When evaluating a political campaign such as Dianne Feinstein’s war on guns or the interminable left and right-leaning anti-police cabal, we have to look at overall strategy and tactics. For years elements in both the activist left and right have accused the police of “militarizing” their activities. The left, in particular, has been working to ban policing tools, even down to pepper spray. With the current attack on gun rights these activists have effectively found a back door to banning guns and other weapons from our police, leaving not only civilian concealed carry permit holders at risk, but law enforcement, and our society as well.
If the government is able to describe a semi-automatic as a “weapon of war,” haven’t the anarchist left and reactionary right won their argument that police are militarized?
Last week in a response to petitions to the Whitehouse on guns, the Whitehouse press department wrote, ”The President called on Congress to pass important legislation “banning the sale of military-style assault weapons,’” (1). On December 19 the Washington Post reported that , “Obama reiterated his support for the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms but said the country’s leaders need to find ways to keep ‘weapons of war’ out of the hands of the irresponsible few.” (2)
Weapons of war have been highly regulated since the 1934 National Firearms Act. Future sales of these weapons to civilians was curtailed in 1896 as part of the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act, and only a limited number of previously registered machine guns are available for purchase. Projecting a military status onto non-military weapons only serves to further call police “militarized” when they have semi-automatic rifles and civilians don’t.
Alex Jones, who has accused the government of being behind the Oklahoma City Bombing as part of a plot to create a “New World Order,” (3) posted a video on his website, Info Wars, by leftist activist Michael Moore in which Moore blames Homeland Security for the pepper spraying of ‘Occupy’ protesters at the University of California. (4) At the event protesters swarmed police who were leaving the area and used a British anti-riot technique called “kettling.” The protesters surrounded the police and wouldn’t let them leave until officers used non-lethal force to break the barrier.
Video documents protesters kettling officers to force a confrontation.
Moore stated in his video, released in November, 2011, “the fact that our police departments, now even campus police departments, have been turned into armies – they’ve been militarized mostly through grants from the Department of Homeland Security. And actions like this now are occurring it seems like, every day, all across the country.” (4) Moore sees the use of pepper spray as an example of police militarization, even though pepper spray and other eye irritants have been used for decades as a non-permanent method of pain compliance. Pepper spray is one of the technologies that replaced such risky techniques as the choke hold and sleeper hold.
Moore described the use of pepper spray to free the officers as the “ Tienanmen Square” of the Occupy movement. (4)
One can presume that by posting the article and video, Alex Jones and his staff writers concur with Moore.
The claim that the police are becoming militarized was, at the time of the University of California protest, not new. According to Indy Media reporter Joan Annsfire, Moore spoke in San Francisco a month prior, “we are in the throes of something else, totally predictable but frightening and potentially devastating nonetheless: the militarization of the police. Moore mentioned this specifically in his speech.” (5)
On Michael Moore’s website a March 2012 article by Allison Kilkenny, an activist left radio host, reported that police stormed a Miami, Florida apartment building where Occupy protesters were living. The officers used “shotguns and assault rifles” to sweep the building. Not until the 9th paragraph, requiring a reader to scroll to find the facts, does Kilkenny acknowledge that officers were responding to “reports that residents inside were stockpiling weapons to use in an upcoming demonstration.” (6) The article goes on to report the department is acquiring new vehicles and radio equipment and tries to equate that to the “militarization” claim. No shots were fired during the brief police action.
More mainstream liberal publications like the Huffington Post have gotten into the anti-police game. Radly Balko, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post claimed in September 2011 that 9/11 caused the police to become militarized, but then makes the claim that police were actually militarized in the 1980’s under Ronald Regan, except that it was militarized in 1994 when excess supplies were donated from military budgets to policing budgets. (7) One is left wondering if the militarization of the police actually occurred under the Greeks or possibly in the Garden of Eden when a snake donated excess apples from the tree of knowledge to humankind. They put clothes on and became more guarded for the first time, right?
The Huffington Post has published no fewer than 15 articles in the last year promoting the concept of “police militarization” claiming everything from radios to bullet proof vests to guns as examples of militarization. (8)
What Kilkenny, Moore and Arianna Huffington and her staff understand, and what they want to overturn, is that the individual right to to self-defense contained in the right to life and further detailed in the second amendment, is extended as a responsibility to police. If the individual right is infringed, the right of the police to use those same banned weapons is also infringed. The only difference in rights of Police Officers from ordinary citizens is that they have the right to use one level of force above the citizen to perform their responsibilities. They also have the added responsibility, due to their oath, to act.
That is why they sweep a building with guns drawn when they have received a report that weapons are stockpiled for a violent purpose. The only claim the protesters would have to injustice is if the department swept other buildings where the same claim was made but did not go in with weapons drawn.
The only way these activists can break the police is to break the individual – to take our right to effective tools of self-defense. As soon as the President uttered the language of the activists, “find ways to keep ‘weapons of war’ out of the hands of the irresponsible few,” at the same time that Dianne Feinstein proposes White House backed regulation to keep non-military weapons such as semi-automatic pistols and rifles from the hands of all, the activists had effectively won the rhetorical battle.
Once gun bans for citizens go into place using either the “weapons of war” or “military-style” rhetoric, the next step is for activists to demonstrate that police have these banned weapons and reignite the claim that police are simply an extension of the military.
You can read the full extent of Feinstein’s plan online at the LA Times. Morgan Little wrote on December 16 that Feinstein wants to “ban the sale, transfer, transportation and possession” of guns prospectively. (9) She also wants to ban “big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets.” (9) Thankfully, we use magazines instead of clips to hold more than 10 bullets, but we suspect Feinstein will figure that out before January.
This ban will be quickly turned by activists into yet another attack on law enforcement, pushing to remove semi-automatic civilian rifles and handguns from their possession. Departments that issue 30 round magazines will be targeted as “militarized” abusers of the people.
What can you do right now? Demand your congress persons and your president that anti-police language be removed from any gun legislation moving forward. Require that no gun other than a fully-automatic machine gun be defined as a weapon of war. State that semi-Automatic rifles are an antiquated technology because they have not been the primary issue weapon for service members since the Korean War. Demand that legislation protect the right of the police to go beyond the rights of the people to fulfill the responsibility they have sworn to uphold. Ask your congress persons and president not to side with activists who are trying to portray our police as a militarized force through a back-door gun ban.