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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Archive for August 6th, 2017

Massad Ayoob


Sunday, August 6th, 2017

I just finished reading “Shots Fired” by Joseph Loughlin and Kate Clark Flora. It will be available in the fall from Skyhorse Press. They are, respectively, a retired assistant chief of the Portland, Maine Police Department and SWAT team commander, and a renowned true crime writer. Their book is a police-eye view of law enforcement use of force issues today, seen in the macrocosm of social issues and the microcosm of what it’s like to be the cop who has to pull the trigger.  At the core of the book, we hear in their own words from law enforcement officers who have “been there.” These include several of the officers who faced down the bullets and thrown explosives of the Boston Bombers.


Here’s an example of the authors’ perspective: “It has unfortunately become the norm, in our fast-paced, media-driven world, that use of force cases and particularly deadly force cases, are routinely misreported. Far too often, when there is a deadly event in an officer-involved shooting, irresponsible reporters, misinformed advocates, and publicity-seeking politicians exacerbate the situation by writing stories or taking public positions prior to receiving any solid information. As a result, the public understanding is based on a dis­torted view rather than careful investigation and fact-finding.”


“Shots Fired” is educational for anyone who reads it with an open mind instead of a political identity agenda. Here, the authors explain why it may seem to the general public that courts “take the cops’ word” for things:


“The Supreme Court has stressed the importance of recognizing the judgment of the individual officer in the situation: ‘when used by trained law enforcement officers, objective facts, meaningless to the untrained, [may permit] inferences and deductions that might well elude an untrained person.’”


They continue, “In practice, when a court evaluates the conduct of an officer, it ‘must avoid substituting our personal notions of proper police proce­dures for the instantaneous decision of the officer on the scene,’ and, ‘When a jury measures the objective reasonableness of an officer’s action, it must stand in his shoes and judge his actions based upon the information he possessed.’”  — United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, at 418 (1980).


“Shots Fired” by Loughlin and Flora is a valuable addition to the literature of use of force, and a breath of fresh air and common sense in the current debate.”

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