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Civilians should not carry a gun that you can keep shooting…

Please Ban Assault Weapons for Civilians

With another spate of mass shootings the never ending gun debate continues and I just can’t think of one valid reason for a civilian to carry a weapon that they can shoot more than six rounds without reloading. I agree with actor Alexander Skarsgard who spoke about this “I had an AK-5 assault rifle that I used every day for a year and a half, so I know what those weapons can do and what they’re for,” he said Monday on Andy Cohen Live. But this was 2016! Definitely feels like Groundhog day! When I was a cop I almost shot someone…

Our training for using our standard police issue Smith and Wesson 38’s was pretty basic when I joined the police force.

In the Academy we were taught how to shoot. This was my very first time using a firearm and I remember being surprised at the “kick back” as my very first bullet landed in the police academy firing range ceiling!

The basics I learned, were you have to ‘cock the gun’ and get a sight line for any kind of possible aim of accuracy. This basic training frankly ‘goes out the window’ when you are using it in self defense in the heat of the moment with all the tension and adrenaline running through your veins. We were put through basic training, an obstacle course of sorts, with different scenarios and civilians popping up in the middle of armed assailants and then our shots would be added up, including how many civilian injuries and deaths we caused.

Once out of the Academy, every six months you had to “requalify’ by going to the shooting range and getting 36 out of 40 rounds on a target body silhouette or you were not licensed to carry a firearm. Every time I went to qualify my partner at the time would joke “how many do you want us to get on yours for you?”

I was not an accurate shot and I did not and still don’t like firearms but there was “no way” I would be on the streets as a cop without one and despite the joking around about accuracy etc, I did not know one cop in my five years on the force who was “trigger happy”.

I only had to draw my weapon a few times and thankfully never pulled the trigger but I did come very close one night.

It was soon after the Walsh street killings. Every cop was on edge and so upset because of the ambush and shooting of two young cops who were a few squads junior to me in the Academy. I knew them to say “hi” to. They were both based at our neighboring police station so we crossed paths regularly.

Constables Steven Tynan, 22, and Damian Eyre, 20 were checking reports of a suspect vehicle in Walsh Street, South Yarra, early hours of a quiet morning. The car had been left with the motor running in the middle of a suburban street and when the young trainee constables went to investigate they were both shot at point blank range, for no reason except that these particular criminals hated cops.

Steve and Damian had no chance and it was only then I realized for the first time that wearing a uniform and driving a police car we are walking, moving targets and these criminals see us before we see them.

I was on night shift the week after and my partner had been first on the scene after the murders of Steve and Damien. Constable Thomas and I were called to a sus- pect vehicle and both of us began to feel anxious, es- pecially as ‘Thomas’ described to me in detail the car- nage he witnessed on arrival at the young Constables’ murder scene. He said “They were gunned down without a chance”.

The suspect vehicle turned out to be routine but later that night cruising down a dark alley ‘known for prostitutes and crooks hanging out’ we noticed a vehicle stationary with it’s motor running and headlights on. We approached slowly in the divisional van and when we were about 20 feet away stopped and called out on our loud speaker. “Step out of the vehicle”

It was difficult to see as we were blinded by the car’s headlights directly shining into ours. We could just make out a large figure behind the wheel. After some time the figure did not get out so again we called over the speaker. Nothing again.

This back and forth went on for sometime, eventu- ally with more aggression on our part “SIR, TURN THE ENGINE OFF AND GET OUT OF THE VEHICLE. PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE WE CAN SEE THEM”. Still Nothing. Eventually we were out of our vehicle with our fire- arms drawn when slowly the man got out. He was large and over six foot tall.

“Put your hands up where we can see them”.

Again, nothing. This went on it seemed like an eter- nity. I had my firearm drawn on him and attempting not to shake, nervously. He then reached across his jacket pocket and inside his jacket and I was sure he was going to pull out a gun and fire on us.

It was a split second before I almost pulled the trigger. Fortunately I didn’t because he did not have a gun but I can understand the feeling of ‘Shoot or be shot’, as I truly believed he was going to shoot me at that moment and only a split second of hesitation made all the difference.

Fatal Shooting

Two weeks later my close friend and roommate from the Academy, (a truly wonderful policewoman, firm, fair, brave, smart and funny) accidentally shot and killed her partner in a police raid.

Sarah was on night shift. They attended a suburban house in their area in the early hours of the morning with several other cops. A known violent criminal was wanted on various serious charges and was believed to be staying there. As the police raided the front of the house, the man raced out the back sliding door with a rifle.

He pointed it straight at Sarah, who had her gun drawn on him and yelled. “Stop or I’ll shoot”. He aimed the rifle directly at Sarah and she thought he was going to shoot her so she pulled her trigger in self defense in a split second. At the same time her partner came from the other corner of the yard from behind the shadows and attempted to disarm the criminal by grabbing the man’s rifle.

Unfortunately as her partner grabbed for the man and his rifle, Sarah’s bullet missed the criminal and hit her partner straight to his head. Sarah had accidentally fa- tally shot her partner, instead of the criminal, when her partner got between him and her bullet.

Everything happened so quickly Sarah recounted to a few close colleagues later that she thought her partner had been shot by the criminal’s rifle and did not realize it was her own bullet until sometime later.

It was later established that the rifle the criminal pointed at Sarah and squeezed on the trigger, was not loaded. Sarah had to live with this tragedy for the rest of her life. This horrible accidental shooting. The internal investigations department investigated and ruled that her partner technically did not follow protocol, when he came out of the shadows to disarm the man, but this was not any comfort at all of course to Sarah. She lost her young partner and friend and his wife became a young widow when he tragically lost his life on duty.

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