Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, in a meeting with faith leaders in Delaware, made the short-sighted declaration that police officers should be trained to shoot assailants in the leg instead of the chest or heart.
CBS News headlined Biden’s meeting in Delaware, “Biden vows to set up police oversight board if elected.” Biden’s main argument during the meeting was to create a federal police oversight board in his first hundred days in office as president, but his comment about changing police officer training left experts confused.
Yet CBS News ignored his comment and the potential consequences of changing police officer training with a firearm. It solely focused on his campaign promises about installing an oversight board if he was elected as president.
“We also have to fundamentally change the way police are trained,” Biden said. “The idea that instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there’s an unarmed person that’s coming at them with a knife so they shoot him in the leg instead of in the heart, is a very different thing. There’s a lot of different things that can change.” But experts criticized Biden’s suggestion on changing police officer training with a gun because it goes against the principle of stopping potentially deadly threats from harming officers and civilians.
For example, the use of a firearm by a police officer is considered the use of deadly force in law enforcement and it must be justified. If Biden’s suggestion became commonplace, it would create potential situations where no deadly force could be used out of fear of causing harm. Police officers are trained to stop threats, and without the option for deadly force, it could limit an officer’s ability to keep the community safe. Also, police officers are not trained to kill, but to stop threats.
For veteran gun owners, it is much easier to shoot the center of mass (i.e. the center of the body) than to shoot a limb such as a leg or an arm. Also, Biden should have taken into account potential collateral damage if the police officer’s bullet misses the limb and ricochets.