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Just Following Orders

Just Following Orders

by

 

Leroy Pyle

Yes, police officers do follow orders. And you damn well better hope that we continue to follow those orders! The alternative is the petty dictatorships in South America that I read about in my youth, or the cruel and inhuman atrocities of modern day African or Balkan chieftains that we read about today. I am concerned that it has become a catch-phrase among firearms activists to criticize law officers for enforcing current laws as "just following orders". The complaint directed at the lack of concern for constitutional issues. I wonder at the wisdom of such rhetoric. Do they truly understand what they ask for when they demand that individual police officers pick and choose which laws they will enforce?

American law enforcement is quasi-military in nature, with a very strict set of regulations governing individual activity, on or off duty. Probably a more restrictive set of rules than those imposed on the average citizen in their chosen profession. There are many reasons for the tight regulations, but simply put, when you give a segment of your society the responsibility of enforcing the law with defensive firearms and various other weapons, you want to make sure they are controlled and know and follow the rules! Police officers respect that responsibility.

There have been some well written, earnest appeals to the law enforcement community, recently, by well meaning, anonymous individuals that do deserve some respect. More often, however, there has been the extremist rhetoric comparing law enforcement, in general, to Hitler's Nazis. Internet discussion lists often include such inflammatory rhetoric, leading to exaggerated claims of bravado and outright calls for  assassination of local police officers. It is this latter group of reckless individuals that concern me the most. Do they really understand the issues? Is this how you want YOUR Second Amendment activism represented?

When Chief Joe McNamara, HCI police poster boy, took the initiative during the mid '80's to drive a wedge between law enforcement and gun owners, I thought his rhetoric was so phony and ignorant that no one would believe him. As a career police administrator and anti-gun advocate, he was very much aware of the importance of law enforcement support for the private ownership of firearms. His dilemma, I believe, was that cops were gun owners who shared an appreciation for personal firearms that most gun owners understand. His "cop-killer bullet" and "plastic gun" issues were examples of pure ignorance to anyone at all familiar with firearms, but truth, facts, and accuracy were not on his agenda. He was creating a divisive issue for purely political purposes. McNamara and HCI recognized the longtime affiliation with law enforcement as the firearms owner's Achilles Heel. McNamara picked the target, and some gun owners are now taking all the shots, seemingly determined to drive the wedge even further. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot?

I personally believe that the extremist element who casually compare the enforcement of a community's firearms laws to the Nazi atrocities of WWII do a disservice to the Second Amendment efforts of us all. The exaggerated rhetoric is more divisive than constructive, and opens the door to easy criticism. We of "the choir" understand what is intended, but the average citizen will only view the charges as the voice of a radical element of "kooks". I hope we can agree that the choir should be appealing to the citizens of our communities, not alienating them. "Inclusive" is the word most often used by the politicians of both parties during this pre-election period. There is a lesson to be learned from the pros, and it is smart to include a proven friend of ours, gun owners themselves, the police officer.

Yes, police officers do follow orders. You just have to ask yourself whose orders the typical officer is following. Ideally, he or she would be a student of The Constitution. But he is more apt to be a middle-income family man, busting his butt with a second job to pay the mortgage, car, and ski-boat or motorcycle bills, encouraging his kids in baseball or soccer, and socializing with his wife and friends. Being typical, he probably is mandated to live in the community of employment. As a result, he enrolls his children in the local schools, attends the PTA meetings, meets weekly with fellow parishioners at the local church, and has a family doctor in that community. A police officer has more than the average contacts with judges and attorneys, and, most important, his chain of command (administration and supervision) includes the mayor, city manager, city council, and chief of police.

  • We do know what the National Education Association and teachers think about firearms rights. They are actively working to influence the legislation restricting gun rights through political activism. The NEA has a working plan to promote "gun control" in the coming years. They are active in the community and they vote! 

  • Religious organizations and leaders in every denomination, too numerous to list here, are actively demonizing firearms and their owners at every opportunity. Recently, here in Chicago, a priest sprinkled the entrance of a gun shop with holy water as protesters held what they called an exorcism outside a gun shop to symbolically drive the evils of gun sales out of their communities. These religious leaders have a built in audience every week and they encourage them to vote!

  • The American Medical Association promotes anti-gun "research" that is published for public consumption and recent reports indicate that more and more doctors are including questions about firearms in the home on medical questionnaires. They are active in community politics and they vote!

  • Attorneys? Judges? Mayors? City Councils? Chiefs? Is there any question about their beliefs or political influence? Is there any doubt that they vote and influence voters?

  • The media? The evening news? The morning newspaper?

And there you have the organized leaders of your community, the movers and shakers who influence the community and the voters of the community. They give the orders that your police are obligated to follow. The organized, voting, and seemingly tireless anti-gun element is intent on eliminating firearms from our society.

And that's the way the process works. The most active and influential citizens vote for the laws that the police enforce. Consider the alternative to "law and order" as suggested by some who believe that individual police officers should decide what laws to prosecute, and which to ignore. 

Let's take a hypothetical police agency in Liberal Southern California, led by a politically correct city council and police chief chosen for his politics rather than his ability to lead. Frustration among the ranks as a result of rampant crime and a revolving door criminal justice system leads a hypothetical gang unit to enforce the laws as they see fit. The DA's office, judges, and parole and probation departments have done nothing to quell the violence and drug trade, so the hypothetical gang unit takes the law in their own hands. They mete out justice as they see fit.

I did mention that this is a hypothetical example, didn't I. Did anyone see the movie, "Magnum Force"? Perhaps we should be careful what we ask for?

It is easy to criticize those who bear the burden of great expectations, and the larger the figure or enviable the task, the more exaggerated the criticism. I often think of the unfair treatment of the true winners and heroes of our society. Marines and jocks are probably the most maligned , and yet the envy of everyone who would be a warrior or sports hero. We've all heard the jokes, but no one can deny that a Marine or sports figure is the epitome of what our society considers a winner. Does anyone share my wonder that blind allegiance is the key to their success? Talk about following orders! Anyone with military or sports experience understands the importance of following orders. You don't win a war by voting on which hill to take, or toss a coin in the huddle to decide on a play. True winners depend on following orders.

And yet, in such a target-rich environment of anti-gun teachers, lawyers, doctors, and reporters, so many frustrated gun owners can only muster up the courage to berate police officers and even recommend assassinating them when they go about their duties!

I am afraid for our Second Amendment "team" when such exaggerated and destructive rhetoric is bantered about so casually. It should not become the norm. Have we lost this battle for individual rights so badly that truth and pride are no longer a factor? You, the citizens, rightly demand the controls on your law enforcement officers. You, the citizen, by act or omission, are responsible for the leadership who make the laws and issue the orders to your police. The police officer understands this. Do you?

I appreciate and share the need to appeal to law enforcement for assurance that individual rights are high on their list of priorities. Like the majority who choose a law enforcement career, I'm proud of my profession. I followed orders for nearly 30 years and have no regrets. I did not always agree with my superiors or the movers and shakers of my community. I spoke out against them in public. I wrote letters to the editor, and debated lawyers, doctors, teachers, and reporters on the radio, on TV, and on the rubber chicken circuit. I lobbied my fellow officers and joined in to help with political campaigns. A cop doesn't make the law, but that doesn't prevent me from doing everything I can to influence those who do make the laws.

I am registered to vote and will vote my conscience, regardless of party affiliation. And I am not alone in my profession. I can honestly say that the majority of line officers I have known are pro-rights and pro-gun. They are a conservative lot. They can be a worthwhile ally in the fight to restore firearms rights! I invite you to join us and view evidence of pro-gun law enforcement at The Second Amendment Police Department (in cyberspace) by viewing a few articles and opinions at www.2ampd.net.

You are encouraged to do whatever possible to influence the police, and every other profession in your community, to vote for the laws you deem fair and responsible. I hope you will agree that a reasoned, factual, and certainly passionate approach is the way to attract fellow citizens to our cause.

And who do you think is more inclusive in their appeal to that police officer in your community, the doctors, lawyers, and teachers, or some kook on the Internet raging about killing cops?


KABA NOTE:  Leroy Pyle's long stint as a police officer led him to understand the importance in preserving and restoring the right to keep and bear arms. Founder of Law Enforcement Alliance of America and former NRA Director, Mr. Pyle now stands among the leaders of the "Cops Who Support Firearms" movement. Let us be glad that an "I hate all cops" idiot didn't do harm to this man - or the many other strong figures on his growing team of law enforcement Americans. You can read other articles from Pyle, here.

 

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