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Drawing The Line

Drawing The Line


Leroy Pyle

The role of the police officer in the quest for individual rights is a common topic for many in the activist community. I am often challenged with the demand for my personal interpretation of certain constitutional rights, or to define my response to a hypothetical situation. Typically, the question is, "If the [government leader] ordered you to go door-to-door to confiscate firearms, what would you do?"

Such confrontations are not unusual for a law enforcement officer, as their role in society often places them on that "thin blue line" separating adversaries. Early in my career, I worked the Oakland Induction Center and Berserkely riots, separating those for or against the Vietnam conflict. Over the years, volatile issues of drugs, Black Panthers, unions, KKK, sexual preferences, and abortion provided ample "working" opportunities to learn both sides of many arguments. Most officers share those or similar experiences.

Ironically, both sides get angry when the police maintain neutrality. Everyone wants some assurance that the police are on "their side" of the issue. As evidenced, the majority of my dealings with "radicals" were on the Left, and those causes were supported by the media. The press has always been quick to criticize the police, regardless of facts.

As a gun rights supporter, the growing hostility directed at law enforcement by gun rights activists is disappointing. There have been some serious abuses, of course, but I view the exaggerated judgment of ALL police by isolated violations with the same contempt that judging ALL gun owners by a Columbine tragedy warrants. It works for the Left and the media, so maybe it should be expected from the Right.

As my good friend Joe Horn put it, "They view us, American citizens, cops, as the enemy. What's new? The Left calls us Pigs, the Right calls us Nazis. Way kewl ... Seig! oing, SEIG, oink, SEIG, oink..."

Where do I define that middle? Where do I draw the line? Simply put, I do not believe that house-to-house confiscation will ever occur. My experience as a California gun owner leads me to believe that "they" don't care about taking your guns. It is your children and their children who will find it increasingly unpopular and uncomfortable, if not impossible, to obtain a firearm.

I owned ARs and HKs at the time the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 went into affect. I had recently purchased a brand new AR-15 to use in a Police Rifle Instructor Course, but as an employee of the infamous Chief McNamara, as well as an outspoken critic of his role as HCI spokesperson, thought it prudent to abide by the new law. I registered mine.

But I was in the minority when it came to registering the newly identified "assault weapons." The vast majority of owners ignored the law. Most police officers that I knew ignored the new law. Until threatened prohibition made semi-auto rifles so desirable, police officers were probably in the majority as ownership goes. All my career, I remember that every officer had a long gun or three to backup that revolver we always carried.

They didn't come. There has been no attempt during the ensuing years to seize the unregistered "assault weapons." And the CA laws worsened to include one grossly abusive government act that resulted in a retroactive assignment of certain firearms to the prohibited list. Letters were sent to the registered owners informing them of the change of status. Again, the majority of registered owners ignored the law.

They didn't come. They don't care about our guns. It is our children's guns and our children's children that they are legislating against.

But if you insist on my answer and that of every police officer I have ever seriously discussed the issues with, I am confident there would be mass refusal to obey such orders - and serious defections prior to enactment. I recognize this to be a real disappointment to the many frustrated activists who are begging for a fight and hope to get it on right now with the easiest, most visible (and traditional) target, the cops. But cops are not the enemy. Mass confiscation won't happen.

  • It won't happen because while certain activists try to blame the police, the school teachers and librarians are depriving the next generation of the patriotic lessons of history and poisoning their minds against individual rights and responsibilities. The NEA and virtually all teachers organizations don't need jack-boots to plan and coordinate their anti-gun agenda for the coming years, intended to stomp the Second Amendment into oblivion.
  • It won't happen because while certain activists try to blame the police, religious organizations and leaders of every denomination are actively demonizing firearms and their owners at every opportunity. They don't need barricades or teargas to herd the crowds into their places of worship to indoctrinate them in the ways of anti-self defense.
  • It won't happen because while certain activists try to blame the police, your family doctor is quietly informing your spouse and children that firearms in your home is a health problem. The American Medical Association doesn't need a baton to beat the media into submission, they just promote anti-gun "research" that is published in their "prestigious" papers and passed to the news media for public consumption.

And it won't happen because while certain activists try to blame the police, the media is reporting this anti-police rhetoric to the teachers, the churches, the doctors, and your community leaders as an example of how extreme we are! And that is where you might remember the value of the admonishment against wearing cammies in public. If you are one of those who believe the police are to blame for your firearms laws, you might just as well put on your NRA cap, crude T-shirt, and cammie pants, and march on city hall. The bravado of anti-cop rhetoric is accepted as the norm on discussion lists, but to the citizens we should be recruiting, such discussion stands out like a set of cammies at a press conference. I don't question their sincerity or concern for Second Amendment Rights, but I would prefer that more people consider the example of "wearing cammies in public" and the perception involved when venting their frustrations on the police.

Law enforcement can be a valuable ally in the fight for individual rights and The Second Amendment. Cops are traditionally conservative, and are as repulsed by the abuses in government as anyone might be. They are as offended by the highly publicized police abuses as gun owners are offended by the highly publicized firearms abuses. There is that tendency to paint with a broad brush in both cases, and there is a common enemy in the media and on the Left.

If "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" might be considered an acceptable aphorism, gun owners would be wise to look at the law enforcement experience in preparation for their own future. Especially as the concealed carry laws become the norm of the future. It has become common practice for the media and Leftist community "spokespersons" to immediately condemn any police action, and especially the use of a firearm, without regard for the facts, truth, or accuracy in the reporting. Cops have always been an easy target for the media when it comes to "making" the news. Cops and guns do share the common problem of being easy targets for the media, who all too often prefer the quick emotional rhetoric to any attempt at facts or accuracy.

It has been my observation that too many Internet "news" websites are mimicking their commercial brothers! If you condone the media assumption that EVERY police use of force is suspect, what do you expect the reaction to be to YOUR use of a firearm? A move toward a mutual understanding of this media generated phenomenon could be beneficial to both law enforcement and gun owners - if they chose to work together as gun owners. For a good example of a gun owner being railroaded by the news media, visit

My friends and I at The Second Amendment Police Department,, are working to dispel the myth that cops are anti-gun. As career police officers, we are very well aware that cops ARE gun owners and share the respect for firearms as the valuable personal defense tool that they are. I would not expect to modify the behavior of the more extreme among us, but only caution and encourage the majority against the negative tactics that are all too familiar on ABC, NBC, and CBS.

There are times when government abuses - using the police or not - should be railed against. I will guarantee the full support of The Second Amendment Police Department in the condemnation of abusive government or police tactics when they occur. We will join you in the condemnation of any and all "police state" tactics that seek to remove the community identification of the local officers in favor of an ominous federal umbrella.

All I ask in return, is cooperation from the majority of gun owners to consider the ramifications of repeating some of the rhetoric passing as news on the Internet. I am sure that an attempt at tempering the inflammatory rhetoric relating to the working police officers will result in a more positive approach to the average citizen and especially law enforcement officers who are more apt to be your friends and neighbors, and eventual contributors to

Printer Version

Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in... Dianne Feinstein, CBS-TV's "60 Minutes, February 5, 1995.

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