by Selwyn Duke 3/12/14
How would you feel if a police officer you knew for 20 years told you that if an order was issued to confiscate your guns, he wouldn’t hesitate to “kick your door in”? This was the precisely the experience Connecticut resident, Navy veteran and former firefighter John Cinque had after commenting on his state’s 2013 violation of the Second Amendment.
The law in question criminalizes the sale of magazines holding more than 10 rounds and also certain semi-automatic rifles, and mandates that all grandfathered weapons and magazines must be registered with the state. As for Cinque and the exchange with his “old friend” — Branford Police Officer Joseph Peterson — which occurred on Facebook, Mikael Thalen at Infowars.com writes:
“I’ve had contact with a police officer in my home town, I live in Branford, and his words straight out were, ‘I cannot wait to get the order to kick your door in,’” Cinque said.
…In multiple [Facebook] screenshots captured from the lengthy conversation, Peterson continually argued that law enforcement were not obligated to defy unconstitutional laws. Instead, Peterson stated that he would follow any order given, even if it meant confiscating firearms from close friends.
And to a poster named Cameron Smith, Peterson said, “I give my left n** to bang down your door and come for your gun.”
Of course, the conversation had become heated, causing Peterson to perhaps speak a bit more rashly than he would otherwise. And I’m well aware of the “good soldier” cop argument stating that theirs is not to wonder why, theirs is but to do or die (even if it kills constitutional rights). Hey, “I don’t make the laws,” says the dutiful constable, “I just enforce them.” But there’s a problem with this position. And this is why I want to give you, my friends in law enforcement, the reasoned, moral argument for “policeman nullification.”
Even good people can live lives of contradiction and entertain ideas that simply aren’t true. For instance, if you’re a cop, it’s easy to justify an action by saying that your job is only to enforce the law, especially since, on paper, this is certainly so. But the implication that you enforce every law, across the board, every time, without discretion is absolutely untrue and you, I and everyone else knows it. You don’t ticket everyone driving 31 in a 30 zone, and many times even more egregious law-breakers get off with a warning. Some laws aren’t applied at all, such as a parking law in my town an officer told me was on the books but that “we don’t enforce.” You use discretion all the time.
As for legislation such as Connecticut’s new gun restrictions, ask yourself this question, guys: If I caught my brother, sister, father, mother, son or daughter with some legally acquired but now illegal 30-round magazines in his car trunk, would I slap him in cuffs, haul him in and put him in the system? Let’s face it, you know the answer. And, well, the person you would haul in and arrest for this newly minted “crime” would be someone else’s brother, sister, father, mother, son or daughter. Of course, this argument could justify refusal to enforce most any law, since family will virtually always receive special treatment. So is there a sound rationale for refusing to enforce a law across the board?
Any sane person agrees that no one can simply follow orders blindly, that, at some point, a command itself can become criminal in the moral sense. For instance, would you enforce a law stating that all members of a certain racial or ethnic group were to be rounded up for extermination? Yes, this is an extreme example, and I don’t pretend that the new Second Amendment violations even approach such wickedness. The point, however, is that everyone draws a line — it’s just a question of where. And I’d certainly hope that you, my friends in law enforcement, would take a stand somewhere below genocide.
So what should inform how you draw your line today? Bear in mind that we have an increasingly lawless government and bureaucracy that make less and less pretense about upholding the law. Invaders from foreign nations violate our borders with relative impunity, as our federal executive branch agitates for amnesty and sues states that clamp down on illegal migrants. These are the same feds, by the way, who also sue states that enact voter ID laws, even as the White House last year touted a $53 million (your tax money) program to facilitate voter ID in Kenya.
In that executive branch we have a president who, after swearing to faithfully uphold the laws of the land, often rules by executive decree, ignoring laws he finds politically inconvenient. Most outrageously — after using manipulation and machinations to pass ObamaCare — Barack Obama has continually made unilateral decisions to delay provisions of it that could hurt his party’s electoral fortunes. So serious is his constitutional trespass that even liberal law professor Jonathan Turley warned that Obama was helping to create an “uber presidency” that posed a “danger” to our republic.
Not surprisingly, states and localities don’t have clean hands, either, with some having a history of refusing to enforce drug and immigration laws. Of course, federal drug laws aren’t constitutional in the first place, which brings me to my final point.
In a nation where man’s law is becoming lawless, how do you decide whether or not to obey/enforce a given law? We clearly can’t operate by whim, even though many laws today are made or enforced based on whim. Obviously, we should be informed by the Constitution, but a similar question then arises: can everyone just decide for himself what is constitutional? It’s that age-old dilemma.
The answer is that unless we are connected to that unchanging law — the highest law — and have uncorrupted judgment and a well-formed moral compass, all is for naught.
And considering these factors, what can we say about the Connecticut anti-Second Amendment law? You likely know it will do nothing to reduce crime and at best was crafted with criminal disregard for rights and facts and at worst was made just to score political points. And do you really want to mindlessly enforce laws — like a Terminator obeying programming — born of lawless legislators’ caprice?
Were I a Connecticut policeman, it would be a cold day in the halls of government before I’d ever enforce the new gun-control laws. If the IRS can get away with an “oops” for targeting conservative groups, so can citizens targeted by an unjust law.
As to this, I’ll leave you with the words of St. Augustine: “An unjust law is no law at all.”
Update from Selwyn Duke:
The Cameron Smith quoted in my article wrote to me and reported the following (edited for punctuation):
Just wanted to thank you for the very fair article on the Police officer in CT. While yes, the conversation got very heated, once he [Officer Joseph Peterson] was seen as a cop, he should have stepped WAY back. A lot of news articles are putting my quote in of me saying he would put Jews in Ghettos as the reason he went off. He actually went off well before that. I literally asked him if a law was passed to put Jews in the Ghettos, would you? He literally said, “Now you are being silly…but if it’s the law, I enforce it; I don’t make them.”
To me THAT was the quote of the story that everyone is missing.