This column appears in the October edition of Townhall Magazine.
I have a close relative in law enforcement. Knowing how hard he works, the horrible things he witnesses as part of his day-today tasks, the strain which a crazy schedule puts on his health, and the risks to his safety, I think he’s underpaid. By extension, I’m sure many like him are underpaid and underappreciated relative to the work they do.
But I don’t think being in law enforcement somehow makes a person omniscient or infallible. And I consider those who wield such authority, yet refuse to recognize the rights of American citizens, to be in the utmost betrayal of the law they are supposed to uphold and the community they are supposed to protect.
Enter the author of the below email, which showed up in my work inbox recently. Note he or she claims to be federal law enforcement:
“I’m offended by your misleading ads on gun control rights. We need to pass the assault weapon law restricting the ownership and use. I’m a federal Law Enforcement officer who has been on both side of this contentious issue. I do not want to face criminals who out gun me. Your tactics are doing just that. Everyone killed by an assault rifle in the US should sue you for your political stand. You advocate a very dangerous position that does not serve the interest of public safety. Also, The second amendment does NOT give you the right to bear arms. That is given to US citizens in case law supporting the second amendment. The Second AMENDMENT gives you the right to bear arms in order to form a militia only. Once again you mislead the american public. This country will never repair it’s problems unless we can come together, find common ground. The Brady Bill was just that. Common ground. You need to find it in your heart what is best for this great country, not you own personal self interest.”
This from a federal law enforcement officer?
First, I’m not quite sure who died and made this person an expert in constitutional jurisprudence. He or she seems to think the Supreme Court, via case law, can create, rather than interpret, rights. Thus my anonymous friend gives these nine justices more power than even they themselves imagine. I’m sure they’d be thrilled.
Second, I’d like to point out that, as a civilian, I don’t want to be outgunned by a criminal, either. So if criminals can access automatic weapon (and, let’s face it, they can just cross the border to Mexico and wait for our DOJ to arm them), why shouldn’t I?
And, further, why should I be sued when someone is irresponsible with a firearm? If someone is irresponsible with a car, should I bear responsibility because I support keeping cars on the road?
Finally, I find it hard to believe the Founding Fathers would think repairing a country is best accomplished by undermining its rights, particularly a right they felt deserved specific mentioning in the land’s governing document. That’s establishing a different country, not repairing the one that got you this far. I think if you told Ben Franklin, “We’ve found a government agency so powerful, so omnipresent, and armed so well compared to poor, little you that you don’t ever need to worry about protecting yourself again,” he’d say, “Run.”
We are lucky as Americans; this understanding that a man has just as much right to protect himself with a gun as with a knife, or scissors, or a sword, or fists, was understood important from the first heartbeats of a newborn country. So, too, was our right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech—the latter concept of which is treated at length in one of this month’s features, “Fightin’ Words,” which contrasts the deference free speech is given in America versus other Western democracies.
We should be proud of our legal system’s recognition that we can protect ourselves with efficient means of self-defense and saddened by law enforcement officials who refuse to recognize it.