The Public May Soon Need To Decide: Do They Want Guns, Or Police Officers?

 Unless you are a policeman, which I’m not, or unless you belong to a family of a policeman, you probably don’t have much contact with one other than in an official capacity. 

Over the summer, I worked with a theatrical group managing concessions and merchandise during performances and had the rare but most pleasant opportunities to chat with several police officers from the surrounding Dallas, Texas community. 

They were off duty, providing security for the show, and stationed in my department.  After some small chit-chat, the conversation would generally turn towards their jobs, and invariably, the subject of guns would come up, usually by me. 

How Do the Police Feel About Gun Regulations?

I was curious as to how police officers, especially in Texas, felt about the loose restrictions on guns. Just about everyone in Texas owns and carries a gun on their person or is encouraged to do so. 

The responses are off the record and very candid.  Each officer I questioned was very professional yet expressed concern about the ever-growing gun culture in America.  

Several of the officers told me flat out that the job of a police officer has changed radically and that it’s no longer about protecting the public first. Now, it’s incumbent that every officer responding to a call has to remember that everyone in the situation may be armed. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a good guy, bad guy, or little old lady. The first rule of safety is to de-arm everyone involved.  On the surface, that seems to make a lot of sense, but in reality, it adds a different dimension to the job of peacekeeper that 99% of the country isn’t aware exists. 

Guns Make Their Jobs Harder

You might be thinking, “Well, that’s the job of a cop,” and you’d be right. 

But, each of the officers I spoke with was very candid about how America’s new love affair with guns affects their response to incoming calls or traffic violations.

First off, traffic stops are no longer routine. When you get pulled over, the first thing the officer looks for before he cites you for an expired tag is whether or not you are armed. Each told me that the public is blissfully unaware that when a police officer exits their vehicle to confront you, they are preparing to shoot you if they see a weapon.  

An Added Layer of Stress

It sounds like it makes sense, but as one cop told me, “I can feel my blood pressure pounding away when I pull someone over who looks as if they may not comply or is acting erratically in any way because I may have to kill this person if they produce a weapon.” 

 That’s a tough job.

Domestic Disturbance Nightmares

Domestic disturbance calls are looked at as potential gun incidents waiting to happen. One officer told me the worst of the worst are domestic violence calls. He said, “It can go both ways; sometimes it’s just two drunks arguing over dinner, and sometimes we show up, and the kids are screaming, and there’s blood all over the kitchen from a gunshot wound. In either case, we have to go in ready to shoot someone. It’s really crazy when you think about it.”

 It’s actually insane.

Warfare in the Streets

Gang altercations are considered street warfare. “We don’t even pretend those guys are going to give up,” one officer quipped.  “It’s a matter of survival when those calls come in.”

And on the Roads

 Road wage encounters have become so deadly that multitudes of officers are dispatched to handle the scene.  

“The public would be astounded at the amount of road wage calls we get,” one officer said. “It’s like people have lost their senses. They literally just start shooting into each other’s cars at the slightest provocation.  We get to the scene prepared to shoot anyone with a gun; we have no choice.”  

They don’t.

 The Constant Threat

Every single call, every emergency, and every safety check are now handled as a possible weapon violation of some kind. That’s really scary when you think about it because police officers don’t want to die. 

They have families, children, and dreams of their own in which they want to experience and live. They don’t want to kill anyone they don’t have to, and they certainly don’t want to be shot by someone carrying a legal (or illegal) firearm. 

 Why Do We Even Need Cops?

One officer joked that the public may not want to be policed anymore. I asked what he meant.

“Well, if every gun owner feels they have the right to shoot anyone anytime they want, why do we need policemen?”

I asked him, “Why would you even want to be a cop?

 He just shook his head and walked away.