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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Gun power corrupts

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Having a gun is power. And, as Lord Acton said, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This seems the only reason how the cops who killed 17-year-old Kian Loyd de los Santos–defenseless and unarmed as he was—could have killed him. They must have been under such dizzying force of power that they lost all humanity and the natural inclination of humans not to kill a fellow man. 

In the book “On Killing: The psychological cost of learning to kill in war and society” author, Dave Grossman,  said that if one studies history, one will find that man is often unwilling to kill his fellow man and the fighter finds it very traumatic when he has to do so. In the animal kingdom, he said, most animals do not kill others of their species with very, very few exceptions. Humans are like animals in this regard, they don’t want to kill each other. Perhaps it is because when a person looks at another person on the field of battle, he sees the other person as someone like him who also does not want to die, Grossman added.

In war or actual combat, humans are not much different from animals who do posturing to intimidate another animal into fleeing or submitting.  Firearms are an excellent method of posturing: they are loud and dangerous, and the bullets zipping by overhead can be terrifying to the enemy. They provide a primal release when fired as a warning and can give the shooter a feeling of power without having to kill, Grossman said. People will be willing to face death and dismemberment as long as they didn’t have to kill anyone. Medics for instance are known for risking life and limb to save someone, Grossman explained.

Given this study, the act of the policemen in the killing of Kian as he knelt and begged for his life is incongruous to human nature and defies explanation except in the context of power releasing too much adrenaline in these cops that they became numb to their own humanity. The power of the gun has clearly corrupted their consciences.

The saddest part of the Kian tragedy is that the life of a young man was lost senselessly and unjustly. But sad, too, is the way politicians with self-serving agenda have joined the bandwagon to attack the drug war and the President, himself, to earn brownie points in the eyes of the public and to bring down the President who has—by all indications—been doing good in his job. Politicians belonging to the opposition will obviously exploit this tragedy to the hilt rather than craft measures to prevent a repeat of the Kian mishap.

My two cents is that before cops are let loose with guns, they should not only have undergone rigorous training in law enforcement and difficult police operations. Their psychological, moral and mental health matter more than their physical fitness. Thus, they should be subjected to psychological and psychiatric examinations more rigorously and if there is any hint of a disorder, their admission to the service must be denied. The next problem now is, given the low salary and the risks involved in the job, the police force does not attract the most mentally, psychologically and physically fit men and women. This is the reason why, as soon as they get admitted to the service and taste the power of the gun and their position, many of them get corrupted, very much the way the ring in the trilogy, Lord of the Rings, corrupted anyone who wore it. 

If the problem of getting more psychologically and mentally fit men and women to join the police force are addressed as a result of Kian’s death, then his dying would not be in vain.




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