I generally consider myself to be a fairly pro-law enforcement kind of guy. As I’ve noted over the years, my father is a retired police officer, wearing a badge the entirety of my youth. I grew up around the police and so I have a grasp of how difficult their jobs are.
However, I’m not blind to the fact that they’re like any other group of people. Some are excellent, some are horrible, and most fall somewhere in between.
I also recognize that when someone says a law hampers law enforcement, we need to question whether that should actually matter.
It’s increasingly clear Missouri’s enactment of the Second Amendment Preservation Act has been a disaster — enabling criminals, hobbling police departments and sheriffs, yet doing nothing to actually protect gun possession rights.
Lawmakers must revisit the law next year. Gov. Mike Parson, who knows the bill is a politically motivated farce, should make repeal or amendment a top priority. We’ve opposed the measure, known as SAPA, for almost a year.
The bill is clearly unconstitutional: States cannot nullify federal laws. The measure’s threat of lawsuits against state and local officers who work with the federal government chills any effort to reduce the violence on the streets.
The U.S. Department of Justice has made the threat plain. In papers filed with the Missouri Supreme Court, the department has outlined the ways SAPA limits cooperation between federal and local police officials. Suspects have literally been turned loose for fear of violating the law.
The argument here is that because SAPA interferes with what law enforcement does, it’s a huge problem.
See, this argument might hold water if not for a couple of key points. One is that the media has spent the last year and change vilifying police officers over and over in an effort to turn public opinions against law enforcement. How is it that arresting actual criminals is the most awful thing in the world, holding them equally awful, but actually respecting the rights of people in Missouri is now an issue?
Law enforcement is necessary and they’ll always need to be here. However, they also have to be viewed with a certain degree of suspicion as well as with support.
That sounds contradictory, but it’s really not. Law enforcement does a lot of good and is essential for maintaining a peaceful society.
On the flip side, though, our rights are typically not going to make their job any easier. Fourth Amendment rights have long been a thorn in the side of law enforcement officers who know something is going on but can’t articulate anything a court would consider reasonable cause, as an example.
Our Second Amendment rights are little different.
With every effort to restore our Second Amendment rights, we have law enforcement officials claiming that the new measure will make it more difficult for police to do their jobs. We’ve seen it time and time again. Granted, these aren’t necessarily the rank-and-file cop on the street but are instead appointed police chiefs who are going to parrot what their bosses believe about gun rights, but still, it happens.
And yet, those fears never really manifest.
We do not structure laws to benefit law enforcement at the expense of our rights. That’s not how our system is intended to work.
The purpose of law enforcement is to enforce the laws the legislature passes. Nothing more, nothing less. The moment you start infringing on rights–be they Second Amendment rights or any other–you set the stage for the quintessential police state.
Our Founding Fathers valued our gun rights explicitly to prevent such a state.
So no, Missouri doesn’t need to repeal SAPA just because some say it makes things hard on the police. They’ll learn to adjust to the new reality sooner or later.