WHAT COPS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE GUN ISSUE
Cops Should Know about the Gun Issue!
DO YOU STAND?
Leroy Pyle (1992)
As a veteran police officer, firearms
instructor and frequent spokesperson, I have received many inquiries regarding
the law enforcement position on gun rights for the private citizen. Not unusual,
I think, since the efforts as reported in the press during the past ten years
have been directed as much at driving a wedge between the NRA and police as it
has been to deny gun ownership to the average citizen. It is ironic that the
wedge effort has been so successful when most cops I know trust the press about
as much as they do lawyers!
I did not really choose sides when I
entered this fray. I merely expressed what I considered to be common sense
opinions based on my experience as a law enforcement officer. You take the guns
away from the crooks and the honest citizens retain the rights of self-defense
and gun ownership. Simple enough, as it was my impression that my job was to
PROTECT and SERVE the rights of law-abiding citizens. To DEFEND those rights
seemed a natural goal for a cop would also suffice to form an coalition between
the honest citizen and the hard-working members of the Law Enforcement and
Criminal Justice communities!
My common sense approach to gun ownership
happened to agree with the goals of the National Rifle Association, and the
resulting affiliation put me at odds with my anti-gun police chief while
contributing to a popularity with gun-owners that resulted in my election to the
Board of Directors of the NRA. But that is a story of its own, and the message
here is to assist you in determining where you stand on that same issue.
Regardless of your opinion, if you are a cop or viewed as a part of the law
enforcement community, you are viewed as a major player in this game of
At the recent F.O.P. Convention in
Pittsburgh, the press played up gun rights as the number one issue. No question, it was much talked
about on the floor and in the halls
of the convention. But the truth is, "GUN
CONTROL" had little to do with the outcome of the national
president's election. What's important is that at the meeting of the largest
police organization in these United States, gun rights was portrayed as
taking precedence over any and all
law enforcement issues!
All major gun legislation in recent years
has been carried on the backs of law
I don't think I'd be talking out of school
if I complained that the political policeman doesn't speak for us all...... The
political Chief of Police, as a matter of fact, no more represents the beat cop
than Lee Iacocca represents the auto worker!
I HAVE taken a position. I have proudly
chosen to believe in the guarantees of the Bill of Rights -- ALL THOSE RIGHTS,
NOT JUST THE RIGHTS OF THE LAWLESS, BUT THE RIGHTS OF THE LAW-ABIDING. Many in
law enforcement who believe that we should endeavor to ensure that these
individual freedoms are not weakened or infringed join me. Most notably, my good
friends Harry Thomas, Don Loncto and Gary Paul Johnston. We will strive to work
on behalf of all Americans who still cherish traditional values and the freedoms
as defined within the Constitution of these United States!
We have chosen what we think to be the
correct police role in this society. That is to support and enforce the law; the
will of the people; the mandate of the people we are sworn to protect! AND WE
HAVE CHOSEN TO PROTECT AND SUPPORT THE POLICE REPUTATION, AND TO PROTECT THE
RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUAL POLICE OFFICERS!
That political police chief has done more
than just embarrass the law enforcement community with his gun politics. He must
bear at least some of the responsibility for an increased hazard facing every
beat cop. We've all heard of the "cop-killer" bullet -- the 'Teflon-coated
bullet' which has never killed a cop by penetrating a Kevlar vest. But there is
a lot of talk on the street, and even some strong evidence, that the
"cop-killer bullet issue has gotten some cops killed -- simply because the
idiots in the press loved the 'cop-killer bullet' phrase and had to show what Kevlar
vests looked like, explain how they worked, and tell how they could be defeated!
You have all heard the true accounts by
officers who told how fellow cops --personal friends -- died from head shots or
shots that barely missed their vests. It certainly isn't bad luck when the
triggerman says he deliberately shot to miss the vest because he figured the cop
was wearing one! Why did he know?
How many cops have been shot in the face
since Handgun Control Inc. (who dreamed up the phrase), got police
administrators excited over armor-piercing handgun ammo that had been on the
market since 1936? They told the press and the press told the public all about
those "NEW" "COP-KILLER BULLETS" – and all about the
personal armor that they could defeat. Speculation? Maybe, but I believe that
every political figure who stood in front of a camera and advertised our
protective equipment to the criminal world should do a little soul searching!
Their own words may be the true "cop killer"!
And speaking of cameras, how many can
relate to the police administrator who has taken the gun issue to the press,
waving about so-called 'ASSAULT WEAPONS'? Is there a real policeman out there
who believes there is a plastic gun? Is there a policeman who is REALLY fearful
of "semi-automatic" firearms? "Saturday
night specials"? Or "military style"? Is "rapid-fire"
really anything more than how fast a finger can pull a trigger? And as the
professional gun-owners in our society, do we really need police administrators
who publicly announce the only reason for these firearms is to "kill
Think about how that may sound in court
the next time a defense attorney gets a SWAT-officer on the stand who was the
first-man-in-the-door and had to use his weapon in self defense. Do we really
need quotes by police administrators on record that "the only reason for
the firearms POLICE OFFICERS CARRY is to KILL people"?
Is it necessary to promote personal
politics by claiming that "the police are LOSING the battle against
crime"? Or that the police "are outgunned"? Is that the
reputation that you prefer? What kind of hero would Elliott Ness have been if he
hid in his office and sniveled about Al Capone's machine gun?
Today's law enforcement officer is more
professional than ever. He does not depend on brute strength any more than he
requires the "biggest" gun! The modern officer realizes that
intelligence, skill, tactics, and planning are his or her greatest STRENGTH!
But the law enforcement officer's greatest
ally is the public he or she serves. And the strongest ally within that public
has always been the segment of the public that supports responsible law
enforcement AND responsible civilian firearms ownership. They're our
"NATURAL CONSTITUENCY," as the political scientists say.
It is ridiculous to contend that our
new-found friends in the liberal wing -- people like Ted Kennedy or Howard
Metzenbaum -- have suddenly become our strongest allies. Even our weakest ally
sure hasn't been the gun-hating self-proclaimed liberals who moan about the
rights of misunderstood criminals. The only time the liberal wing of either
political party has ever given a tinker's dam about law enforcement is when they
decided they could use us to achieve their goal of disarming the public. Has it
ever occurred to any of our political chiefs that if the people are ever
disarmed, as in England, that the cops will be the next to be disarmed, AS IN
What's worrying me is that this coziness
between so-called police leaders and our traditional political foes is causing
many of our gun-owning friends, our TRADITIONAL "NATURAL
CONSTITUENCY," to raise loud voices against ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT. And if you
doubt it, you should read my mail, or look at the hostile comments on the law
enforcement computer bulletin boards.
Because the press is saying "police
have joined the demand for gun control" not only have these police
administrators succeeded in costing us much-needed support from our strongest
supporters, they are triggering active hostility toward police among gun groups.
What happens if, in retaliation for 'gun control' demands, the gun lobby decides
to throw its weight behind the decades-old police disarmament efforts? If gun
owners have to give up their guns, or leave them locked up at ranges (as some
have proposed AND seems to be happening in New York City) how many of them are
going to demand that law enforcement officers leave our guns in our lockers when
we go off duty?
Yes, we police have a stake in the gun
control fight. It's a big stake, and we admit to some self-interest in
protecting the rights of our long-time allies, even while we work with them to
protect our own rights. But as important as the gun issue is, it's not the only
issue of importance to cops. I believe it is imperative that ALL law enforcement
officers make themselves aware of the MANY issues facing law enforcement:
And then GET INVOLVED! Today, it is only
the voice of a few, politically influential, police representatives that are
being heard. Not surprising, they say what the media agrees with, and the media
has a BIG handle on the issue. And that has been detrimental to the police
The typical police administrator is busy
doing police-work. BUT politically motivated police official ARE stepping out of
the conventional role of law enforcement, USING their positions for personal
gain and politics! Traditionally, our reputation has BEEN based on honesty and
frankness. LIKE THE U.S. MILITARY We are usually under orders to stay out of
politics! "All I want is the facts, ma'am", is a phrase that depicts
how cops are viewed by the public. Straightforward, no-bull, and get it done!
That's fine. But it's time that the public
knows that when some chief talks about "what police think," he's
really talking about what he and his bosses in city hall think -- NOT WHAT BEAT
COPS THINK (or the many administrators who still think like beat cops). My
friends and I have decided that informing the public is an important role for
the 'real' law enforcement officer to assume. And I hope you'll help us fill
that role, too!