In St. Helena Parish several people took the stance they’re “fed up with it all and they’re not going to take it anymore.” [Peter Finch in “Network” 1976 (paraphrased)] They’ve armed themselves after increased thefts and burglaries in their community. They’ve started patrolling to see if there were “suspicious” vehicles or activities in the area.
The Advocate published the report and showcased the matter as a front page article above the fold; a region normally reserved for war news, presidential politics and other disasters in the world. In an effort to prove the age-old adage “if it bleeds, it leads,” The Advocate spiked the attention of the readership by showing a citizen with his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Read that as: “assault rifle” You can assume it’s being passively demonized as “overkill” for a hunt of active criminals actively pursuing their criminal activity. Nowhere does it say in the article it’s assumed these criminals could be armed.
First rule of engagement in combat: “bring enough gun.”
Sheriff Nat Williams says: “As far as them riding around with an assault rifle, it will not be tolerated,” he said. “Somebody with an assault weapon is no different from a criminal and will be treated the same way. If somebody is out riding around with an assault weapon, that’s not protecting the neighborhood, that’s terrorizing the neighborhood,” Williams said. “Anybody wants to ride around their own community, that’s fine, call us,” Williams said. “But any assault weapons, they’re going to jail.” (The Advocate [6-20-2011] Faimon A. Roberts)
The good sheriff’s learned his lessons well. Pander to the specific demographic you wish to attract and pummel those picking up the slack for a possible inefficiency and inability to accomplish the goal of law enforcement; crime control. It’s the responsibility of the individual citizen to ensure his (and his family’s) safety and by extension the safety of his neighbors if they so wish and request such participatory preventive action. No political entity has the right (after showing their inability to protect) to deny them the chance and right to protect themselves.
To state the participants in neighborhood patrol are terrorists is ridiculous. This is not a matter of armed vigilantes wearing hoods and sheets. They’re citizens scared they’ll be victimized violently during the commission of a criminal act. This isn’t racism. Nor is it the pursuit of “‘selected” criminals determined by the color of skin, the nature of religious pursuit or the origins of their birth.
It’s obvious the people of this parish have diminished faith in the response times of law enforcement as it relates to criminality in motion. The time to arm is before the assault; not at the time of injury.
Now if the Sheriff thinks this is a throwback to vigilantism: just what steps will he take to correct this belief these people have that they are under-protected? If he thinks this activity (citizen patrol) is a threat and a sign of a resurgence of such horrors as post-civil-war reconstruction, then he needs to remember criminality knows NO race, creed, or national origin. Violence comes from the mind and actions of the evil-doers in any society.
Would the Sheriff care to mention just which law allows him to confiscate and prosecute law-abiding citizens using ANY weaponry to protect life and limb during a criminal intervention? Would he like to disarm all the citizens and thus assure NO endangered law-enforcement officer suffering an attack by a superior armed foe can be aided by an armed and competently trained citizen?
Maybe the Sheriff needs to meet with these people, assure they are educated in the fact a Citizen may only arrest a person in the commission of a felony (and therefore not a misdemeanor) and may not detain only while under suspicion, but must observe and report the whereabouts to law enforcement officers. That would be nice.
But to demonize and threaten his constituency with arrest merely for the fact they are picking up his slack and wish to be protected while they do it is wrong. If they felt he was doing that good a job they wouldn’t need the guns, would they?
Sheriff Williams: these people are already threatened by the rise in criminal activity. Do you want to threaten them with your ignorance of the Second Amendment? Is that politically intelligent?
Thanks for listening.