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  • Nearly 40 sheriff’s deputies in Fresno County raided a network
    marketing meeting to discuss the sale of constitutional literature,
    arresting four and patting down 37 participants including little old
    ladies. The raid was the result of a month-long investigation. No
    charges have been filed yet.

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation is spending millions of
    dollars to help states and local police agencies set up random
    checkpoints on the nation’s highways to ensure seat belt compliance.

  • Corrie Blount, a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles
    Lakers, was pulled over during a routine traffic stop. Police seized
    thousands of dollars of cash he had with him — chump change to a
    National Basketball Association player. He was forced to go to court to
    get his money back.

  • A Drug Enforcement Agency officer, along with two of his partners,
    started a barroom argument with three other civilian patrons. When the
    three civilians tried to drive away from the parking lot later, one of
    the DEA agents began shooting at him. The agent has been charged in the
    incident.

These incidents and many more like them occurred in just the last 10
days around this great country where police officers seem to be
forgetting who and what they serve — the people and the rule of law.

I know. I know. I’m going to get lots of angry mail from police
officers who tell me I don’t understand the pressures, stresses and
risks of their jobs. Indeed I do. I’ve done ride-alongs with local
police officers many times and no journalist has been more sympathetic
to their plight than me. Don’t take this personally, guys.

But I have eyes and ears, too, and something is changing out here in
the real world — on the streets of America. There are plenty of
wonderful cops who lay their lives on the line every day to help people.
I appreciate that. However, I cannot ignore the way the police-civilian
relationship — the culture on the streets — is changing for the worse.
Why do I, a law-abiding person, now get jittery when I see a police car?
Why do I, a law-abiding person, fear the knock on the door? Why do I
hear from so many people like me every day?

I believe it has much to do with the federalization of local and
state police forces. Increasingly, police are being trained and armed by
Washington. Their departments routinely encourage multi-jurisdictional
task forces that put them under the command of the FBI, Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and other federal agencies. Goodies are
held out to them by Washington if police forces cooperate and enforce
federal rules and laws. And now, under President Clinton, the federal
government is actually hiring local and state cops.

This is a dangerous trend. It has nothing to do with deterring crime
and everything to do with empowering the federal government and chipping
away at local control and accountability.

It’s most evident in the brazen “dynamic entries” we see where
federal, state and local police use overwhelming force — all-too-often
including deadly violence — to subdue ordinary citizens who are
threatening no one.

And in this climate, Clinton is pushing for $6 billion more to put
100,000 new cops on the street. There will be next-to-no opposition
politically to this move, because Republicans tend to be knee-jerk in
their response to “fighting crime.”

The real crime, however, is the fact that Americans are losing their
freedoms, their civil liberties, their individual rights as a result of
this trend and others concentrating more power in the hands of the few.
We are in danger of becoming a police state led by a demagogue with no
respect for the Constitution or the rule of law. It is distinctly
possible it could happen in the next 20 months.

The trend is particularly dangerous when coupled with the disarming
of the American populace through restrictive, unconstitutional, anti-gun
laws.

The only true deterrent to crime and tyranny is a vigilant armed
populace. Police can’t possibly protect you from most crimes. The best
they can do is take a report, perform a cursory investigation after
you’ve been victimized and, perhaps, apprehend a criminal who has
already deprived you of life, liberty and property.

A gun can stop the criminal from even thinking about targeting you. A
well-armed populace, the Founding Fathers understood, would stop any
would-be tyrant from imposing his will on the American people.

Likewise, if Americans make the mistake other societies have and
allow their guns to be taken away, nothing but the good intentions of
government officials will prevent them from taking away your freedoms
altogether.

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