As long as firearms are the go-to conflict resolution tool in the United States, tragedies like the ones in Dallas, Texas,  Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana will continue to happen.

Our police departments have become para-military forces. Possibly in response to the increased availability of military-grade weapons in the civilian population. Maybe it's due to more military-trained job applicants to law enforcement positions. Perhaps because of insufficient training of police for peaceful conflict resolution on our streets. I don't know why police departments became militarized. I've just observed they are.

The easy availability of firearms within a civilian population, including semi-automatic weapons, might be a motivator to arm our police officers with heavy-duty weaponry. It is very difficult to be an officer of the peace when the possibility of being killed by weapons of war exists every time a police officer reports to work.  When the mindset is to always be on high alert because someone is out there with a gun that might kill me, militarizing seems appropriate.   When the focus is on fighting a war, any war, instead of peaceful resolution, it would seem...imprudent to not be prepared for the worst.

The reasons we are at this juncture, and the methods we might use to make changes, are, of course, multi-layered and complex.  There is no one solution or answer. No silver bullet.

We can, however, start.

I suggest that a place to start is sensible, uniform and enforceable fire-arm regulation at the national level.  New York City has very strict gun regulations, stricter than New York State, yet the rate of gun-related deaths is increasing because guns can be brought in from other cities and states by private citizens undetected and unbeknownst to authorities. 

It makes sense to me that automatic and semi-automatic weapons have no place in a civilian population. Neither police nor civilians should have access to them.  For everyone's protection.

It also makes sense to me that we need better training for our police officers.  They need to have a better arsenal of skills to do their jobs in a hostile environment. They need to know how to effectively protect themselves as well as the communities they're committed to protecting without resorting to aggression and violence.  In the face of fear for their lives, police need better training and skills to lead with courage and compassion.

It's very clear using fear and violence to govern is counter-productive. Terrorism, war, insurgencies still exist. They are an expression of a desire to be heard, a desire for freedom from oppression and tyranny. In this country, racism is a symptom of a systematic malady of inequity and entitlement. Complex issues, not easily addressed or resolved quickly.

By taking away the fear for our lives with sane regulation of firearms, we buy ourselves the time we need to peacefully set about addressing and healing the deeper maladies in our society.

Published by Margarita Danielian