Fantastic Read! And Good for the Officer!
To the Honorable Members of the Colorado Senate,
Thank you for taking this letter and my hope is that YOU are able to read it, not an aide or staff member. I am writing this letter to you.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of my concerns, please let me tell you a little about myself, with the hope that you will understand where I am coming from. My name is Jeff Rezak. I am a patrol officer for a police department in Colorado. I have worked in law enforcement continuously for the last 18 years, and I also had the honor of serving for four years with the United States Marine Corps. During my time in law enforcement I have, for the most part been patrol, responding to calls for service. I also served for almost 10 years on a SWAT team, and had the collateral duties of Sniper and Tactical Medic. I served 3 years as a School Resource Officer and had four schools assigned to me, containing about 1700 students at any given time. During this time I also served for nearly 10 years as a volunteer firefighter and EMS Emergency Medical Technician.
What I am NOT is a political figure, a college professor, a talking head on the television, or a statistician. I don’t do statistics and I have never been to college. I am your normal, everyday working stiff who works very hard for my family, my community, and my country. I have a very deep love for my family, my community and my God. I am the everyday guy that you represent and serve.
A couple of days ago I was sent an e-mail that contained the paper from the White House titled, “Now is the Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence”.
As I said before, I am a street cop. I am one of the many dedicated men and women that will be responding to the next tragedy when it happens. If you notice I did not say “if” it happens, because it will happen again. So please keep that in mind as you read further.
I read the paper from beginning to end. I then read it again, and have several times since. I tried very hard to make sense of it and try to really see where the leaders of this country were headed. Then my own state started doing the same thing. So with a very open mind I began to look at facts. Not the political rhetoric that has been playing out, but the bare bone facts of this issue. Keep in mind that I do have not only some experience in dealing with these issues, but have a vested interest in the future as well. As I said before, I am one of the people that has to respond first hand.
In keeping with the facts, I only looked at official U.S. Government findings. I used the F.B.I. Uniformed Crime Report 2011, as my main focus, due to 2012 not yet being complete. I also obtained figures from the Center for Disease Control and obviously the White House paper.
I will say now, I am against gun control in the manner it is being portrayed in the press and from my government. With that said, I was very surprised with some of the information I found. Here is some of what I was able to find:
In 2007 there were 14,916 total murders reported in the United States. In 2011 there were a total of 12,664. This is a DECREASE of 15.1% over five years.
In 2007 it was reported of the murders listed above, 453 were committed with rifles. Please keep in mind that is with ANY rifle, not just “assault rifles”. A muzzle loader used in the Revolutionary War would count for this category. This accounts for 3.13% of all total murders in 2007. During this time 19 law enforcement officers used a rifle to kill a felon in the commission of a felony crime DEFENDING themselves or someone else (FBI U.C.R.2011 Expanded Homicide Data Table 14), as well as 8 private citizens (Expanded Homicide Data Table 15).
In 2011 there were a total of 323 murders with rifles or 2.55% of the total homicides. Again, it does not distinguish between types of rifles. This is a DECREASE of 28.7% in the last five years of homicides using rifles. The decrease in the use of rifles versus the decrease of any other means is almost twice the percentage. In 2011, law enforcement used rifles 33 times, (FBI U.C.R.2011 Expanded Homicide Data Table 14), and 12 times by a private citizen, (Expanded Homicide Data Table 15). This is 45 times the rifle was used in the killing of a felon during the commission of a felony crime, and lives were saved.
Now by way of comparison I also looked at the number of murders by other various means in 2011, (FBI U.C.R. 2011 Expanded Homicide Data Table 11). There were 1,694 people killed with knives or cutting instruments, (1,371 more than rifles). There were also 496 killed with Blunt objects (173 more than rifles), and 726 with “Personal weapons”, defined as “hands, fists, feet, etc. 403 more people were plain and simple beat to death, than killed by a rifle of ANY KIND. Given these numbers, the odds are higher that a victim will be stabbed to death, beaten to death, or killed with a baseball bat, than shot with a rifle.
I then looked at the same numbers within the State of Colorado for 2011. In Colorado there were a total of 147 reported homicides. Of those, 3 were with a rifle of any type, or 2.04%. During the same time 22 people were killed by cutting or stabbing, or 15%, and 21 were killed by hands, fists, feet, etc., or 14.5%. In Colorado the use of a rifle was less than the national average. (F.B.I. Uniform Crime Report 2011, Table 20).
On a side note I found it interesting that on July 17, 2012, the United States Government Accountability Office published a paper at the request of Senator Feinstein and Representative Sensenbrenner, which in essence stated concealed carry permits were increasing on a national level. In the paragraph titled “What GAO Found” states, “The number of states allowing concealed carry permits is increasing...” This paragraph also states in 2002 there were 7 states and the District of Columbia that prohibited concealed carry. As of March of 2012 only one state, Illinois, and the District of Columbia are the only places still not allowed. It was interesting to me that these are two of the most dangerous places in the United States, and the FBI U.C.R. confirmed that. In Chicago alone, with some of the most stringent gun control laws in the nation, there have been 228 homicides this year to date. There have been 144 U.S. troops killed in the war zone of Afghanistan over the same period. Now as I said before, I am not a “scholar”, but I
do have some common sense and can see the relativity between the decrease in homicides above and the allowing people to have the right to take responsibility for their own safety.
Again, these numbers did not come from Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, the NRA, or any other organization that could be considered on “one side or the other”. It came from official federal government data.
I looked at the last several mass murders, and looked at what is proposed. I could find nothing in proposed gun control, and taking free and responsible citizens rights, that would have prevented these shootings. Each one of these shooters violated MULTIPLE laws ALREADY in existence, both state and federal.
During this same time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates alcohol alone is responsible for more than 79,000 deaths annually and costs the United States about $185 billion in health care and criminal justice expenses. Every day 32 people die in the United States from a motor vehicle crash that involves alcohol. (CDC – Excessive Alcohol Use – At A Glance, April 12, 2011). That is 12,000 people a year, very close to the TOTAL homicide rate. Where is the outrage for this?
So my question is this. Why is the rifle, any rifle, being demonized because of a select few individuals? Common sense will tell us all, when looked at it with reality and no special agendas, that these people would have found any way possible to commit these horrendous acts.
As a law enforcement officer I have responded to multiple horrendous incidents. One of the things I go to very often is fatality motor vehicle crashes. Many of these are alcohol involved deaths. The last two mass fatality accidents I have personally responded to involved blue Ford vehicles driven by drunk drivers. Now I ask you, by the people that will vote for these gun laws ways of thinking, we should outlaw all blue Ford vehicles, because obviously the blue Ford vehicles are used by drunk drivers to kill people? I know that is ridiculous, but that is exactly what passing any of the gun control laws being proposed now is saying. It is not the blue Ford vehicles fault any more than it is the rifles fault. How many rounds in a magazine will not stop them and making honest people do background checks will not stop them. They have ALWAYS found a way around laws when they are determined, and this will not change.
There are enough gun control laws on the books now, over 22,000 between federal, state and local jurisdictions. I fail to see how passing one more law that only honest people will honor, like every other one, will make a difference. None of the laws being proposed would have stopped a single shooting as of late. So I ask, why are you thinking they will now?? That just does not make sense.
In 1982 there were 26,173 alcohol related fatality crashes in the United States. By 2010 that number was down to 10,228. This is a 60.92% decrease. Did we require a background check before someone could buy alcohol? No we did not. We also did not limit the amount of alcohol someone could buy and we did not ban alcohol or vehicles. In fact there was not a major change to the DUI laws during the entire time. We did change the limit for a DUI from 0.100% to a 0.08% at the demands of the federal government. But in reality that was not a huge change since
we could still arrest for a DWAI at a 0.05%. It only changed the penalties. We did it with education, communication and enforcing the laws. We educated with television ads, school programs and general public awareness. We also educated our courts and law enforcement that DUI's were not acceptable. We communicated with the courts. We also created the REDDI, (Report Every Drunk Driver Immediately), and encouraged people to be involved and report. We then enforced the current laws ALREADY on the books. We arrested when before we would have just taken them home. We charged them and the courts enforced those arrests.
Let's try something new. How about we enforce and actually prosecute the laws we already have on the books. Open communication between mental health providers and law enforcement. Let's try to FIX the problem instead of passing some more feel good legislation that will do nothing. That way when the next shooting happens, and it will, you don't have to sit in your office and wonder how it could happen. It will be a shame for those that vote for this to have to live with the reality they cost honest people lives, hindered jobs, and took rights away from law abiding citizens and still the shootings happened. But by voting for these measures that is the reality. Let's bring some common sense back to the problem.
Thank you for your time, Jeff Rezak