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The Action Movie Culture

A knife is a deadly weapon, and mental instability is not an excuse for charging people with a deadly weapon and threatening to kill them. For as long as I can remember, and have read into history, society has understood that, but lately? We seem to have forgotten it somehow.

The above picture is of a police officer who was attacked by a criminal wielding a knife. It is intended to remind people that a knife can be just as deadly as a gun, though I still can't figure out how some people are getting it twisted. Well, I have a suspicion...

You see, in reading people's posts on social media and in hearing VP Biden say that cops should, "shoot 'em in the leg," I hear a complete disconnect between society and violence. We've been so sheltered from violence that we can't fathom it, and since we can't fathom it, we can't relate to the very men and women who protect us from it. In other words, we've been so sheltered that we don't comprehend the danger anymore.

Yes, movies like Lethal Weapon, Men in Black, Rambo, and all of these other action movies have so permeated out culture that we honestly don't understand how hard it is to use a weapon in actual combat. We don't get it, and so we don't get them, and the threat that they face.

I was a Soldier in the US Army. No, I was not a combat soldier, and I never had to return fire on an enemy in Iraq, even though I was there. Yet I did have to go through combat training, and let me tell you, all of these "Call of Duty" games where getting a headshot is so easy, or these wild west movies where you shoot a gun out of someone's hand or "hit 'em in the leg," it's so completely unrealistic that it would be a joke if it wasn't so pitiable.

I remember dismounting the vehicle at the M.O.U.N.T. training site in BCT. I remember the near chaos of trying to run to the designated rally point. I remember attempting to survey the scene in 30 seconds, to asses what threats were real and which were imagined. I remember rounding the corner and taking cover behind a vehicle, firing about three shots before my M.I.L.E.S. gear started blaring it's alarm indicating that I had been hit and was "dead." I hadn't been out of the vehicle more than two minutes, at most.

I didn't have time to aim. When I saw a person I did what I was trained to do, I found the center mass and I fired at it. I have no clue if I hit anything, it's still a blur. I remember the adrenaline rush, the focused and tunneled vision, the loud noise, the yelling, the inability to focus, and then laying down like I was supposed to to simulate being dead. It all happened so fast that I couldn't even tell you where the shot came from that hit me. And now you're trying to tell me I should have aimed for their leg? Are you freaking kidding me?

If the choice is between my life and the life of someone trying to injure me, my squad mates, and the peaceful citizens, then there isn't much of a choice, and I'm not going to apologize for pulling the trigger, I may have ended one life, but I have saved at least one, and maybe many more.

Now, if we want to criticize the city of Philadelphia for defunding their police department so that they didn't have the manpower to respond? I can go with that.

If we want to criticize the city of Philadelphia for chronically underfunding their police departments ensuring that the responding officers had no form of non-lethal response other than a baton (yeah, that would have looked so much better on the news right?), ok, I can go with that too.

If, however, we're saying that an officer, facing a knife wielding combatant, who is charging them, blade drawn, threatening to kill them at the top of their lungs, should have just, "shot 'em in the leg," then not only can't I go with that, I will actively stand against it. ANYONE whose faced a real or realistic combat scenario can tell you, such a thought is not only a farce, it's worthy of nothing by ridicule. Rambo only exists in movies, and there is no such thing as Robo-Cop.

We charge police with defending the public. No, read that again. Again. Again if you need to. Keep reading that until you get it. We do not charge the police with defending those perpetrating criminal behavior, we charge them with defending the public FROM those individuals, not to sacrifice themselves, and possibly the public, to attempt to save these individuals. Once an individual picks up a lethal weapon, and they use it, the police's responsibility is to save everyone else around them first, themselves second, and if they can, the criminal(s) third. In that order.

So stop playing your video games and watching your sci-fi fantasy war movies and assuming that you understand what REAL combat is. Stop judging actions from the sideline, unless you're willing to participate yourself and get trained. The police have a job to do, and we've gotten it twisted. Not all stories have happy endings. Not every cop is some kind of Jackie Chan martial artist who can disarm a knife wielding criminal with nothing but their bare hands. In fact most can't, and the fact that some people appear to believe that they all can is beyond baffling to me.

It's as realistic as Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Fun for little kids to believe in, but impossible for those who understand reality, and, honestly, dangerous too.

It starts with an understanding of this fact: When a person engages in a criminal act, they are accepting the consequences of that act. If that act is dangerous, and potentially lethal to innocent civilians around them, then the criminal has accepted the escalated consequences that come with that action. Their mental instability doesn't make their actions any more safe, nor does it mitigate the danger to the innocent population around them, if anything it escalates it. A police officer's first and primary responsibility is to protect the innocent people around the criminal, NOT the criminal.

If your kid, brother, sister, mother, father, or friend was stabbed, slashed, or killed by a knife wielding criminal, you wouldn't care that they had a mental issue, you'd want to know who in the world gave them access to a knife, why they weren't in an institution, and why the cops didn't neutralize them to eliminate the threat before your loved one was killed. Here's a news flash, those cops are someone's loved one too. They have a right to live and to defend themselves, particularly when deadly force is used against them.

So before you go judging a police officer for shooting a person running at them with a knife, how about you go take some combat training classes and see just how hard it is. I guarantee you that you'll see it differently. There is a reason why I respect my infantry US Army buddies as much as I do. I can't imagine living in that chaos, especially with the professionalism, class, and restraint that they do. I have that same respect for police officers as a general rule.

There's a difference between shooting an unarmed person and shooting one holding a knife, running at you, and threatening to kill you. And the fact that we can't seem to understand that as a society anymore scares me, and not just a little bit, either.

Stop normalizing criminal behavior, stop excusing crimes that put people are risk, stop giving slaps on the wrist for behaviors that disrupt and endanger the lives of people who are just trying to live their lives. Police exist to protect the innocent and serve the population, allowing criminal and/or dangerous behavior violates both.

No, a knife is not a gun, but that doesn't mean it isn't a deadly weapon.

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