As many of my readers know I am a 35 year veteran sworn law enforcement officer who retired at the rank of Commander and more years after that training cops. I can tell you that a large majority of cops are strong supporters of citizens rights to be armed. I am also a U.S. Army veteran of the 3rd Infantry Division. Contrary to the few incidents that make the news or social media most of law enforcement supports the citizens right to self-protection and to being armed. I have had citizens come to my aid more than once when I needed back-up and none was around, and I was thankful for their help.
But there is rapidly coming a time in this country when law enforcement as a whole may need to finally take a stand with the citizens and stand up for the Constitutionally protected right to “keep and bear arms” that seems to be under attack.
In VA. there are many Sheriff’s and Police that have taken a stand with the citizens they are sworn to serve. This is a good sign, but I do not think it is going far enough. We need a national push, and national movement in law enforcement to stand up against further restrictions on a citizens right to keep and bear arms. The second amendment is for all citizens, even law enforcement. Citizens in several states have even gone so far as to save officers lives using a firearm to stop attacks on officers.
Think for a second why many firearms laws exempt law enforcement from the restrictions placed on the average citizen. The legislators and some figure heads in law enforcement will tell you its because police are highly trained in the use of firearms and can be trusted to have firearms. Well that is not exactly the truth. If you look at the training of many law enforcement agencies throughout the country you would be astonished at how little training they actually get. In the State of Florida for example officers are only required to qualify with their service firearm every two years! While some agencies do qualify more than that there are agencies out there that only shoot their firearms every two years. Now that does not make them “highly trained” or better trained even than most firearms owners. I know for a fact that our local agencies offer officers free time on the range every month to practice if they want, and yet out of almost a thousand officers and deputies, very rarely (one or two maybe a month) would take part in the offer.
After retiring from law enforcement training, I began teaching civilian classes at a local gun range and found to my very pleasant surprise that many firearms owners shoot as much if not more than most cops. Sure, there are some in each group that train a lot and some that train very little. Point being that on an average I have to say from personal observation police are no more well trained in firearms than most firearms owner citizens.
So why do legislators seem to always include exemptions for law enforcement in most firearms bills and restrictions then? Well they will say it’s for public safety. But an officer’s home collection does nothing for public safety. Only the officer’s duty firearms while they are working and maybe their off-duty firearm (if they carry one, I know many that do not). The reason that they include these exemptions is because they know that if law enforcement had to abide by the same laws and rules as citizens the cops would be in an uproar and fight any more restrictions. Imagine if law enforcement officers’ personal firearms were going to be banned just like they are threatening citizens firearms. What if law enforcement was required to keep any “assault weapons” (before you scream at me I know there is no such thing, I’m using the anti-rights groups words) at the station and check them out only when working. What of they were only allowed the same magazine capacity that the legislature is trying to place on citizens. I don’t think they would like it much and you would hear a huge cry from the police unions and officers themselves. Now do not misunderstand me, I think that ALL law-abiding people should have a right to those things, not just law enforcement. And I know some will say, and I agree, law enforcement does need these things since those are the same weapons they encounter criminals already using. Being at least as well armed as the criminals is a necessity for law enforcement, why is it not for the citizens who will encounter the criminals before the cops do?
I teach the police recruits that I have in the academy that the golden rule of law enforcement is to treat every person (good and bad) the way they would want another cop to treat their family member if they were in the same situation. Cops need to remember that these laws and exemptions affect their families and friends who are not cops, and everyone else.
In closing let me point out that I am pro law enforcement and know most are great, brave, decent people trying to make the areas they live in just that much safer, but I also know we (LEOs) see the worst that society has to offer and sometimes forget that there are millions of times more good people out there than criminals. If we remove the exemptions for law enforcement from the firearms laws, then I think we might see much different reactions from the law enforcement world in opposition to any more restrictions. Maybe even they might stand with the citizens and require the law makers actually follow the Constitution and remind them they “shall not infringe” on their right to “keep and bear arms”, both citizens and cops. Virginia law enforcement seems to have figured that out.