Why didn’t Boston police pepper spray knife-wielding terrorist?

Recently an Islamic criminal sought to murder the woman who organized the art-fest of the Muslim prophet Muhammad—you know, the one held in Garland, Texas where an off duty cop in uniform shot and killed a couple of offended Muslims who drove from Arizona to shoot up the place?

Well, I suppose the guy figured that finding the lady and killing her would be too much of a challenge, so instead he decided to kill a Boston police officer.  After all, cops are pretty easy to find.  That is, unless you need one.  Then cops are never around.

Technically, the guy could be classified as a terrorist, but I think that gives him too much credit.  He wasn’t highly trained, he just wanted to murder, though this is often the case with criminals we call terrorists.

Anyway, it went down like this, if you haven’t heard this story before:

Criminal with a knife (or bomb, or gun…) who believes in killing people who make fun of his religion takes a knife and attempts to engage police.

Police shoot and kill him.

People who don’t understand police use of force, and people who are sympathetic to the wanna be terrorist and bona fide criminal are upset.  There’s hardly an outcry when police are gunned down, although there should be, but it seems that whenever some wacko executes an attack, there are folks more than willing to give him more than the benefit of the doubt.

I heard some reports from NPR who interviewed sympathizers.  The following comments came through my radio:

“They can capture an elephant without shooting it, why did they have to shoot him?”

And…

“Why didn’t the cops use pepper spray?  I know I couldn’t stab anyone with my eyes stinging and closed?”

Seeing as I’m going to give these sympathetic folks the benefit of the doubt and take their queries seriously, I will briefly attempt to answer those questions.  Very briefly.

First, you are right that the guy was an animal—but he wasn’t a lost dog or a large elephant.  He was a human being, a very dangerous animal, who was posing an imminent threat to innocent lives.  Elephants and dogs don’t come at people with knives. Attacking, unprovoked, with a knife can only be interpreted as a conscious decision to kill or maim.

Most people don’t realize how absolutely dangerous edged weapons are, though most courts do, and it’s part of why some people say, “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.”  Introducing a bladed weapon into an attack immediately makes it a lethal encounter and if a good guy is carrying concealed in the area, the knife-wielder is sure to find themselves literally and righteously outgunned.  People who really understand the lethality of knives, as most cops do, probably do what I do: carry both a gun and a knife.

Second, the first time I was sprayed with pepper spray I opened my eyes, however briefly, and ran and caught the guy who sprayed me.  Had it been real, I could have tried to kill him bare handed.  Pepper spray and Tasers aren’t the end-all to every lethal situation.  Sure, sometimes they can end the threat, but these less lethal tools don’t always work and there may not be time to use them either as they require more conditions to satisfy for them to work as expected.  When innocent lives are on the line, “don’t always work” never works in my opinion.

In the end, the police commissioner for Boston said he stands by the decision for the officers to use lethal force.  I, as you may have guessed, agree.

As I see it the only person who should be blamed for the guy getting shot is the guy who got shot.  Period.  End of story.

But I’ve got to also ask, why are people so adamant about questioning the actions of these police anyway?  Despite what the media portrays, most police actions are not overreactions and the more fruitful question, for all of our safety, appears to be why was the kid lunging at officers with a knife?  At least that may give us some insight into how to stop future crimes of this nature.

P.S. Initial reports said cops shot the guy in the back.  Even though that didn’t happen, it doesn’t mean shooting someone in the back is wrong.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.

Cover: Boston Herald