Why Special Exceptions For Law Enforcement Make Little Sense

AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File

Earlier this week, I wrote about how Minnesota State Rep. Kaohly Vang argued against an exception to her mandatory storage bill for people like stalking victims and battered wives. The bill in question doesn't consider a gun under the owner's control, such as in a holster on their hip, on their hand, or anything of that sort to be acceptable, meaning every gun should stay locked up until the moment it's needed.

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Her reasoning why battered women and stalking victims with a restraining order on file should have to negotiate locks before defending themselves? They're not experts like law enforcement.

This is not an uncommon thought, to say the least. It's an argument why teachers shouldn't have firearms; why constitutional carry doesn't make sense for the average person while police can carry pretty much anywhere, even off duty; and a host of other examples.

But here's the thing. Police aren't infallible when it comes to guns.

In the piece earlier this week, there's a discussion of the notorious DEA agent who declared he was the only one "professional enough" to handle his Glock just moments before he negligently put a round into his own leg, as just one example.

Then we have this story out of Texas that has even more applicability to Vang's "concerns."

Dozens of state-owned weapons, from handheld pistols to assault rifles, used by Texas law enforcement officers have gone missing or been stolen since 2018, a KVUE Defenders investigation has found. In many instances, supervising officials found negligence on the part of officers the weapons were assigned to.


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But a deeper analysis of the data revealed 45 guns have been lost or stolen from four law enforcement agencies:

  • The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) reported missing three guns
  • The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) reported losing track of five
  • The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) reported seven lost by or stolen from state game wardens
  • The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the largest agency by far, tops the list with 29 guns reported missing, most of them stolen

The types of guns range from 9mm and .357 caliber handguns to 12-gauge shotguns and even AR-15 type rifles.

In many instances, DPS officers were to blame for their guns being stolen. The KVUE Defenders found examples of what DPS officials said was "negligent" behavior. In fact, of the 29 instances of guns being lost or stolen since 2018, the agency deemed 17 involved negligence, records show.

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Now, let's understand that 29 guns may not seem like a lot, but these aren't random people who are putting guns in their glove boxes and thinking that's enough to keep someone from stealing them. These are police officers who, one would imagine, are better aware of the threats out there.

And when you think about the total number of guns out there versus the number owned by the Texas Department of Public Safety, I think you'll find that guns stolen due to negligence is going to be fairly similar.

See, the police aren't some special class of people who are more pure than the rest of us because their cause is righteous. Police departments are organizations made up of people, which means some are good and some are bad. Some are smart and some are idiots.

What's more, we also know that while law enforcement may well go through a great deal of training initially, armed citizens not only put themselves through extensive training on their own time, but often continue with training through discussion, videos, range trips, and additional classes.

I'm not trying to denigrate law enforcement here. I'm just saying we, the law-abiding public, should have the same access and availability for firearms that police officers do. Just because they draw a paycheck doesn't make them experts on how to handle guns, after all, and I'm sure most officers can name some colleagues they don't think should be allowed out in public without supervision, much less allowed out with a firearm.

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Again, they're people.

So here's the thing. If you want police to be able to do a thing that involves guns, stop trying to deny that to the rest of us just because you think we're subhuman because our paychecks come from elsewhere. That's not how rights work.

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