"Emeryville, CA Police Chief Ken James claims it is a myth that guns have a defensive purpose. He says that "Police Officers do not carry a gun as a defensive weapon" and, further, explicitly states that they are carried by officers for offensive use only -- that they use them "to intimidate and to show power."
Does anybody else find this frightening? My personal thoughts on police officers, civilians, and weapons in the context of this are as follows:
One cannot claim that patrol officers have a reason to carry weapons that civilians do not. Officers do not operate in a theater of war. Notwithstanding what Chief James said (something I have NEVER heard a police officer claim before), patrol officers carry weapons for defensive purposes only; to protect themselves from the exact same criminal elements that the citizens need to protect themselves from. Nothing a patrol officer encounters on the street is different in any way from what we may encounter on the street or breaking into our homes. If an AR-15 is suitable for an officer to use in their defense and in the defense of innocents, it is suitable for a civilian to own and use. In fact, the weapons, magazines, and ammunition carried by police should serve as a PRIME example of exactly what weapons should be owned by civilians. Much thought and testing has gone into the choice of sidearms, long guns, and ancillary parts (mags, ammunition, etc) for police use to maximize both efficacy and safety (for example, hollow point bullets that do not over-penetrate).
Bottom line: if it is deemed necessary for a police officer to have a pistol with a 17-round capacity to defend him/herself, then me, a citizen without the benefit of backup or body armor, most definitely should enjoy that same option to protect my home and family from the exact same criminals the police face.
Many claim that the ONLY purpose of "high capacity" magazines and AR-15-style rifles is to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Is that, then, why the Police have them? Maybe Chief James would say yes!
The Supreme Court's Heller decision, which cited previous Supreme Court decisions, stated that the Second Amendment specifically protects firearms that are "in common use," and that are suitable for militia use. Again, our police departments serve as an ideal example for the types of weapons and related parts that are protected for ownership by "the people" under either or both of these qualifiers. Nearly every department in the country issues or provides access to AR-15-style rifles with their standard-capacity 30-round magazines for use by Patrol Officers. They have been the most popular style of rifles purchased by civilians in the U.S., by a huge margin, for many years running. The number currently in private hands in the U.S. is approaching 4 million. They DEFINE "in common use." They DEFINE "suitable for militia use." So, too, do semi-automatic pistols with their standard-capacity magazines ranging from 12 to 19 rounds. Pistols like these have been outselling revolvers by a massive margin for decades, and practically no police department in the country issues or even allows officers to carry revolvers. Again, as the public must defend themselves, their families, and their homes without the benefit of backup and body armor, yet face the exact same types of threats that officers do, it makes PERFECT sense that any firearms and ancillary accessories that the police are allowed to carry should also be allowed for civilian ownership and use. Heck, considering what Newsweek said -- that law-abiding American citizens using guns in self-defense during 2003 shot and killed two and one-half times as many criminals as police did, and did so with fewer than one-fifth as many incidents as police where an innocent person was mistakenly identified as a criminal (2% versus 11%) -- maybe citizens aren't the ones who need to be restricted."