All: Welcome to 2013. Happy New Year! May it be a safe and prosperous New Year for you and yours. Now that I have the pleasantries out of the way, welcome to a year that’s kicking off with plenty of debate about a couple of topics that certainly have the ability to impact our day (or night if you work graveyard shift).
Our year starts off with a huge debate over gun control, spurred by the most recent heinous crime committed in Newtown, CT by an obviously disturbed person. Whether he was mentally or emotionally disturbed, knowingly carried criminal intent, was mad at the world or was simply evil and bored doesn’t matter in our world. For us, response to and neutralization of the threat is what we focus on. In this case, politicians and others with various agendas (myself sometimes included) seized on the event in an attempt to leverage it for their own gain, even if the “gain” is simply getting more of something they believe in.
Unfortunately, in this case, the issues are spilling over and affecting some of us at the operational level. Take, for example, the detectives who were in a Denny’s restaurant in Illinois, who were asked to leave by a manager because their guns made other patrons nervous. The Chief of Police has now ordered his officers not to go into a Denny’s unless they are responding to a call for service. Not long ago, a representative from the Buffalo Wild Wings chain of restaurants/pubs came out with a statement that they don’t allow concealed carry in their establishments. (They have yet to respond to my request for clarification on their position about off-duty or retired officers carrying concealed.)
Some in favor of gun control have long attempted to disarm those who rightfully and legally carry firearms. In some places, judges have even sought to prohibit uniformed officers from being armed in the courtroom (although one judge I know of who tried this was the basest of hypocrites as she held a concealed carry permit and was always, as far as I know, armed in her courtroom). Of the folks who favor gun control, a couple of prime motivators usually stand out. Some seem simply afraid of firearms and the majority among them (in my experience) are largely ignorant about firearms, how they function, what they’ll do, etc. Others seem genuinely motivated about reducing deadly violence in our streets and they see restricting what they perceive as tools of violence as a means of reducing violence.
To those who are afraid of weapon because they are ignorant of them, I encourage education. Personally, if there’s a topic that concerns me, I do what I can to become better educated about it. I find that the more I know, the less I fear. To those who want to reduce criminal violence by controlling what they see as tools of violence I say, think again. We human beings are a determined lot and we usually find a way to accomplish our goals even if it means improvising to use other tools. All around the world there are countries and cities that have gun control laws far more restrictive than ours, yet mass killings and acts of violence continue to occur. The problem is not the guns, or the proliferation of them, but the human beings who decide to commit violent acts and our lack of ability to identify them until after they’ve acted on their impulses.
To my brother and sister officers I say: Make sure that you recognize daily your personal responsibility for your firearm(s). Maintain them properly. Maintain your proficiency with them. Be mindful of others around you, on and off duty, and maintain positive control through personal possession, disabling, or secure storage. For those among us who are pro-gun, be prepared to answer questions with rational, straight-forward information. I’ve been a firearms instructor for almost 20 years and can’t count the number of hours that I’ve spent educating folks about simple basic firearms info… without being able to give anyone a bill for the time. Ultimately, it was time well invested.