Yesterday on MSNBC, California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein made a startling claim. She claimed that “I think we’ve got all the police,” backing her latest “assault” weapons ban, adding that “we have all the mayors virtually.”
Is that true? Feinstein may have the support of most big city mayors, liberals like Michael Bloomberg foremost among them, but what about police officers?
This afternoon I spoke with former Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL). Sandy Adams has one of the most interesting backgrounds of anyone in politics. She dropped out of school at age 17 to join the US Air Force. She married at 18, but that marriage turned out to be an abusive one. She ended up studying and becoming a deputy sheriff in the Orange County (FL) Sheriff’s Department. That was in 1985. She served in law enforcement for 17 years, losing her second husband in the line of duty in 1989. Her life and work propelled her to become an advocate for crime victims’ rights, which led her to study criminal justice, and eventually, politics. She spent eight years in the Florida House before her election to Congress.
Fast forward and Adams is elected to Congress in the 2010 Tea Party class. She has a strong opinion, as a former law enforcement officer, on the subject of firearms and an armed citizenry. They don’t square at all with Sen. Feinstein’s take.
“I can tell you she doesn’t have all the police because I just met with a large group of rank and file police and they don’t agree. None of the ones I spoke with were supportive.”
She also spoke recently with Dallas police officers, who “recognized that it doesn’t address the real problem. The real problem is criminals.” In general, Adams says that rank and file officers do not agree with police chiefs and mayors who publicly push for gun control. The reason is simple: Rank and file officers understand that the police cannot be everywhere guarding against criminals, so citizens have to be able to defend themselves.
“Response times are getting longer. You may have to defend yourself until someone arrives to help you.”
She cited the case of the Georgia mom who found herself and her children under attack from a home invader in January.
“She had to defend herself and her baby because help had not arrived,” Adams said. “The woman in Georgia did everything right,” Adams said, noting that the woman called 9-1-1 before retrieving her pistol. “She didn’t want to have the confrontation. She retreated but the bad guy kept coming. So she defended herself and her children.” When the attacker broke into the hiding place where the mom and her 9-year-old twins were hiding and confronted them with a crowbar, the mom emptied her .38 revolver, hitting the assailant with five of her six shots. He was later arrested, and it turned out that he had a long rap sheet.
“When I was on the streets in law enforcement, we just didn’t have the resources to respond to each call,” Adams said.
Police have to prioritize their calls and allocate resources to respond to them. Adams said that there is no guarantee that any officers will arrive in time to help you. If you are not armed and familiar with your firearm, it could mean the difference between life and death. Police chiefs, meanwhile, are hired by mayors, and mayors tend to be gun control-supporting Democrats. That explains the difference between the rank and file and their bosses, and why Feintstein claims to have “all the police” when she really means all of the police who work for mayors who also support her ban.
Adams says that one common thread connects the high-profile mass murderers who have shocked the country and whose actions have spurred the latest push for more gun control laws: Mental health. But the current background check system is inadequate to deal with that issue, and rather than fix it, gun control advocates just want to expand it. In Florida, Adams says that she passed legislation that tied mental competence to the gun background check system, but different laws in different states mean the system will not catch every potential problem.
“The problem with the background check that they do today is that they are riddled with holes. What’s considered a felony in one state may not be a felony in another. I told Sen. Durbin (D-IL) that you should fix the system before you ever considered expanding it.”
Those holes, she says, should be addressed before anyone considers expanding the system to a “universal” background check as the Obama administration is proposing.
Adams adds that gun ownership is not something to be taken lightly. “I had this conversation with one of my children. You have to understand that gun ownership is a huge responsibility. You have to learn how to handle it, how to shoot it, how to clean it. And you have to know in your own mind what you will do when you are attacked.”
Political leaders also have a responsibility regarding the laws that they pass. “Sen. Feinstein has been very vocal for many years, and her opinions on guns and gun control are very well known. But I stand by the fact that if you disarm law-abiding citizens, you leave them vulnerable to attack by criminals, who by definition break the law. They will find a way of getting guns” no matter what laws are passed.