If you want to be protected from potential terrorist attacks like the recent massacre in Paris, and suspected domestic terrorist incidents such as the murder of three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility and fourteen more at an office party in San Bernardino, you cannot trust the police to protect you. Get a gun and learn how to use it.
That familiar advice is now being offered by law enforcement officers themselves.
“In light of recent events that have occurred in the United States and around the world I want to encourage citizens of Ulster County who are licensed to carry a firearm to PLEASE DO SO,” urged Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum of New York’s Ulster County in a Facebook post. Van Blarcum is not the stereotypical “Tea Party Republican”: He is an elected Democrat who has been in his present office for nine years.
“I think it’s important to remind everybody with the way things are, you’ve got people coming in with long rifles just slaughtering people,” Van Blarcum told the Daily Freeman newspaper. He is hoping that next time an incident of that kind occurs, “there is an armed citizen around” to respond.
As is generally the case, the public at large is well ahead of its supposed protectors on this issue: A record 185,000 background checks for firearms transactions were performed on Black Friday.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who is already on record urging city residents to buy firearms and use them when threatened by criminal violence, reiterated that advice on December 1.
“If you’re a terrorist, or a car-jacker, you want unarmed citizens,”Craig points out.
For the estimated 30,000 Detroit citizens who legally carry firearms, “the same rules apply to terrorists as they do to some gun-toting thug,” Craig told Detroit’s CBS affiliate.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier corroborates the sentiment from the other police department heads. Just after the attacks in Paris, Lanier went on record urging citizens to bring down any attacker.
“Your options are run, hide or fight,” Lanier said in an interview on 60-minutes. “I always say if you can get out, getting out’s your first option, your best option. If you’re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there.”
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“That’s kind of counterintuitive to what cops always tell people, right? We always tell people, ‘Don’t … don’t take action. Call 911. Don’t intervene in the robbery’ … We’ve never told people, ‘Take action.’ It’s a different … scenario,” Lanier told CBS.
Similar advice was offered by Joe Arpaio, the long-entrenched and highly controversial sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County. On December 1, one day prior to the rampage in San Bernardino, Arpaio declared: “I’m asking the citizens that have concealed weapons, which is over a quarter of a million, to take any action appropriate before law enforcement shows up” in the event of a mass shooting or similar incident.
However, armed residents of Maricopa County could face an additional lethal threat once law enforcement does respond. Glendale resident Richard Malley, a member of a Minuteman-style border vigilante group, was nearly killed by Maricopa County Deputy Pat Arend during an August 2013 nighttime confrontation in a suspected narcotics-trafficking corridor. Malley mistook Arend – who was working undercover -- for a smuggler, and pointed his rifle at the deputy; Arend mistook the vigilante for a fellow law enforcement officer, which, he explained later, was the only reason he didn’t open fire: "The last thing I'm going to do is shoot a cop.”
When Arend demanded that Malley disarm, the citizen-enforcer exclaimed, “You aren’t taking my weapons!” After the two spent some time “shouting commands” at each other, Arend produced sufficient credentials to establish that he was a deputy, not a drug lord.
After pleading guilty to a charge of “disorderly conduct with a weapon,” Malley was given a sixty-day jail sentence and 18 months of probation last January. He also received what the Arizona Republic called a “courtroom lecture” from both Superior Court Judge Bruce Cohen and his own defense attorney.
"He thought he was one of the good guys," said defense attorney Jason Squires explained. Nonetheless, "There is no excuse for ever putting somebody whose job is to be law enforcement in danger. Even if they're wearing weird clothes, pretending to be a drug dealer, that's their job."
Rather than commending Malley for his vigilance – after all, he was helping to “secure” the border, which Arpaio has made a signature issue – the sheriff growled that he should be thankful that he didn’t wind up taking “thirty rounds” from the deputy.
"If they continue this there could be some dead militia out there," Arpaio predicted. Reasonable people might wonder if Arpaio’s SWAT operators would display discrimination and restraint in the event they were to respond to an active shooter situation involving both criminals and armed citizens acting in self-defense.