What if Botham Jean had killed a cop? The answer isn’t deputizing everyone

By Michael Monasky | 

There are more guns than people in the United States, a country that has four per cent of the world’s population, yet owns 40-forty percent of all firearms on the planet. 

Texas is a state with liberal gun carry laws. Once a person submits a qualified application, the state is compelled to issue a license to carry. The language is specific, and says the state “shall issue” a permit to carry firearms; furthermore, the state’s decision to deny a permit cannot be capricious or arbitrary. 
After working an extended shift in 2018, off-duty Dallas police officer Amber Guyger stumbled into a fourth story apartment, mistaking it for her own third story abode in the same building, entered the space, found Botham Jean there, shot and killed him.

A year later, a Dallas jury found Guyger guilty of first degree murder, then sentenced her to ten years in prison. At trial her militant bravado on social media was entered into evidence: “stay low, go fast; kill first, die last; one shot, one kill; no luck, all skill.” The prosecution recommended 28 years. 

What if the tables were turned, so that a fatigued black man (with a gun carry permit) in Dallas, Texas, had stumbled late at night into an apartment he’d thought was his, found a white woman in a police uniform, shot and killed her? In all likelihood, since Texas is a death penalty state, the shooter would have been tried, convicted of the capital crime of first degree murder of a police officer, and then put to death by lethal injection. 

Male or female, black or white, rich or poor, 390 million firearms in a nation of 330 million people has become an absurdity. The cops are outgunned 300 to one. Cities spend the vast majority of discretionary general funds on police services; Elk Grove spends 62 per cent of its budget on police. 

When I say that we live in a police state, I mean that on multiple levels. We own more guns than we could possibly use. Violent police fantasies dominate our entertainment. We spend more on police than all our remaining social needs. Our arsenal of over 4,000 nuclear warheads is one hundred times more than needed to propel our planet into a climate disaster of perpetual winter and extinction of the human race. 
The transcendent lesson to be learned, aside from this brutish killing and our obtuse, paranoid lifestyles, came from Botham Jean’s father, Bertrum Jean. His quiet testimony at Guyger’s recent sentencing trial exposed what we’ve all lost in Botham’s death. More impressive than his younger, surviving son’s absolution for, and viral Internet embrace of, the murderer was Bertrum’s tender smile when he recited memories of his son, from changing his diapers, taking him to school, and watching him grow to become a good, kind, and happy man who made him proud to be his father. 

The father’s legacy of love was fractured by the son’s murder. Botham’s beneficence is no longer with us. Its absence bares a grievous, communal wound; an inheritance of fear.


Opinion 8149997242266981561

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