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The Republican Disease vs. Reality

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Three cops were shot last week in Margarteville, New York, a small town in the western Catskills.

The first shooting took place at a traffic stop. The officer was wearing body armor. It worked. He was uninjured.

The perpetrator ran. A manhunt ensured. He was located in an unoccupied vacation home. The police surrounded it and mounted an assault. During the operation, one officer was shot in the arm, and another was shot and died.

The house went up in flames. The perpetrator died, either before the fire or in it.

As I was driving in my car, I heard John Bonacic, a Republican State Senator, on the news, calling for a reinstatement of the death penalty. For cop killers. And, of course, for terrorists. He wanted it now, right now. He wanted the Senate to go into immediate session.

"The State Senate," he said, trying his level best to make it the familiar partisan, Democrats are soft on crime, issue, "is calling on Governor Spitzer to come back from politicking all over the state on campaign finance reform and call a special session and bring the Assembly to the table to reinstitute the death penalty for cop killers."

The reasoning was, "What we can do is we can send a message, a message of deterrence, a message that when you attack a police officer it's bigger than that police officer. It is us. It is all of us. And you're going to pay the price for that life."

You bet! Kill those cop killers! Send that message! We're under attack! Strike back! Strike first!

That evening, at home, I caught the promo for the local news. Fox News, as it happens. And lo and behold! The dead officer was killed by friendly fire.

It's absolutely true that the whole thing wouldn't have happened if the perpetrator hadn't committed the original crime. And, if he were alive to be tried, he would held responsible for the dead officer and charged with felony murder, a homicide that comes about as a result of the commission of a crime.

Still, who was left to execute?

The cops who shot the other cop by mistake?

Not the perpetrator, he'd already gone up in blazing inferno.

Send a message?

The message had already been sent. Shoot at a cop and – even if his body armor completely saves him – every cop in state will come after you. Resist, and they'll blow you away.

The reality is that the officer was killed by another officer. Will more executions solve that? It wouldn't seem so. What the reality suggests is better training. Training specific to such situations. Perhaps special units, for such situations.

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LARRY BEINHART is the author of SALVATION BOULEVARD,  a major motion picture with Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Marissa Tomei, Ed Harris, and Jim Gaffigan, WAG THE DOG, The LibrarianFog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin  and HOW TO WRITE A (more...)

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