Gun Laws & Legislation

Controversy: Would You Take Away Guns From Law-Abiding Citizens?

Mike Piccione
Editor, Guns & Gear

“Would You Take Away Guns From Law-Abiding Citizens?” Question Posed by Publisher Causes Stir In American COP

San Diego, Calif. — “Would you personally, go out and confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens — even if it goes against your personal opinion regarding the constitutional rights of citizens — and do it on the order of an administrative leader of your agency?”

Appearing in “Will You Do It?” of the July issue of American COP, this contentious question from publisher Roy Huntington is causing quite a stir, and has generated a flurry of comments and emails from police officers at every level.

In response to this query posed by Huntington, Chief D. Crowley of the Winona (Mo.) Police Department wrote, “I will not follow nor issue an order that is unconstitutional, and until the Constitution is amended — and I hope that day never comes — I will continue to protect the gun rights of the citizens I serve.”

Sgt. James B. Wielgus of East Stroudsburg, Pa., answered, “We know there are lawful orders, and there are unlawful orders. I would feel no duty to obey what I would know to my core was an unlawful order. I don’t care if they discipline me or fire me; I have every faith I would eventually prevail in court.”

Huntington discussed his reasoning for sparking this compelling discussion, “Many of today’s younger officers did not grow up around firearms. Indeed, in my own experience as an academy instructor over 12 years ago, even then, often fifty percent or more of the academy trainees had never fired a gun prior to joining the police department. Which begs the question: ‘Does not growing up in a gun culture influence their opinion on ownership of firearms by the general public?’ I asked that very question, and found an overwhelming response indicating regardless of their past, the vast majority of today’s officers support private ownership of firearms, and would not participate in any confiscation program.”

Visit www.americancopmagazine.com/will-you-do-it/ to comment on this story.

Here is the article as it appears in the American COP July issue:

I like to think my “real” job is as the editor of our sister publication, American Handgunner magazine. A publisher wears many hats, but what I really like to do is write, edit and interact with readers. What I’ve never forgotten is we, you and I, are the same — I just happen to have this job. I spent a long time as a cop in San Diego, and an even longer lifetime so far as a shooter and gun owner. I (and parent company FMG) feel strongly about the right of law-abiding Americans to own firearms, for any reason they like; from hunting, plinking, collecting, reloading, you-name-it. But most assuredly, we believe Americans have the right to own firearms for personal protection. This brings me to a sore subject for many Handgunner readers.

I get regular reader mail asking essentially the same question: “Roy, as a former cop, do you think today’s younger cops would actually try to take guns away from law-abiding citizens, if they were told to do so by their leaders?” Keep in mind, real people and regular people just like us — not crazies — seriously worry about this.

Since I’ve sort of “crossedover” both sides of the fence being both a law enforcer and law-abiding citizen gun owner, I can see what they’re talking about. I’ve known anti-gun cops, who seriously said things like, “They have no right to own a gun, it’s my job to protect them. If they have guns, it’s just a danger to me!” You might know someone like that too. And certainly, there are politicians out there who think the same way; and those very politicians often appoint police chiefs. Since sheriffs are elected, they can serve as a bit of a buffer on this topic. They more readily serve their voting constituent than the politically appointed chief does.

So, I’ll be blunt and ask you: Would you personally, go out and confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens — even if it goes against your personal opinion regarding the constitutional rights of citizens — and do it on the order of an administrative leader of your agency? Would you put your foot down and say, “No, that’s not legal, it’s not right, and I won’t do it” — all the while risking being disciplined or fired? Or would you simply do your duty, as it were? “I was only following orders!” And, if you don’t think it can happen, just look at New Orleans after the hurricane, when the city cops did that very thing. They also lost a lawsuit brought by the NRA in the aftermath. It was found the city of New Orleans did not have the right to confiscate firearms in the “interest of public safety.”

I was asked to write about this a long while ago, back when I was still a cop. I wrote the article and stated: I would not do it and, yes, I’d risk the consequences. I signed my name to the article, and my agency knew it. I also said I didn’t feel the vast majority of my LE peers would participate if they felt they were given an unlawful order to confiscate guns. But today? I honestly don’t know what would happen. What’s your opinion? You tell me.

Reach me through the editor@americancopmagazine.com and I anxiously await your mail.