Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Right To Keep And Bear Arms Versus Special Privilege

Recently, a friend and former coworker of mine was dismayed because there was no provision, under the NY SAFE Act (gun control law) allowing retired federal agents to retain the law enforcement privilege of carrying standard capacity firearms
magazines as opposed to low capacity magazines. He acknowledged himself as now a civilian but believed that, due to service to the nation as a law enforcement officer, there should be a provision, in gun control laws, like the NY SAFE Act, exempting members of that group from so called high capacity (actually standard) magazine laws. 

This was my reply:

The truth is that now, once retired, you are exactly "...legally a civilian..." in virtually all regards. As you can see, even groups like FLEOA (the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association) pay less attention to you and your concerns now that you are retired and are now in a smaller group - retirees –  than the larger group - active LEOs - of their membership. The fact is, now that you are a 'civilian again', you have returned, in the majority of ways, to a much larger group. You are a regular citizen without any, or with greatly reduced, special privileges based on your having been a member of a special group - law enforcement. In fact, we have always been part of that larger group - the citizenry - we never left it just because we were LEOs.

Unfortunately, too many of us had forgotten that while part of the world of law enforcement we were still citizens. We separated ourselves by the ‘us against them’ mentality. Let’s face it, to some extent, every law enforcement agency or department sadly removes itself, and its officers, from feeling itself as part of the regular citizenry by way of the us against them mentality. Then suddenly, upon retirement, we individual officers are reminded once again that we are just typical citizens; granted ones who have served our nation, and defended our Constitution,  but now pretty much without the special privileges we had while so employed though in some cases we do retain a few of them. 

Luckily for me, I never forgot throughout my career that I was defending the Constitution,  serving the people nor that I was one of the citizenry. That can be evidenced by me having had become involved in a few cases of rights violations, over the years while an LEO, wherein I spoke out about those violations and reported them to my supervisors. Mind you, I am no weeping whiner about criminals getting their due and just punishment but I never could abide by blatant criminal violations of someone's rights by the same people who were supposed to be enforcing the law, such as beating a prisoner unjustifiably or warrantless entries when a warrant was required by law. While part of the government, I was also a watchdog against government that would slip into tyranny even on the ground level. I was even more so a proponent of firearms rights because I have always known that if the government ever wanted to illegally take over, become a tyranny, or in any way suppress our rights and liberties, it would come after that right first and hardest (just as the government is doing today).  So, upon retirement, from a 32 year career in LE, it was easy for me to realize, that while a member of both, I was not as much part of the group of retired LEOs as I was part of the group of United States Citizens.

Please, don't for a moment think that I have forgotten or ignore that I am part of both groups, it is just I realize which group is most important and that is not the smaller of the two. When we were working as federal agents, we were the servants of the People and not their masters. Sadly, the government, over the past several years, seems to have forgotten that. The only way we are going to survive as Americans, living in the UNITED States of America, is to remain united with one another. Just look to Missouri’s recent actions regarding federal gun control; they have voted in a law to make it illegal to enforce federal gun control within that state. Think about that, it is truly befitting of the words inspiring and frightening. It means that a single state is willing to stand up against the federal government and maybe all of the other states, in order to protect the right of the people to keep and bear arms as opposed to the state supporting special entitlements for special groups. It is inspiring because it is a good thing in that it supports the rights of everyone, frightening because it could be an indicator of an impending civil war if it goes much further. Imagine, a state that has actually realized that  the rights of all outweigh even the rights of the government (a very special interest group indeed). 

While it would be nice to be able to retain our law enforcement firearms privileges into retirement (and note our ability to carry firearms and standard capacity magazines instead of low capacity magazines was a privilege of the job not a right)  we must not try to do so by way of giving up our right to keep and bear arms and thus the right of the People to do so. Giving up our right to keep and bear arms is basically what we are doing if we push for changes, to gun control laws, that allow us special exemptions from gun control laws to carry higher capacity magazines or certain types of firearms that the same law prevents the rest of the citizenry from possessing. By trying to obtain such a privilege, based upon our law enforcement service, we would be giving up the right to keep and bear arms for ourselves and the citizenry because we are in effect agreeing with the government that special conditions must be met to sustain such an advantage and such not be granted to every citizen because they are not in our preferred group – thus negating a right the People already possess. In other words, we have fallen into the "us against them mindset" even in retirement and we have become concerned with our welfare, as retired LEOs, more so than we are concerned with the rights of the People whom we supposedly served. All that will accomplish is to assure that the citizenry, in large numbers, will see us as part of the problem, the problem being the government today which is more oppressive of the rights of the people than any I have seen in my lifetime. By seeking special government sanction regarding the keeping and bearing of arms, we are becoming the lackeys of the same government that is destroying that right for the People by turning it into a special privilege for the few. We would be lending support for the destruction of that right for other citizens by way of our not fighting equally for their rights as we are for our 'retired LE' privileges.

Now mind you, I am not saying not to take advantage of such benefits if they are available to retired LEOs. I think you would be crazy not to take advantage of something like LEOSA or something like the waiver of a pistol license fee for retired LEO’s. We are due some special privileges but not those that seek to undermine the rights guaranteed in our Constitution. However, I do not lend support to LEOSA, and never have,  without first assuring that I have given 10X the amount of support to assuring we, as regular citizens, remain at liberty to exercise our right to keep and bear arms. In fact, if it came down to a choice, and it actually has done so for me, I would abandon all support for LEOSA and dedicate all of my efforts to the RKBA for virtually all citizens. The truth is that there should be no need for LEOSA because as I remember reading: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  Bear in mind, no matter how you read it, it does not say that in order to keep and bear arms you must be in a militia. Nor does it say, or even imply, that in order to carry certain types of weapons, or certain magazine sizes (or amount of ammunition ready for use), you must first be part of a special group such as a militia or a law enforcement group. It does say though, it is the right of the People! It also says that the militia is needed to keep a free state secure and because of that, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be reduced (infringed). In other words, something was needed for the People to be able to keep government in check and to maintain the nation as a free state all while remembering that any state is made up of its people.

Back then, the militias were made up of every able bodied man, from teen years into old age, who could carry a weapon. They were used for very few things but all involved protection of the people. The most notable use of the militias was to assist in the overthrow of tyranny, thus keeping the people free. The only way they could have done so was by having the liberty to bear arms. You will remember, no doubt, that the first battle of the American Revolution, was fought by Minutemen (militia) because the English were attempting to disarm them by seizing an armory. Special interest groups - the government and the military - were involved in trying to deny the larger general interest group – the citizenry – of its rights. To those people, who would soon become the first American citizens, such a thing as being unarmed was unfathomable and they were willing to die to protect the RKBA as well as others.

Therefore, I arrived at the conclusion that I must, first and foremost, support We The People on any rights issues and not we the special interest groups while at the same time standing for the rights of the individual. While I do and will continue to take advantage of a law like LEOSA, to remain armed in my travels throughout the United States, because I would be crazy not to make use of it, I can no longer support those efforts that want to give members of special interest groups special privileges above and beyond those of any other citizen. I have been and am even more vehemently fighting for the right of us all to keep and bear arms without infringement. Why? Because it seems to me that special preference over the People of the United States is the first way a tyrant assures that many of those to whom he grants such advantages will remain loyal to him and thus make it more likely that tyranny will raise its ugly head. So, I choose to remain loyal to the Constitution and to the People, both of which I was sworn to protect. That is especially true on the issue of the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

I strongly recommend that you do so too. I suggest that you, as a retired law enforcement officer, while remembering you are indeed also a civilian, join together with others among the general citizenry of the nation who are fighting for the our right to keep and bear arms and our liberty to exercise that right freely. Look into the National Rifle Association, the Second Amendment Foundation, the National Association For Gun Rights or others. Bear in mind that while they are groups, they are not fighting for a special interest to be bestowed merely upon their groups, they are fighting for a right, and the liberty to exercise that right, that belongs to all of us whether or not we choose to exercise it. Then join at least one of them and donate to their efforts to protect our RKBA. Continue writing to politicians to support that same right. Keep reminding them that yes indeed you are retired law enforcement but also remind them you, and they too, swore to uphold the Constitution and thus the Second Amendment and all other rights of the People. Keep on contacting special interest groups like the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) and the Fraternal Order of Police. Let them know that even as a retired LEO, you stand with the People on this issue and, as sworn defenders of the Constitution, so too should they. 

The only way that we are going to win on this issue and to assure that tyranny does not have the final say is by uniting. In order to unite we must defend and support the larger group whose rights are at risk and forsake the special privileges sought by the special interest groups. This is a rights and liberties issue, it is not about privilege. 

I hope it helps gets the message across to others who are retired from law enforcement and to those who are still active LEOs.

All the best,
Glenn B