Why Aren't People Afraid of Armed Cops?

by Will Grigg
Mar. 27, 2014

Michael Smith was sleeping when he heard a loud noise outside his home in Norridgewock, Maine. Shirtless and annoyed, Smith opened his door to find a crew from the local electric utility cutting down trees in his yard. He complained about them in a loud voice, then turned around and went back to bed.

 Just a few minutes later, Smith was rudely awakened again by the commands issued through the loudspeaker of a police vehicle. His home had been surrounded by a SWAT team, which ordered him out of the house. The police were responding to a report that Smith had a gun tucked into the waistband of his pants.

 What appeared to be a firearm was actually a tattoo of a small-caliber handgun. The sight of what appeared to be a single handgun was so frightening to the work team that they called the police – who responded by deploying dozens of armed men, some of whom wound up training assault rifles on the home of a perfectly innocent man they were prepared to kill.

 Why are some people driven to panic by the sight of an armed citizen – but indifferent to the spectacle of armed government officials who have been given a license to kill at their discretion?

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