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News & Editorials

A View on the Second Amendment from a Texas Cop
Peter W. Wickham, Jr
AKA The Ol' Grey Ghost

I know a lot of you out there may think that from what you hear from Police Chiefs from across this great country, that every man and woman who wears the "Badge" is ready to set in place that utopian, totalitarian regime that would strip everyone of their rights and their firearms--except for the police and the military. Though this fear is well-placed because of the effective propaganda machine of the liberal left, in actuality it is far from the truth.

I was a police officer in the city of Belton, Texas from 1984 to 1991, working my way up from a volunteer reserve police officer to acting-Sergeant and shift supervisor. Along with my regular patrol duties, I was the department's Firearms Instructor and Rangemaster, D.W.I. Investigator and Intoxilyzer Operator, and an instructor at our department's Regional Reserve Police Academy teaching courses in Firearms and the laws covering the use of deadly force, the laws and procedures of making a D.W.I. case and arrest, Mechanics of Arrest, Defensive Tactics, and Street Survival Techniques. In my short career, I was involved in one shooting, seven near-shootings (situations where I would have been authorized by law to use deadly force but where I used less-than-deadly force to control the situation) and over three-hundred bouts of hand-to-hand combat, dealing with subjects who just didn't want to be handcuffed to those who were trying to kill me with their bare hands.

Before I became a police officer, I was already a law-abiding gunowner. I, along with a lot of officers that came through our reserve police officer program, didn't have to go and buy a sidearm to use when we were on duty because we had already made the choice to own that weapon many years before we even considered going into law enforcement as a profession. We believed in the Right to Keep and Bear Arms before we became cops, while we were cops, and for most of us who retired or went into other professions, after we were cops. I would even go so far as to say that a large number of police officers gravitate toward their profession through their interest in firearms (thrown in with an interest in the oriental martial arts).

One incident in our small city (pop. 15,000) that comes to mind was with a rather large apartment complex that the city engineers in their infinite wisdom had given a different address for the two parts of it--though it was one complex--so we just called it Sodom and Gomorrah. We had a particularly hot summer that year, and we were having a problem with small race riots breaking out all over the complex. The manager asked me what they could do to cut down on the problems. My first suggestion was to install air conditioning so that everyone would stay in their own apartment with their windows closed and watch TV and stay out of each other's hair. She said they would look into that (and they finally went through with it a few years later) but she then asked me if they should ban firearms from the complex. I told her I considered this act unconstitutional since they were a HUD approved and subsidized housing project (this was many years before anyone outside of Arkansas had ever heard of Bill Clinton) and it would be hard for her and her staff to enforce it as the police were not going to search everyone's apartment for firearms (they hadn't even been a problem until she mentioned it). She said she guessed I was right.

A few months later, we had an incident in this apartment complex where a young man, under 18 years of age, was brandishing a .22 rifle and threatening to shoot people (those of you who know a little about gun laws may already see what is wrong with this picture). One man who was this youth's intended target fled into his own apartment but before he could secure his front door the youth had kicked it open. This man then grabbed his wife and kids and fled to a back bedroom and shut that door. By the time this youth had kicked in that door, the man was able to grab his 20 gauge shotgun he kept in his bedroom closet and shoot the youth squarely in the chest at close range. Needless to say this criminally inclined young man was dead in a matter of seconds. The district attorney's office decided not to file any charges against the man with the shotgun as they considered this a justifiable homicide. Now if that apartment manager had gone through with her plan to disarm all the tenants of this apartment complex, that man and his family may not be alive today.

I read somewhere once that a city (if I remembered the name I still wouldn't tell you to avoid embarrassing the residents there) was having a Great Night Out--that crime prevention program where everyone turns on their front porch lights and gets to know their neighbors so as to create an atmosphere not conducive to crime. Well, two men in this city (if I remember right, they were father and adult son) were sitting on their front porch passing out free iced tea to all who came by but they also had strapped to their belts holstered handguns. When asked by the reporter who was covering the event why they were armed, the older man answered, "The greatest deterrent to crime is an armed citizenry." When the reporter brought this to the attention of the local Chief of Police, he said something to the effect that was the last thing they needed was a group of armed vigilantes roving the streets--and he said he would send out officers immediately to investigate these two men, or in other words, intimidate them into compliance with the Chief's wishes. I never heard anything about what happened afterwards.

But no truer words have ever been spoken. It is estimated that between 1 to 2 million times a year, armed citizens stop crime right in its track. And you won't find the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) posting these figures anywhere. Many times I have come across victims who could have saved themselves and countless others if they had just been armed, but these are law-abiding citizens, and we have some strange laws that tell these people they have to be unarmed when going out in the public arena. "The greatest deterrent to crime is an armed citizenry." I believed this then, I believe this today, and I know a lot of my fellow brothers and sisters that wear the "Badge" today believe this, as well.

Peter W. Wickham, Jr
AKA The Ol' Grey Ghost

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