Emeryville, CA Police Chief Ken James: “A Gun Is Not a Defensive Weapon”


About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

118 Responses to Emeryville, CA Police Chief Ken James: “A Gun Is Not a Defensive Weapon”

  1. avatargloomhound says:


    • avatarPaul says:

      This is why I won’t live in CA. Such a great state RUINED by the MORONs
      that are in charge. I fear this attitude is going to lead us into a confrontation that will split this nation, with little hope of coming back as a powerful nation.

  2. avatarChuck says:

    So I guess he just leaves his in the office then?

  3. avatarChris Mallory says:

    Good to hear him making the case for disarming all government employees.

    • avatarABC says:

      Chief James translation: “A gun is not a defensive weapon, it is tool of oppression, which is why our police carry them.”

  4. avatarready,fire,aim says:

    well when that madman comes a knock’in…

  5. avatarRobert K. Tompsett says:

    Where do they find these brainless morons? Oh, yeah California.

    • avatarDavis Thompson says:

      I’m assuming all the dope smoke from San Francisco drifts down to Emeryville. Only explanation.

      • avatarRJOGuillory says:

        Emeryville has some of the best, largest and efficiently managed grow houses in the state/country….where do you think most of the weed on the Streets of SF comes from? Ha! The man, the police chief is an idiot….but if you ever get to Emeryville…go to the International Food Court they have back in their little industrial area…great food….right next to the bookstore…wonderful experience..nice people…diverse!


        RJ O’Guillory
        Webster Groves-The Life of an Insane Family

      • avatarEvan says:

        Dope? Hell that would only make this moron smarter. There is no way he is more intelligent than a plant.

  6. avatardirk diggler says:

    So I presume he has disarmed all of his “officers” then, right?

  7. avatarKD says:

    Guns are not defensive weapons?

    Tell that to my son, a Marine veteran, who had to ‘defend’ himself with his ‘gun’ when his position was over-run in Afghanistan.

    • avatarJMS says:

      Funny you say that, because of the “theater of war” part of the video. If anybody actually does use weapons for offensive purposes, it is armed forces around the world, including our military. This is why they have weapons of war, meaning REAL assault rifles (full-auto), crew-served weapons, hardball ammo, grenades, rockets, and a whole bunch of other things that police do NOT have. Why? Because police carry weapons for DEFENSIVE purposes only, because they are not at war.

      Possible exception could be special police units that are actually offensive in nature, such as SWAT, FBI HRT, and others. We see these units carrying automatic weapons and other heavy equipment. I think it’s a perfect distinction between offensive and defensive. The patrol officers model ideal weapons for civilian use, and the army and SWAT-types model weapons that are offensive in nature and either not available for civilian use or restricted under things like the NFA.

  8. avatarUSMCVeteran says:

    Ken James is a blithering idiot. How this clown was appointed a police chief is beyond me. Yes, I know that an appointment to a police chief is political and that they are just politicians wearing a government costume. What’s really scary is that these goons breed.

  9. avatarSixpack70 says:

    Do these idiots really believe this? I guess they do. Look at that brit cop a few posts ago saying if you carry a gun or knife you have a higher chance of being a victim of crime and she had the stats to back it up. Sounds bogus!

    • avatarDutchinDC says:

      Since guns are mostly owned by criminals in the UK she’s probably right that there is a high correlation (not causation) between a criminal having a gun and a criminal being a victim of a crime. The same is true in the US, stats from NYC show 75-85% of people killed by guns are criminals killed by other criminals. The real cause is not the possession of guns but their envolvement in gangs and crime. I’d bet if you went back to Ancient Rome you’d find a similar % of the people killed in the city (let’s exclude the colosseum) were criminal vs criminals.

    • avatarDaveL says:

      Somehow I don’t think causation flows in quite the direction she was implying…

  10. avatartron says:

    “Guns are used for police to intimidate regular citizens”

  11. Jesse Jackson was shilling the other day for Obama’s DHS Gestapo to patrol the streets of Chicago, now that their gun control has made it the murder capital of the country. DHS and other alphabet agencies have recently purchased over 1.8 BILLION rounds of hollow point ammo – enough to shoot every man, woman, and child in the country 5 times or more – ammo that’s illegal for military use under international law, and have just ordered an additional 7,000 FULLY AUTOMATIC “personal defense” weapons. How does anyone with the capability of rational thought escape the conclusion that our government is preparing for a war on its own citizens? Chicago will just be a pilot program for a nationwide program. If they are allowed to continue, it will end up making the Bruce Willis movie “The Siege” look like a good day in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. Keep your powder dry, you’re going to need it.

  12. avatarAnonymous says:

    Please put the crack pipe down, Chief.

  13. avatarJake W says:

    well…I guess that’s the angle the 2 LAPD officers that shot 40+ rounds into the back of a newspaper delivery vehicle will use :-|

    stupid should really cause physical pain so people like this guy can recognize it..

  14. avatarAccur81 says:

    The Chief is a politician in a uniform, and I bet he’s great at reviewing paperwork in his air conditioned office. I’ll go elsewhere for tactical advice.

    • avatarAccur81 says:

      On the original YouTube video, comments and ratings have been disabled. The “experts” don’t want or need your feedback. They already *know* the best course of action, and that course is a whole lot more gun control.

  15. avatarJim D says:

    Doesn’t that statement prove he is not qualified for his job and needs to be removed from it pronto?

  16. avatarBill F says:

    If it looks like a douchebag and thinks like a douchebag……………….

    He can’t possibly believe his own words. It was his turn to step up and say something for the cause and his brain simply shut down but his vocal cords remained all-a-twitter. Only reasonable explanation, unless of course he is just a douchebag.

  17. avatarJohnS says:

    This BUFFOON just negated any officer involved shooting within his department for ETERNITY! I’m thinking some lawsuits are on their way…..

  18. avatarhumzai says:

    Stupid does hurt this guy. He can barely form a cogent sentence, that must hurt at least a little. He defines defensive use when he says the police have guns to perform their duties safely. The word defensive doesn’t mean what you think it means monkey! It must also hurt that they trot you out of your cage in that ridiculous uniform and force you to use spoken words when you are used to using grunts and throwing feces.

    What the heck is wrong with his uniform? It looks so very strange on him.

  19. avatarDrewN says:

    Look at all those stars! Cracks me up every time. Typical jumped up warrant , thinks he’s f****** MacArthur returning to the Philippines..

    • avatarBill F says:

      Wish we could see his hat–more scrambled eggs than Denny’s.

    • avatarHerb says:

      Yeah, howcum the smallest small town police chief avails himself of four stars? Shouldn’t there be a state law that says, sorry, your podunk burg is under 10,000 population so you only get to wear one lousy star.

      • avatarPhil H says:

        One of the things I like about living here in Richmond is that both the chief of police and the head of the state police wear nothing grander than a colonel’s eagle on their uniforms. This 4-star nonsense is ridiculous – and you are right, it’s always found in the small town forces. I’d be frigging embarrassed to wear that uniform.

  20. avatarMatt in FL says:

    He might as well have just said “We use our guns to force compliance.” Now, we know that’s true, since all laws, no matter how trivial, are ultimately enforced by the barrel of a gun, but nobody ever comes right out and says it. I suspect there will be a “clarification” coming.

  21. avatarRydak says:

    It is not possible to take his statement out of context, it is not possible to misunderstand him. His statement is clear and unmistakable. This man is a disgrace to my profession.

    • avatar1911A1 says:

      Don’t let it bother you. Your “thin blue line” gets kinda pink and squiggly with a few breaks in it as it passes through the Bay Area. I think it’s something in the water…

  22. avatarChuck says:

    Why do these idiots always have to surround themselves with their fellow idiots whenever they go to a podium to say something idiotic?

    • avatarUSMCVeteran says:

      He surrounds himself with fellow idiots to show that he’s not the only idiot that believes his own idiot psycho-babble.

  23. avatarMashashin says:

    Well if guns are only offensive and the best defense is a good offense I need more offensive tools to increase my defense

  24. avatarJR LORENCZ says:

    So that’s what Wilford Brimley is doing now.

  25. avatarBob says:

    It’s statements like these that ultimately help the freedom movement. What he said is so blatantly irrational and at the same time so incredibly self-damning that even a typical sleeping subject of the State might say to himself “hey, wait a minute…”.

  26. avatarUpstater says:

    Who better than the Police Chief of a 10,000 resident “city” to lecture the rest of us on our civil rights?


  27. avatarBrian S says:

    takes some serious balls to say that after the LAPD just lit up 2 innocent women like the 4th of July in the worst case of negligence I can think of… ever? (assuming it’s not just outright criminal behavior)

  28. avatarRandy Drescher says:

    I get it, If someone breaks into your house you are not defending anything. You are the cause of the whole situation with your aggresive attitude. This is the same old brady sh.t just Barbie Dolled up a bit, Randy

    • avatarDavis Thompson says:

      No, it’s your fault for having a house full of cool stuff that you refuse to share with other people. And keeping your doors locked! The outrage! All the criminals are doing is trying to spread the wealth and achieve some sort of social justice.

  29. avatarJay W. says:

    He looks and talks like an airhead surfer dude in a police uniform!

    I can just picture him in a Hawaiian shirt holding a surfboard and waxing some BS about being one with the wave and the 50 benefits of a vegan lifestyle or some crap like that!

  30. avatarDrVino says:

    “That guy is nuts! N-V-T-S! NUTS!”

  31. avatarAharon says:

    I found this comment about Ken James on the CalGuns site:

    “If there’s a Brady gathering, he’ll be there – on city time. He showed up to the DOJ hearing on microstamping with “gee this is a good thing” comments which had nothing to do with regulatory adoption.

    If he keeps getting more press time, his diminutive non-martial appearance will likely attract criminals to Emeryville streets – they probably figure they can win a footrace with a bearded midget in Birkenstocks. (True, I’ve never seen him in Birkenstocks – but it certainly would fit the profile.)”

  32. avatarConway Redding says:

    I sent Emeryville Chief of Police Ken James the following email, that that it’s likely to have much impact:

    Dear Chief Ken James,

    I recently saw a video clip of you delivering yourself of the opinion that a gun is not a defensive weapon, but an offensive weapons intended to intimidate and show power. Perhaps, then, law enforcement agencies need to change their motto from “To Protect and Serve,” to “To Intimidate and Show Power.”

    You said that your mind was “boggled” by the promulgation of the “myth” that a gun is a defensive weapon. Well, this citizen’s mind is boggled by your opinion, and I am certainly glad that I don’t live in Emeryville, where the chief of police thinks the primary function of the law enforcement officers under his command is to “intimidate and show power.”

    It seems to me that Emeryville would be best served by your immediate resignation.

    Conway Redding
    La Mesa, CA

  33. avatarBob23 says:

    Gonna go out on a bit of a limb here and be slightly “incorrect” politically speaking.

    Since when did they allow retards to be promoted to Chief of Police anywhere????

  34. avatarBob says:

    Here’s an unbelievable story of how 2 NY cops stood and watched a man get stabbed nearly to death and didn’t intervene until the victim somehow overpowered the assailant. (YouTube video)

    • avatarPascal says:

      And, in the NYPD’s defense, they say this

      “the NYPD was standing by watching everything unfold from the safety of the conductors door. Currently in a legal suit, the NYPD and City of NY is arguing that the NYPD has NO duty to protect its own citizens”

      This, is what the NRA should have commercials about. This is what we should be telling the anti-gun crowd and fence sitters.

      Scary story, hope he wins something in court.

      • avatarBob says:

        Yes, the NRA should, but the more I see LaPierre and Pratt show how clumsy and ineffective they are I realize that they have a conflict of interest. If the NRA is too effective, they risk having their source of income dry up.

        And BTW, LaPierre’s salary is around $900,000.

    • avatarCarrymagnum says:

      Was this story posted on TTAG at all?

  35. avatarWill McG says:

    I think the Heller and McDonald Courts might respectfully disagree with Chief James. Presumably he took an oath to uphold the law. Might be helpful if he knew what the law actually is. Just a thought.

  36. avatarRetired Infantry Grunt says:

    I am glad I don’t live in Emeryville CA, with an absolute freaking moron like this guy as the top law enforcement official.

  37. avatarAsh says:

    Of course they’re not defensive weapons, they’re for shooting up blue tacoma’s with elderly newspaper delivery ladies in them. Only trained professionals who “serve and protect” with that amount of target discretion and intense ROE guidelines can handle these weapons.

  38. avatarniceguns says:

    Hey Chief, go I will be thinking about you, when your out, without your gun on your day off, oh I bet you don’t go out without it. Its foe self defense asshole. What a dope

  39. avatarRoger Cain says:

    The sooner all of Kalifornia and it’s citizens slide into the abyss the better, after which not a care is given.

    • avatarMotoJB says:

      Roger…millions of gun owning, 2A advocates are citizens living in CA. So you wish I also slide into the abyss? Stupid statement.

  40. avatarMy Name Is Bob says:

    I wonder if he was born this stupid or if he had to work at it?

  41. avatarMotoJB says:


  42. avatarGs650g says:

    Let me guess, just call 911instead, right?

    • avatarIn Memphis says:

      Call 9-1-1 so they can shoot up your neighbors truck while the home invader is beating your face in

  43. avatarRon says:

    I’m not sure, I’ve heard a lot of frightening crap, but this very possibly may be the most frightening crap I have ever heard.
    I guess all the DGUs we hear and read about aren’t really Ds after all. They are IGUs. They are used by those cold, heartless victims to intimidate the poor misguided souls who were trying to rob, rape and murder them.

    We need to get the word to our troops that Chief James insist they immediately refrain from using their firearms when under attack as they are most definitely not for defensive use.

    As for me, I certainly plan to do my part. I will be on my way to the state capitol within the hour to inform the powers that be they have this CHL thing all wrong.
    When I took my CHL class the fools teaching the class instructed us to keep our guns concealed from view. How are you going to intimidate anyone if they don’t know you have a gun? DUH!!
    They also stated that we are only to display our guns when the need to defend self or others is certain. I must apologise for the ignorance of these instructors. I am embarrassed for them, but in all fairness, I live in a state where the government officals do not have the Solomonic wisdom of Chief James to fall back on. Or at least they didn’t. I plan to change all that.
    I’m sure after I inform the governor of Chief James’ brilliant press confrence he will see the need to change state policy from one of concealed carry to open carry.
    Better yet, I think I will suggest changing from CHL to IHL and requiring all holders to carry their gun in hand at all times with finger on trigger for maximum intimidation effect.

    Please disregard any spelling or grammer errors. I must leave for the capitol now to put an end to the misinformation being released before any further harm can be done and don’t have time to review.

    I was almost out the door when I remembered.
    Robert, you will need to change DGUTD to IGUTD.
    Not to be confused with IGOTD.

  44. avatarJohnny says:

    Someone needs to lay off the Mexican Happy Grass.

    How this guy is a cop is beyond me. I barely know how someone so stupid could have survived for so long. You’d think natural selection would have snuffed him out by now.

  45. avatarMark N. says:

    Emeryville, for those unfamiliar with California, is located at the foot of the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge, right on the water. It consists mostly of offices and condos. It is caddy-corner to Berkely. Further not only is James the Police Chief, he is the President of the California Police Chiefs Association, a group that is rabidly antigun and anti-CCW. Tis press conference is entirely consistent with his gun ban ideology that he has been expressing for some time. I may be wrong, but I think he has also testified as an “expert” that restrictions on issuance of CCWs are good for California, because, of course, less guns means less crime.

  46. avatarDavis Thompson says:

    I get it. When the Marines repelled the Germans in the Belleau Woods in 1918, that was an OFFENSIVE action! Same with Khe Sanh. Thanks for clearing that up, chief. I’m totally going to get an A+ on my next history test.

  47. avatarLance says:

    Shows the idiocy of the fascist state of kaliforina. You can never own a gun but cops can shoot you or your mother or wife at will at work. We have the power you dont. I despise the fascist who run the People Republic of kaliforina.

  48. avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    People have given me a snootful of attitude about my comments on cops here on TTAG.

    Want to know where I learned to have an attitude about cops?

    In the SF/SJ Bay Area of California, where you get to meet public employees like this all day, every day. Ken James isn’t “the exception,” he’s the rule. How do you think someone of his hat-sized IQ got into that position? He’s dispensed this crap all the way along his career. He’s been given awards and accolades by the California Police Chiefs for his “tireless” work against “gun violence.”

    His attitude (and his feckless disregard for real world facts) are common currency there. No beat cops step forward to counter this pablum, either. If they’ve been employed in the Bay Area long enough, they buy into the “party line.” I know shooters who have had their guns seized in traffic stops from trumped-up charges that would have cost them more to fight in legal fees than the gun was worth – so the cops get to keep a nice rifle or shotgun they took by abuse of authority.

    Frankly, I’ve pretty much had it with cops. They’re worse than useless – they’re expensive and useless. And clowns like the one depicted above are just more examples of why we’d be better off legally, fiscally, constitutionally, without police.

    • avatarAccur81 says:


      Please don’t lump us all in with this a$$clown!

      Here’s the letter I wrote him:
      Dear Chief James,

      I recently viewed a portion of your speech where you stated that firearms are “not defensive weapons.” I respect your position, and understand that you have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with gun violence in a law enforcement capacity.

      However, firearms have consistently been used by both police officers and law abiding citizens to defend their lives and the lives of others. If your understanding of firearms consist only of what you would call an “assault weapon,” I suggest that you have completely lost perspective regarding the responsible use of firearms. I will not support or condone the vilification of good people legitimately using AR-15s and similar guns. Simply calling an object an “assault weapon” does not make it so. To wit, more hammers and clubs have been used in murders in 2011 than all rifles combined. Yet I’ve not heard the media coin the term “assault hammer.”

      Moreover, it is apparent that many times police officers are too far away to stop violence in progress. Even with 90 second and 3 minute response times, the police were unable to stop the tragic events in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut. Mr. Dorner is still on the loose, and the need for citizens to have access to legitimate tools for self defense is readily apparent.

      Put simply, if you do not support the right of responsible citizens to defend themselves with quality firearms carrying standard capacity magazines than I do not respect any tactical assessment that you put forth.


  49. So do CA Cops carry their guns of “Offensive” purposes?

    Do the CA Cops use their guns to support Tyranny?

  50. avatarDar says:

    So, I guess his police department should carry non-shooting movie props, if that’s all the guns are good for.

  51. avatarEd Rogers says:

    I am pretty certain this knucklehead has (and will continue to own) plenty of firepower in his own home. His big, fat pension and political connections will enable him to purchase whatever he wants after he retires from the Emeryville Police Force…

  52. avatarJeh says:

    Pencils aren’t writing utensils
    Straws don’t let you suck up liquid
    Brooms aren’t for sweeping
    I guess every body who has ever been n a war with a gun in history has had it wrong.

  53. avatarBobbill says:

    Emreyville sits between U.C. Berkeley and the mud flats. Not sure which this guy came from, but he has set the bar higher for inane mout-running.

  54. avatarNelson says:

    LOL! Emeryville, CA Police Chief Ken James, just another in a long line of degenerate fools from the lowest common denominators in the homo sapien sapiens gene pool.

    These political hacks under the thumb of respective city mayors and/or city councils who are nothing more than political lapdogs/Pavlovian dopes who jumps and ask how high, vs. popularly elected County Sheriffs, the highest peace officers in any local American jurisdiction, as per Mack-Printz vs. US affirmation, will play out throughout the 2A battle of 2013.

    Getting so sick and tired of all these political assholes that parade servicemen, LE, and now even children as press conference backdrop props, AS IF, we ALL don’t know that they are trying to make it seem as if those standing behind them, literally, are ‘standing behind them,’ as a pure PR socially engineered propaganda tool.

    Simply pathetic.

    Then again, this is a Kardashianized sheeple populace-d nation; it’s more pathetic that this retarded dime store psychology Propaganda 101 still works against ‘grown ups’ in America.

  55. avatarSGC says:

    Sadly, this guy is a prime example of at least 50-75% of all law enforcement CEO’s today. He’s a politician in a halloween costume, not a cop. If he ever was on the street somewhere, he was dodging calls and hiding behind real cops while he sucked his way up the chain of command.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are another 25% or so of the Chiefs and Sheriffs out there that rock! If you’re lucky enough to have one, hold on to them!

  56. avatarJoe B says:

    Go to this link and sign the “Fire Chief Ken James” petition. http://www.petitiononline.com/FIREpckj/petition.html
    I also sent the Chief an email via the emeryville city website. He IS SOOOO wrong!

  57. avatarDauntSmith says:

    So, if a gun is not a defensive weapon then why do police yell freeze? The obvious intent of the comment “freeze” is: stop where you are or I’ll shoot! So, does that make a gun a defensive weapon or an offensive weapon?

    Of course the police in Torrance, CA who just shot up a BRIGHT BLUE TOYOTA must have listened very closely to Ken James as they shot the he!! out of a couple of news paper delivering Women!

    Little girl cops who must have peed their pants as they shot up two Hispanic Women who were “misidentified” as a 6′ BLACK Male!

  58. avatarpat says:

    What a worthless, crazy pig. Citizens equal Cops. We should have all the tools they do.

  59. avatarWilliam says:

    Well, Chief… what IS a defensive weapon, then? A shovel? A letter opener?

  60. avatarmdc says:

    From one LEO to another.YOUR A MAGGOT POS.You are a Fu#@$& loser and should FOAD.And shave that shit on your mug,you old school libtarb freak.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      You seem to have gotten lost. Facebook is thataway.

    • avatarpat says:

      mdc, truer words were never spoken. A law enforcement officer who openly works do disarm the populace is a traitor and a fool. If the cops can have a semiauto rifle in their car and a REGULAR magazine in the pistol at their side for defense, why in the hell cant the citizenry that they protect and serve not have one for home and self defense?

  61. avatarChuck Haggard says:

    As a career police officer, and use of force and firearms trainer, I have to make the observation that it is rather sad this Chief can be the head of his department yet have so little understanding of use of force issues.

    Police officers carry firearms exactly because they are in fact defensive weapons. Cops don’t get to choose to use force, the bad guy is the person who makes this choice, cops have to respond to it.

    One can not, under Garner and Graham doctrine, use a firearm (deadly force) without there being someone who’s life needs to be defended. Period.

    This Chief is completely out of touch with reality.

  62. avatarSamuel Fuentes says:


  63. avatarKimmy84 says:

    Well, there’s at least one person in Emeryville who thinks James is pretty smart (and he REALLY doesn’t seem to like people disagreeing with him in his comments).


    Scroll down to the comments and read his enlightened take on WW2.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      I’m not getting into an argument with someone that has editorial control to edit, delete, and mute what I say.

  64. This man is a disaster all-around as Emeryville Police Chief. It is a useless department and Ken James and his employees do whatever the hell they feel like – even if it violates state or county laws. The Berkeley Animal Care Services, to which the Emeryville Police Department has a connection, illegally signed over our beautiful labrador Paddy to Police Detective Kevin Goodman. When Kevin Goodman failed to answer, we contacted Ken James, who covered for his officer, claiming that he did not use his position to acquire the dog, and believed that all legal procedures had been followed (a detective working based on assumptions rather than on evidence – great). When we presented evidence that the shelter had broken state and county laws, Ken James stopped answering our emails. The equally incompetent City of Emeryville Attorney backed them up, and later Berkeley city officials, to protect the city from a lawsuit, concurred, making a judgment that no laws were broken. We still don’t have our dog back. Berkeley and Emeryville officials truly represent the “wild west”.

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