“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” –Justice Antonin Scalia, 2008, District of Columbia v. Heller
Today I want to ask a question that has been bothering me for quite some time, and I really hope my fellow law enforcement friends can help.
Why isn’t law enforcement the loudest voice for common sense gun legislation?
Before we get all fired up and defensive in our 2nd Amendment rights bunkers, everyone relax. There is room for all respectful debate here.
I’m a gun owner, military vet, and retired cop, so let’s dispense with the notion that I advocate any confiscation of firearms from law abiding citizens. But here’s what I cannot understand:
What is wrong with these two proposals?
- People who are on terrorist watch lists should not be able to buy guns.
- Mandatory background checks for every firearm purchase.
I honestly do not see how these requirements would infringe upon my 2nd Amendment rights. Seriously, I don’t.
I get frustrated because as a former cop, I don’t want criminals or mentally ill people to get their hands on guns. Right now, Internet sales have NO RESTRICTION. Any criminal, terrorist, or nut job can log on and buy any weapon they want. As much ammunition as they want. Are you kidding me?
I’m concerned about my friends and former colleagues’ safety. I don’t want a bad guy armed with pistols and a military-style weapon firing at cops. Because we know that’s what happens when the police respond. Why aren’t cops at the front line of this fight? Why aren’t we trying to keep bad guys from buying and trading guns with impunity and no background checks online and at gun shows?
Many say that criminals will always find a way to get guns. I’m sorry, that argument makes me want to scream. By that logic, we should just rip up all the statute books, because we can’t prevent 100% of any crime. Do we really believe that means we shouldn’t try to prevent some crime? I mean, we’ll never stop all burglary, rape, robbery, etc. We still work really hard to prevent as many as possible. Shouldn’t we want to at least make it harder for these people to get guns? Do we seriously believe that it’s a good idea that someone on a terrorist watch list can walk into a gun shop and buy a pistol, or unbelievably, an assault rifle?
And really, isn’t this about the fact that we all want our guns? Or we don’t want to be inconvenienced in the slightest by basic requirements that might delay our Craigs List purchase. Somehow, the lie has been sold that any mention of responsible restrictions equals banning guns. While some probably do want that, the vast majority of law abiding citizens don’t. We just want rational restrictions that keep the wrong people from getting them. I’ve heard repeatedly that the 2nd Amendment specifically guarantees the rights of ALL American’s to bear arms. I’m sorry, I don’t believe that. Even Antonin Scalia, the supposed champion of 2nd Amendment rights, didn’t believe that. Re-read the opening quote.
Reasonable restrictions are permitted. I’d argue reasonable restrictions are necessary. Cops deal with the heartbreaking realities of senseless gun violence and are put in ever increasing danger because of the proliferation of guns everywhere. If we truly believe that every citizen has the right to be armed, then somebody please explain to me why the 911 call comes in about a person with a gun, the police response is lights and sirens blaring, ready to do battle. Why is this a high priority call? We should do some soul-searching about this double standard we seem to have.
So, back to my question, from a purely officer safety standpoint, why aren’t cops pissed off that we can’t seem to take even the most basic steps to try to fix this?