In his first in-person appearance in weeks to address the tumultuous protests and rioting resulting from the murder of George Floyd, presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden comes bearing solutions to the waves of excessive police brutality. During a speech at the Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday, Biden dug into President Donald Trump for his decisive rhetoric towards the protests sweeping over 140 cities and failure to lead the nation in a time of crisis. Biden bit into President Trump by saying, “Hate just hides, it doesn’t go away and when you have someone in power who breathes oxygen to the hate under the rocks, hate comes out from under the rocks. It matters what the president says…a president’s words can take a nation to war during peace.”
Also pledging to challenge “institutional racism” with very little specifics, Biden promised to appoint a police oversight panel within his first one hundred days as President to handle issues such as police training, strategy, and culture. “There are a lot of things that can change regarding police training,” Biden proclaimed. However, his most memorable comment of the speech came in his words of wisdom to police officers who, in this hypothetical, find themselves in a terrifying life-or-death, split-second-decision position.
“Instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there’s an unarmed person coming at ’em with a knife or something to shoot ’em in the leg instead of the heart is a very different thing,” Biden concluded as a solution to saving lives, though it’s not entirely certain whether he meant during an arrest or a confrontation, nor does he make it clear he actually understands the definition of “unarmed”, nor does he offer any details or experience to support this affirmation. As a septuagenarian career politician, Biden obviously has never encountered such a threat and his inexperience on the subject of the police’s strategies to neutralize an attack explains his naive advice.
Firstly, police possess multiple non-lethal measures to ward off potential attackers. Pepper spray, tasers, and rubber bullets, among other non-lethal tools, work extremely well in subduing violent attackers and police training generally encourages these options over the should-be last resort of the firearm. Secondly, if a dispute escalates beyond these non-lethal measures, then a gun can potentially save a police officer’s life. But this does not come without a heavy responsibility, as police training will also teach that firing a gun, no matter the target, should be taken no more lightly than absolute lethal force.
In such a panic, aim naturally takes a backseat to the urgency of subduing a potential killer. As Dan McLaughlin at the National Review put it, “Anyone who has been trained in police work or the military could tell you: Firing a gun is always potentially deadly force. You shoot for center mass, to kill, or you don’t shoot at all. If you’re not prepared to kill someone, you should not even point a loaded gun at them, much less fire it. If you don’t have grounds to shoot to kill, you don’t have grounds to shoot.” Besides, a shot to leg has no promise of ending up non-lethal, since the blood loss still could end someone’s life, regardless of location.
Of course, greater accountability and improved practices of restraint within the police force should be of the unanimous agreement but childish notions such as Biden’s comment do nothing to address a far more serious and complex subject that won’t be solved by aiming a little bit lower. As the Democrat’s handpicked nominee and only hope to usurp President Trump, Biden should have a more defined and inspired roadmap than a haphazardly thrown together committee and half-baked advice to a career he holds no experience with. If this is the best Biden can put together, no wonder he exited the national spotlight for an extended lockdown.