Talking about firearms now is like talking about race. These are difficult conversations, and people get very polarized on each side of it.
Chief of police for the University of Central Florida
President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police
October 9, 2015
Gun Debate Divides Nation’s Police Officers, Too
[Also of interest from the same article:
Jennifer Carlson, an American sociologist at the University of Toronto who studies police attitudes toward gun laws, says this divide has grown since the 1990s. A generation ago, she says, police chiefs made a common cause of legislation such as the Assault Weapons Ban and the Brady bill.
“And now you’ve really seen police not taking as much as a unified stance, at least publicly,” she says. “That’s been a major shift.”
She thinks this may have something to do with the expansion of concealed handgun permits, which gun rights groups pushed for especially hard starting in the late 1990s. Police chiefs initially resisted the expansion of the gun permits, but Carlson says many of them changed their minds when they saw that increased permits didn’t cause a big increase in shootings.
Back in the 90s there were discussions about whether the concealed carry permits were something we should push for or not. The argument boiled down to “The 2nd Amendment is my carry permit”. If we concede that we have to ask permission to carry a gun they can, at some later time, deny us that permission. The only principled thing to do is to push for “Vermont carry”.
Had we gone the “principled” versus practical route my guess is we would be in a much worse situation than now. Now we have concealed carry in all states and are making progress toward constitutional carry in a significant number of states. We made progress because we were able to change the culture. We were able to change the culture at the national level because we were able to show we could be trusted with guns in public in states that were gun friendly.
I despise politics because principals and rules (such as the constitution) simply don’t matter. But politics is how laws are changed and politics are the art of the practical and the possible. And that is the path to victory. You do whatever works to get closer to your goal. You get acceptance from the culture. Then you do it again to get another step closer to your goal.—Joe]