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home : opinions : commentary May 2, 2016


12/27/2012 8:09:00 AM
Commentary: Cops know firsthand the urgency of gun control
Steve and Cokie Roberts


When members of the Newtown, Conn., police force entered the school auditorium where President Obama was about to speak, the crowd rose and applauded. The officers’ quick response to the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School had probably saved many young lives.

As the nation starts debating the lessons of Newtown, where a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, we should listen to what law enforcement officers have to say. Their message is clear and consistent: Tighten gun control laws.

The National Rifle Association likes to depict gun control advocates as liberal loonies who don’t respect or understand red-blooded, heat-packing Americans. But that characterization has always been unfair. The men and women who patrol our streets every day are the loudest advocates for greater restrictions on gun ownership.

Listen to James Johnson, the police chief of Baltimore County, Md., and the new chairman of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence: “America, we are not doing enough to keep guns out of the wrong hands. We are long past the point of saying ‘enough is enough.’ The mantra has grown old. It’s time to take action to keep firearms from dangerous people.”

No law can protect every child -- or every cop -- from a crazy person with a gun. But it’s absurd and even immoral to assert, as the gun lobby does, that because laws are imperfect, they are useless.

We don’t cancel speed limits or drunken driving laws, even though they are violated constantly. We make them tighter and enforce them better because we know they save lives. Not every life, but enough to make the laws worthwhile.

Police officers say the same thing about gun laws, and they should know. As the nation was focusing on Newtown, Conn., two police officers in Topeka, Kan., were shot and killed outside a grocery store. “It’s clearly beyond words,” lamented Topeka’s police chief, Ronald Miller. “It’s unspeakable ... about why this is happening in America at this stage in our history.”

The police focus on several key issues, starting with the easy availability of military assault weapons, the kind used in Newtown and other recent massacres. They are especially alarmed by high-capacity magazines that enable shooters to spray 30 and even 100 bullets without reloading.

“It is ridiculous to argue that hunters or civilians who own weapons for self-defense need a 100-round drum magazine,” Johnson says. “As we have seen, people don’t stand a chance against this kind of firepower.”

Police Chief Robert White of Denver told the local website Westword: “Gun policies are absolutely critical. Assault weapons serve no practical purpose. You can’t use them for hunting. We’re not soldiers in a war abroad. I have a lot of questions about assault weapons.”

The second major area of concern for the police is faulty background checks. Under current law, those checks are required only when a gun is bought through a licensed dealer. But 40 percent of all sales are made at gun shows or through other private transactions and are entirely untraceable.

Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy tells the Chicago Tribune that this huge loophole must be closed. He notes that one of his officers was shot with a gun originally sold in 1972 that got totally lost in the system. “Where has that gun been since 1972?” he asks. “And the problem is, they don’t have expiration dates. It’s not like milk. That gun from 1972 is just as deadly in 2012 as it was in 1972. We’ve got to do something about the flow of firearms here.”

Police chiefs are political creatures; they’ve been preaching this sermon a long time, and they know why the problem persists. “We talk about this constantly, and absolutely nothing happens,” says Philadelphia police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, “because many of our legislators, unfortunately, at the federal level lack the courage to do anything.”

He’s right about that, but there are small signs that Newtown might have some positive effect. A few lawmakers finally seem motivated to defy the NRA, which has followed the infuriating but effective strategy of opposing all restrictions on all guns at all times.

Reasonable compromises are out there that won’t violate anybody’s right to defend his home or bag his buck: Ban assault weapons, or at least high-powered magazines; extend background checks to all gun sales; improve the sharing of information among government agencies so that the mentally unstable or criminally inclined have a tougher time buying guns.

These measures won’t save every life, but they’ll save some, and that’s a deal worth making. Just ask the cops.



Steve and Cokie Roberts can be contacted by email.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Law Enforcement Officer

Roberts, I can't believe how wrong you are. All cops know that gun control is slight alignment sight picture and nice easy squeeze of the trigger, NO MASHING! Most peace officers would say to have a gun and not need one is a lot better than to need a gun and not have one. If you look at all the places where these massacres have occurred, they are all places where the Marxist Democrats have been able to sell their anti-gun propaganda to scare people into thinking guns are evil. But if one armed citizen would have been at anyone of these incidents, the death toll would not have been so horrendous. FACT! Think about it.

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Brian Campbell

@ Jeffrey V. Well put! Good to see your still checking up on us here in the 'wood.

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Lee Cali

The Roberts' commentary was so sane and logical I expected to read postings supporting their findings. Instead we have the ravings of the second amendment gun nuts.

For once the editor gave us a break from the monthly hypocrisy of our outgoing Senator Kyl and he is accused of ramming a liberal newspaper down our throats. Ignorance thrives in this rural community.


Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2012
Article comment by: Granny Smith

Every one should get on line and go to
"Redneck with a View"...
"To have or not to have" in schools is such a difficult decision,
but I definitely believe "In The Right To Own Firearms".


Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2012
Article comment by: To Bad

Jeffrey more people in and out of law enforcement don't think like you do. Myself I was shooting at 7 years old. My Dad who in WW2 was at the Bulge always taught me violence can happen anytime I have seen that many times myself. He always said be prepared and if it is your time die as a viking not as a lamb. I shoot with a couple LEOS here all agree that is you can legally own a gun you should carry a gun

Posted: Saturday, December 29, 2012
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Very seldom do you see a Police Station get
robbed.Go Figure


Posted: Saturday, December 29, 2012
Article comment by: Brian Carlson

There is no legal definition for an "assault" rifle. They are trying to ban a rifle that does not legally exist. When I ask anti-gun people what makes a rifle an "assault" rifle, they say it is a gun like they use in the military. The military has many guns, which one do they mean.
And gun free zones, my gosh, they are advertising for criminals with guns to come to the zone.

Ask any cop what the legal definition is for an assault rifle.


Posted: Saturday, December 29, 2012
Article comment by: Jeffrey Vonlienen

As a cop, I swore an oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States of America which includes the second amendment. I believe the president of the United States also swore an oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States of America???

If we have to arm our teachers at school to protect our most precious assets, "meaning our children" it should be done immediately! We put our money in vaults with armed guards inside of banks?

The honest American citizen should arm their selves to the best of their ability to protect themselves, their family and community against criminals and a corrupt government.


Posted: Saturday, December 29, 2012
Article comment by: Danny Smith

I am reposting also
Sen. Diane Feinstein announced today a new comprehensive gun bill that she will introduce when the new senate convenes. Here are exerpts taken from a DOJ study that contradict just about everything that she believes about guns.
On her website, Feinstein claims that a study for the DOJ found that the 1994 ban resulted in a 6.7 percent decrease in murders. To the contrary, this is what the study said: “At best, the assault weapons ban can have only a limited effect on total gun murders, because the banned weapons and magazines were never involved in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders. Our best estimate is that the ban contributed to a 6.7 percent decrease in total gun murders between 1994 and 1995. . . . However, with only one year of post-ban data, we cannot rule out the possibility that this decrease reflects chance year-to-year variation rather than a true effect of the ban. Nor can we rule out effects of other features of the 1994 Crime Act or a host of state and local initiatives that took place simultaneously.”
From the imposition of Feinstein’s “assault weapon” ban (Sept. 13, 1994) through the present, the number of “assault weapons” has risen dramatically. For example, the most common firearm that Feinstein considers an “assault weapon” is the AR-15 rifle, the manufacturing numbers of which can be gleaned from the BATFE’s firearm manufacturer reports, available here. From 1995 through 2011, the number of AR-15s—all models of which Feinstein’s new bill defines as “assault weapons”—rose by over 2.5 million. During the same period, the nation’s murder rate fell 48 percent, to a 48-year low. According to the FBI, 8.5 times as many people are murdered with knives, blunt objects and bare hands, as with rifles of any type
The biggest mistake this writer put in was calling the rifle "the slayer" the nut pulling the trigger was the slayer.


Posted: Saturday, December 29, 2012
Article comment by: Roberts Go Home

I, also, have heard from other law enforcement that armed citizens are better able to protect themselves than they can protect us. I have also heard that the focus of their jobs are now to 'enforce' rather than to 'protect'. It is also my understanding that the assault weapon "used" in the CT case had remained in the car seat while the shooting at the school took place with non-assault-type handguns.

The Roberts say "No law can protect every child -- or every cop -- from a crazy person with a gun." That is very true. So, why would I want my child, or even myself, in an any situation where a crazed person can shoot us without me having the opportunity to shoot the crazed person before my child or I am killed? Otherwise, we are like sitting ducks in a shooting gallery. Everyone knows that the police usually get to the scene AFTER there have already been deaths. Why should one of those deaths be YOUR child or YOU? We should not have the right to protect ourselves taken away from us. On a side note, high capacity weapons and magazines can sure come in handy when there are home invasions by multiple perpetrators just for ONE example of their benefit. I am a citizen of the UNITED STATES, and I have certain inalienable rights. And I believe I have the GOD-given right to protect myself and my family.


Posted: Saturday, December 29, 2012
Article comment by: Schools Are Gun-Free Zones... Why?

I've hear some cops say citizens should have no
guns and some cops say every citizen should be
allowed to pack.

Iagree with the cops who want to honor our 2nd
amendment rights/duties.

Too many news reports bear out the fact that
people are safer if allowed to bear arms.

The only thing the gun Control gang want is full
power and Control over all of us.


Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012
Article comment by: Every Leo

Country Boy I've talked to in AZ is very pro gun I use to shoot with a couple of them and they would say all the citizens that can own a gun should be armed

Far as the mall I figure concealed is concealed. If something happens and you need your gun that sign No Weapons Allowed will mean nothing As Jeff Cooper use to say a safe gun is a useless gun


Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012
Article comment by: John Munroe

A couple more pedigreed beltway leftists full of it.

Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012
Article comment by: Country Boy

I feel the need to re-post an earlier post I had on another letter since it is very pertinent to this propaganda article.
"On a side note, My wife and I went to Prescott this past weekend shopping for our kids and after we had parked I got out and removed my firearm from my concealed holster in my back and was going to secure it in my car gun safe when 2 Prescott PD officers road up on bikes and asked what I was doing. I informed the officers that I was securing my firearm before going into the mall. One of the officers responded, why if I was a legal possessor. I stated I was a legal possessor as well as an AZ CCW holder and thought the Prescott mall was a prohibited carry area. To my surprise the officer stated that he prefer I carry my weapon with me since I was legally able to and most officers felt the same as he did per the fact that they can not be everywhere at all times and protect everyone! WOW was I shocked to here that from a police officer after the recent issues around the country.
I thanked to officers for their information and guidance, placed my weapon back in its concealed holster in my back and away my wife and I went.
Kinda funny how the anti gun sector and Left government always preach that The countries law enforcement backs their opinion and agrees that only they should be armed when in reality that is the furthest thing from the truth. I have 3 immediate family member in Law enforcement and after this weekends Prescott trip I called and talked to them and asked what their take and their coworkers take was on the comments. They ALL agreed with the Prescott officers views.
Something to think about. "
Hum????


Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012
Article comment by: Brian Carlson

The problem with this commentary is that verifiable no facts or figures. I could say cops are pro gun. Who would be correct? I don't care what one cop said. That does not mean that all cops feel that way. This commentary is nothing but emotional personal opinion not backed up by any facts.


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