Gun Ban Zealots Offer Libertarians Choice:
Police State or . . . Police State



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By Kurt Hofmann, September 2nd, 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

David Frum

We recently noted that ostensibly "conservative" David Frum blames the militarization of police on widespread gun ownership by private citizens (or by "the policed"--Frum's term for theoretically free citizens). This is becoming a popular theme of late, to the joy, no doubt, of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Writing for the New Republic, Alec MacGillis has jumped enthusiastically aboard that bandwagon, with his "Libertarians Who Oppose a Militarized Police Should Support Gun Control—But They Don't, of Course."

MacGillis' explanation as to why libertarians should support the violation of the right to the means of defending one's liberty is a bit convoluted. Basically, the fact that most Americans can own firearms--including guns well suited for rather "unsportsmanlike" activities like self-defense and resisting tyranny--makes cops "on edge" (MacGillis' term) . . . and thus apparently justifies teargassing and arresting journalists, aiming sniper rifles at citizens with their hands up, and screaming obscenities at them:

There is indeed agreement between many liberals and libertarians that the militarization of the police, especially in its dealings with racial minorities, has gone too far. But this consensus may crumble pretty quickly when it's confronted with the obvious police counter-argument: that the authorities' heavy firepower and armor is necessary in light of all the firepower they're up against.

At that point, many liberals will revert to arguing for sensible gun control regulations like broader background checks to keep guns out of the hands of violent felons and the mentally ill (the measure that police organizations successfully argued should be the gun control movement's legislative priority following the Newtown, Connecticut shootings) or limits on assault weapons and oversized ammunition clips. And liberals will be reminded that the libertarians who agree with them in opposing police militarization are very much also opposed to the gun regulations that might help make the environment faced by police slightly less threatening.

Note, by the way, that even MacGillis acknowledges that fulfillment of the forcible citizen disarmament advocates' gun ban wishlist--banning private sales, so-called "assault weapons," and standard capacity magazines--would make police work only "slightly less threatening." Does he believe that the decades-long trend of the transformation of "peace officers" to "warrior cops" will be reversed by a slight reduction in cops' perception of the threats they think they face?

MacGillis quotes CSGV's executive director Josh Horwitz, who has told us for years to "not put too much on the militarization of law enforcement." The iron-fisted police response to the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police killing of Michael Brown, prompted even CSGV to timidly voice some tepid concern over police forces becoming occupying armies, but like MacGillis, blamed it on "the arms race between civilians [CSGV's term for non-cops, despite the fact that cops are civilians, as well] and law enforcement in our country."

Horwitz is critical of United States Senator Rand Paul's (R-KY) call for the demilitarization of law enforcement, and is not above playing a bit fast and loose with the truth to make his case:

The Senator then claimed that there is a "cartoonish imbalance between the equipment some police departments possess and the constituents they serve," citing a .50-caliber gun owned by Bossier Parish police in Louisiana as an example.

That's an odd choice of examples for the Senator given that he is the premier spokesman for a group, the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), that gives away free .50-caliber sniper rifles to civilians.

Horwitz doesn't bother to mention that unlike the "sniper rifles" (anti-gunner code word for "accurate rifles") raffled off by NAGR, the Bossier Parish Sheriff's "Department .50-caliber gun" is a .50 caliber machine gun,--the same model used by the U.S. armed forces and those of countless allies in every war from World War II to this day. You know--an actual "weapon of war."

Frum, MacGillis and Horwitz would have us believe that cops will continue to morph into storm troopers unless and until we the people submit to further forcible citizen disarmament laws, that we must choose between being "policed" by an army of enforcers indoctrinated to think of the people (the same people they used to claim to "protect and serve") as enemies; or we must surrender those arms best suited to protection against those who would destroy or oppress us--including out-of-control police.

That sounds rather a lot like extortion, and is also a false choice. The police work for us--they are our employees. We bought the armored vehicles from which they point guns at us, and the grenades they throw at our children. We don't have to sacrifice any of our rights to rein them in--we need only muster the will to tell them that if the job of "protecting and serving" a free people without indulging their Rambo fantasies is too scary for them, they'd best find another line of work.

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A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denies that right, inspiring him to become active in gun rights advocacy. He also writes the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column. Kurt Hofmann Archive.

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