Friday, June 27th, 2014, 0-dark-thiry: The politicians have made their decision. By a twist of fate–your file simply happened to be on the top of the stack for no particular reason–you’ll be the first example. A state police SWAT team pull to the curb in front of your home, leap from their van and rush to your front door. Two black-clad men pull back a ram and swing it toward your front door, aiming just above the knob, while the rest of the team waits anxiously, their automatic weapons charged and off safe. Two hope they’ll get the opportunity to shoot. At least one wants to manufacture the opportunity.
You’ve made two major mistakes; they will cost your life and destroy your family: you live in a blue state where the governor and legislature have no respect for the Constitution and the lives and liberty of citizens, and you were foolish enough to obey the law.
Starting awake from a sound sleep by the explosion of your door being smashed open and the heavy stomping of booted feet, you stumble down the stairs and into the hallway. As you turn toward the sounds, you’re blinded by multiple bright lights and hear many people screaming at you, but their words are unintelligible. You raise your hands to shield your eyes, but you have your cell phone in your right hand. As soon as it comes into view, you’re overwhelmed by a tidal wave of explosive sounds and feel the first bullets rip into your body. There are stars, so many stars, winking and suddenly, everything goes silent and black and your last conscious thought is a feeling of falling.
The SWAT team, surprised when you suddenly appeared only five feet from them, screamed conflicting commands at you. When you raised your hands and one of them saw something dark in your right hand, he jerked back the trigger of his MP5 submachine gun and didn’t let go until the weapon was empty. Seeing him fire, four more did the same. Of the 137 rounds five of the team initially fired, only 18 actually hit you, but it was enough. The rest shredded your home from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. Six nearby homes were hit, as were four cars. As you lay dying, your heart beating ever more slowly and weakly, you were spared the horror of your wife’s death.
As she descended the stairs, she saw you hit, blood spurting everywhere, falling to the floor, she screamed loud and long and ran down the steps. When she suddenly leapt into the hallway from the staircase, the nearest officer, who had been staring in shock at your bleeding body, and most of all, at the cell phone near your right hand, was startled. One of only two who had not completely emptied his magazine, he emptied it into her. The rest tried, but with one other exception, their guns were empty, and they frantically and impotently jerked their triggers. The other exception managed to fire the remaining six rounds in his weapon. Of the final 13 rounds fired, eleven hit your wife, five in the chest, three in the head. She was dead before her body fell onto yours, the sickening thump of her head on the hardwood floor echoing in the sudden silence and roiling gun smoke.
That was when they heard screaming upstairs, and gathering their courage and slamming fresh magazines into their guns, rushed upstairs, breaking into your 7-year old daughter’s bedroom, to find her lying in a widening pool of blood on her tiny bed. One of the officers tripped over his own feet as he was charging into the house and triggered nearly a full magazine through the ceiling–into her bedroom and through her bed. One of his fellow officers caught three rounds on his bullet resistant vest, but that will be covered up for years. Your daughter will survive. She’ll be in a medically induced coma for two weeks, and when she awakens, she’ll be informed she’s an orphan, a paraplegic orphan with a single lung.
An investigation of the State Police SWAT team by the State Police done within a month of the murders will find the State Police blameless, and will proclaim them heroic paragons of SWAT virtue.
Your sister’s family gladly takes your daughter in, and after two years, years in which the State Attorney General, the Governor, many politicians and the news media depict you, your wife, and even your daughter as murderous domestic terrorists, a jury finally awards your daughter 30 million dollars. She’ll need every penny to support her the remainder of her shortened life. Unfortunately, a judge sympathetic to the state reduces the award to seven million dollars. The AG, Governor and his advisors, angry and vindictive, get authorization from a corrupt and cooperative judge to steal your daughter from your sister’s family and put her in a group foster home run by people who do it for the substantial money the state pays. The state also seizes the 7 million dollars for reimbursement for taking care of your daughter. The Speaker of the State House of Representatives pronounces it a just and fitting end for a family of domestic terrorists and swears to bring justice to all domestic terrorists.
Why were the police there? You tried to obey the law and register an AR-15 you bought. Unfortunately, you missed the deadline by two days, so the state knew you had the rifle and four magazines. What they didn’t know was that you bought the gun as a birthday present for your adult son who lives in Montana. The gun and magazines were in Montana only a week after you bought it. The state police attacked your home because they thought you had an “assault weapon” and “high capacity magazines,” all of which had been in Montana for months. They were scared to death of anyone with an “assault weapon,” so they sent a SWAT team.
Documents eventually made public during the civil suit will reveal that the state police made no attempt to verify that you still owned the weapon. They will reveal that a corrupt and cooperative judge–guess who?–signed hundreds of blank search warrants. They will also reveal that only 31% of local police departments and sheriff’s offices cooperated with the State Police; 69% refused to violate the Constitution. Not that any of that means anything to you. You screwed up and you’re dead. Your daughter will come to wish she had died that night as well.
Far-out fiction? The decision about which I spoke is being made in Connecticut as you read this article. Connecticut’s most recent gun restrictions signed into law by Governor Dan Malloy (D) include the requirement that anyone with magazines of greater than 10 round capacity must register them, and all “assault weapons,” with the state no later than January 1, 2014. Under many circumstances, violation of these laws is a felony.
As Bob Owens at Bearing Arms reports, most Connecticut residents disobeyed their legislative betters:
Only 50,000 firearms and 38,000 magazines were registered. Perhaps another 350,000 firearms belong to those who refused to register their arms. Nearly 2 million magazines are thought to remain unregistered.
These unregistered firearms and magazines are thought to belong to 80,000-100,000 gun owners who view the law as a blatantly unconstitutional infringement upon the very spirit of the Second Amendment, and a prelude to confiscation.
But what about people who did their best to obey the law? Suckers!
Those most obviously in danger of being arrested at this time are 106 rifle owners and and 108 magazine owners who tried to register their arms, too late. The government knows exactly who they are through their botched registrations, and sent them letters giving them options on how to surrender their arms and magazines.
But the police wouldn’t do that! Yes they would, at least enough of them to fire a second shot heard around the world. Let’s briefly examine what the police are sworn to do and how they think.
All police officers swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and to enforce the laws of their jurisdiction. They are members of the executive branch of government, and like the President or the Governors of the several states, are responsible for seeing that the laws are faithfully enforced. There are always two potentially exclusive principals at play in law enforcement: officers are expected to fairly and uniformly enforce the law, yet may lawfully refuse illegal orders and may refuse to enforce unconstitutional laws.
Practically, this rarely becomes an imminent conflict. Officers are given a great deal of discretion, and usually don’t enforce ridiculous, unconstitutional laws. Almost always, no one says a word about it. This is so because thoughtful, professional officers know that they are the pointy end of the spear. They know that the only reason our system works–and they survive–is because most people respect the law and are willing to obey it most of the time. Were that not true, police officers wouldn’t last a day. The police need the respect and willing cooperation of the public, and smart cops understand this.
Legislators, on the other hand, often care about nothing but seizing and maintaining power. Too many come to see themselves not as public servants hired temporarily to do the people’s business, but as the intellectual and moral superiors of the people, divinely chosen–by themselves; they recognize no higher power–to tell the people what to think, what to say, what to own and how to behave. They do not react well to the people thinking for themselves or refusing to obey. They forget–if they ever knew–that no rational legislator passes a law they know will not be obeyed, because when they do, and when people ignore them, a difficult choice is forced upon them. Take it and back down from a law they should never have written in the first place, or attack and show those peasants who’s boss. Punish them for daring to challenge their betters.
And who are the enforcers for the elite legislative class? The police.
Police officers must always consider three factors in their law enforcement decisions:
(1) Maintaining the rule of law. They do this by upholding the Constitution, fairly enforcing the laws that actually have to do with public safety while honoring the rights of all.
(2) Upholding the social contract. Police officers are given their powers by the people to deal with truly dangerous and harmful people and situations. People are willing to respect and obey the police as long as they do not breach the social contract by becoming not even-handed enforcers of laws that actually protect the public and make civilized society possible, but partisan enforcers for a lawless government.
(3) Doing what is reasonably necessary to do their jobs honestly and honorably.
Smart police supervisors and executives also know they should never give an order that will not be obeyed. Even so, will the police violate the Constitution, break the social contract, act dishonestly and dishonorably in doing their jobs? Many will. Refusal might mean the loss of career and pension, discipline, even prosecution. Some buy into the idea that they are the masters of the people, not their servants. Others will go along to get along. Some will honestly, but wrongfully, believe their duty is to follow orders regardless. But enough will do it.
The decision facing Connecticut legislators, the Attorney General and the Governor is stark: do they back down, refuse to actively pursue gun owners made instant felons by their unconstitutional laws, or do they suppress the peasants, perhaps even kill a few to make the point? That would never happen? Consider the Jose Guerena case, and the case of Andrew Lee Scott. Consider this from The Examiner:
A journalist in Connecticut reports that the highly restrictive and punitive gun control laws the state passed last year carry an ominous threat for citizens.
Those who missed the deadline to register their ‘assault weapons’ and high capacity magazines, which have been outlawed, will be treated as criminals although they may have attempted to obey the law but just missed the deadline.
Ed Jacovino of The Journal Inquirer further stated that Michael P, Lawler, a top aide to Gov. Dannel Malloy, contends that the state will punish those who missed the registration deadline whether they intended to or not.
According to Jacovino: ‘And while the state won’t immediately prosecute those who missed the deadline, it isn’t ignoring that information, either. The rifle and magazine declarations will be included in information given to police responding to a certain address. ‘This would be a factor in deciding how to respond to different situations,’ Lawlor says.’
Read that statement closely. Lawlor is saying that if a citizen calls the police to report a crime in progress, officers will be able to see whether or not the person reporting the crime has registered their assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and will approach the emergency call accordingly.
Honest officers trying to do their jobs honorably would carefully consider the three aforementioned factors. They would realize that these laws are clearly unconstitutional and will, sooner rather than later, be ruled so. They would understand that pursuing honest citizens who refuse to obey an unconstitutional law is a gross and unforgivable violation of the social contract, and such violations will cause breaches that will never be healed. Trust lost is never regained. Particularly, arresting–even killing, and some will die–people who actually tried to obey even an unconstitutional law but missed a deadline by a day or two is particularly dishonorable, even evil. To do their jobs honestly and honorably, they would quietly refuse to enforce those laws. Their supervisors and administrators, usually understanding of the three factors, would say nothing and do nothing.
Because the mere possession of magazines and AR-15-like weapons is not a crime if they are registered, police officers have no probable cause to investigate people for mere possession of such things. How can any officer, by merely looking, tell if a magazine holds 10 or 11 rounds? How can they tell if a magazine or a rifle have been registered? To be forced to tear apart magazines and to examine and investigate every rifle they see exceeds an officer’s powers and reduces them to corrupt, thuggish operatives of a police state demanding to see anyone’s papers at whim. Were this lawful, were this truly a significant law enforcement priority, why not simply station State Troopers at every shooting range as a gatekeeper? Of course, actual criminals tend not to frequent shooting ranges, but one has to have priorities.
If in the course of their normal duties they find themselves in a situation where they have genuine–not manufactured–probable cause to investigate further, they might need to enforce those particular laws, particularly if they’re dealing with real criminals rather than honest citizens criminalized by a corrupt legislature, but other than that, professionals would leave it alone. There are far more pressing issues that the public will support and recognize as clearly upholding the social contract.
And this will work–it does every day–if the police are left to their own devices. But as the Examiner noted, that may not be the case. This is an issue about which the police are very much aware, and honest officers worried. Recently, a woman whose husband received a threatening letter called the State Police and spoke with Lt. J. Paul Vance, who is apparently the head of public information for the State Police. Take this link to hear her recording of their conversation.
While the woman is somewhat naïve regarding these issues, she is asking valid questions, particularly, if ordered to go to the homes of honest citizens and seize their firearms and accessories, will the State Police do it? Will they put themselves and the citizens they serve in deadly danger to enforce unconstitutional laws? Will they put honest citizens in situations where officers will feel compelled to kill them?
As the call goes on, Lt. Vance becomes upset and defensive, very reluctant to admit that the police are even considering such things, saying, among other things:
“I don’t want to talk about the Constitution at all–at all.”
“It sounds like you’re anti-American and anti-law.”
“I’m the master.”
He repeatedly tells her to speak with her attorney and says he would never come to her home, because it’s not his job (of course not; he’s an administrator). She corrects him, noting that lower ranking officers would do it, but he wants to avoid admitting that, and pretends that the police are automatons with no control over which laws to enforce. He also pretends not to understand that police officers coming to the homes of the law abiding to seize their weapons are in any unusual danger, nor will he admit that their actions would put citizens in danger. He knows better; any competent police officer knows better.
Anyone listening to Lt. Vance should come away with the understanding that the State Police certainly will send SWAT teams to the homes of citizens, and will, if they deem it necessary, kill them over the number of rounds their magazines are capable of holding and the appearance of their rifles. They will kill people to please blood-thirsty politicians.
Some local agencies–particularly sheriff’s departments, because sheriffs are elected–will refuse to participate, but many will. Police officers on the coasts are different than those in flyover country. They are generally more anti-gun. The State Police absolutely will, and few, if any, will have any qualms about it. In law enforcement circles, state police officers are known to be rigid and inflexible. Because they generally have no ties to a particular community, many quickly develop an “us-against-them” mentality. Their training and rank structure and daily relationships also tend to condition them to think themselves superior to local officers, and to be much more militaristic than other law enforcement agencies.
Have no doubt. If Connecticut politicians decide to punish the peasants, the State Police SWAT teams will raid the homes of the innocent. People will die. The social contract will be irretrievably broken, and the police–and politicians–will be seen as, and treated as, the enemies of Americans. They will have earned it.
If Connecticut’s legislators have any common sense, any honor, any decency, they will, at the very least, leave this alone and let this ultimately be decided by the courts. If they’re actually smart, they’ll repeal these unconstitutional laws before lives are lost.
Any bets on which path they’ll take?