Gun Owners' Message To Law Enforcement

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A good friend of Gun Rights Watch who is a former high-ranking officer in the US Armed Forces wrote this Op-Ed in an effort to appeal to the good sense of the many fine law enforcement officers throughout the country. The piece nails it, laying out out the various reasons why police and citizens must stand together to resist gun control.

Sheriffs Department conducting a no-knock raid

Gun Owners' Message To Law Enforcement:  Stand With Us!

“Bad men need no more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
– John Stuart Mill

Law-abiding American gun owners stand with law enforcement, and American law enforcement must stand with us. Elitist politicians across the country are advancing draconian national, state, and local gun control schemes that will do nothing to deter criminal activity and will only undermine honest Americans' natural right and responsibility to provide for their own safety and security.    

Participating in Second Amendment marches and rallies, calling and emailing legislators, writing letters to the editor, and engaging in social media discussions are all worthy pursuits, but according to some studies, only 30-40% of US households have firearms. Gun owners are a minority in modern America and we need a new strategy if we hope to defeat bad public policy and defend Second Amendment civil liberties. Responsible gun owners are also law enforcement's strongest support group and we, in turn, need — and deserve — law enforcement's public support of our interests. We need law enforcement to stand with us!

Several times the best-known Second Amendment advocacy groups have been approached with a recommendation to draw law enforcement's unions and associations — their political organizations — into our camp, but those Second Amendment groups have for the most part been non-responsive. In one case, they said trying to get law enforcement into the public policy debate was “too hard,” but sometimes that which is hard is the thing most worth doing, and at this point what do we have to lose? Law enforcement, stand with us!

Here's how it played out in Deerfield, Illinois.

Deerfield, Illinois PoliceIn April 2018 the Deerfield, Illinois Village Board passed a sweeping ban on commonly used sporting arms and standard capacity magazines; what the board called “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines.”  Not everyone in Deerfield was subject to the village's onerous ordinance, however. Law enforcement officers' (LEOs) and retired LEOs' privately-owned firearms were exempt. That's worth repeating: The personally owned gun collections of cops and retired cops were exempt from the ban. The Deerfield ordinance emotionally decries that, “...assault weapons are dangerous and unusual weapons which are commonly associated with the military..,” yet active and retired military personnel were granted no exemption from the ban. That logic requires some mental gymnastics, or perhaps simply an acknowledgment that the police officers in Deerfield are more politically astute and well connected than military personnel and other law-abiding citizens. In any case, the exemption bought law enforcement's silence, the village's cops were able to keep their personal gun collections, and the ordinance was approved by the village board. 

The Deerfield case is not unique, however. The same exemptions for LEOs' and retired LEOs' privately owned firearms are seen at the state and local level throughout the country: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Boulder CO, Highland Park IL, and the list goes on. All have LEO exemptions for privately-owned firearms collections. Those officers who are exempt from the laws and ordinances they are tasked to enforce will have a difficult time explaining their above-the-law status to the gun-owning taxpayers (as well as their friends and neighbors) in the communities they serve. The exemptions must stop. We are all equal citizens and should remain so under the law. No law enforcement gun registration or ban exemptions. Stand with us!

The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police is taking a stand.

Illinois Fraternal Order of PoliceA fairly senior Illinois state-level Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) member intimated his union is working with the police chiefs' association in his state to better educate state lawmakers on proposed gun control legislation. He also said their group's biggest problem was how the police will enforce the proposed new laws (which include a firearms registration and ban scheme, elimination of private firearm sales among law-abiding citizens, and other measures) with a shortage of enforcement resources. Their problem would be solved if they worked in concert with law-abiding gun owners to defeat bad legislation BEFORE it becomes law. Eliminate the LEO exemptions and suddenly cops have tangible skin in the game—their private firearms collections—and additional incentive to actively and publicly oppose flawed legislation.

The FOP representative went on to say a large majority of FOP members support the Second Amendment and don't want to see law-abiding citizens punished. When will the national FOP, its state organizations, and the local police union lodges publicly speak out to reflect the majority views of their members? When will they follow the courageous, principled, rational, and public stand taken by many of the nation's sheriffs? The time is now.  Stand with us!

Police chiefs and sheriffs should publicly speak out against bad legislation and defend the free exercise of Second Amendment civil liberties by lawful, gun-owning Americans. The police chiefs and sheriffs must ensure that their respective associations reflect those views during the national, state, and local policymaking processes and refuse to be bought off with exemptions. Perhaps most importantly, it's time for rank and file and retired LEOs to insist their department leadership, union, and other political representatives reflect the rank and file's majority views — even if it means giving up their exemptions. The time has passed to look on and do nothing. Stand on principle.

With law enforcement's thoughtful, articulate and public backing we can avert the years of lengthy and expensive legal battles necessary to overturn bad legislation. We will also ensure all citizens enjoy equal protection under the law without carve-outs for the politically clever and well-connected.  Most importantly, we will compel lawmakers to focus their energies on effective public policy rather on emotionally charged, counterproductive, and tired schemes targeted at compliance-oriented and honest Americans.

Law enforcement, stand with us!