In a recent news article we see where folks are questioning how Senator Dianne Feinstein managed to get a collection of weapons, restricted by law from being possessed in Washington DC, into the Capital Building to use as props during a presentation she made about the need for more gun laws, greater restrictions, etc. According to the news reports I've seen on television, Chief Cathy Lanier was approached by the Senator’s staff to get permission to bring such weapons into the District for the purpose of the presentation. Further, according to the news report, Chief Lanier authorized Senator Feinstein to possess the weapons for the purpose specified. Here’s my conundrum…
How does a Chief of Police legally, ethically and/or morally authorize someone… ANYONE… to knowingly break the very laws that the Chief has taken an oath to uphold? Yes, I’m being critical of the Chief’s actions in this single instance, but I need to clarify something so this isn’t taken out of context: I’ve known Chief Lanier, as an acquaintance, longer than she’s been a police officer – since the late ‘80s. Chief Lanier is an intelligent, motivated and competent individual. I am not being critical of HER; I’m being critical of this particular incident.
What confuses me is why a Senator who is so virulently anti-gun would need such weapons for her presentation. Wouldn’t FAKE representations of the weapons suffice? Why would she, or her staff, even think it would be acceptable to ask for permission to break the law? If such permission was granted, why would anyone believe that such permission exempted them from the law? It’s not lawfully given authorization. As far as I’m concerned, any police officer with arrest authority in the District should be able to arrest Senator Feinstein for illegally possessing those weapons, and any member of her staff who assisted as accessories to the crime.
Shouldn’t Chief Lanier KNOW that she can’t legally exempt anyone from the law? I mean, I know it seems to be happening in our government a lot at the moment. President Obama has exempted several hundred companies from the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare); something that, as near as I can tell, he has no lawful authority to do. The law is the law is the law. It pertains to everyone equally. Isn’t that the entire basis of our country’s judicial system? We’re all equal under the law?
Now obviously, as some laws are written, exceptions sometimes get written in prior to passage. For instance, laws that restrict citizens from owning select-fire weapons without a special tax stamp allows law enforcement officers to possess said weapons while on duty and as needed to perform their duties. I personally disagree with that but it’s the way the law was written and passed. No governor is arbitrarily exempting police officers from a gun restriction law while the same law gets enforced on others. What we’re seeing in DC is special treatment or selective enforcement: in this case, a Senator who gets “permission” to commit an illegal act with the knowledge of the city’s senior law enforcement official. I just don’t understand how that can be legal, ethical or moral.
As I said… color me confused. Can anyone help explain this to me?
On Friday, October 12th, 2013 at approximately 6pm eastern, I received an email from the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. From their Director of Communications, it contained this response from Chief Lanier:
MPD responded to a request from a member of Congress. MPD obviously made every effort to avoid any of the political implications surrounding this request. Additionally, MPD took extensive efforts to ensure no laws were broken, and none were. Apparently, Ms. Miller in her desire to make a point failed to report this in her article.
I'd like to thank MPD for their response. I was not aware that the weapons shown were legal to possess in Washington DC and, in my ignorance, typed up the above blog. I take this opportunity to offer my apology to Chief Lanier for my criticism of her actions - or the actions of her agency in this instance.