Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (D) stood next to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) and dropped an extremely uncomfortable reality check: Open Carry, the movement pushed with near-fanatical obsession by Texas Republicans, not only did nothing to help stop the mass shooting of police officers in Dallas, but it actually made the situation far worse. Open Carry had an opportunity to justify its existence – and it failed on every conceivable level.
For Rawlings, examining the aftermath of the shooting made it clear that having dozens of scared civilians clinging to assault-style weapons during a mass shooting was a recipe for disaster. The “good guys with guns” didn’t suddenly become action heroes bravely stopping a heavily-armed lunatic. They acted like any of us would: When the shooting started, they scattered in every direction in terror. Only unlike others, these fleeing victims were strapped with weapons that sowed confusion. Any of them could have been a shooter attempting to blend in. At a moment when cops were being targeted by a sniper, officers had to track down these “innocent” gunmen just to make sure they weren’t one of the bad guys.
As Rawlings explained:
It’s logical to say that in a shooting situation, open carry can be detrimental to the safety of individuals.
Here’s how bad the situation became in Dallas during the shooting:
Rawlings said Dallas police Chief David Brown told him that people running through the shooting scene with rifles and body armor required officers to track them down and bring them to the police department. Whether that was time that could have been spent trying to find and stop the shooter is something police will have to comment on, Rawlings said.
In other words, the exact reason gun rights activists often give to justify “guns everywhere” bills is false. They don’t keep people safe, they put people’s lives at risk by causing chaos.
A major in the Dallas police department was equally furious about the danger Open Carriers put the rest of the population in. Maj. Max Geron pointed out that the police scanner was filled with chatter of confused officers desperately trying to figure out who was a bad guy and who was an Open Carry supporter while calls of “officer down” continued to ring out.
There was also the challenge of sorting out witnesses from potential suspects. Texas is an open carry state, and there were a number of armed demonstrators taking part. There was confusion on the radio about the description of the suspects and whether or not one or more was in custody.
After Texas Republicans rammed Guns Everywhere policies into law against the wishes of many in law enforcement and over the objection of many officials at the local level, it could be said that this situation was bound to happen. Research has repeatedly shown that more guns in more places don’t keep people safe, but often times do increase the chances of innocent people getting shot. Texas went gun crazy and this was the result.
Like clockwork, the conservatives who up until yesterday were all about “Blue Lives Matter” turned on police because of these comments. According to the president of Open Carry Texas C.J. Grisham, officers should be fired for complaining about his right to carry an AR-15 in public.
If you can’t identify a threat, you shouldn’t be wearing a uniform. It’s not that difficult to tell the difference between a bad actor and a good actor.
Spoken like a true coward. To which the entire country, still mourning the deaths of five officers who were killed in Dallas, can for once join together and in one voice tell C.J. Grisham: “Go to hell.”
Featured image via Stewart F. House/Getty Images