An epidemic of lawlessness


Retired Police Chief Andreas Probst, 64, was enjoying the pleasant weather and early morning sunshine when he got on his bicycle and went for a ride. On August 14, he was approached from behind by a car.

A video shows the driver, 17, pulled into the bike lane and, encouraged by his, as yet, unidentified companion, ran over the chief and left him to die on the side of the road, The Las Vegas police are calling it an intentional attack by the teenager. The vicious crime occurred about 6:00 a.m.

The driver was arrested soon after the incident. A video, taken by the other teen while laughing and cheering the driver on, began appearing on social media. Officials have stated that the charges will be upgraded to murder, and he will likely be tried as an adult. The unnamed teen was driving a stolen vehicle, according to news reports, and police say he was involved with other stolen cars that same morning.

The video has elicited outrage at the callousness of the teens ,who ran down retired Chief Probst, from local Las Vegas citizens and by commentators nationwide. The video shows both the collision with the victim and his body sprawled on the side of the road as the person holding the camera caught on video as they sped away at high speed.

It’s not surprising that some people would be encouraged to brutally attack others as major cities and politicians become complicit in crimes. When politicians work to defund the police, do away with cash bail, and refuse to charge people with crimes, what else is to be expected?

According to, New York Prosecutor Alvin Bragg wants to do away with prison time for most crimes. In other major cities, some prosecutors are following his lead.

The riots of the summer of 2020 and the ongoing “flash robs” have demonstrated that the thugs “get it.” They won’t be arrested and prosecuted. There is very little fear of going to jail in some parts of the country. If there is no punishment, then “why not do the crime, if there is no time?”

According to, since the summer of 2020, gun sales have surged and reported that nearly 21 million firearms were bought legally, with 18.5 million being purchased a year later. One gun shop manager that I spoke with said that he couldn’t keep enough guns on hand, such was the demand.

With the increase in lawlessness, America is arming itself in ever increasing numbers. There are, according to, 81.4 million American who legally own guns. Some own more than one, accounting for the 466 million legal guns in the hands of citizens. This number will likely increase.

Counting the numbers of Americans who say they currently own a gun and the number who have stated they “might someday own a gun,” this accounts for the 66.7%, or over two-thirds of Americans who are not opposed to gun ownership and have no issue with people owning guns.

Lawbreakers, even murderers, in many communities have no fear of retribution. One might argue that a 17-year-old is not capable of knowing right from wrong but that is simply absurd. Most 17-year-olds easily know the difference. The military trusts trained 17-year-olds who enlist, to carry a rifle or other weapons system, and defend this nation.

One of the greatest heroes of World War II was Audie Murphy. One of the most decorated soldiers of World War II, Murphy was awarded every medal for heroism and valor available to the United States Army and received French and Belgian awards for heroism. Murphy enlisted 10 days after his 17th birthday. At 19 years of age, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Contrast that with the 17-year-old punk and his partner in crime who ran down a retired man and those who loot, rob, rape, and steal because they see no downside.

If lawlessness continues or intensifies, and the police are hamstrung, and the prosecutors and courts refuse to do their jobs, the outcome is assured — ordinary citizens will protect their homes and lives. Tens of millions of Americans clearly have the means to do it.

But this is not desirable. We need laws and law enforcers who will arrest and punish lawlessness and law breakers. The Apostle Paul had something to say about this:

(Romans 13:1-4 New International Version) “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King ( Worship services are on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and on livestream at He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South ( He may be contacted at]


  1. First, the USA already has too many people imprisoned, and policing in the USA has already been proven to be prejudicial against POC, as Suz mentioned in her comment on STFs comment: just look up Baton Rouge’s “brave cave” where police hauled minorities for minor offenses, abused and assaulted them, without their ever having been charged with any crime!

    Look at the statistics that say even after the BLM protests and the horrifying real-time murder before our eyes of George Floyd in 2020, black people are still killed by police at a much higher rate than white people in the USA. (Black people make up 13% of the population and accounted for 27% of the deaths by police in 2021, after Mr Floyd’s murder).

    It’s fine if you want to say, Fr Epps, that as a white man you support police because they are less likely to kill you, but you DON’T say that. You say police need to be freed to kill MORE criminals. When you are in the minority who are targeted for police violence, then please tell me how much more you want the police unshackled. Until then STFU about police.

    And as for your endorsement of folks arming themselves for self defense: it just doesn’t work out that way based on the numbers. The statistics actually say having a gun in the home INCREASES the likelihood you will die by gun homicide or suicide. Having a gun does not protect you from evildoers according to the stats — rather it puts you at higher risk for a gun death.

    Plus the stats don’t ONLY say you put yourself at risk when you keep a gun in the home: in cities/counties where there are more guns (even legally owned ones!) there is more gun violence. Easier availability of guns = higher death rates by gun violence. States with lax gun control laws and easier access to guns have higher death rates by mass shooting, too. More guns = more gun death any way you slice it.

    I don’t know exactly what your column is advocating for, Fr Epps. If it is for people to arm themselves, then it is advocating for more gun deaths, which seems odd for a Christian minister.

    If it is advocating for more police control, consider that black people are twice as likely to be killed by police officers as white people, put yourself in their place if you can, and then decide whether you want more police or for police to have more power. If so, then I can only pity you and the fearful, angry person you must be at heart.

    • VJax – how self-important you are, and appalling it is, for you to tell Reverend Epps to “STFU”. This approach may work on woke social media, but just shows the shallowness of your thinking.

      The race-hustling must stop. Fact is, Blacks are most dangerous to other Blacks. “Of the killers of Black Americans in 2020 whose race was known, 89.4% were Black, according to the FBI.” (Washington Post 9/14/2023)

      What’s more, according to, as of August 23, 2023 there have been 639 fatal shootings by police, of which 85 were Black individuals. That’s 13.3% of fatal shootings, almost exactly proportional to the Black population.

      If you also consider the much higher incidence of violent crime committed by Black individuals, and therefore higher likelihood of contact with police, then your myth about police targeting Blacks falls apart even worse.

      Either your reading comprehension is awful or you have no regard for the truth if your takeaway is that Reverend Epps was advocating for police to kill more criminals. He clearly laid the increasing lawlessness in society at the feet of soft-on-crime / Defund The Police politicians, courts and prosecutors. When they don’t do their jobs, people must arm themselves in self-defense.

      A public apology is in order.

  2. As an aside– Nowhere am I condoning vigilante justice. I am merely pointing out that a few millions of Americans are, because of lawlessness, arming themselves for protection and self-defense. The police can normally react to a crime, assault, murder, rape, etc., only AFTER the deed is done by evil people. In some jurisdictions, as I mentioned, because of politicians, the police have virtually been handcuffed. Also, thanks to blakeh95, the reader that posted the updated laws on cyclists. Many ride out where I live and I always drive safely around them. They have the right to the road too.
    David Epps

  3. Rev Epps – no doubt that we are in a bad place as a nation regarding crime. The video of the teens running down the cyclist can only be described as evil. Absolutely no regard for another person’s life.

    We’ve seen low / no-bail laws, “slap on the wrist” judges and prosecutors, and the Defund The Police movement reduce consequences for criminal behavior. Drug use and mental problems, gangs and some cultural elements that glorify violence, are also drivers of crime.

    The number of guns is an irrelevant red herring. It’s what criminals do with the guns (usually illegally obtained) that is the problem.

    Not surprisingly, it is the rising incidence of crime itself that drives law-abiding citizens to increasingly arm themselves for self and family protection.

    We cannot continue to elect soft-on-crime politicians, judges and prosecutors, and we must fully support our local police forces in order to keep our communities safe.

  4. Rev. Epps – You highlight two very troubling, and related, problems in our country. Criminal behavior such as the murder of Mr. Probst is abhorrent, and the brazenness of criminals who don’t fear prosecution is appalling. Likewise the proliferation of guns (466,000,000 by your count), outnumbering the U.S. population is even more disturbing. Gun-waving citizens transforming our country into Hollywood’s version of the Wild West is nothing but a recipe for more violence. No other Western democracy would even countenance it.

    It is interesting that the violent crime rate per population is much lower than it was during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, but the firearm possession rate is far higher. I assume that the 24-hour news cycle can largely explain this phenomenon. Meanwhile, both sides are very scary.

    • Dear STF—I agree with your assertion: “Gun-waving citizens transforming our country into Hollywood’s version of the Wild West is nothing but a recipe for more violence.”

      Vigilante “justice” is not a viable solution to the problem of lawlessness. It is simply more lawlessness.

      I would argue that the same can be said of Rev. Epp’s suggestion–a blind and unquestioning support for all law-enforcement actions.

      I was reading the horrific account in yesterday’s USA Today newspaper (Fri 9/22) of Andreas Probst’s callous murder by two unfeeling young men. Directly above, in another article, the headline read “Nine deputies are charged in death of inmate in Tenn.”.

      Both horrific. Both callous. Both unfeeling. Both parts of the “epidemic of lawlessness”.

      We all want this to end. It will take accountability. It will take reform. It will take restorative justice.

      To utilize more violence–more lawlessness–is like throwing gasoline in an attempt to put out a fire.

  5. I’m aware that this event did not occur in Georgia, but it may be a useful time to point out Georgia’s UPDATED laws for passing a cyclist.

    In 2021, the Georgia General Assembly amended the laws regulating the passing of a cyclist to require either (1) making a lane change into a nonadjacent lane or (2) slowing down 10 mph below the posted limit, to a minimum of 25 mph (that is, on a 30 mph road, 25 mph is ok–you don’t have to slow down 10 mph to 20 mph).

    Nevertheless, people break this law with respect to cyclists constantly. Including at least two people I’ve encountered who were on their way to church!

      • Ok and? Two wrongs don’t make a right. Even more importantly, the fact that someone ELSE makes a wrong doesn’t make it right to take it out on another person. I can guarantee you that you don’t see me breaking the law every day while cycling.

        Further, how many drivers do you see every day breaking the law? They roll the stop signs too. They fail to signal too. And most if not all of them are speeding “just a bit” because local police are generally prohibited by law from enforcing speeding 10mph or less. The fact that it can’t be enforced doesn’t mean that speeding isn’t breaking the law.