Knights in Shining Armor?

As a cop- I think the national concealed carry permit is GREAT. I'm sorry to hear the resentment though--- as a citizen I see this as a step toward a national concealed carry permit for everyone. It's a first step- maybe it isn't fair that it's only for certain people, but once it's in place it gives a good place to start lobbying for concealed carry permits for everyone.

One of my readers posted this as a comment to my brief article on what I call the Armed Knighthood Restoration Act (aka, "National Concealed Carry for Cops"). I thought it deserved an explanation, since the idiom isn't necessarily obvious.

Standing alone, independent of everything else, I don't really have any problem with cops carrying concealed firearms -- or with anyone else, for that matter, until they decide to become a threat to me. The problem that I have with this issue is simple: police can, normal citizens can't.

So what's wrong with that? All sorts of things.

I use the analogy to knights because I think it gets the point across quickly and easily, and (as an avid reader of medieval fantasy novels, collector of swords, etc) it's one that comes naturally to mind. Knights are warriors, considered better than the common peasant. Knights have more rights than peasants; they are allowed to carry arms where a peasant would be denied that right. Even in areas where a peasant is technically allowed arms (say, a bow for hunting, or a sword) the knight is subject to fewer questions and challenges for his decision to go armed.

Furthermore, in many cases a knight could kill a peasant with impunity: simply invent an imagined threat or insult, and the nobility (which in that time usually acted as judges) would accept the explanation. Only the most notorious of knights could expect censure for their actions. The Samurai, for example, are widely known to have tested their swords (and their own skills) with human victims; mostly corpses or criminals, but "execution by sword tester" was not unknown.

In short, knights were "like us, only better". That theme is even echoed in the media; we have endless tales of "knights in shining armor" protecting damsels in distress or oppressed peasants. In most of the orders of knighthood, there is an oath sworn to behave with honor, bravery, and righteousness. Knights were supposed to defend the realm from dragons and evil knights.

But the truth doesn't match the propaganda. There were some good knights, some mediocre knights, and some bad knights. The special training doesn't change a person's character; it changes only the tools they have available to express that character. The oath of knighthood doesn't erase evil from the knight's heart, and the shiny armor just means he's harder to stop should he decide to act on evil, or even merely corrupt, motives.

The closest analogy to knighthood we have today are police officers. Like knights, they are considered a protected class; nearly all gun control laws exempt law enforcement. Like knights, they have a positive public image intended to present them as defenders of truth and justice. Like knights, they expect to be addressed as "Sir". Like knights, they have the right to go armed where mere peasants cannot. Like knights, they wear armor that the weapons available to most peasants outside their home cannot penetrate. Like knights, they can strike, shoot, and even kill a peasant with impunity in most cases, even if there is a technical review of the action. Hell, in some cities they even ride horses.

Police officers are our modern knighthood, and they are being treated as one. Some of them, I'm sure, live up to the propaganda. But police officers are just humans, not infallible and not special. And one of the things we rebelled against when we founded this nation was the idea of knighthood -- the whole idea of nobility, for that matter. We spent our blood to create a nation where all men are created equal: no knights, no nobles, no kings. Just men.

I wouldn't care too much about this if the issue in question wasn't the fundamental human right of self-defense. We're not talking about some trivial sinecure or meaningless title. We're talking about the right to defend your life with deadly force. The consequences of not having this privilege, which is reserved to the new nobility, are serious -- perhaps even deadly -- if attacked by a criminal.

My reader makes the argument that national concealed carry for police officers is a step towards national concealed carry for all citizens. I wish that were true; if anything, though, the passage of the bill will have the exact opposite effect. Where, once, we could have put forward a "national concealed carry reciprocity bill" that would allow anyone able to legally carry a concealed firearm in their home state also be able to carry a concealed firearm in another state, that option is no longer available to us.

To put it in practical terms, the police officers, police chiefs, and police lobby have all obtained what they want. When the citizen lobby starts pushing for a national concealed carry bill, do you think we'll see a lot of support? Probably not: those organizations already have the privilege for their members. Why waste time and lobbying cloat on a measure that won't benefit a single member? They'll go back to lobbying for the Assault Weapons Ban.

And when push comes to shove, how many police chiefs will speak out in favor of abolishing their special privilege of self-defense? To get an idea, just find out how many police chiefs spoke out in favor of shall-issue concealed-carry before it passed in their state. The issue gets a lot of after-the-fact conversions because there aren't many problems. But before it passes... know any? No? Neither do I. (If you know of one, please let me know in the comments!)

Even if most police officers are honest, hardworking folk who just want to save some lives, police chiefs are political animals. They won't support national concealed carry for ordinary folk unless there's something in it for them. And thus, passing this bill cuts off the peasants from their support.

This entry was published Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0. [Tweet]

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