The media has found their fire when it comes to stories of what they deem questionable police shootings, the public has often found this topic one of hot debates online and in person. California is taking a step in a different direction, one that they hope will help to curb these police shootings, by considering a law that will make it harder for police to shoot suspects.
Just last month, police in Sacramento, California shot an unarmed black man which resulted in his death. State lawmakers quickly jumped on the opportunity and announced their plans for a unique bill that will raise the standards that allow police officers to open fire on suspects. This legislation that is being proposed would alter the process that allows officers to shoot at suspects from “when reasonable” to “only when necessary”. The bill was created by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber. The two, along with Sacramento leaders from NAACP, Black Lives Matters members and grandfather of the most recent shooting victim, gathered for a press conference to discuss their plans. They listed the names of numerous unarmed black victims of police shootings before stating they wanted to change the current practice of shoot first, ask questions later. The group cited the belief that black men are killed at a disproportionate rate when compared to unarmed white men, and this new legislation is aimed at fixing that. A representative from the ACLU went so far to state that they believe that the current laws are in place to protect the police, not the citizens.
While the goal is to lower the amount of police shootings on unarmed black men, the thought process of shooting only when necessary instead of when it is reasonable still leaves much to question for the person chasing or cornering a suspect. In the split seconds it takes for a suspect to turn on an officer it is easy to mistake a cell phone or other object for a gun. If an officer believes the phone is a gun in the blur and excitement of the moment, they would likely believe that it was necessary to shoot. The legislation may help prevent some shootings, but for now it is still only in the proposition stages and has not made it to the books. Only time will tell what the future of this bill will be. For more information, click here.