Choices and Principles

25Jan13

Quick cop story. I remembered this recently, and I think it’s pertinent to the current national situation. I’ll explain why later.

Years ago, I met a police officer from a “commonwealth” state. I didn’t have a good grasp of what that meant. We had a conversation about commonwealth laws, and to this day I’m disgusted that any American cop would say what he said.

At one point in the conversation, the officer said that under his state’s commonwealth laws any type of sex other than regular “missionary position” was illegal. He didn’t understand why. His only explanation was, “It’s a really old law.”

I asked him, “Does anyone in your state expect you to be the sex police? Do any cops enforce that stupid law?”

He answered, “We have to enforce it. There’s a law against a police officer not enforcing a law. So if I don’t enforce it, I get charged with a crime.”

I thought the officer was BSing me. So I presented him with a hypothetical, based on an incident that happened near Houston a year or two earlier.

“How about this. You and your partner get a burglary in progress call at a house. A neighbor thinks he saw two strangers go in the front door. You get there and find the front door open. You enter the house and hear noise in a bedroom. In the bedroom you find a man and woman performing oral sex on each other. You detain them and find out they’re married and it’s their house. The neighbor had made a mistake. Would you arrest them for having illegal sex?”

The officer shrugged and said, “Yes.”

I gave him a you’ve got to be f’king kidding me look. “Dude, come on. Are you telling me you haven’t had oral sex with your wife? In your house?”

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Of course I have.”

“But you’d still arrest this couple for doing the same thing?”

The officer shrugged again. “I’d have to. If I didn’t, I’d go to jail.”

This irked me. Not because I couldn’t believe it, but because I could. Officers have done stupid crap like that before. The incident near Houston I referred to earlier involved a fake burglary call at an apartment. When two deputies entered they found the male renter and another man having consensual sex. The deputies arrested them both, under a very old and very stupid “homosexual conduct” law that has since been removed.

So how is this pertinent to our current situation? Here’s how.

Police officers nationwide are about to be put in a very bad position. Many of us, probably most of us, are avid supporters of the 2nd Amendment. Despite public statements by mostly urban police chiefs, who uniformly speak out against gun ownership and citizens’ rights to armed self-defense, many street cops are passionate believers in both of those things.

Individual sheriffs in several states and a coalition of sheriffs in Utah have pledged not to enforce any laws restricting 2nd Amendment rights. Police officers on social media sites aren’t just saying they won’t enforce new gun control laws, but in some cases are saying they won’t personally comply with them. It’s not a small number of police officers making these statements.

People who look to the UK and Australia as great examples of successful mass firearms confiscation don’t appreciate the huge difference between our cops and their cops. Their cops apparently went along with confiscation. If it comes to that point, many of ours won’t. A law that few comply with and fewer enforce isn’t going to be the success that Senator Feinstein and Governor Cuomo think it will be.

But. . . then there’s my old buddy, the commonwealth officer. The guy who says, “I’ll arrest you for doing absolutely nothing wrong, for doing something that I myself do, even if you’re in your own home. Because a law says I have to.” There are cops like the one I wrote about in My Life as A Tyrant, who literally stole property from innocent people because a communist law said he could. There are cops who knew he did that and said, “It’s legal, so I don’t have a problem with it.” There are cops who say, “If it’s a law, no matter what it is, I’ll enforce it.”

If a law is blatantly wrong, then we’re blatantly wrong for enforcing it. A law that makes criminals out of a husband and wife for having “unorthodox” sex is wrong and shouldn’t be enforced. A law that makes criminals of law-abiding citizens, who own weapons they are guaranteed a right to possess, is wrong and shouldn’t be enforced. A law that orders me to forcibly confiscate property, from people who have committed no crime and are no threat, is blatantly wrong and shouldn’t be enforced.

I don’t care if the law is popular with part of the country. I don’t care if some people think “This will make us safer.” They’re wrong. It won’t. I don’t care if highly placed “leaders” who think the Bill of Rights no longer applies want the law enforced. They can enforce it themselves.

I didn’t take an oath to mindlessly obey any laws or orders placed in front of me. After the Benghazi attack and anti-Muslim movie fiasco, a few voices insisted that “Nobody should be allowed to insult a religion.” If they had somehow passed a law banning “offensive speech against religion”, I’d go to jail before enforcing it.

I took an oath to defend principles. Those principles are enshrined in our Bill of Rights. I firmly believe this is the best country that has ever existed in the history of humanity, because of our fanatical defense of those rights. And the day that someone orders me to violate those rights, the day I have to be that commonwealth officer, is the day I fling my badge into the mud in disgust.



17 Responses to “Choices and Principles”

  1. 1 Kathryn Greten

    I have heard of these “blue laws” I do know in some places you can’t even buy a beer on SUNDAY… if they can’t even enforce what is on the books.. but…there are some cops that will enforce “stupid ness” even tho it is on the books as a law…

  2. 2 Heath

    “It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.”
    ~ Edmond Burke

  3. 3 6B45N

    The new civil war will begin with cops (against new laws) vs. cops (enforcing new laws).

    • I hope not. But I can definitely see some serious internal dissent if cops are expected to carry out confiscations and arrests in violation of the Bill of Rights.

  4. 5 John

    +1 on the popular/common law.
    What is popular among the majority is not always right. If the majority believed the Earth to be at the center of the universe, that does not make the absurd more correct. It is ignorance.
    I prefer my argument to win by virtue, logic and reason over popular support.

    • Bingo. It doesn’t matter if everybody but one guys opposes free speech; free speech is a guaranteed right. Same thing with the 2A. And DEFINITELY the same thing in regards to whatever kind of weird, illegal sex I want to have with my wife. :)

      Chris

      • 7 Laughingdog

        The “guaranteed” part can be whittled away, and already has been to varying degrees in this country on more than one occasion. They’re only guaranteed if the current USSC agrees that they are. Our rights will always be unalienable. But I don’t put much weight on how guaranteed they are.

  5. 9 bobfiegel

    Just found your blog (outstanding, by the way) and this is the third post I’ve read this evening.

    I must tell you that despite several blogging law enforcement folks saying they won’t participate in actions such as confiscation, I’m not feeling all that easy about it.

    First of all, it won’t come as some tidal wave of action, some massive coordinated attack. It will begin more localized and therefore not with great support from elsewhere for dissenting officers. It’s one thing when one lonely LT gives the order in relative isolation, but quite another when it comes from echelons of command directing far and wide. I believe the levels of resistance would be quite different.

    Second, it’s one thing to profess intended disobedience to orders, even unlawful ones, but it’s another thing to walk on short/no notice to the exit and know there is no paycheck to feed, clothe, and house the family. Principle is indeed a wonderful thing worth fighiting for, but it doesn’t feed the loved family rightfully always in our minds.

    When push comes to shove, I don’t believe the number of law enforcement officers who will actually remember they are still part of the civilian populace is as great as we other civilians hope it will be.

    I hope for the best, but I prepare for the worst.

    BobF

    • Bob,

      My guyt feeling is that most cops wouldn’t enforce a real of the 2A. But then Nathan Haddad gets arrested in NY for having empty mags, and yeah, I get scared too.

  6. 11 gyrfalcon16

    From what I understand law enforcement officers have virtually unlimited discretion on enforcing laws regardless of if they’re in commonwealth states.

    Can you cite any law that punishes or requires police to act when they witness a violation of the law or a crime?

    From what I understand is that they’re only responsible to their superiors.

    • Falcon,

      It’s definitely not just supervisory review. Laws mandating arrest exist, the most well known of which in Texas is the law requiring arrest for violation of a protective order. As the law is written, under no circumstances can I use discretion when dealing a suspect who violates a protective order. As for the rest of it, there is some discretion involved, but we certainly can’t decide to ignore major crimes.

      I’d have to go through the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to find statues for you. After almost 20 years, I still haven’t quite managed to memorize that book. :)

      Chris

  7. 13 methylamine

    Really enjoying your blog, Chris.

    I’m a humble Houstonian libertarian rabid 2A-defender; your writings give me a little faith that my local cops won’t be kicking in my door looking for my AR.

    I try to engage as many of them in conversation as I can and ask pretty pointed questions about the 2A. 90% of them answer in the affirmative; I just hope their principles hold up under the heat of battle.

    I look at the Katrina confiscation with fear; on the other hand, we’ve had plenty of warning this time around, and lots of time for people to introspect and clarify their principles to themselves.
    I sincerely hope most cops have spent some time thinking about it–and will come down on the right side.

    I’m betting there are one to five percent of gun owners who absolutely will not give them up; I hope I have the courage to stand among them.

  8. 14 Erin

    I realize I’m about 7 months late to this party, but I just found your blog……and have spent the last 3 hours reading it.

    With that said, it may seem like a small point, but it’s something that is a bit of an annoyance for me. I’m a cop in a Commonwealth, Pennsylvania to be exact, and there is absolutely no difference between a “Commonwealth” and a “State”. It’s simply a different moniker, and while it has some historical significance, practically, it means nothing.

    • Erin,

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate your interest. I realize that a commonwealth is a state (I referred to a “commonwealth state” in the essay), but there seems to be something different about “commonwealth laws”. I still really don’t get the difference, or if there really is a difference other than the name.

      Can you explain what commonwealth laws are? Thanks,

      Chris


  1. 1 A Great Article by a True Oath Keeper | Peace Officers for the 2nd Amendment
  2. 2 Choices and Principles | jackinzacatecas

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