Whitehead: Enough Is Enough – If You Really Want To Save Lives, Take Aim At Government Violence

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

Enough is enough.

That was the refrain chanted over and over by the thousands of demonstrators who gathered to protest gun violence in America.

On March 24, 2018, more than 200,000 young people took the time to march on Washington DC and other cities across the country to demand that their concerns about gun violence be heard.

More power to them.

I’m all for activism, especially if it motivates people who have been sitting silently on the sidelines for too long to get up and try to reclaim control over a runaway government.

Curiously, however, although these young activists were vocal in calling for gun control legislation that requires stricter background checks and limits the kinds of weapons being bought and sold by members of the public, they were remarkably silent about the gun violence perpetrated by their own government.

Why is no one taking aim at the U.S. government as the greatest purveyor of violence in American society and around the world?

As journalist Celisa Calacal recognizes, “It is often the case that police shootings, incidents where law enforcement officers pull the trigger on civilians, are left out of the conversation on gun violence. But a police officer shooting a civilian counts as gun violence. Every time an officer uses a gun against an innocent or an unarmed person contributes to the culture of gun violence in this country.”

Enough is enough.

The systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government has done more collective harm to the American people and our liberties than any single act of terror or mass shooting.

Violence has become our government’s calling card, from the more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year on unsuspecting Americans to the military’s endless wars abroad.

Indeed, the day before thousands of demonstrators descended on Washington DC to protest mass shootings such as the one that took place at Stoneman Douglas High School, President Trump signed into law a colossal $1.3 trillion spending bill that gives the military the biggest boost in spending in more than a decade.

With more than $700 billion earmarked for the military, including $144.3 billion for new military equipment, you can be sure this financial windfall for America’s military empire will be used to expand the police state here at home.

This will put more militarized guns and weapons in the hands of local police and government bureaucrats who have been trained to shoot first and ask questions later.

Enough is enough.

Remember, it was just a few months ago that President Trump, aided and abetted by his trusty Department of Justice henchman Jeff Sessions, rolled back restrictions on the government’s military recycling program to the delight of the nation’s powerful police unions.

Under the auspices of this military “recycling” program, which was instituted decades ago, more than $4.2 billion worth of equipment has been transferred from the Defense Department to domestic police agencies.

There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non-military) government civilians armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than U.S. Marines.

In the hands of government agents, whether they are members of the military, law enforcement or some other government agency, these weapons have become routine parts of America’s day-to-day life. As investigative journalists Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz reveal, “Many police, including beat cops, now routinely carry assault rifles. Combined with body armor and other apparel, many officers look more and more like combat troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Thanks to Trump, this transformation of America into a battlefield is only going to get worse.

Get ready for more militarized police.

More police shootings. More SWAT team raids.

More violence in a culture already drenched with violence.

Enough is enough.

You want to talk about gun violence?

According to the Washington Post,1 in 13 people killed by guns are killed by police.”

Growing numbers of unarmed people are being shot and killed by police for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

Enough is enough.

With alarming regularity, unarmed men, women, children and even pets are being gunned down by twitchy, hyper-sensitive, easily-spooked police officers who shoot first and ask questions later.

Americans are being shot and killed by police…

For standing in a “shooting stance.”

For holding a cell phone.

For carrying a baseball bat.

For opening the front door.

For running towards police with a metal spoon.

For running while holding a tree branch.

For crawling around naked.

For wearing dark pants and a basketball jersey.

For driving while deaf.

For being homeless.

For brandishing a shoehorn.

For having your car break down on the road.

For holding a garden hose.

For calling 911.

For looking for a parking spot.

This is what passes for policing in America today, folks, and it’s only getting worse.

That police chose to fatally resolve these encounters by using their guns on fellow citizens speaks volumes about what is wrong with policing in America today, where police officers are being dressed in the trappings of war, drilled in the deadly art of combat, and trained to look upon “every individual they interact with as an armed threat and every situation as a deadly force encounter in the making.”

Enough is enough.

You want to save lives?

Start by doing something to save the lives of your fellow citizens who are being gunned down every day by police who are trained to shoot first and ask questions later.

You want to cry about the lives lost during mass shootings?

Cry about the lives lost as a result of the violence being perpetrated by the U.S. government here at home and abroad.

If gun control activists really want the country to reconsider its relationship with guns and violence, then it needs to start with a serious discussion about the role our government has played and continues to play in contributing to the culture of violence.

If the American people are being called on to scale back on their weapons, then as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government and its cohorts – the police, the various government agencies that are now armed to the hilt, the military, the defense contractors, etc. – need to do the same.

It’s time to put an end to the government’s reign of terror.

Enough is enough.