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Cops and the Politics of Guns

An ideological chasm often exists between police officers and their desk-bound superiors.

by
Mike McDaniel

Bio

March 2, 2013 - 12:00 am

What do you think of this pro-gun radio ad?

I need you in the game. With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back. … Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there.

As one might expect, response to the ad was swift and vehement. But what is remarkable is that the ad was not produced by the NRA, but by Milwaukee County (Wisconsin, the home of Progressivism) Sheriff David Clarke Jr.:

“People are responsible to play a role in their own safety, with the help of law enforcement,” Clarke said. “I’m here to do my part, but we have fewer and fewer resources. We’re not omnipresent, and we have to stop giving people that impression.”

“After sitting down and thinking about this, I’m thinking `Hey, I’ve got an untapped reserve over here, and it’s the public,’” Clarke said.

Jeri Bonavia, who is the executive director of “Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort,” believes Clark’s ad is dangerous. She compared Clarke’s ad to the Trayvon Martin case, which is confusing (Clarke happens to be black). She also wants Clarke to apologize:

“I feel like this is such an irresponsible thing for our chief public safety officer of a county to do,” Bonavia said. “I think he owes this community an apology. And if he really believes that he’s not capable of providing for our public safety he should get a different job.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., President Obama and Vice President Biden met with select police chiefs and sheriffs, including the police chief of Newtown, Connecticut. This too is remarkable in that virtually all of the other police executives preside over densely populated urban areas. Mr. Obama praised his prescience in inviting them:

No group is more important for us to listen to than our law enforcement officials. They’re where our rubber hits the road.

Independently of Mr. Obama’s meeting, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly not only agreed with Mr. Obama’s agenda, but added one of some gun control supporters’ most fervent, long-term goals: the banning of handguns:

“In most urban centers of America, the problem really is concealable handguns,” he said, adding that only two percent of people arrested for guns in the last two years had assault weapons. “We don’t want (assault weapons) on the streets, make no mistake about it, but the problem is the handgun.”

Mr. Obama picked police executives of urban areas — and the police chief of Newtown — for political purposes. His anti-freedom agenda long since decided, he’s not listening to anyone, but is instead arranging photo ops and trying to gin up grassroots support fora piece-by-piece dismantlement of the Second Amendment. The message, explicit and implied, is that if police chiefs and sheriffs support Mr. Obama’s agenda, so should everyone else. After all, don’t they live to protect and serve?

There are enormous gulfs between police executives and police officers on many issues, but few are as wide as the gun-control chasm. All police officers, patrolman and chief alike, take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, but like Obama, for some that’s been more a guideline than a rule. This pattern is particularly true of big city police chiefs and sheriffs: some from flyover country send letters to Obama notifying him of their intention to refuse to enforce gun regulations and laws that violate the Constitution, while city police executives like Mr. Kelly instead lobby for those violations.

It’s not well known that most police officers aren’t “gun guys.” Even so, because they deal with issues of constitutional law every day, they generally have an appreciation for the importance of the Constitution. Most working officers have no problem at all with honest, law-abiding citizens keeping and bearing arms. They approach everyone with the knowledge that they could be armed. They know, without question, that the problem for them and for society is criminals, not firearms.

Real cops — for that is how they think of themselves in comparison to police executives — tend to understand with crystal clarity that taking guns of any description from the law-abiding will do nothing at all to make the police or society safer, and in fact do quite the opposite. These unsophisticates believe that criminals actually disobey the law, and will disobey any gun law politicians might dream up. They understand that the public should and will fear and mistrust a police officer who wants to take away their constitutional rights.

No rational police officer is encouraged by the specter of confiscating a citizen’s firearms. Police executives, on the other hand, often hold the opposite view regardless of the Constitution, the reality of criminal psychology, and experience.

Real cops know that once removed from day-to-day policing, officers can quickly lose their edge, lose perspective on reality. Police executives often look down on officers, looking to prevent them from embarrassing their blue-clad betters.  There is much mistrust between working cops and executives, and often with good reason.

Some police executives merely want to keep their high salaries — far higher than those of working cops — and perks, and so are willing to support any policy their politician bosses favor. But many are true believers. They can’t be hired in progressive bastions otherwise, and they don’t need to be told what to do or think, regardless of the Constitution or the law. They consider themselves superior, not only to the officers that labor for them, but to the public. They don’t seek to serve and protect, but to regulate and punish.

That’s why Sheriff Clarke is remarkable. Not only is his thinking entirely in sync with the Constitution, it is reflective of reality. Many police executives want the public to be dependent upon them, all the while knowing they not only do not have to protect the public, but that it’s impossible. They want people to think themselves helpless wards of the state, and commonly parrot the sentiments of Ms. Bonavia: if the police can’t always protect everyone in every way, they should at least maintain the illusion. They should do all they can to make people feel safe, even if they have to lie to them about actually being safe.

Sheriff Clarke, having laid off 42 deputies in the last year, has chosen to tell those he serves the truth. He knows the police cannot protect everyone. He knows his resources are limited, and that with the Obama economy, they will continue to diminish. He knows that the Second Amendment affirms the inalienable right of self-defense, a right he accurately sees as an aid to law enforcement and a safe society. He knows feelings aren’t reality.

His ad is nothing more than a commonsense, concise explanation of the rights of citizens and Wisconsin law, and certainly not a call for vigilantism. Sheriff Clarke is truly seeking to serve and to protect: he’s treating the public as adults and is acting in their best interests and in the interests of his deputies.

If a police executive does not understand the history and purpose of the Second Amendment, the executive is not fit to hold the office. Disarming the law-abiding when the police are increasingly less able to function is inexcusable, as is failing to inform the public of the law accurately and in a timely manner. Discouraging the public from defending their lives is a disturbing betrayal of trust.

Working cops know all of this, but they dare not speak up unless they work for a man like Sheriff Clarke. What is interesting is anyone thinking that being deceived by their police is unremarkable. Being deceived by Obama? The status quo.

Mike McDaniel is a former police officer, detective, and SWAT operator, and is now a high school English teacher. He blogs here.

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Top Rated Comments   
Greetings:

So, that bit of bureaucratic folk-wisdom, "Where you stand depends on where you sit." might actually be true ???
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
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I have confirmed with a constitutional lawyer friend my belief that any law, regulation or Executive Order is de facto constitutional and has the force of law unless stayed by a court order. Usually courts will respect the separation of powers and not issue court stays unless prompted by a suit by some entity or person with standing on the issue. Thus to challenge unconstitutional laws, someone must suffer the consequences of the law. Much damage can be done to citizens rights while the slow process of adjudication proceeds. There is now the nationwide Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association to protect the Constitution; the CSPOA protects county citizens 2nd Amendment rights.





Two weeks ago I learned of Chief Kessler’s call to citizens of Gilberton Borough, Pennsylvania to join him and his police department in putting together a “reserve force” to help defend his city in the event of a foreign invasion or, more precisely, an invasion of the Federal government to confiscate firearms. The proposed reserve force is now referred to as the Constitutional Security Force. While the details of how this proposed force would be organized have not been finalized, chapters have been organized in Indiana, West Virginia, South Carolina and Kentucky. Information and links can be found here: http://freedomoutpost.com/2013/02/constitutional-security-force-develops-as-result-of-police-chiefs-efforts/





I had discussed with like minded citizens the formation of an organization similar to the Committees of Correspondence that existed in the colonies prior to the Revolutionary War to resist the Monarchy’s tyranny. I'm quite sure, though, that such an organization in today’s world would appear to be equivalent to a vigilante, hate mongering militia to the Left and would be used to frighten even more uninformed citizens about the exaggerated dangers of firearms in the hands of citizens and undermine resistance to further gun control. The Constitutional Security Force would be the US Code's unorganized militia under the supervision of each of our county's elected sheriffs.



While legal challenges to unconstitutional laws and citizens peaceful rallies and demonstrations to show support for full constitutional rights are correct and necessary actions, a “show of force” and a display of an intent to resist may many times accomplish more if the other side of the issue is unreasonable. Unfortunately it did not work with Great Britain when their military, under government orders, tried to confiscate arms at Concord and Lexington resulting in war. But one can be hopeful the Constitutional Security Force’s presence would forestall violence from the federal or state governments to enforce unconstitutional gun control laws.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have confirmed with a constitutional lawyer friend my belief that any law, regulation or Executive Order is de facto constitutional and has the force of law unless stayed by a court order. Usually courts will respect the separation of powers and not issue court stays unless prompted by a suit by some entity or person with standing on the issue. Thus to challenge unconstitutional laws, someone must suffer the consequences of the law. Much damage can be done to citizens rights while the slow process of adjudication proceeds. There is now the nationwide Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association to protect the Constitution; the CSPOA protects county citizens 2nd Amendment rights.





Two weeks ago I learned of Chief Kessler’s call to citizens of Gilberton Borough, Pennsylvania to join him and his police department in putting together a “reserve force” to help defend his city in the event of a foreign invasion or, more precisely, an invasion of the Federal government to confiscate firearms. The proposed reserve force is now referred to as the Constitutional Security Force. While the details of how this proposed force would be organized have not been finalized, chapters have been organized in Indiana, West Virginia, South Carolina and Kentucky. Information and links can be found here: http://freedomoutpost.com/2013/02/constitutional-security-force-develops-as-result-of-police-chiefs-efforts/





I had discussed with like minded citizens the formation of an organization similar to the Committees of Correspondence that existed in the colonies prior to the Revolutionary War to resist the Monarchy’s tyranny. I'm quite sure, though, that such an organization in today’s world would appear to be equivalent to a vigilante, hate mongering militia to the Left and would be used to frighten even more uninformed citizens about the exaggerated dangers of firearms in the hands of citizens and undermine resistance to further gun control. The Constitutional Security Force would be the US Code's unorganized militia under the supervision of each of our county's elected sheriffs.



While legal challenges to unconstitutional laws and citizens peaceful rallies and demonstrations to show support for full constitutional rights are correct and necessary actions, a “show of force” and a display of an intent to resist may many times accomplish more if the other side of the issue is unreasonable. Unfortunately it did not work with Great Britain when their military, under government orders, tried to confiscate arms at Concord and Lexington resulting in war. But one can be hopeful the Constitutional Security Force’s presence would forestall violence from the federal or state governments to enforce unconstitutional gun control laws.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
While individual cops might not agree with their bosses on gun control, once a law is passed authorizing confiscation those same cops will be exercising warrantless searches and breaching doors in your neighborhood.

They'll follow orders before they take a chance on losing their pension.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The thing about a pension is: one has to live in order to collect it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Notice the contrast between Sheriff Clark of Milwaukee County, and the BS spouted by his "citified" counterpart, Chief Ed Flynn (Milwaukee PD), when appearing before DiFi's gun-control love-fest this past week.
Night and Day!
It is just unfortunate that advocating the abrogation of Constitutional protections as done by Chief Flynn and others cannot be prosecuted as Treason.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm okay with NYC banning handguns. Cops go first. We'll see how that works out, then we'll give up ours, if it's going well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I wil begin to lobby my state legislature and governor to form the militia by statute. I would like to learn what kind of parameters to buld into it that effectively shuts off this debate.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Lots of states already have statutory state militias and some have naval militias as well. Ours is called the Alaska State Defense Force and it is established at Alaska Statute 26.05.010.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In a Democrat run government, you will NOT be head of a police agency without the approval of the union and most, almost all, cop unions are more interested in politics than they are in the well-being of their members. The authors of the original National Labor Relations Act got it right when they prohibited "guards" unions from being affiliated with unions that represented any other kind of employee. No such restriction exists in most, maybe all, public sector collective bargaining laws. Consequently, many independent cop unions are AFL-CIO affiliates and many are just locals of some National union. For many years the infamously corrupt Teamsters local here represented the Anchorage cops. Some genius working for Palin stood idly by as the State Troopers' union here affilliated with AFSCME and then hired a former head of the Democrat Party as their business manager. I saw in the Juneau paper that the AFSCME local that represents the bulk of State employess was singing songs and carrying signs at the State Office Building. If that had gotten out of hand, both the State Troopers and the Juneau Police are members of the same union as the demonstrating employees. How much enthusiasm do you think they'd have in restoring order?

I don't know that I'd want to be a non-union cop because I know better than most just how arbitrary and incompetent political-level public sector management can be. That said, cop unions really are a pestilence. The only job I know of in the Country that can have you making $100K/yr. a couple of years out of high school is being a unionized cop or correctional officer.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, when seconds count,YOUR DEAD!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have worked hand in hand with the cops for 25 years in the court system. I know some of them. And yes, even in NYC the working cops have no problem with concealed carry or patrol rifles in the hands of civilians. But we all agree, maniacs keep getting guns. And we all agree maniacs keep getting plea bargains, and we cannot lock up crazy people, and that the northeast has been taken over by what in the old days would have been called communists. We don't call them that anymore. We call them bosses.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actually, Hillary likes to be called a Progressive.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Desk jockies are appointed by anti-gun politicians or promoted by police officials responsible to those politicians. What the heck would you expect from them?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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