Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Guns, Guns, Guns .. and the inside story

How's this for irony in timing: On the same day that Akron's City Council President pleads guilty to a weapons charge involving his handgun, we're airing my story on Channel 3 News at 6 on a new, high-tech weapon Akron Police now have in their arsenal thanks to Mayor Plusquellic's overseas ventures.

The weapon is called "Corner Shot" and it allows officers to fire around corners .... as in 90-degree angles. It looks like something out of Star Wars, but having fired it with the APD SWAT team, I can tell you that it's the real deal.

The weapon extends the officers sidearm away from their body and then allows for it to turn left or right. The officer then views the target via a video monitor and squeezes the trigger. Obviously, the advantage in close combat is keeping the officer out of the bad guy's line of sight. (photo courtesy of israeli-weapons.com)

Akron is the first and only police department in the country to get this weapon, which retails between $5,000 and $10,000. So why Akron?

The inside story is that during his overseas travels, Mayor Plusquellic made acquaintance with some business folks in Israel who are hoping to find a hub for U.S. distribution of these weapons systems. The Mayor opened conversations about bringing those jobs to NE Ohio and the talks at least went well enough that the bang-bang folks opted to send APD a sample.

Not a bad business conversation eh? Not sure what Akron sent in return .. but then again, what's protocol when someone offers you a weapon that only Chewbacca would ever fire?

APD SWAT officers are now getting familiar with Corner Shot, which would certainly come in handy with a bad guy hole up in town. Hopefully they won't have to use it, but it's good to know it's available to officers who otherwise would have to expose their own bodies to return fire.

Still, it's ironic that our community just rounded up nearly 1,000 guns off of Akron's streets .. at the same time that we're adding one mega-powerful weapon to the local arsenal.

5 comments:

DrSteve said...

Nice little article! It looks like the mayor is thinking about his police force. Good for him, and us! Also, good for him for trying to attract jobs to our city. I'll vote for him again.

For some more details on these weapons, you can check out www.cornershot.com. It seems that the main advantage of this weapon is the safety is provided to the officer. He can hide around the corner and still make the shot if he has to. That seems pretty reasonable to me. Our police officers put their lives on the line so a little more safety seems like a great idea.

It appears that the version given to the APD is the version that somehow uses officers existing pistol, so this is hardly a "mega-powerful weapon". This is a pistol that can see around corners, nothing more, noting less. Cool technology? Certainly. But being just a pistol would also disqualify this as a "weapon only Chewbacca would ever fire." Let's hope our police officers never have to fire this or any weapons. Reality would indicate though, that this is too much to hope for in the present.

If the APD can put something like this to use, great. It looks like an improvement in safety for the officer and that's a good thing.

I'm not a "gun guy", but I recognize an officer's need to carry a weapon and have no problem with law abiding citizens owning certain types of guns. However, I am constantly shocked and disappointed when a kid picks up a gun at home or at his grandma's house and shoots himself. A tragedy like this seems so avoidable. I am sickened by the kids on the streets toting guns to school and getting involved with gangs. Perhaps the recent gun buyback program can remove a gun from the hands of these kids too.

Gun buybacks don't remove guns from the thugs. They're still using them, why trade them in? No, buybacks take guns out of homes where folks fear having them around. One less kid playing with a gun. That's a great thing.

In the end, the thugs still have their guns so if the APD can still put this thing to use then that's great too - more safety for the officer. No irony there.

Swanny said...

Eric,

The recent gun buyback didn't take a single gun off the street, but instead took them out of homes. There are numerous studies which show that gun buyback programs have absolutely no impact on crime. Surveys taken during various buybacks show most of the people turning in guns are middle-aged and elderly and are the least likely to be potential shooters.

To make a real dent in crime, buybacks would have to attract lots of pistols, such as the 9mm and .40 caliber semi-automatic pistols that all the gang-bangers have and hip-hop artists romanticize in their songs. However, in reading the stories in the ABJ about the recent buyback, it seems that handguns were the minority, as most people were turning in rifles and shotguns.

These gun buybacks provide good photo-ops but do little to improve public safety. If Akron City Council wants to get tough on crime, then great, do it. But spending $20K on a feel-good program with no real impact on crime isn't an efficient or effective use of taxpayer dollars.

To me, these gun buyback programs are just shooting blanks.

Kyle said...

Eric, great segment on last night's news on this system. I hope these weapons will be available to law enforcement soon.

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