1. I’ll troll you.

      1. You can troll me anytime baby.

          1. ^^ not me ^^

            handle thief!!!!

  41. It’s for posts like this that I donate to Reason. Thank you Mr. Balko.

  42. The author writes “…citizens who pose no threat or harm to anyone else.”
    Really?
    Just google “burglary drug addiction”
    How many of those incidents happen everyday? And how many of those incidents (which are probably way more volatile than any SWAT raid) end up in innocent people killed? Here’s a good example:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39…..nd_courts/

  43. It’s obvious the guy wasn’t in any way connected to the Tea Party or Sarah Palin, by now.

    And I think it’s kind of appalling how eager liberals were to pin it on angry right-wing rhetoric in this case, rushing to judgement about the beliefs of a mentally ill 22 year old man without bothering to seek out a shred of evidence about what they actually were.

    The liberal commentariat made a complete rush to judgement about the kids motives, just so they could blame conservatives, and it’s now clear that they were 100% wrong.

    IMO, they owe their readers an apology.

  44. “Authority should dervive from the consent of the governed, not from the threat of force.” – Barbie, Toy Story 3

  45. ok…and how many innocent people get killed every year because some dope, crack or meth fiend needs some quick cash for his next fix? Or how many innocent people’s houses have burned down because the meth lab next door blew up?
    And how many of these “citizens who pose no threat or harm to anyone else” go and take violent action against a customer over a debt?

    1. All very good questions. And they all have answers. So why don’t you tell us what the answers are?

      Radley puts a lot of effort into documenting and investigating police violence to buttress his argument that it hurts more than it helps.

      If you want to make the contrary argument, you’ll need to do better than empty rhetorical questions.

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          Congratulations, you are now a BlogWhore!

          1. Extra Credit: have Daddy incest issues

            1. heller’s list of things to do:
              1. Find my missing daddy who shot his wad for my test tube conception
              2. Ask my two mommies if my dick will ever grow as big as their toy
              3. Sue the shit out of Brandeis for letting me graduate when I don’t know the fucking difference between “where” and “were”.
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              5. Follow Rather around H&R because I’m really a retarded 12 year boy

                1. Yep you sure showed how you’re so NOT a blogwhore by linking to your site. Come on people click that link or Rectal ends it all!

    2. Q How many innocent people get killed every year because some dope, crack or meth fiend needs some quick cash for his next fix?

      A Unknowable and irrelevant. The drug war does not create drug addicts. The drug war attempts to lower supply, drive up prices and lessen demand. It is based on a false demand curve. So if anything, it ups the stakes for the desperate drug user. He will get his drugs.

      Q How many innocent people’s houses have burned down because the meth lab next door blew up?

      My guess, a trifling number. The drug war ironically popularized the meth lab. Buy the ingredients at the store and cook away. No need to smuggle, hide agricultural fields, etc. Cheap high right at home.

      Q How many of these “citizens who pose no threat or harm to anyone else” go and take violent action against a customer over a debt?

      The drug war conceded the entire bazillion dollar industry to a violent black market. And shakedowns aren’t unique to the drug business.

    3. Yes all those things you mentioned are coercive crimes. They have victims. What does any of it have to do with the War on Drugs, which only criminalizes victimless actions?

      Not to mention that even if those crimes do occur, they are products of the criminaliztion of drugs. The only way to stop those things from happening is to legalize drugs.

  46. I remember back in 2001 I took a firearms course at Front Site, Nevada.
    I remember at one point we had an exercise where we encountered a pop-up of a man with a power drill in his hands; was he a threat or not? Is it not telling that NONE of the civilians in the class shot the dude, but ALL the police in the class did? Shoot first and forget the questions seems to be their mindset. We were asked about our thought process and the civilians all indicated they needed a bit more indication of an actual threat before they felt comfortable shooting; the police all believed the appearance of a big thing in the persons hand made shooting imperative. Hhhmmm. I can see where hesitation might cost innocent lives, but so does not hesitating. I think the answer is cops don’t value innocent life the way normal people do. The cops think if you’re a problem for them in some way it’s no big deal if they kill you.

    James Solbakken

  47. i would if it was a DeWalt or Craftsman…
    not so if it was a Ryobi…

  48. Pigs & the Gooberment are out of control. Nothing but coward, murdering pussies.

  49. I say the shootings could have been prevented had the politican taken appropiate (even basic), measures to keep herself and those in the vicinity safe. It could have been as simple as having a policeman / security guard nearby. A simple risk assessment was all that was required. A naieve or arrogant politican putting peoples lives at risk !

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