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“Ask yourself: If that was Denver, Colorado, if that was Texas, would those guys have been able to spend hours, days, shooting people randomly?” Mr. Noble, an appointee in President Clinton’s administration, told ABC News.

It’s important to differentiate between police chiefs who are appointed from sheriffs who are elected. Chiefs are generally beholden to the liberal big-city mayors who hired them, while sheriffs tend to abide by the will of the people who elected them.

So it was a tectonic shift in the gun rights movement when Detroit Police Chief James Craig said in January that legal gun owners can deter violent crime and that people with concealed-carry permits contributed to crime going down in his city last year.

Chief Craig spent almost 30 years in the Los Angeles Police Department, where he was indoctrinated with the belief that taking guns away from good people was the answer to crime.

His beliefs shifted, though, after becoming chief of police in Portland, Me., where the number of carry permit holders was high and crime was extremely low.

Chief Craig has come under heavy criticism nationally from gun-control groups and liberal media, but he has repeatedly been proved right. In one week in late February, three people with carry permits used their firearms to defend themselves from criminals in Detroit.

One of these incidents got national attention because a surveillance video caught three armed teenage thugs fleeing a house after a mother shot at them with an AR-style rifle. Afterward, Chief Craig said she did the “right thing.”

Another distinction to note in law enforcement is that the bosses have a very different perspective on gun control than the guys on the street. That’s simply because the force is working with limited resources and can use the help of the good guys.

“Rank-and-file law enforcement has always supported the Second Amendment,” said Chris Cox, the executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, who was the moderator of the CPAC panel.

“There was a PoliceOne survey done recently, and nine out of 10 current and retired police officers support concealed-carry laws. You’re not going to hear that out of some of the chiefs, but that’s the truth.”

Mr. Obama started this debate over gun control after the Newtown, Conn., school-shootings tragedy, but it has really backfired on him. The polls show that fewer Americans support more restrictions on gun rights now than did at the end of his first term.

This shift occurred because the public has taken the time to look at the evidence of what stops bad guys and the statistics on violent crime, and heard from leading law enforcement officers in the country.

The president and his allies fighting for more gun-control laws should lay down their arms. They lost.

Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).