Leroy Pyle's "Just
Following Orders" takes offense at criticism of cops who enforce
unconstitutional gun controls, labeling many activists who engage in such
criticism "extremists". Extolling the virtues of obedience to one's
superiors, the article proclaims that our most respected citizens become heroes
by following orders. Leroy's an old friend for whom I have enormous respect, but
I think he's a bit off base here, even though most of the article is very well
reasoned and makes many excellent points.
First, great heroes, men like Audie Murphy for
example, don't just follow orders. To maintain that blind obedience was their
source of greatness is to rob them of rightful glory. Was Lindbergh ordered
to fly across the Atlantic? Were Doolittle's Raiders ordered to attack
Japan? First on the scene of a fire, are the cops, off-duty firemen, and citizen
bystanders we occasionally hear about ordered to rush in, without safety
equipment, to save people? Was Leroy himself ordered to stand up for his
beliefs as a loyal American, when he must've known his highly effective
outspokenness could destroy his career, since his boss was a high-profile
anti-self-defense police chief?
No. These men bless us with deeds of great
courage, deeds that go far beyond orders, far "beyond the call of
duty". Surely a large share of heroism results from volunteer duty,
from exceeding one's orders, from ignoring orders in a way that was gladly
overlooked in light of a great accomplishment, and from outright disobedience to
immoral or illegal orders and oppressive laws.
Of course, I understand bad feelings about
anyone who would take pleasure in raging on the web about killing cops, though I
don't recall any such screeds. But I think the "just following orders"
article ill serves the 2nd Amendment community by labeling
"extremists" those who think unconstitutional orders should be
disobeyed, by confusing them with blind cop haters, and by encouraging blind
authority worship. In support of this, consider the following:
"…all men are...endowed by their
Creator with certain unalienable Rights… whenever…Government becomes
destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People...it is their Duty,
to throw off such Government…" --Declaration of Independence
"Guard...the public liberty.
...Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever
you give up that force, you are ruined." --Patrick Henry
"what country can preserve its
liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people
preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms... The tree of liberty
must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and
tyrants". --Thomas Jefferson
"This Constitution...shall be the
supreme Law of the Land; ...Laws...to the Contrary notwithstanding...
Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers...shall be bound by
Oath...to support this Constitution…" --U.S. Constitution
"As civil rulers...may attempt to
tyrannize, and as the military forces...might pervert their power...the people
are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private
arms." --Tenche Cox
"…the right of the people to keep and
bear Arms, shall not be infringed." --Amendment II
"No State shall make or enforce
any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the
United States..." --Amendment XIV
"An unconstitutional act is not law;
it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no
office; it is in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been
passed." --Norton v. Shelby County, 118 US 425
"We just enforce the laws. If you
don’t like the laws, lobby your representatives to change them."
--Sheriff of Kern County, California, after local & federal cops shot gun
dealer Darryl Howell to death in his store in a raid over "illegal"
"It was the law. We were just following
orders." --War criminals on trial at Nuremberg
"Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience
to God." --Thomas Jefferson
American citizens and law officers don't need
an attorney or a Supreme Court Justice to tell them what all this means. We can
read it with our own eyes, and the meaning is crystal clear. Law officers have a
duty to disobey orders that infringe our right to keep and bear arms, and
citizens have a right and a patriotic duty to resist if they dishonor it.
The issue, in a sense, is absurd. Why should we
have to convince law enforcement officers that their primary duty, their Supreme
Order if you will, is to protect the Supreme Law of the Land,
which supercedes lesser laws and orders? Why should we have to tell them that
whenever there's an apparent conflict, the benefit of the doubt should always go
to the Constitution? Enforcing unconstitutional gun laws is wrong and illegal.
Of all people, it should be obvious to law enforcement officers that they should
not break the law. They should be on our side on this issue, leading the charge
to encourage other cops to leave these gun laws unenforced. Instead, we're told
that law enforcement officers should stand the rank of our laws on its head,
ignoring our most important law when lesser laws conflict with it.
So who's the extremist; the citizen who says
it's an officer's duty to ignore orders that violate the right to self-defense,
the sine qua non of the right to life itself? Or the cop who willingly
follows orders he knows or should know are illegal, disarms decent
citizens, and even kills those who resist?
Or is the "extremist" Charlton
Heston, ever fond of telling cops they'll have to take his flintlock from his
"cold dead hands"? After all, what else could that be except a warning
to anyone who attempts to enforce confiscation orders? (Would
Heston follow through with his threat? Nah. It's a fundraising gimmick. Besides,
Heston's elitist Hollywood friends, like Steven Speilberg, know that "gun
control is for the little people". That's why they made sure Hollywood is
exempt from the Roos-Roberti Assault Weapon Ban, and why Spielberg omitted the
little bit about Schindler's guns; see below.)
Is the extremist the decent resistor who never
committed an evil act in his life? Or the officer who kills him, dishonoring the
memory of those who died to give us our rights? Isn't that officer not just an
extremist but a traitor, to paraphrase the Declaration of Independence,
"protected by mock trial for any murders he commits"? At the
very birth of our nation, the Founding Fathers thought that such officers should
be accountable for following immoral orders and that decent citizens should
If a cop follow orders and disarms decent
citizens, then exactly what, other than the degree of wrongdoing, makes
him different from the German policemen and soldiers who also "just
followed orders"? If a cop were given the same orders that these Germans
were given, should he follow them? If not, why not? Isn't it always good
to follow orders, or must you only follow orders the herd supports? Exactly what
in the authoritarian logic of the article would prevent cops from following
orders and murdering Jews? When is it o.k. to disobey?
I don't ask these questions casually. Should
the orders have been followed at Waco? At Ruby Ridge? Should a Lon Horiuchi take
the shot on a Vicki Weaver if it so ordered by his superior? If not, why not?
Amendment Police Department slogan is "To Protect & Serve the
Individual Rights of All Citizens!" How does following orders and disarming
citizens, even killing those who rightfully resist, honor that slogan, let alone
the oath to defend the Constitution?
I ask such questions, and make such
comparisons, only with great regret. It's unfortunate that a cop should have to
weigh the constitutionality of an order. By far the biggest part of the crime is
committed by the legitraitors who dishonor
their own oaths by passing illegal gun laws in the first place. I have no
sympathy for politicians who abolish rights and then expect decent police
officers to do their dirty work. But we're not talking about legislators here.
Do I have sympathy for police officers forced
to decide between honor and an order to enforce illegal gun laws? Yes, a great
deal. But officers must be responsible for their actions. One could argue that
many cops are brainwashed by the media to
believe that these laws are legal. But how many times have we heard that
"ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law"? If it's no excuse for a
citizen breaking an obscure statutory law, why should it be an
excuse for a police officer breaking the Supreme Law of the Land?
Neither police officers nor the rest of us need spend lifetimes studying
constitutional law to clearly understand the intent of the 2nd Amendment.
Disobedience may be a tough choice, but no one said every choice has to be easy,
particularly when one agrees to make that choice as a condition of employment,
to honor an oath at all times and not just when it's easy to do so. Often it's
tough choices, not blind obedience, that makes heroes -- not necessarily popular
or successful heroes, but heroes nonetheless.
I stand by the comparison of cops who disarm
decent people to German soldiers and law officers who "just followed
orders" in WWII. It's only a question of the extent of the evil and the
will of the herd. The analogy is not intended to liken all cops to Nazis. The
point is to make people think and realize that encouraging the creed of
excessive subservience to authority and deference to the herd can lead
essentially good people to do extremely evil things. The moral of the story is
that we should encourage those with life and death power over us to be
able to ignore and if necessary stand up to orders they think are illegal or
immoral. History tells us that a system that conditions officers to ignore the
voice of their conscience can be extremely dangerous.
These Germans were not all vicious racists, nor
did they all have easy choices to make. Many were otherwise decent people who
were troubled by what they were ordered to do, and yet they did it anyway. They
did it because their culture excessively glorified blind obedience to authority
and because the herd went along with it. These officers followed orders, so why
aren't they heroes? Because their orders were evil and should've been disobeyed,
though it's easier for us to see that now than it was for most of them back
then. Meanwhile, people like Oskar Schindler became true heroes not by following
orders, but by breaking the law and arming Jews so they could defend themselves
by shooting the same poor bastards who were just following orders.
Spielberg censored this politically incorrect fact out of his movie.
No doubt 99% of today's cops would refuse an
order to kill someone on account of race. Today's cops would refuse not only
because they know it's wrong, but because the herd thinks it's wrong too -- an
easy decision to make compared to what a German soldier could've expected for
disobeying the same order. But 99% of today's herd are hardly opposed to
confiscating guns. So what about an officer given a confiscation order which he
himself deems illegal and immoral? I would submit that the reason the officer
might tend to obey such an order is that the herd is divided or favors it --
essentially the same moral dilemma faced by German officers in WWII.
Leroy makes an analogy to "Magnum
Force"-style lawlessness, claiming that that's what we'll get if we
encourage cops to disobey confiscation orders. But the cops in that film acted
on their own in order to violate rights, not to protect them as we would
have them do. He also justifies following orders by noting that many police
departments are run like unquestioning military organizations. But the way
things are is not always the same as the way things should be.
We shouldn't even want our soldiers -- whose job is to kill foreign
enemies -- to be incapable of standing up to immoral orders, let alone our cops,
whose primary duty is to protect our rights here at home! The militarization of
the police is a problem that must be reversed, not a solution.
Anyway, what's the big deal about encouraging
cops to work around or refuse orders that violate rights? Contrary to Leroy's
article, cops have long intentionally left other laws unenforced. Fact
is, Cops already engage in what might be called sensible lawlessness
every day, all across America. Everyone knows it, and we're probably better off
for it. For example, in many areas, you pretty much have to drive 10-15 miles
over the speed limit before a cop will give you a ticket. Of course, if a cop
wanted to, he could enforce the law as it's written. Instead, many opt for
"sensible lawlessness", even though they've effectively been ordered
by their superiors, the legislature, to enforce the speed limit. In a
way, I applaud these cops.
The thousands of laws routinely ignored by
these wantonly lawless law officers include laws against unconventional sex,
against trying to make a living in small business without filling out 5,000
different permits & licenses, against spitting on the sidewalk, etc. If
every cop actually tried to enforce every law on the books, America would be in
a social straight jacket and the economy would grind to a halt. (On the bright
side, that might lead to wholesale repealing of tens of thousands of
unnecessary, unreasonable, and unconstitutional laws.)
Now, if it's generally seen as a good thing
that cops routinely ignore such laws, many of which they have a legal right to
enforce, then why should it be seen as such a disaster if we encourage them to
ignore clearly unconstitutional gun laws, which they have no legal right
Moreover, it has long been my understanding
from former military officers that soldiers are only obliged to follow the legitimate
orders of their superiors and thus are not obliged to follow
unconstitutional orders. Of course, if you refuse such orders there's no
guarantee anyone else will agree with you or you won't end up like Michael New.
Chances are, you'll be fired or brought up on charges, but you will have done
the honorable thing nonetheless.
One kind of lawlessness that does bother me and
many other citizens is when certain cops hand out tickets like candy while they
themselves keep a clean record, flashing the badge whenever they get pulled
over. For example, I know one retired cop whose freeway speeds every weekend
averaged 90 mph on the way to his cabin. Guess what? He never got a ticket. Not
one. Ever. Cops who flash the badge to get out of tickets, and I'll wager
that's most, shouldn't preach to the rest of us about such petty lawlessness as
non-reckless speeding, or about such dead serious "lawlessness" as
exercising our right to refuse to turn in guns.
Leroy states that "McNamara and HCI
recognized the longtime affiliation with law enforcement as the firearms owner's
Achilles Heel." This resonates with me, but not for the reason
intended. I see the Achilles Heel from a different viewpoint: That the gun
rights community has been so eager to please law enforcement that many of our
leaders feel compelled to pander to the ill-advised whims of its anti-gun
leaders, and groups like the NRA have become special interest lobbies for the
expansion of the Police State and the Prison Industrial Complex. Project
Exile is an example of the bad ideas this mindset produces.
I'm hardly a cop hater, I'm a life member of
LEAA, and I appreciate much of the unpleasant work law enforcement does on our
behalf (just as I appreciate the work of firefighters, who apparently have even
far more dangerous jobs). But I've said before that the massive, secular move to
professional policing was a tragic mistake. If America had never made that move,
we'd be far safer than we are today (if you doubt this, read such works as "Gunfighters,
Highwaymen, and Vigilantes" by Prof. Roger McGrath). And we wouldn't be
worried about gun confiscation; with the relatively few professional police,
politicians wouldn't even think about it.
The ever growing standing army of police and
prison guards have become part of the select militia problem about which the
Founders worried, an economic/political special interest which naturally seeks
to grow, and which sees self-defense as economic competition and victimless
criminals as resources, warm bodies and slave labor to keep the prison industry
expanding & profitable. It's no accident that we have over 2 million people
in prison today, and that most are there for things that were legal just 100
years ago or so. It's also no accident that the prison guard union was far and
away the largest contributor to California's 3 Strikes law, which NRA helped
misrepresent to the gun rights community as applying only to true violent felons
when in fact it applies to victimless criminals as well, and so can ultimately
be made to apply to decent gun owners.
The system is becoming a self-perpetuating
police state and a grave threat to what's left of our liberty. We need to stop
hiring professional police, stop building prisons, stop arresting victimless
"criminals" (e.g., drug users and gun owners), and at least gradually
return to taking responsibility for the defense of our selves and communities.
Concealed carry should be an integral part of this move. Cops need not be laid
off in such downsizing, which could be handled by attrition. I know it's a pipe
dream, at least for now, but we should still try to move in that
direction. We neither need, nor should we want, a prison in every town and a
policeman on every corner.
Blind obedience to authority undermines the
intent of the 2nd Amendment as a check against tyranny. How could we ever resist
if everyone follows orders and enforces illegal gun laws, and if all who
advocate otherwise are deemed "extremists", by pro-gun cops no less?
Surely we're aware that the tyrant will ultimately be giving the orders, are we
not? Leroy rightly urges us to get involved and change bad laws if we don't want
them enforced. Amen. But if we're bound by authoritarian illogic, then what is
our recourse if all our voting (in the face of massive voter fraud), all our
letters to anti-gun newspapers (often unprinted), and all our campaigning, all fail
and the government comes to take our guns?
I resent "extremist", probably as
much as Leroy resents "just following orders". The difference is,
"extremist" as used here is subjective, whereas Leroy's article does
praise those who just follow orders and excuses those who enforce illegal gun
laws. That's basically what the article is all about, so why should anyone be
incensed if we don't pretend we don't notice? Why should anyone be able to just
follow illegal orders, then expect us to look the other way as if he didn't
do it, or expect us to call it by some obsequious euphemism lest we be labeled
Loyal Americans have a right and a duty to
resist registration and confiscation. Had the Jews resisted gun control and
armed themselves, many would still be alive and many Nazis would've died
instead, and it's critical to note that any such suggestion would've been
dismissed as "extremist" in 1920. I applaud those Americans who have
the guts to resist, because many of them are going to die, wrongfully, at the
hands of the real extremists: those who knuckle under to illegitimate
authority and obey oppressive, illegal orders.
None of the patriots I know want to shoot anyone,
let alone cops. It's a horrible thing to contemplate. But if it happens,
it won't be the fault of citizens. It'll be the fault primarily of legislators
who write tyrannical gun control laws, and to a lesser extent the officers who
enforce them. These are the supreme lawbreakers, not decent citizens who refuse
to turn in guns. The killings and murders at Waco and Ruby Ridge were not the
fault of the Weavers or the Davidians. They were purely the fault of Bill
Clinton, Janet Reno, their underlings, the judge who rubber stamped the death
warrant, and the jackbooted thugs who carried out their orders.
Even if you don't care about the lives of
decent, loyal, peace-loving American resistors, if all you worry about is
keeping the oppressors from getting shot, then take every opportunity to urge
law enforcement officers to honor their oath, to find a way to work around and
if necessary disobey any and all orders that violate the 2nd Amendment.
If police officers simply obey their Supreme Orders, there will be no violence.
If they leave unconstitutional gun laws unenforced, then there will be no
violent acts of aggression by criminal cops against decent citizens, and no
violent acts of self-defense by decent citizens against criminal cops.
I've long had nothing but the greatest
admiration for Leroy Pyle. His willingness to sacrifice for his country and his
pathbreaking organizational work with the Paul Revere Network long before almost
anyone heard of the web, with the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, and now
with the 2nd Amendment Police Department, truly makes him an American hero. But
I must respectfully differ on this issue. No one will get hurt if police
officers follow their Supreme Orders -- to defend the Constitution of the United
States of America.
Far as I'm concerned, cops who risk their
careers to disobey unAmerican orders are also true American heroes. And we
should recognize them. I propose that the 2nd Amendment community set up
a prestigious award for such cops, to be given at least once a year. Like many
good awards, it should come with a healthy amount of money, especially in cases
where a cop loses his job or faces expenses as a result of his patriotic
Three cheers for "lawless" cops!