Media Doesn't Get That Police Chiefs Aren't All Cops

Gun owners have a tendency to also support the police. We tend to own guns because we recognize that law enforcement officers are humans who can’t be everywhere and do everything, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have respect for the job that they do.

Sure, not all support the police for whatever reason, but a lot do.

Meanwhile, it seems the media has a warped idea of what constitutes “the police.”

How odd that some of the biggest “Back the Blue” supporters pay no attention at all to police when it comes to a subject they happen to know a lot about: guns. Somehow, the same people who like to say that “Blue Lives Matter” and that violence would be curbed if only law enforcement had more resources also tend to disregard everything police have to say about keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

new Star investigation into gun violence, and specifically domestic violence, details how fatally that scourge plays out in Springfield, Missouri, the 11th most violent city in the country. Springfield is also the domestic violence capital of a state that’s second only to Alaska for its per-capita rate of men killing women. And women whose abusers have access to a gun are five times more likely to be murdered.

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams, who is highly focused on and forward thinking in his approach to intimate partner violence, sees a direct link between the spike in all kinds of violence and the relaxation of gun laws in Missouri in recent years.

In 2016, as president of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association, he and the association he headed strongly opposed the passage of the Missouri law that tossed out the concealed carry permitting requirement. “We had something that worked really well, and responsible gun owners know the value and danger of a firearm. We should do safety training and background checks,” Williams told The Star.

The problem here is that Williams may technically be a police officer, but he’s a police chief first and foremost, and that’s an important distinction.

You see, the rank and file officers are free to think what they want to think. Their political opinions are often shaped by what they see on the streets and their experiences as police officers. It’s why so many support gun rights. They know there’s evil in the world and that they can’t be everywhere to stop it.

Police chiefs, on the other hand, are political appointees who have to mirror the opinions of those who hire them. If not, it causes problems and those chiefs tend not to last too long.

My father was a police chief in Leary, Georgia. It’s a small town most of you have never heard of, but it wasn’t that different. When he got along with his mayor, everything was great. When he didn’t, they weren’t.

Why would this be any different with larger communities?

The truth of the matter is that when police chiefs speak, you need to recognize that they’re speaking for police chiefs. They’re often not speaking for police officers as a whole. The everyday street cop probably has a very different opinion.

So why do the “Back the Blue” folks ignore folks like Chief Williams when he talks about guns? It’s simple. We ignore him because he’s a political mouthpiece and nothing more.