You have a problem that requires police and you call 9-1-1: The police have to show up and help you, right? Isn’t that how the deal works? Isn’t that why you pay local taxes – in part, for police protection?
Most Americans believe that, but unfortunately that is incorrect. Your local police have no legal responsibility to protect you or your family (even in gun-free zones where your rights to protect yourself are also not guaranteed). And that’s really important to note, considering that it is an underlying argument for more gun control: You don’t need a firearm because the police will protect you.
As noted by the Foundation for Economic Freedom, “that belief is both false and dangerous,” and for a couple of reasons.
The first one we’ve mentioned already – and let it sink in – the police and local governments do not owe a legal duty to protect people from criminal assault. And secondly, cops – as hard as they work – cannot, and do not, protect everyone from crime. It’s just not possible for every citizen to have his or her personal police officer.
That’s why, when it comes to deterring crime, individuals are ultimately responsible for protecting themselves and their loved ones; “depending solely on police emergency response means relying on the telephone as the only defensive tool,” FEE says. “Too often, citizens in trouble dial 911…and die.”
Statistics bear this out. While violent crime has been declining steadily since the 1990s, policy changes in liberal-run cities and the Obama administration have been blamed for recent spikes in crime. Worse, others say that the president’s own inability to condemn racially charged violence against police officers has contributed to a decline in public safety.
“Noting that President Obama and other administration officials have quickly spoken out after shootings involving black civilians, Ronald T. Hosko, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, said officers are yearning to hear similar support when officers are targeted,” the Washington Times reported in August.
What’s more, as FEE points out, current gun control laws – including cities like Baltimore and Chicago, that have virtual gun bans in place – have not stopped serious criminals from obtaining firearms. Criminal enterprises like the drug cartels south of the U.S. border would certainly flood the market with “illegal” firearms if the country were to ever repeal the Second Amendment, which isn’t likely.
FEE reports further:
Practically speaking, it makes little sense to disarm the innocent victims while the criminals are armed. It is especially silly to disarm the victims when too often the police are simply unable to protect them. As Richard Mack, former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, has observed: “Police do very little to prevent violent crime. We investigate crime after the fact.”
And, as The New York Times reported in June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court has absolved local police departments of any legal responsibility for any inability to protect the general public:
The Supreme Court ruled… that the police did not have a constitutional duty to protect a person from harm, even a woman who had obtained a court-issued protective order against a violent husband making an arrest mandatory for a violation.
The highest court in the land overturned a federal appeals court ruling in Colorado that allowed a lawsuit to proceed against one town, Castle Rock, for the failure of local police to respond to a woman’s cries for help after her estranged husband violated a protective order and kidnapped their three young daughters, whom he killed.
The mother of the children, Jessica Gonzales, said she tried for hours to get police to find and arrest her husband, Simon Gonzales, who called after he took the kids from their front yard and said he had them at an amusement park in Denver.
Later, he showed up at the police station firing a weapon and was killed by police; he had already killed his daughters.