Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
The Bad News: You're On Your Own
Most Americans believe that their local police have a duty in Law to protect them against criminals. They are wrong. Some of them are dead wrong. And some of those who are dead wrong are dead because they have been duped by ignorant or dishonest politicians or police chiefs, who promise protection that they cannot give and have no legal duty to give. Some of these officials know they have no legal duty to protect the average person, and yet still support disarming law abiding people, the better "to protect" them from criminals! Front line police officers sometimes are verbally abused by victims of criminals who wrongly believe that police officers have a duty to protect the law abiding. These good citizens blame the police officer for not doing a job for which he/she has never been responsible: protecting the average person against criminals.
The Police: We Serve Everyone, But No One In Particular
U.S. law is based on English Common Law. In English Common Law "the Sheriff" is a government employee whose main job is enforcement of government decisions: seizure of property, arrest of persons wanted by the authorities, collection of taxes, etc. Maintenance of public order, a secondary duty, was done to the extent resources allowed.
Police Protection = Police State
It was obvious, 500 years ago in England and in America now, that a sheriff could not be everywhere at once. It was, and is, equally clear that to protect every person would require an army of Sheriffs (or Sheriffs deputies) [or The Assize of Arms, 1181 A.D., the Early Militia Law]
Maintaining an Army of police officers - in effect a police state - would nullify the Freedoms set forth in the Bill of Rights. Neither the Framers of the Constitution - nor their successors - wanted to avoid the risk of harm to some individual arising from criminals' activity by creating a police state that inevitably would harm every individual.
The Good News: The Second Amendment Presumes Individual Ownership Of Arms
The Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." It is based on individual ownership of arms. Generally, the Framers avoided stating the obvious. So, they did not word the amendment, "A well ... State, the right of every person ...infringed." That is, the Framers assumed that every person would look after his own security, and of necessity would be armed. They saw no need to state so obvious a truth.
The Militia: Armed Persons Assembled For Lawful Purposes
Rather, the Framers wanted to emphasize what they felt would be obvious: that armed individuals may lawfully assemble to use their Arms only to defend the State based on the U.S. Constitution (but not to overturn the Constitution). This is, perhaps, why the words Militia, State, and Arms are capitalized. When armed individuals gather for lawful purposes - e.g., defense of the Constitution - they are "the Militia."
A 20th Century derivative of "the Militia" is the National Guard, which has existed since 1901. It is an arm of the Federal Government: "Since 1933, all persons who have enlisted in a state National Guard unit have simultaneously enlisted in the National Guard of the United States. In the latter capacity, they became a part of the Enlisted Reserve Corps of the Army, but unless and until ordered to active duty in the Army, they retained their status as members of a separate state Guard unit." [Perpich v. Dept. of Defense, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 89-542, (1990) L.Ed. 2d 312].
Thus, the National Guard exists to enforce government policy. It is not the "Militia", but a "Militia." U.S. Law states that a "State may provide and maintain at its own expense a defense force that is exempt from being drafted into the Armed Forces of the United States." [32 U.S.C. sec. 109(C)]. Nonetheless, few states now do so. If the Federal authorities used the Army or National Guard to change the Constitutional order - or a State governor so abused a state militia - a disarmed citizenry would be helpless. The Framers did not want this. Generations of their successors have agreed. As a result, the Framers wanted the wording of the Second Amendment to make it clear that armed individuals could gather together for specified lawful purposes, e. g., defense of the Constitution and the Liberties it proclaims.
Uncontrolled Criminals Subvert The Constitution
The Framers felt no need to state that individuals would use arms to defend themselves against common criminals, protection against whom the government never promised to provide, and, indeed, never has had an obligation to provide. It is only the failure of the government to control criminals in recent decades that has called into question the validity of the individual right to own arms for the essential purpose of defending the Constitution. This is as much an individual duty as is personal self defense.
The Law: The Police Are Not There For You
State and city governments - rather than the Federal authorities - are responsible for local law enforcement. So, only occasionally have Federal Courts ruled on the matter of police protection.
However, in 1856 the U.S. Supreme Court declared that local law enforcement had no duty to protect a particular person, but only a general duty to enforce the laws. [South v. Maryland, 59 U.S. (How.) 396, 15 L.Ed., 433 (856)]. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives you no right to police protection.
In 1982, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, held that:.. there is no Constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen. It is monstrous if the state fails to protect its residents against such predators but it does not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or, we suppose, any other provision of the Constitution. The Constitution is a charter of negative liberties: it tells the state to let the people alone; it does not require the federal government or the state to provide services, even so elementary a service as maintaining law and order." [Bowers v. DeVito, U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, 686F.2d 616 (1982). See also Reiff v. City of Philadelphia, 471 F.Supp. 1262 (E.D.Pa. 1979)].
There are a few, very narrow exceptions. In 1983, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals remarked that: "In a civilized society, every citizen at least tacitly relies upon the constable for protection from crime. Hence, more than general reliance is needed to require the police to act on behalf of a particular individual. ... Liability is established, therefore, if police have specifically undertaken to protect a particular individual and the individual has specifically relied upon the undertaking.... Absent a special relationship, therefore, the police may not be held liable for failure to protect a particular individual from harm caused by criminal conduct. A special relationship exists if the police employ an individual in aid of law enforcement, but does not exist merely because an individual requests, or a police officer promises to provide protection." [Morgan v. District of Columbia, 468 A2d 1306 (D.C.App. 1983)]. As a result, the government - specifically, police forces - has no legal duty to help any given person, even one whose life is in imminent peril. The only exceptions are a person who:
has helped the police force (e.g., as an informant or as a witness) can prove that he/she has specifically been promised protection and has, as a result, done things that he/she otherwise would not have done.
New York: Steady Threats From A Known Source Mean Nothing.
Even someone repeatedly threatened by another has no entitlement to police protection until they have been physically harmed.
In 1959, Linda Riss, a New Yorker, was terrorized by an ex-boyfriend, who had a criminal record. Over several months, he repeatedly threatened her: "If I can't have you, no one else will have you, and when I get through with you, no one else will want you." She repeatedly sought police protection, explaining her request in detail. Nothing was done to help her. When he threatened her with immediate attack, she again urgently begged the New York City Police Department for help: "Completely distraught, she called the police, begging for help, but was refused." The next day, she was attacked: a "thug" hired by her persecutor threw lye (sodium hydroxide) in her face, She was blinded in one eye and her face was permanently scarred. The Court of Appeals of New York ruled that Linda Riss had no right to protection. The Court refused to create such a right because that would impose a crushing economic burden on the government. Only the legislature could create a right to protection:
"The amount of protection that may be provided is limited by the resources of the community and by a considered legislative executive decision as to how these resources may be deployed. For the courts to proclaim a new and general duty of protection ... even to those who may be the particular seekers of protection based on specific hazards, could and would inevitably determine how the limited police resources of the community should be allocated and without predictable limits."
Judge Keating dissented, bitterly noting that Linda Riss was victimized not only because she had relied upon the police to protect her, but because she obeyed New York laws that forbid her to own a weapon. Judge Keating wrote: "What makes the city's position particularly difficult to understand is that, in conformity to the dictates of the law, Linda did not carry any weapon for self defense. Thus, by a rather bitter irony she was required to rely for protection on the City of New York, which now denies all responsibility to her." [Riss v. City of N.Y., 293 N.Y. 2d 897 (1968)].
California: An Imminent Death Threat Means Nothing
Even a person whose life is imminently in peril is not entitled to help. On 4 September 1972 Ruth Bunnell called the San Jose (California) police department to report that her estranged husband, Mack Bunnell, had telephoned her to tell her that he was coming to her house to kill her. In the previous year, the San Jose police, "had made at least 20 calls and responses to Mrs. Bunnell's home ...allegedly related to complaints of violent acts committed by Mack Bunnell on Mrs. Bunnell and her two daughters." Even so, Ruth Bunnell was told to call back only when Mack Bunnell arrived. Some 45 minutes later, Mack Bunnell arrived and stabbed Ruth Bunnell to death. A neighbor called the police, who then came to the murder scene. The California Court of Appeal held that any claim against the police department: "is barred by the provisions of the California Tort Claims Act, particularly section 845, which states: Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to establish a police department or otherwise provide police protection service or, if police protection service is provided, for failure to provide sufficient police protection.'" [Hartzer v. City of San Jose, App., 120 Cal.Rptr 5 (1975)].
Washington D.C.: Rape Is No Cause For Concern
If direct peril to life does not entitle one to police protection, clearly imminent peril of rape merits no concern. Carolyn Warren, of Washington, D.C., called the police on 16 March 1975: two intruders had smashed the back door to her house and had attacked a female house mate. After calling the police, Warren and another house mate took refuge on a lower back roof of the building. The police went to the front door and knocked. Warren, afraid to go downstairs, could not answer. The police officers left without checking the back door.
Warren again called the police and was told they would respond. Assuming they had returned, Warren called out to the house mate, thus revealing her own location. The two intruders then rounded up all three women. "For the next fourteen hours the women were held captive, raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon each other, and made to submit to the sexual demands of (the intruders-ed.)."
The Superior Court of the District of Columbia held that: "the fundamental principle (is-ed.) that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen.' ...The duty to provide public services is owed to the public at large, and, absent a special relationship between the police and an individual, no specific legal duty exists." In an accompanying memorandum, the Court explained that the term "special relationship" did not mean an oral promise to respond to a call for help. Rather, it involved the provision of help to the police force. [Warren v. District of Columbia, D.C.App., 444 A.2d 1 (1981)].
Illinois: School Teachers Get No Help Either
On 20 April 1961, Josephine M. Keane, a teacher in the Chicago City Public Schools was assaulted and killed on school premises by a student enrolled in the school. Keane's family sued the City of Chicago, claiming that, "the City was negligent in failing to assign police protection to the school, although it knew or should have known that failure to provide this protection would result in harm to persons lawfully on the premises (because) it knew or should have known of the dangerous condition then existing at the school."
The Appeals Court affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Presiding Judge Burke of the Appeals Court held that, "Failure on the part of a municipality to exercise a government function does not, without more, expose the municipality to liability." Justice Burke went on to say that: "To hold that under the circumstances alleged in the complaint the City owed a special duty' to Mrs. Keane for the safety and well being of her person would impose an all but impossible burden upon the City, considering the numerous police, fire, housing and other laws, ordinances and regulations in force." [Keane v. City of Chicago, 98 Ill App2d 460 (1968)].
North Carolina: Helpless Children Don't Count
Even defenseless children merit no special care. On 3 June 1985 police tried to arrest a man and his "girlfriend," both of whom were wanted on multiple murder charges, and who were known to be heavily armed. The alleged murderers - along with the "girlfriend's two sons, aged nine and ten years - tried to flee in a car. As the police closed in after a running shoot out, the children were poisoned with cyanide and then shot in the head either by the mother or her "boy friend," one of whom then blew up the vehicle, killing both.
The boy's father - who had filed for divorce - sued the law enforcement agencies and officers for "wrongful death" of his sons. The North Carolina Court of Appeals held that: "the defendant law enforcement agencies and officers did not owe them (the children - ed.) any legal duty of care, the breach of which caused their injury and death ...Our law is that in the absence of a special relationship, such as exists when a victim is in custody or the police have promised to protect a particular person, law enforcement agencies and personnel have no duty to protect the individuals from the criminal acts of others; instead their duty is to preserve the peace and arrest law breakers for the protection of the general public. In this instance, a special relationship of the type stated did not exist ...Plaintiff's argument that the children's presence required defendants to delay (the) arrest until the children were elsewhere is incompatible with the duty that the law has long placed on law enforcement personnel to make the safety of the public their first concern; for permitting dangerous criminals to go unapprehended lest particular individuals be injured or killed would inevitably and necessarily endanger the public at large, a policy that the law cannot tolerate, much less foster." [Lynch v. N.C.Dept. of Justice, 376 S.E.2nd 247 (N.C.App. 1989)].
Virginia: Wrongful Release = Wrongful Death? Wrong!
Marvin Mundy murdered Jack Marshall in Virginia. Mundy - convicted for carrying a concealed pistol - was sent to jail by a judge who expressed concern that Mundy, "might kill himself of a member of the public." Mundy was mistakenly released from jail 8 days later. Nine days later he was re-arrested on an unrelated charge. Five hours later, the same jailer and sheriff released him, apparently without checking to see if that was proper.
Three weeks later Mundy robbed and murdered Marshall. Marshall's widow sued, alleging negligence on the part of the sheriff and jailer, and asserting a violation of Jack Marshall's right to due process. The Court rejected the claim: ". . . a distinction must be drawn between a public duty owed by the official to the citizenry at large and a special duty owned to a specific identifiable person or class of persons. ... Only a violation of the latter duty will give rise to civil liability of the official. ... to hold a public official civilly liable for violating a duty owed to the public at large would subject the official to potential liability for every action he undertook and would not be in society's best interest." ... no special relationship existed that would create a common law duty on the defendants to protect the decedent (Marshall - ed.) from Mundy's criminal acts. Similarly, without a special relationship between the defendants and the decedent, no constitutional duty can arise under the Due Process Clause as codified by 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. Therefore, plaintiff's (Mrs. Marshall - ed) due process claim also must fall." [Marshall v. Winstonm, 389 S.E.2nd 902 (Va. 1990)].
Your Life Is In Your Hands
These cases - and there are many others - show clearly that under U.S. law:
no individual has a right to police protection, even when life is in clear and immediate peril. there is no right to police protection simply because there are not enough police resources available to enable every person who feels threatened to be protected; to make police officers answerable to individual citizens for a failure to provide protection would make police officers afraid to do anything for fear that an action - or inaction - would expose them to civil liability.
This is unavoidable:
Life is risky the police cannot be everywhere at once it is impossible to hire enough police officers to protect every person who needs it or thinks he/she needs it
No one can or should rely on the local police force to defend him- or her-self, even against a specific threat coming from a known source. Each of us is responsible for ensuring his or her personal safety. Anyone who says, "You don't need a gun, the police will protect you," at best is mis-informed and at worst is simply lying. To offer such advice suggests that police have a duty to provide protection and usually will provide it. The police have no such duty. And, while the police may try hard to provide protection - and a failure to do so can be catastrophic - there is no legal recourse for person harmed by that failure.
What We Need Least: Gun Bans And Waiting Period
"Gun control" is founded on a total misunderstanding of the role of the police in our society. "Gun control" advocates presuppose the police have a duty to protect every individual. But, as proved above, the police have never had this duty, and indeed, cannot have it so long as the Constitution remains in force. Therefore, bans on gun ownership - or imposition of a waiting period before a gun may be purchased - simply give an attacker a legally protected window of opportunity to do you harm.
Moreover, "gun control" makes the law abiding person less able and willing to take responsibility for his/her own defense. We will never eliminate criminals. But we must do far more to curb them. That is what the Constitution requires. Many police forces are under strength. But it is quite clear that to enable the police to defend each and every one of us, would require us to set up here a police state that makes Joe Stalin's Russia look like a "love boat" cruise ship. That is not the lesser of two evils - i.e., better than letting criminals run free - it is the greater.
What We Need Most: Nationwide Concealed Carry
A law abiding person's security - as a matter of Law and a matter of Fact - is in his or her own hands. Even if we had effective criminal control - and we are far from that happy state of affairs - each law abiding person would still be responsible for his/her own safety. Any law abiding person should be able legally to carry firearms, concealed, as this is the best way to enable such persons to protect themselves. It is a potent deterrent: the criminal would not know who was, and who was not, armed. It would enable a person who had been threatened - and was not entitled to police protection - to have at hand the means to protect him- her-self.
The Future: No More Killeen Massacres
Concealed carry is not a panacea. A criminal would always have the advantage of the first shot. But if the intended victim(s) were lawfully entitled to carry a concealed firearm, the criminal's first shot could be his/her last. If concealed carry of firearms were Federal Law, massacres such as occurred in Killeen Texas would almost certainly become a thing of the past. The criminal would be killed, quickly, by one of the intended victims.
Licensing is not needed, simply because criminals now carry concealed weapons at will. Licensing would only affect the 99+ percent of Americans who own firearms, and who do not abuse them. What purpose is served by the costly building of huge files on law abiding people? Moreover, is not the presumption in U.S Law that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty? It is better that we enact and strictly enforce harsh penalties for concealed carry by those legally debarred from firearms ownership - persons with criminal records of violence - the more so if commission of a crime were involved.
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