Friday, October 18, 2013

Law Enforcement and The Gun Culture

          A quick Google check of total firearms in the United States will roughly reflect the American civilian population out paces any place in the world with approximately 270 to 310 million non-military firearms distributed among a population of 316.8 million people.  Blended among this total, from January 2009 through January 2013, 65.4 million background checks have been conducted in this country alone for the purchase of individually owned firearms and it does not take long for a reasonably sane person to shake their head in utter amazement.  With this said, let me say to the Ladies and Gentlemen, Conservatives and Liberals, and any race or nationality that compose the population of this great country, that regardless of how your feelings register, as related to the Constitution of the United States, IT IS the governing authority “Of the People.” 

           For the first time in my almost 63 years of life, I am inundated almost daily by a Presidential administration and Democrat influenced Congress from attacks on various problems associated with the Constitution with emphasis on the Second Amendment, especially.  Running in close parallel as if to add substance to this verbal discourse our elected officials are regurgitating are the voices of tenured “intellectual heads, or academia”  that represents many leading universities throughout our country with some of them calling for the total dismissal of this Divinely inspired document!    To borrow from the Novel Unintended Consequences, by John Ross, there exist in America,  a base core of Americans known as The Gun Culture.  These are the "tired and poor," those “huddled masses yearning to be free,” that our Statue of Liberty welcomed to our shores in the last 200 years!  A collection of different races and cultures that came legally to this "melting pot" they only knew as the United States of America.  They came here because of the promise of freedom, to embrace life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as promised by this amazing document. These people sought not to change our way of life but blend into her very soul as they gave up their native language, adopted ours and from many cultures became "one" America!  The core belief in their very souls was truly to become part of a "One Nation, Under God," as they offered their gifts of individualism and willingness to give of themselves as well as the lives of their sons and daughters in two World Wars.  Because of the opportunity the Constitution of the United States offered, it allowed this country to be blessed as no other civilization ever in the history of mankind.  This is where the Gun Culture found its heartbeat and it can still be found in the DNA every true American of every State in this Union. With the undertow of political dissent moving in our hearts today, we recognize once again, this urgent sense of "oneness" that is disturbing the true "strain" of Americans to Hold fast to one inalienable right we hold dear.  The right to “keep and bear arms” and that that right, “shall not be infringed!” 

          Have you ever sat and watched as storm clouds gathered with amazed anticipation of the unknown?   So it is with many of us today, as we watch an expanding and perceived unchecked Federal Government take aim at “We the People.”  In our preparations for the uncontrolled fury of natural forces, some of us run from the threat while yet many of us dig in.   With this being a known reaction, why is it not surprising that we find ourselves divided as a Nation.  I clearly stated in one of my earlier short stories, Thoughts Reflected,  that my rights as an American Citizen was given to me by God Almighty, not by a government elected by unions, fraud and minorities that think the purpose of government is to sustain their personal greed.  But yet here we are, surrounded by an almost majority population existing of 10-15 million plus illegal aliens joining forces with an existing welfare state that depends on the Treasury of the United States to support them.  Now you tell me, is this not exactly what the majority of 535 men and women have sold their very souls to do! Are those of us who are grounded in our basic core beliefs, now even more deliberate in resisting the change being forced upon us by a Federal Government designed from its very inception to protect us?  You see, you and I subsist as the benefactors of those "huddled masses," as their faith, blood and labors paved our fundamental way of life. As we become more cognizant of this undesirable path we are being funneled toward, we are collectively beginning to dig in as to assert our discontent toward those responsible for this move.  We will sustain our way of life if need be but at what cost is yet to be decided!  We are the existing heartbeat of the Gun Culture that defines the very soul of this Nation. 

        And it is here we find ourselves defined as a society, all across this nation, governed by state and local laws, living in large cities, towns and parishes governed by men and women we call by first names.  Accepted and desired by us is our State, Parish, Municipal and local Law Enforcement Community that protects us from each other, as since the Gates of Dawn mankind has become adept at adversarial behaviors intent on destroying one another!   As we exist today, probably 95% of our Law Enforcement Communities interaction with firearms has always been what we refer too, as our  criminal element. On the other side of the coin, you find those law abiding citizens that embrace our peace keepers as we have watched them grow from T-ball to High School athletics in our local communities to become the young men and women whose chosen profession it is to protect us, as was ours to protect them.  All of us must recognize, it is "those of us you protect," who put you there!  What is unknown to you as you practice the role of protector in our society is, as the storm clouds of discontent continue to gather, you will encounter us more and more.   We are not the criminal element of society that you are used to encountering.   As we become more visible in your existing world, you need to know that we are simply defined as the Gun Culture who has the right to keep and bear arms just as you do.  We exist in almost every home, automobile and business and increase in growing numbers every month of every year.   We will appear and interlace with you as force-multipliers in the form of open and concealed carry, all of which are constitutionally allowed and authorized by Local and State Revised Statutes.  

          Most of us have seen You Tube videos, or similar post on various social media sites where Law Enforcement and the Gun Culture meet face to face in various public or not so public incidents. We know at times the interaction between the two can become extremely tense. As a result of these unfortunate misunderstandings, the governmental authority or Law Enforcement Officer(s), exercises his authority over the citizenry which usually leads to an arrest followed by a common mistrust of both sides.  Almost immediately as these chain of events are set in motion, the law suits follow at what time the main stream media takes possession of this unnecessary situation as their "spin" is then fed to the voices of discontent through the local news stream.  Once exposed to the masses, it will be left for them alone to decide who was right and wrong and this is where the finder of facts will be decided along those political and racial divides.  We must understand that the Law is the Law and until it is changed, it should be enforced FAIRLY across societal norms!

           How is this to be accomplished? An avenue that should certainly be explored is the responsibility of governmental leadership.  If they come to acknowledge that our Law Enforcement Community should be trained to enforce the WORD of LAW as it exists and not used as an excuse for individual interpretation.  As an immediate first step, those laws concerning the legal possession of firearms should be taught in the form of sensitivity training to new academy recruits as well as to existing police line divisions. This training should be mandatory for law enforcement administrators!  As an NRA Pistol Instructor who teaches firearm Safety and Concealed Carry Training, I want my students to know that there exists a thin blue line protecting the honest society from the criminally inclined.  This thin blue line exists in the form of adrenalin pumped young men and women that ride in marked and unmarked police units throughout our country. They simply have not been taught how to interact with the Gun Culture. The only thing they know is how to react to a perceived threat. We NEED and WANT these men and women who are willing to put their lives in harms way, for each of us,  as they intervene on our behalf to Serve and Protect. God forbid if that time presents itself, they just might need us, too! 

           Law Enforcement professionals need to know the LAWS concerning the carrying of firearms in the communities they serve. Further, they need to know there are thousands of us that can legally carry, whether it is OPEN carry or CONCEALED carry.  Please understand, that the majority of us who are licensed to carry do know the laws governing our actions. There is no reason why a law enforcement officer should treat an honest citizen,  again usually licensed to carry as a result of a background check by an authority of that States Government, should be treated as a common criminal on a misdemeanor traffic stop.  In my resident State of Louisiana, it is the concealed carry permit holder’s responsibility to inform a Law Enforcement officer who makes contact with them in an official capacity, that they ARE carrying concealed. The officer has two choices at this point. Inform the individual he is going to disarm him/her, which they can do, or tell them to leave their weapon secure with instructions to keep their hands where they can be seen. A lot of what the officer may or may not do at this point is precipitated on the “purpose” of that “contact with them in an official capacity.” Why in the world would any officer take possession of a firearm authorized him by the rules of engagement, run that legally permitted weapon through NCIC to see if it’s stolen?  And to continue to add insult to injury, remove the magazine and every cartridge in it placing them on the back floorboard before locking the pistol in the trunk as to insure their safe departure? Or better yet, disassemble the entire weapon and lay it on the floorboard of the back seat with an implied threat not to attempt to touch it until they have departed the traffic stop?

           Yes, lawfully armed citizens have been subjected to this type of treatment as if we were stereotypical criminals simply because of the “LACK of TRAINING" given to law enforcement personnel to include their supervisors.  I can only predict that because of the growing number of concealed carry permit holders in Louisiana alone, the frequency of these types of interactions will only increase. I shake my head in disbelief knowing this type of training has not already been extended to those who serve with pride and honor.  Are we just determined to force our will upon others until the tax base fails and society as we know it crumbles around us?

Federal vs. State vs. Parish vs. City vs. the Gun Culture.  Which side find Ye?

Rod Ferguson
August 16, 2013