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Contemporary Challenges of LE, Item 2

I began this series of blogs yesterday (8/5/14) with the first entry about how society is teaching younger generations that police officers are purely punitive in nature; not to trust them; to fear them.  The second challenge I identified, and which I’ll discuss further in this entry, is the seeming societal perception that ALL of law enforcement is anti-gun. That is to say that ALL of law enforcement is perceived as being against the 2nd Amendment and FOR gun control of all kinds.  I believe this to be a huge misperception, fueled by mainstream media sensationalism and a comparatively small group of law enforcement representatives.

In the next (and last) of this series of blogs, I’ll talk about new hires… police rookies… who may meet all of the professional qualifications to become a police officer but lack some of the requisite intrinsic values to do the job with passion and compassion.  So, about this perceived anti-gun bias bit…

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a life time member of the National Rifle Association and an avid shooter.  I’ve been shooting for as long as I can remember; certainly well before I enlisted in the Army at the age of 18.  I have been an NRA certified and Maryland state certified firearms instructor for 20+ years.  I’ve been a police officer, counting my Military Police time, for over 30 years.  I’ve been writing and blogging about gun control, gun rights, gun safety, etc. for about 15 years now.  I freely recognize and admit that I am incapable of being completely impartial where the gun control debate is concerned.

That said, I have recently (in the past couple of years) observed that certain members of the media and, therefore, a growing number of citizens and citizens’ groups, seem to identify law enforcement in general as pro-gun-control.  While such an outlook may seem to make sense because of the threat guns can present against officers, the actual instances of gun violence against police officers is statistically insignificant.  Now, before I piss off a lot of people (and I’m sure I just did), let me explain that statement.

First, ONE officer killed in the line of duty is TOO MANY.  I go to Washington DC every year for Police Week and I cannot stand at the Memorial Wall without shedding some tears.

Second, I am all too aware of the number of officers killed in the line of duty by someone wielding a firearm.  ONE is too many.  So far this year alone, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) records 29 law enforcement deaths as “firearms related.”  Now, here’s what I don’t know: does that mean the officer was killed by gunfire? Or does it mean that the officer died during a crime where a gun was present?  It may seem a silly question to some, but if you consider how the Uniform Crime Reports (the ever-loved UCRs) are structured, a “firearm related” death may not mean someone was shot.  Still, let’s work with that number: 29.

Now, please remember that I AM 100% pro-police and anti-crime.  I AM NOT trying to minimize the grief and sadness of the loss of an officer’s life.  What I AM trying to do is explain my statement that “…the actual instances of gun violence against police officers is statistically insignificant.”  NOTE: I didn’t say statistically insignificant as compared to what.

If we compare the number of officers killed so far this year in the line of duty in firearms related incidents (29) to the overall number of officers killed in the line of duty (72), then YES – the number is statistically significant: 40%.  The logic seems simple.  Get guns off the street and reduce the number of cops killed by 40%, right?  Well, maybe…

It seems that from 1991 to 2000, 51 officers were killed with their own weapons.  That’s an average of five per year.  Since we can’t disarm police officers in an effort to keep guns off the street, we unfortunately have to recognize that it’s inevitable a police officer might die in the line of duty by gunfire simply because every cop carries a gun and sometimes the bad guys manage to get our guns away from us.  But if we reduce that number of 29 deaths by firearm so far this year by 5, we get 24.  That changes the percentage to 33%.  Is that insignificant?  Hell no!  But let’s compare it to the overall number of gun-related fatalities in a year.

Research shows that 31,940 people died from injuries caused by gunfire in 2011.  That was up from 2009 and 2010, but down from 2008.  Up from 2007, down from 2006.  My point is that the numbers may fluctuate but that 31,940 seems to be in a median bracket.  So if we compare the number of officers lost to gun related deaths NOT by their own firearm (24) to the overall number of deaths related to gunfire (31,940) we see that the number of officers lost is 0.00072%.

Does it seem sensible to anyone that the whole of the law enforcement profession would be so compelled to save .00072% of victims killed by guns that they, who have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights, which contains the 2nd Amendment, would be in favor of restricting said right?

Here’s reality as I’ve experienced it – and admittedly my experience is limited and doesn’t reflect every other cop’s experience.  In my experience, the large majority of law enforcement professionals are PRO-gun.  They SUPPORT the 2nd Amendment and believe that most gun control laws are a waste of tax payer dollars.  There are a few who believe that more gun laws are needed, and they recognize that if all of the current laws on the books aren’t stopping gun violence, then new ones won’t likely do much good either.

But if that’s true, then why do so many people seem to believe that law enforcement, in general, is anti-gun and pro-gun-control?  I would venture to guess that it’s because the mainstream media seems to cover only carefully selected events and at said events, some politician has a group of police officers standing around behind them, allegedly in support of whatever they are on camera pushing.  ALLEGEDLY makes all the difference in the world.  Here’s reality –

Police CHIEFS are political appointees.  They aren’t elected.  SHERIFFS are elected.  Have you noticed how many Sheriffs have come out publicly with PRO gun stances?  Yeah, a lot of them.  Why?  Because Sheriffs answer to the people who elect them.  Chiefs answer to the politicians who appoint them.  So if a Chief wants to keep his job security, he has to toe the company line, which may mean spouting the company message, even if he disagrees with it.

But what about all those other cops? Sometimes they agree with the political outlook being spouted.  Sometimes they’ve simply been ordered to show up for an event, stand around and look professional.  I know a Sergeant who was so ordered, showed up and then risked getting in trouble because he refused to stand around behind a politician looking like he supported the message when he had huge moral issues with the message being delivered (it was an abortion thing).

“What about the IACP?” you may ask.  “Aren’t they anti-gun?”

While it seems like a lot of their policies are definitely anti-2nd-Amendment and pro-gun-control, the International Association of Chiefs of Police is exactly that:  1) international, and 2) Chiefs of Police.  Even in such an organization, the Chiefs have to back the policies they’ve been ordered to back by their government executive bosses.  If the Chief goes on record ANYWHERE disagreeing with his boss, he may find himself looking for a new job.  What do you think the chances are of a former Chief of Police who has embarrassed his boss getting a new job as Chief of Police anywhere?

So, if I’ve articulated all of this correctly, what I’ve tried to communicate is this: SOME cops are anti-gun.  MOST cops are pro-gun.  SOME Chiefs are anti-gun. SOME Chiefs are pro-gun. ALL Chiefs are better off if they publicly agree with their boss’s political programs.  SOME Sheriffs are anti-gun.  MOST Sheriffs are pro-gun (or rather, pro-civil-rights).

And in the end, why do so many people view cops as anti-gun?  Because the mainstream media tells them that’s how things are and they buy it. Is that dangerous? Absolutely.

Have you read any news stories about militia members, sovereign citizens, etc. who attack police officers?  I have.  Have you ever wondered why?  In some cases, there is no doubt in my mind, that those who attack the cops are simply so far disconnected from lawful society that they actually believe it's Constitutionally illegal for ANY cop to stop them for ANYTHING at ANY time.  Further, they believe that any cop who does so is acting in an unconstitutional fashion and that somehow the Constitution gives the citizens the right to defend themselves against this "unlawful" intrusion into their day with lethal force.  What a crock.  But even if they ARE off their rocker, does that make the cops more safe?  Nope.  What it does is create a potentially lethal situation for every cop who may encounter one of these folks, and why?  Because cops are being portrayed as anti-gun government goons by the mainstream media.

THIS is something we should all be aware of and actively resisting.  THIS is something law enforcement professionals of every rank and stripe should be voicing their opinion about.  THIS is a political hotbed wherein we CAN NOT allow someone to assume what we believe.  THIS is one topic where not saying anything is implying agreement with the mainstream media.  NONE of us can afford that.