This feature appears in the September ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
Baton Rouge police patrol Airline Highway after three officers were killed in Baton Rouge, La., on July 17. Photo by SEAN GARDNER/GETTY IMAGES.
This summer’s heinous ambush attack on police—where a deranged, evidently racially motivated killer murdered five Dallas police officers and injured nine more—made July 7, 2016, the deadliest day for American law enforcement officers since Sept. 11, 2001.
It’s an atrocity that defies words. For the families of the fallen, it’s a heartbreaking loss that no words can ever soften.
But what those police officers died defending was one of the underpinnings of civilization itself: Our God-given freedom to assemble and speak and peacefully protest—to protest, even, against those who protect our ability to do so safely.
That unspeakable ambush attack on police was an attack on every one of us.
But it was just the latest, and most vicious, in a long line of attacks on law enforcement—attacks that have come to define the political left in America today.
Under Obama, federal weapons convictions have fallen by 15 percent over the past five years and 34 percent over the past decade.Just a few hours before the Dallas ambush, President Barack Obama used the recent police killings of two black men, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., to return to a familiar refrain.
Even before the facts were clear, Obama used those cases to assert that such incidents are “symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”
“When incidents like this occur,” Obama went on, “there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same. And that hurts.”
Just hours after Obama spoke, a madman murdered five police in Dallas, and another killer shot a policeman in Bristol, Tenn. The next day, a policeman was shot in the back as he returned to his car after a traffic stop in Ballwin, Mo.; a police officer was shot by a man who lured him to his house with a 911 call in Valdosta, Ga.; and a motorist fired upon a police officer in Roswell, Ga. And the next weekend a man murdered three more police officers in Baton Rouge, La.
The Costs Of Considering Police “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” Since his earliest days in the White House, Obama has been quick to second-guess police, to make judgment calls on their actions, to publicly attack them and assume the worst about their motives.
A prime example is his response when his friend, black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., was arrested at his home.
Obama said he was “a little biased” and admitted, “I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played.” Nonetheless, Obama said “police acted stupidly” and claimed “there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.”
Since then, following Obama’s example, his fellow Democrats have been attacking police, and abandoning police, through their words and actions all too often.
One illustration of the consequences can be seen in Ferguson, Mo., where the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown—and the mixed messages sent by the political class—led to weeks of riots, violence and worse.Just hours after Obama spoke, a madman murdered five police in Dallas, and another killer shot a policeman in Bristol, Tenn.
Even though the U.S. Justice Department ultimately cleared Police Officer Darren Wilson of any wrongdoing in the death of Brown—Brown, after all, had attacked Wilson and tried to steal his service weapon—Obama’s attorney general at the time, Eric Holder, said, “It is not difficult to imagine how a single, tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg.”
It’s also not difficult to imagine how Holder’s words might have added tinder to an already explosive situation: Just days after Holder’s remarks, two Ferguson policemen were shot.
We saw a similar progression of events in Baltimore in April 2015, after an arrested suspect, Freddie Gray, died in police custody. The state’s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, was quick to indict six Baltimore police officers for Gray’s death, and the Obama Justice Department stepped in to launch its own investigation. Yet when the facts were revealed, not one of those officers was convicted.
But in the meantime—amid inflammatory comments from the Democratic political elite—that city descended into rioting that left at least 15 Baltimore police officers injured.
Forced Surrender Of The Rule Of Law But this abandonment of police by the political class—as Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake phrased it, “We gave those who wished to destroy space to do that”—has had more lasting consequences that extend far beyond Baltimore.
In Democrat-controlled cities all across the country, police feel that they’re on their own.
If they do their jobs with sufficient force to ensure their survival—let alone enforce the law—for all they know, they’re liable to be targeted by their own civil authorities. Yet if they stand down and back off, they can find themselves under fire.
As Dallas Police Chief David Brown explained after his officers were ambushed, police in America face an impossible task: “We’re asking cops to do too much in this country. ... Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding; let the cops handle it. Not enough drug conviction funding; let’s give it to the cops. ... Schools fail; give it to the cops. ... That’s too much to ask; policing was never meant to solve all those problems. I just ask for other parts of our democracy, along with the free press, to help us. Help us and not put that burden all on law enforcement to resolve.”
Yet instead of considering the costs of their own ideological policies, these political elites attempt to blame firearms.And yet the pleas of Chief Brown and so many other officers go unheeded by the political class. On one hand, they force police into roles they can’t fulfill, and on the other hand, they too often refuse to let them enforce the law—a dangerous situation for everyone involved.
Chicago shows how. In the first six months of this year, Obama’s hometown saw 327 murders—a nearly 50 percent increase over last year. Hundreds of people are shot there every month. More than 60 people were shot in Chicago during the Independence Day weekend alone.
If President Obama simply enforced existing federal laws in Chicago, he could lock up every armed drug dealer, armed gang member and armed felon in federal prison and thus prevent them from committing their next murder.
Yet according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which tallies and analyzes federal prosecutions, the Obama administration has gutted enforcement of the federal laws targeting criminal misuse of firearms. Under Obama, federal weapons convictions have fallen by 15 percent over the past five years and 34 percent over the past decade.
Chicago ranks near the bottom. In fact, in 2014, of the more than 6,252 illegal firearms Chicago police seized from criminals, Obama’s Justice Department prosecuted less than 1 percent of them under federal laws. And Chicago’s not alone.
Because while liberal elites attack police, push to release criminals from federal prisons to correct what Obama calls “racial disparities” in imprisonment, and declare hundreds of American cities as “sanctuaries” where federal immigration laws are nullified as official policy—violent crime is now rising in some large cities after decades of decline.
Yet instead of considering the costs of their own ideological policies, these political elites attempt to blame firearms. Every time there’s a national tragedy, Obama, Hillary Clinton and Democrats across the country insist that just one more anti-gun law will succeed where thousands of others have failed.
Whether it’s terrorists who attack a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., gangsters who murder each other every day in Chicago, an ISIS-inspired jihadist who opens fire in a nightclub, or a madman enraged by racist rhetoric to ambush Dallas police, the answer, we’re told by the Democratic establishment, is to surrender yet more of our God-given freedom to protect ourselves.
In light of the supreme sacrifice those Dallas police officers made in July, the most disrespectful thing we could do—the greatest dishonor to their memory we could make—would be to surrender the freedoms they gave their lives to defend.