“Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.”
?John F. Kennedy
I was recently quoted in Jon Dougherty’s WorldNetDaily piece about H.R. 218, titled “Gun-rights groups oppose police exemption.” The response has been polar. Interestingly, lawyers, Ph.D.s, civil libertarians and some law enforcement types agree with me. Others (despite my 30 years of supporting law enforcement) feel I am being anti-cop.
Abraham Lincoln said, “If there is anything which it is the duty of the whole people to never entrust to any hands but their own – that thing is the preservation of their own liberties and institutions.”
The bill is heavily supported by the National Rifle Association and the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, the latter of which helped craft the legislation and has set up a special website to promote its passage, called CopConcealedCarry.com.
I did tell Jon “H.R. 218 is discriminatory and creates a separate class of citizen. If cops are permitted to carry concealed anywhere, any CCW [concealed carry of weapons license] holder should be permitted to carry anywhere.” What I didn’t tell Jon was I feel that nationally it should be easier for law abiding folks to be armed and that criminal use of firearms should be even more draconian.
One reader, Richard, wrote, “Why do we need liberals when we have a—— conservatives like you? What’s wrong with HR 218? Cops and agents have had years of training whereas civilians barely have had any training.”
Richard states facts not necessarily in evidence (I know a lot of competitive shooters and hunters who frankly have more training, experience and skill than some uniformed officers). However, I have used his argument to support Gary Aldrich in his call for using retired, former and active federal and local law enforcement as sky marshals.
“What plausible argument can anyone give for not allowing these law enforcers the right to carry their firearms outside their jurisdictions when off-duty? Just imagine the deterrent to crime if more than 1 million trained and equipped law enforcement professionals – active and retired – were allowed to be armed so they could utilize their skills,” said LEAA’s executive director, Jim Fotis.
I agree with Fotis. However, I disagree that law enforcers should be a separate a distinct class of citizen.
My opposition to H.R. 218 is not intended to restrict law enforcement officers but rather to eschew creating a separate class of citizen. I’m all for arming law enforcement types outside their jurisdictions – as long as any law-abiding citizen who is authorized to carry a weapon likewise can do so.
James Macomber, an old friend and lawyer in Florida wrote me, “Somebody want to tell me the constitutional basis for the federal government passing any law exempting anyone from state laws regarding anything? The last time I looked at the 10th Amendment, it was supposed to be the other way around.”
Jim is apparently suffering the same misconception that many of us embrace. That is that Thomas Jefferson won the debates with Alexander Hamilton over states rights. Jefferson said, “I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That ‘all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.'” Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, the attitude of Congress for decades has been “10th Amendment? 10th Amendment? We don’t need no stinking 10th Amendment.”
A minority of readers feels that Angel Shamaya, founder and executive director of KeepAndBearArms.com, Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America and yours truly are anti-law enforcement. I won’t speak for Angel or Larry but I know personally nothing could be further from the truth.
Bills like H.R. 218 separate the people into two separate class distinctions. One class includes the people contained in an underclass for which some of their most basic of all civil rights remain a special privilege routinely withheld at the whim of the state or local authorities. The other class is composed of a privileged elite class set up by those in power.
Shamaya sees a dangerous precedent and double standard in approving the law. “Once law enforcement officers are exempted from unconstitutional concealed carry laws, there will be little reason for the vast majority of them to support national concealed carry decriminalization for the people they were hired to serve,” he said, adding that such a law would add to the growing public perception that police officers “are better than citizens.”
“We think it’s a very bad idea to say that some Americans are entitled to special privileges,” said Pratt. “Our forefathers fled countries that did things like that. Those people were called the ‘nobility.'”
“The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”