There is a direct and sad correlation between population growth, availability of lethal weapons, and the number of law enforcement officers murdered by guns in the line of duty.
From the beginning of the nation, an estimated 20,000 policemen have died in the line of duty. The greatest number occurred during Prohibition, when lawlessness was rampant. According to the FBI, from 1990 to 2010, an average of 164 law officers were feloniously killed annually. Accidental deaths of cops on duty reached similarly high rates.
A recent four-year study showed 25 cops in the United Kingdom were killed in the line of duty, compared with 2,445 American police officers. There is no National Rifle Association in Britain.
As a former public safety official, I know that American cops rightly fear for their lives when confronting suspected criminals who may be armed. Recently U.S. officers killed eight times as many people in one year as United Kingdom cops did in 115 years.
Most British officers do not carry guns. In violent situations, they come armed only with protective shields and truncheons. In similar situations, American cops too often feel compelled to shoot their weapons. America has 11 times as many cops as Britain, but 130 times as many are killed by guns each year.
What is the picture in Moore County? Fortunately, the police of Cameron, Pinehurst, Pinebluff, Taylortown, Vass and Whispering Pines report no officers ever killed, albeit some have been seriously injured carrying out their duties. In Southern Pines, though, every police chief from 1929 to 1961 met a violent end.
Chief Joseph Kelly was shot at Massachusetts Avenue and May Street in 1929, when he stopped a car driven by a burglary suspect. In 1931, Chief Benjamin Beasley was shot by a criminal in Durham. In 1939, Chief Jasper Addison Gargis died after fighting with a violent man at the same intersection at which Kelly was killed.
In 1961, Chief Charles Edwin Newton was killed attempting to disarm a disturbed man armed with a shotgun. Newton was shot in the face and died instantly. Detective Ed Harris, a 20-year veteran, was assassinated by drug dealers who came to his home and shot him six times in the head. They also wounded his wife. In 2013, officer Stanley Klingenschmidt was killed on duty in a motorcycle accident.
On June 17, 1946, soon after Hemp changed its name to Robbins, its popular police chief, Shellie Wayne Moxley, was shot dead in a shootout with two drunks at E.E. Moss Grocery Store. Moxley killed one man and wounded the other, but was fatally shot twice in the stomach and once in the shoulder.
In Aberdeen on Jan. 10, 1924, Police Chief William Pross Page was shot and killed while apprehending a burglary suspect.
Carthage Chief Bernice Cameron was shotgunned in the face March 15, 1953, when eight men ambushed him in a dark alley. Cameron was only 24 years of age and had served on the force for only four months.
In 2009, Carthage Police officer Justin Garner was wounded while apprehending Robert Stewart, the disturbed killer of eight people at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center.
Sheriff’s deputy Rick Rhyne was killed responding to a trespassing call on Dec. 8, 2011. He had identified one of the two trespassers as the property owner and then received a radio report that the man had outstanding child support warrants. The property owner also heard the radio traffic, and he immediately removed a concealed gun from under his clothing and fatally shot Rhyne. He then killed himself.
What is the answer? Our state legislators have consistently voted to make guns easier to acquire, not harder. A recent U.S. House of Representatives bill, approved 235-180, will allow 75,000 recipients of disability insurance — who require a representative to manage their benefits because of disabling mental disorders ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia — to buy guns.
It applies to those between age 18 and full retirement. They have severe mental illnesses and cannot hold any kind of job or make decisions about their affairs. NRA-endorsed President Trump believes they should fully enjoy their Second Amendment rights. The police strongly disagree.