Bust the myth that police are the 'Only Ones'
who can be trusted with guns



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By David Codrea, May 2nd 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

"Two NYPD cops shoot guns while drunk & off-duty, police sources say," a Wednesday New York Daily News headline declares. "Two drunken NYPD cops fired their guns in separate, off-duty incidents, one of which involved an officer emptying his handgun — firing 13 rounds — at a man inside a nearby car, hitting him six times..."

It's the kind of story that shocks many Americans conditioned to view "law enforcement" as the selfless protectors of society from "the bad guys." Except it's not shocking to those of us who keep an eye on such things...

That's something I've been doing for years, both on my The War on Guns blog, and over at Gun Rights Examiner, compiling stories under the heading of "The Only Ones Files." Examples of negligence, idiocy, corruption and outright evil abound. I don't even go looking for such stories, but still get more tips than I can use. And it's not just "a few bad apples" making the rest look bad. The rot is institutionalized, which becomes evident with countless examples of officers who have been allowed to get away with criminal behavior for years, and corresponding examples of colleagues who know about it but keep their mouths shut, and allow the victimization of citizens to continue.

So why do I call them the "Only Ones"? We have DEA agent Lee Paige to thank for helping birth the term.

"I'm the only one in this room professional enough that I know of to carry this Glock .40," he told a roomful of school kids in an anti-gun/drug lecture, before shooting himself in the foot in front of the horrified class while trying to holster his weapon.

The phrase was too perfect not to use, especially compounded with example after example of police officers receiving special exemptions from gun laws binding on "ordinary citizens" under the assumption that cops are somehow more trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent than the rest of us. That is demonstrably not true. But because of their employment, we see officers getting nationwide concealed carry, exemptions for possession and use of firearms forbidden to the masses, enjoying the ability to "lawfully" go armed into so-called "gun free zones" where the rest of us are forbidden, and the like.

Perhaps we should first see if police are better trained and more proficient with a firearm than, say, you.

"In reality, most police departments only train about two times a year, averaging less than 15 hours annually," a Tactics & Training article on Police One admits. And while qualification requirements vary, it's not uncommon to see them require as few as 50 shots fired, with passing grades of 70% and chances to retake the failed test, with remedial training at the discretion of the department, and with further provisions for extensions, waivers and requirement modifications.

What about armed police being safer for society than the average citizen?

"Citizens shoot and kill at least twice as many criminals as police do every year (1,527 to 606)," Gun Owners of America reported, citing the work of criminologist Gary Kleck. "And readers of Newsweek learned that ‘only 2 percent of civilian shootings involved an innocent person mistakenly identified as a criminal. The "error rate" for the police, however, was 11 percent, more than five times as high.’"

Adding to this, writer Dean Weingarten has compiled interesting evidence suggesting police are far more likely to commit homicide than concealed carry permit holders.

That seems to bear out anecdotally, whether considering "on duty" bad shoots, like the killing of unarmed BART passenger Oscar Grant and the 50-shot barrage by detectives killing unarmed prospective groom Sean Bell, or outright private murders. Just recently, without even trying to find such stories, The War on Guns documented four accounts of police officers murdering their wives, and in three of those cases turning the gun on themselves: A Cook County sheriff's department corrections officer, an Indianapolis police officer, a Mississippi deputy, and a former NYPD cop.

Speaking of police suicides, The Philadelphia Inquirer did a report some years back concluding "New York City officers kill themselves at a rate of 29 per 100,000 a year. The rate of suicide in the general population is 12 per 100,000 ... Nationally, twice as many cops - about 300 annually - commit suicide as are killed in the line of duty..."

But back to much-maligned armed citizens, subjects of a ridiculous "Concealed Carry Killers" propaganda campaign from the Violence Policy Center which to date has ignored a longstanding and repeated challenge to compare their "gun violence" rates and incidents with those of the police. And, at least in gun-hostile Chicago, since Illinois law was changed to provide for lawful concealed carry, the biggest danger gun owners face could be Superintendent Garry McCarthy's troops, especially after receiving a "shoot first" OK from the boss if they encounter anyone out of uniform with a gun. That off-duty and plain clothes officers and agents might be caught up in his eye-rolling hoplophobic frenzy seems not to have factored into the top cop's training considerations.

McCarthy's vision of a disarmed society, where the "Only Ones" are the sole keepers and bearers of arms, is shared by no shortage of Demanding Moms seen in MRCTV's "What Triggers a Protest of the NRA?"

"No," says one woman being interviewed when asked if you should have the right to defend yourself with a weapon if you're being attacked and somebody is putting your life in danger. "Only a law enforcement officer should be allowed to use weapons ... The only people who, in my opinion, should be allowed to carry weapons in public areas, are current law enforcement and off-duty law enforcement officers."

Isn't that where we came into this exercise?

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David Codrea is a field editor at GUNS Magazine, penning their monthly "Rights Watch" column. He provides regular reporting and commentary at Gun Rights Examiner and blogs at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance.

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