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Cops and the Politics of Guns

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.