President Trump is being broadly criticized, from both the right and the left, for tweeting, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Classic Trump, and honestly, the side of him I do not like. He is far too quick to engage in juvenile antics when presidential leadership would better serve both him and the country. This is a painful time for America, and his juvenile tweets are hurting, not helping. Okay, got that off my chest. But from a more dispassionate perspective, we actually do have a history of shooting looters in this country (just like other countries do). The textbook example is the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Both local and federal forces were given full authorization to kill looters, and estimates are between a dozen to 100 looters will killed as a result. Another example. In 1913 the San Antonio River flooded central Texas. With consequent evacuations the looters swept in, and that resulted in an order issued by the Texas Rangers: “Shoot all looters, and shoot to kill.” Also noteworthy: On the day that MLK was shot and killed in 1968, Mayor Daly of Chicago issued this proclamation against rioters: “…shoot to kill any arsonist . . . because they’re potential murderers, and to issue a police order to shoot to maim or cripple any arsonists and looters. Arsonists to kill, and looters to maim.” Mayor Daly’s office received plenty of mail about that proclamation (snail mail back in the day) and reported that it was 15-to-1 in favor of shooting looters. Everything changed with the 1985 supreme court case of Tennessee v. Garner. Since then, deadly force by police can only to be used when a fleeing felon (and by extension a looter) poses a threat of violence. It is also noteworthy that civilians “loot,” but when the exact same thing happens by military personnel it is called “pillaging.” Under international law/treaties, pillaging is a war crime (reference: the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949).