Officer down

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Carson City deputy sheriff Carl Howell, who was killed by a criminal with a gun. It's horrible, and everyone who knew Howell is going to be sad for a long time. There are no words to express our community's loss.

Because of my association with, I'm often asked to talk about police-linked violence. More often, it's violence in the other direction, but reporters also ask me to comment on violence against police.

After looking at more than 8,000 incidents where a police officer killed someone, I can tell you, the vast majority of these deaths are a bad guy with a gun who forces the officer to defend himself or herself.

And of the 20 police officers who've been killed this year, they're all victims in situations where they went in to do the job that society demands they do. There are just so many seemingly random acts of violence committed against police because they're there, trying to do a job but vulnerable to instantaneous situational changes for which they could not prepare.

I couldn't do it. I could not go to work under that kind of stress. These situations are not as portrayed in the movies, where there's some appearance of fair play, like a gunfight at the OK Corral. Time and time again the officer pulls somebody over, a simple traffic issue, and the driver or a passenger pulls out a gun and starts shooting. There's no warning, no preparation.

It's a vicious cycle in this country. Cops I know all support the Second Amendment; it's the law. The NRA tells us that we'll be safer when there are guns everywhere. But in so many of these incidents where the law enforcement officer gets gunned down, the gun was only in the criminal's hand because guns are ubiquitous. There are already 310 million guns in a nation with 319 million people. The facts aren't out, but I know in my heart that it's going to turn out that Jonathon Pope should not have had a gun because of earlier violent or drug or alcohol-related issues.