Vice-presidential debate only scratched surface on law enforcement, 2A

Tuesday night’s debate continued the standard set by the first presidential debate, with one candidate making constant interruptions, while the other clung to a set of talking points – though this time, it was the Democrat who was on the attack and the Republican who stuck to his message, no matter how false.

In response to Tim Kaine’s repeated attacks on Donald Trump’s speeches, Mike Pence maintained the tactic of denial, denial, denial, leading commentators to speculate on the number of videos to appear on news media and campaign ads to show the Republican presidential nominee saying what he didn’t say.  Much of the time was spent squabbling over Trump’s tax returns, whether the question was about North Korea or the Clinton Foundation.

But as with the first presidential debate, there was also an exchange regarding domestic policy relating to the role of law enforcement, the racism that minority groups face, and the potential for terrorism at home and abroad.

The moderator, Elaine Quijano of CBS News, opened the segment with a question about whether we ask too much of our law enforcement officers – a point originally raised by the Dallas Chief of Police, David Brown.

Kaine was given the first opportunity to reply.  He claimed that while the City of Richmond was one of the most violent when he assumed office as mayor in 1998, by the time he left that office to become the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2001, homicides had been cut in half.

Perhaps he has a different mathematical system from the one I was taught, but his numbers don’t quite match with homicide data from the FBI.  In the years 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001, the number of homicides were 94, 72, 73, and 71 respectively.  A decline of one quarter is not a half.  The peak homicide rate in Richmond occurred in the mid 90s, before Kaine took office, and fluctuated in the high double digits before dropping into the thirties in recent years.  That success may be the result of what Kaine did cite as an effective approach, community policing, along with a focus on drug crimes.

Both Kaine and Pence added a repetition of Trump’s call for law and order, Pence saying that we must respect the police even when there are questions about racial bias, while Kaine repeated Clinton’s statements about the effect of gun violence and the need for greater background checks.  He called himself a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, though as with his math skills, his understanding of English seems to be off, since “strong” and “support” aren’t consonant with bans on magazines that hold more than ten rounds or a requirement for checks that only burden the law-abiding.  He isn’t the worst politician by far, but he is also no friend of gun rights.

Adding insult to the injury he and Clinton desire to inflict, Kaine said that he is a gun owner.  In this way, he reminds me of so many advocates of gun control who claim to be owners themselves.  It’s worth wondering why someone who exercises gun rights would support the denial of that exercise, but advocates of control keep telling us that they only want to impose some limits – more and more and more until there is nothing left.

The solutions that both vice-presidential candidates offered are nothing new and nothing that will work.  Regardless of which one takes office in January, it’s up to all of us to demand new answers that will accomplish good while respecting rights.

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

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