Recent comments on gun control by Milwaukee Police Chief Flynn highlight, for me, a problem with law enforcement in this country. Too often, law enforcement leaders confuse all citizens with criminals, and see themselves as "kings" of their jurisdiction instead of employees of the people.
In 2009, when Wisconsin’s Attorney General issued his advisory memo on open carry, it created little discussion within my department. That is because we already knew it was legal and protected by the Constitution. Chief Flynn’s position quoted from JSOnline was, "my message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it." Sounds like a man who makes no distinction between law abiding citizens and criminals. That is one example, but I believe other law enforcement leaders operate under the "end justifies the means" policing model, Constitution be damned.
Law enforcement in America was never supposed to be about "ruling the people." We are hired by "the people" to do that part of crime fighting they cannot do themselves. The citizens never gave up their protection against unlawful search of their persons, or seizure of their property, or the right to own guns and defend themselves, in that process. Does that make it harder to ferret out the criminals amongst us and arrest them? Yes it does, but it is how we protect our free society from a tyrannical government. I believe Chief Flynn is truly concerned about the safety of his officers, but law abiding citizens are not the threat, and any law to improve officer safety must first be Constitutional.
The way it is supposed to work, is that the citizens elect people to run the government. Those elected people then hire police chiefs and officers to enforce society’s laws within the confines of the Constitution. In the case of Sheriffs, the people elect them directly. Either way, we are all accountable to the people, we are not their rulers. The law abiding people are on our side and we should be focused on protecting their Constitutional rights, not limiting them! How did this get so backward?
The assertion, by President Obama, Senator Feinstein and Chief Flynn, that if certain types of guns or features of guns are banned, then violent crime will go away, is a fantasy. More importantly, they should not even be talking about it because the people hired them to protect that right. We should be talking about how to identify and stop people before they commit mass murders. We should be talking about why criminals remain on the street after multiple convictions for violent crimes. And we should be talking about how to change the sub-culture in this country that places no value on human life or personal responsibility.
Every American was appalled when they learned Adam Lanza inexplicably killed 20 children in their own classroom. But President Obama showed no leadership when he immediately took the focus to banning guns. That "kingly" position, shared by Senator Feinstein and Chief Flynn, essentially blames any American who supports the 2nd Amendment for those deaths, and excuses the perpetrator.
What if after Sandy Hook, President Obama had said, "this is bad; dangerous people are committing mass killings in public places, drug addicts are robbing banks, pharmacies and gas stations, and the Drug Cartels are operating in our central city neighborhoods. The violence in this country is more than our law enforcement people can handle right now. We work for you, and we need your help." Might that have produced something more positive for this country than a threat to turn half its citizens into criminals for owning guns?
Rotten and disturbed individuals commit violent crimes, and that is where law enforcement leaders need to focus their energies. We were elected and hired by the people, and then took an oath to protect their Constitutional rights. I suggest we try a fresh angle on violent crime by inviting the law abiding public to be a part of the solution instead of carpet bombing their individual rights. It would do Sheriffs, Chiefs and the President well to remember Sir Robert Peel’s 7th Principle of Policing:
Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
Mr. President, Chief, it’s time to trust the People, not rule them.