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OPINION: We need to find ways to lift up our law enforcement personnel

by Robert Box | June 9, 2021 at 5:25 a.m.

As of June 2, 2021, according to CNN (checked with Gun Violence Archive which keeps track of these things), there were 242 mass shootings in the United States since the beginning of the year. Of these, 275 people were killed and 995 wounded. A mass shooting involves at least three people who have been shot. In contrast, there were 417 mass shootings during 2019 with close to 40,000 people being killed due to gun violence; in 2020, there were 610 mass shootings with around 43,000 being killed. Since the FBI defines mass shootings differently, it is difficult to know exactly how many mass shootings there actually were and how many people died; but the one thing that is certain is that too many people have died due to gun violence.

Mass shootings have occurred all over the United States, but mostly on the East and West coasts and in the Southeast. They have occurred in shopping malls, celebration parties, churches, grocery stores, bars, and even alongside streets. Unfortunately, it has occurred here as well. It has become so bad that many people I know are afraid to even go shopping or on a trip for fear someone will start shooting and they will get wounded or killed.

So, what can we do? I guess it is possible to stay home and hide, but most people do not want to be that extreme. So ... let's just defund the police, cut the number of officers working, demoralize the law enforcement departments, and remove police people from being called "America's finest" to whatever derogatory slang is available. I'm kidding. Right? Yes, you are correct; I am not in favor of any of these ideas but, unfortunately, a lot of other people believe in them.

So, what do you do if you are caught in a shooting situation? I know, you have been taught to "run, hide, or fight" in order to survive; but so far these guidelines have not kept a lot of people from dying. In dangerous situations, we depend upon the police to be there to help us cope and survive. Without them, there is no one to call. Fire personnel are emergency responders, but they are there to provide assistance after the event, not to engage a shooter.

Some people I know strongly believe in purchasing a gun to defend themselves and those they love, and many of these people have stockpiled huge numbers of bullets. However, for the rest of us, it is almost impossible to find any ammunition these days. I have a friend who needs some 9mm bullets, so I stopped by Cabela's to see if the store had any. To my surprise, they not only did not have any 9mm bullets; they only had about 20 boxes of ammunition of all kinds, and none for popular handguns.

Good people have a difficult time finding ammunition, but what about the bad guys? I have not read about a single mass shooting in the United States where the shooter failed to have adequate ammunition. Indeed, many shooters have thousands of rounds of ammunition. So, it appears that we have found a way to control firearms in our country despite the assumptions of the Second Amendment: Let people have guns, but do not let them have any bullets to shoot.

I know there are some bad cops. I have seen some of their actions on television just as you have, and I have been appalled. However, I have been a law enforcement chaplain for a long time, have ridden with police officers and deputy sheriffs locally and in almost every city where I have had a training conference, and I have yet to discover any of these bad cops. I am proud to say that the law enforcement personnel we have in Bella Vista and Benton County are good men and women dedicated to upholding the law and helping people in need.

In addition, I am confident that if any of our law enforcement personnel became involved in activities like those reported on television, they would be disciplined in a minute. I know personally the command staff at the Benton County Sheriff's Office, and they are Christian people who stand up for what is right. The same goes for our local police officers. Instead of criticizing, we need to find ways to lift up our law enforcement personnel and to let them know that we are standing behind them.

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Robert Box has been a law enforcement chaplain for 27 years. He is a master-level chaplain with the International Conference of Police Chaplains and is an endorsed chaplain with the American Baptist Churches, USA. He also currently serves as a deputy sheriff chaplain for the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Opinions expressed in the article are the opinions of the author and not the agencies he serves.

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