Over the years, I’ve noticed a schism develop between many law enforcement people and ordinary “civilians” – you know, the poor schlemiels who pay their taxes, empower the high mighty and employ the cops.
This division takes many shapes and forms, but nowhere is it more obvious than on the issue of firearms.
Many police officers have come to believe guns are only safe in their hands – that they cannot be entrusted into the custody of untrained, unqualified citizens.
Obviously, this is a non-starter from a constitutional, freedom-oriented perspective. But there’s a practical new reason for cops to begin rethinking where this anti-gun hysteria is leading our country.
I don’t know how many of us thought to question passage of law 18 U.S. Code section 924(c)(1)(a), which calls for a mandatory 10-year sentence for using or carrying a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.
Off hand, it sounds pretty good.
Who could argue with a law that says, “Hey, if you commit a violence crime with a gun, you go to jail for at least 10 years”?
I could live with that. It sounds just. I like to see bad guys put away for a long time. Anyone who commits a crime of violence and has a gun on them is probably a very bad actor.
But, recently, much to the shock of some law enforcement people, this law has been used not against bad guys – but against cops!
Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy El Paso Times)
That’s exactly what happened in the case of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, the two Border Patrol agents now serving sentence of 11 and 12 years respectively for their actions on the job in pursuit of a drug-smuggling illegal alien.
The heavyweight sentence wasn’t so much for their alleged misbehavior in discharging their weapons at a fleeing suspect or for allegedly covering it up later. The hard time was for being convicted of a violation of 924(c)(1)(a) – carrying or using a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.
That’s kind of a “Catch 22” for law enforcement officers convicted rightly or wrongly of a crime of violence since they are required to carry firearms as part of their job.
Whenever government acts, with good intentions or evil, there are always unintended consequences. And in this upside-down, black-is-white, good-is-evil, left-is-right, right-is-wrong world in which we live, those unintended consequences are often downright scary – especially when lawyers get involved, which is, pretty much, always.
This aspect of the Ramos and Compean case is perhaps the most controversial part of the prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department, which, let’s face it, completely out of control under the Bush administration.
Agent Jose Alonso Compean (Courtesy: KFOX-TV)
U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, a friend of W, is making the rounds defending every aspect of his case against Ramos and Compean. He’s got an answer for every question. The only problem is that when he’s finished answering the questions and demeaning the character of these two agents in every way imaginable, his official actions still reek of rank injustice.
He doesn’t understand that. Bush doesn’t get it. But the American people, members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, look at what he did in the case candidly, honestly and objectively and conclude it was wrong – just plain wrong.
It was Sutton’s decision, he says, to choose to prosecute the agents under 924(c)(1)(a). He admits he had the discretion to do otherwise. Clearly this was not a law intended to be used against police officers. Yet that is exactly how it was used by the Justice Department in this case.
If it was used against Ramos and Compean, in full public view, with the whole nation watching in stunned amazement, it will certainly be used against other law enforcement agents in the future.
I expect Ramos and Compean to be sprung any day now – thank God. The pressure is mounting. Thanks in no small measure to the consistent reporting of WND beginning a year ago, the case against the border agents is crumbling.
They will be out as a direct result of public expressions of outrage from civilians.
It would be nice if law enforcement officers around the country took notice of the way civilians responded to the railroading of two of their own and began standing up – in unity – for the unalienable, constitutionally protected rights of civilians to bear arms.
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