Imagine a gun control regime so strict that criminals are willing to shoot police officers to gain quick access to certain kinds of firearms.
In the case of the Marathon Bombing Brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, it is being reported by a Massachusetts CBS affiliate that it is likely what they did when they murdered MIT Security Officer Sean Collier.
Unfortunately for Officer Collier, his holster was reportedly of a 3-way lock design that kept the Tsarnaev brothers from accessing his pistol. His murder was for nothing.
The current firearms licensing regime in Massachusetts calls for “may-issue” licenses to possess and carry for various kinds of semiautomatic rifles, pistols and shotguns. Police officials retain the discretion for issuing licenses for pistol ownership in the home, something that would seemingly be in violation of the Heller and McDonald rulings of the Supreme Court.
As various observers have noted, none of the this made a difference to the Brothers Tsarnaev, who ignored more Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Federal laws than perhaps even those guys who built the “Big Dig” tunnel.
At the same time, the same kinds of police officers who have the life and/or death discretion on practical firearms ownership are also the same kinds of officers that went door-to-door rousting civilians while searching for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after an early morning gunfight.
It should not be hard to imagine the results if a 12-man SWAT team pounded on a door that was hiding Dzhokhar The Desperate, complete with local hostages. Dzhokhar’s willingness to engage both police and kill the innocent by any means at his disposal may have meant additional dead civilians for all the employment of military-style equipment, methods and tactics by Massachusetts law enforcement.
This is not to say that law enforcement’s dedication to getting “their man” is not to be applauded. But it’s clear to even the dimmest Fifth Grader that law enforcement can react in a way not conducive to civilian survival when it comes to carrying out their missions.
Furthermore, the methods and tactics that were employed by the squad-sized SWAT teams in hunting out an armed terrorist likely are the model for any other large police control action when law enforcement wants to deal with other armed individuals.
In other words, the methods of Massachusetts law enforcement in the recent manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are likely a preview of the methods used by future law enforcement for seizures of firearms from the public.
In fact, said tactics mirror California’s recent events of squad-sized law enforcement gun squads disarming prohibited persons. Gun owners thus may need to be aware that a knock on the door at various hours of the day and night might be due to para-militarily-equipped police officers carrying out actions without respect to the 4th Amendment. Whether that means an out-of-control shoot out with hordes of cops, or even the death of unwitting homeowner à la Donald Scott, is anyone’s guess.
While it most preferable to let one’s lawyer do the talking after one survives such an incident, one can only wonder at the nature of a government that feels that it can roust the citizenry without apparent fear of retribution (political and/or societal). Law enforcement depends heavily on the good will of law-abiding citizens for everything from citizen assistance in criminal identification to surrendering the taxes needed to pay for Level IV body armor and those snazzy new APC’s we are seeing on the evening news. Law enforcement can easily lose it’s legitimacy and a “mandate of heaven” with one Symbionese Liberation Army-sized blunder where civilians get killed due to negligence.
If law enforcement were to take the wrong lessons from the Boston Marathon Bomber case, and accelerate an excessive misuse of paramilitary-style tactics, then society as we know it has taken perhaps a mortal blow. And that would be more than just a disaster, given the stakes involved. The time to re-think the para-militarization of American law enforcement has seemingly come.