Should off-duty officers be allowed to carry guns in schools? That’s the question desmoinesregister.com asks its readers, as a bill creating a campus carry cop carve-out winds its way through the Iowa legislature. What an odd question!
The Register’s headline presupposes that off-duty police officers’ gun rights are somehow different and distinct from your average, everyday, law-abiding Hawkeye’s.
Different enough that off-duty cops should be able to boldly carry where no non-active law enforcement officer has carried before — save gang bangers, active shooters and teachers/administrators determined to protect their charges by force of arms, however illegally.
Why’s that, then?
“Our stance is that a sworn police officer is always on duty,” said Rick Host, the secretary and treasurer of the Iowa State Police Association. “Technically, if I’m going to a grade school to pick up my grandkids, I can be in violation of the law and can be arrested.”
“Technically?” Is it me or did Officer Host just say “I pity the poor fool who tries to arrest the secretary-treasurer of the Iowa State Police Association for illegally carrying a concealed weapon into a school when he’s picking up his grandkids”?
This despite (because of?) the fact that Iowa punishes simple possession of a firearm on school grounds with five years in prison, a fine ranging from $750 to $7,500, and the permanent loss of gun rights.
Again, there’s an underlying presumption here that cops — on-duty and off — are the only ones qualified to use deadly force against a criminal or active shooter. Like this:
Law enforcement leaders counter [teachers’ worries about guns in schools by saying] that the bill is fixing what they call a “technicality,” and that peace officers and reserve officers are trained professionals who are expected to offer protection if an incident arises, even when they’re off duty.
“The greatest fear, let’s face it, is someone bringing a gun to school and becoming an active shooter. The peace officer is the first line of defense,” said Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek, president of the Iowa State Sheriffs’ & Deputies’ Association.
The legislation has the potential to allow teachers who work part-time as reserve officers to carry a gun. But, more likely, it would be used by off-duty officers or reserve officers when they pick up their children, visit their child’s classrooms, or attend basketball games or teacher conferences.
Oy! Again with the “technicality.” Yet another hint that the bill is designed to make legal what off-duty police officers are already doing illegally. With arrogant nudge-nudge, wink-wink impunity.
As for peace officers being the first line of defense against a school shooter, has law enforcement learned nothing from the Sandy Hook massacre?
Not only did the first officers on the scene fail to immediately, directly and effectively confront the killer, the teachers were the first line of defense. Who also failed to stop the slaughter.
Under the new bill, cop-approved educators-cum-reservists would become a protected class. As much as that galls me, I approve. ANYTHING to arm teachers against a threat of death or grievous bodily harm to themselves or the children in their care.
Here’s what really gets my goat: yet another admission that cops are already breaking the law:
To some degree, that may already be happening. “How I got around it many times, I said: ‘I was on duty all the time, I was on call 24-hours a day,'” said Kinney, who retired as a lieutenant in the Johnson County sheriff’s investigations division. “To me, as long as you’re a certified police officer, a reserve officer, you should be able to carry a concealed weapon wherever you go.”
Police officers should obey the law they’re sworn to enforce. By the same token, they have no more right to keep and bear arms without government infringement — including the type of firearm and place carried — than anyone else.
This cop carve-out is a dishonorable disgrace to the principles and mandates of the U.S. Constitution, which applies to all Americans. An oath to which both the cops and the pols have sworn. In case they forgot.