Philadelphia Investigates Gun Arrests

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

For laws to have any meaning, they have to be enforced. If Congress, for example, were to ban houseplants, but absolutely no one enforced that ban for any reason, would they have actually done anything?

Not really.

But on the flip side, any law that can be enforced can also be misused by unscrupulous police officers. That’s especially true of gun control laws, and that seems to be what is alleged to have happened in Philadelphia.

Thirteen Philadelphia Police officers have been removed from street duty amid questions about their roles in gun arrests, officials said Monday.

The department declined to identify the officers, the cases, or the nature of the internal review, other to say it involved “discrepancies” flagged after an audit this year of about 325 arrests in gun cases. Sgt. Eric Gripp, a department spokesperson, said its Internal Affairs bureau launched the audit in March to evaluate the quality of cases.

District Attorney Larry Krasner said he believed that in some of the arrests under review, video from an officer’s body-worn camera appeared to conflict with the account they reported in police paperwork.

It was not immediately clear if any of the officers would be disciplined — Gripp acknowledged only that some cases require “further investigation.” And Krasner declined to say if his office expected to file criminal charges against any of them.

Butthe decision to simultaneously pull multiple officers from the street is a relatively rarity for the department, which employs about 6,000 officers. Two years ago, 72 officers were placed on desk duty following a scandal over racist or offensive Facebook posts — the largest such action in modern memory. The majority ultimately kept their jobs.

Gripp, the police spokesperson, would not say how many total cases were flagged. And he declined to say if any of the 13 officers who were benched were associated with more than one problematic case.

Now, this might just be a case of a few honest, good-faith mistakes and all is right with the world.

However, I can’t help but wonder how much of this might also be an artifact of pressure to make gun arrests.

Philadelphia is plagued right now with homicides. It’s higher than residents in the city have any desire to live with, and I certainly understand and respect their position on this. I’d be right there with them on this.

However, what can happen in a case like this is this is that gun control laws can be potentially misused or abused. Especially if there’s pressure from on high to make arrests.

Guess what becomes less likely to happen if there are fewer gun laws on the books? If there are fewer gun laws, there are fewer opportunities for any officer to make a bogus arrest on gun charges.

Again, I’m not saying that’s precisely what happened here, but I can’t see this being a thing unless that potentiality existed.

You can’t accuse a sheriff in Georgia of taking bribes to issue carry permits when he has no discretion as to who gets one. On the same token, officers can’t make a bunch of bad arrests on trumped-up gun charges if there aren’t so many gun laws.

With these officers, the FOP argues they should be back on the streets in no time, that they did nothing wrong.

That might be. However, this situation really illustrates another potential downside of more and more infringements on our Second Amendment rights.

The irony here is that the people who blast the police as racist, awful people are the same ones who want to make it easier for the handful of actually corrupt cops out there to make bad arrests.

Go figure.