More Police Should Be Like This Florida Sheriff on Gun Rights

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

A Florida sheriff recently gave an example showing how police officers should approach the Second Amendment. Law enforcement agencies have a rather spotty record when it comes to the gun rights debate. While some have supported the notion that the populace should be armed, many others have been apprehensive about the idea.

During a Thursday press conference, Santa Rosa County (Florida) Sheriff Bob Johnson emphatically supported responsible gun owners forced to defend themselves. Johnson was giving a briefing to the media discussing the arrest of Brandon J. Harris, a criminal with a history of convictions.

Johnson told reporters that the police received multiple calls about a suspicious person in the Pace neighborhood, and that Harris had burglarized several homes. In one instance, he had broken into a home but fled when the homeowner opened fire at him. Harris was not struck by any bullets, but was later captured while breaking into another house.

The Blaze reported:

At the time of his arrest, Harris was wanted on two felony warrants and one misdemeanor warrant, the sheriff said. For this latest run-in with the law, Harris was charged with felony attempted burglary with assault, two counts of felony burglary to an occupied dwelling, felony burglary to an unoccupied dwelling, resisting arrest without violence, criminal mischief, and attempted larceny. His bond was set at $157, 500.

The sheriff then asserted that the individual who fired at Harris was within his rights to do so. In fact, he welcomed the idea that homeowners should protect themselves and their homes with firearms if it’s necessary.

“We don’t know which homeowner shot at [Harris]. I guess they think that they did something wrong, which they did not,” he explained. “If somebody is breaking into your house, you’re more than welcome to shoot at them in Santa Rosa County. We prefer that you do, actually.”

The sheriff added, “Whoever that was, you’re not in trouble. Come see us. We have a gun safety class we put on every other Saturday, and if you take that, you’ll shoot a lot better and hopefully save the taxpayers money.”

Harris, who has been arrested 17 times, also chased a woman into her home on the same day. She was able to lock the door right before he got into the house. There were children in the house at the time.

Unfortunately, it does not seem that most police share Johnson’s sentiments. Last year, when Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee were considering doing away with gun permits, several law enforcement agencies balked. The Associated Press reported:

In states like Texas, Tennessee, and Louisiana, police opposed pushes to drop requirements for people to get background checks and training before carrying handguns in public, plans that came as gun sales continued to shatter records during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fabian Blanche Jr., executive director of the Louisiana Chiefs of Police Association said this policy was “just another opportunity to get our officers hurt,” and that “it was a danger to law enforcement.” He argued that if police do not know who is carrying a firearm, it could increase “the potential danger in any encounter,” according to the AP.

“Police officers are trained around the country, and they make mistakes,” he said. “So why are we going to give opportunity to people who are not trained to be able to carry a firearm and use it at will?”

Several officers urged Louisiana’s legislature not to override the Democratic governor’s veto of the measure ending gun permits. They were successful. But the proposal is likely to be taken up again this year.

Blanche’s opinions mirror those of the left, many of whom think government agents should be the only ones allowed to be armed. Unfortunately, many other officers agree and have lobbied against relaxing gun restrictions.

But the facts are the facts.

Making it more difficult for responsible Americans to obtain weapons will only make the situation more dangerous. By building more obstacles against people who want the means to defend themselves, they only empower criminals and weaken law-abiding civilians. What if Harris had hurt, or even killed that homeowner because he was not armed? It’s a situation that happens far too often.

The risk that an otherwise law-abiding person would use their firearm in a crime is easily mitigated by the fact that the vast majority of gun crime is committed using illegally obtained weapons. Furthermore, guns are far more likely to be used in self-defense than in a crime. While being armed does not guarantee that one can’t be victimized, it certainly increases the odds that they will come out of a confrontation with their lives. Regrettably, this is a reality that far too many law enforcement professionals have missed.


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