When President Obama makes a pitch for more gun-control laws, he likes to have a phalanx of blue-uniformed police officers behind him.
These press conferences are supposed to convince us that law enforcement believes more restrictions on Second Amendment rights makes society safer. But Mr. Obama’s visual is a deception, because only a few liberal, big-city police chiefs continue to put politics over public safety.
I was on a panel Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference to discuss how law enforcement leaders are embracing a well-armed civilian populace to help them fight crime.
I told the audience that I decided to get my first gun two years ago after being a victim of a home invasion in Washington, D.C.
It took me four months to go through the 17 steps required at that time to legally register one handgun.
Now, I cannot take my gun out of my home for self-defense because the nation’s capital is the only place in the country that does not allow American citizens to exercise their right to bear arms.
When I finished my story, Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, who was also on the panel, said: “I trust law-abiding citizens with firearms. I fear criminals. Self-defense is the first law of nature.”
He explained that he views the people of Milwaukee County with concealed-carry permits as able to “assist” him in keeping the community safe.
Sheriff Clarke is one of many law enforcement officers who has publicly embraced gun ownership and carry permits for people to defend themselves.
Mayors and city administrators are slashing budgets of police and sheriff agencies nationwide, leaving citizens essentially on their own.
As government can no longer guarantee the personal security of its citizens, individuals have the responsibility more than ever to use force to protect themselves and their families.
Holding up a pocket-sized U.S. Constitution, Sheriff Clarke explained, “What we need to do in this country is we need to get to the original intent of the Second Amendment and stop all this ‘might issue,’ ‘may issue,’ ‘shall issue’ because that complicates this whole thing.”
The Democrat, who was first elected in 2002, told a cheering crowd: “The armed citizen made this country free. The armed citizen will keep this country free.”
Law enforcement is now seeing how good people carrying guns in public places can help slow or stop active shooters.
Ronald Noble, Interpol’s secretary-general, made a surprisingly honest statement last October about the horrific multiday terrorist attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
“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).