Friday, February 02, 2007

I feel safer already

An appalling but not atypical story from Radley Balko: A man is seen through a window cleaning his legally owned guns, and before long there are sixty police, including the local SWAT team, in a standoff at the house to stop this menace to society. (Though I suppose the police deserve credit for not killing any innocent people, shooting any dogs, or setting fire to the house, for once.) Flashbang grenades and rubber bullets were used liberally. The man was ultimately convicted only of a misdemeanor weapons charge, and he won a lawsuit against the city, though he won only a token sum.

As I said, this is not atypical, as anyone who has followed the increasing militarization of domestic law enforcement knows. This particular story caught my eye, though, because of the fact that it was about guns with no drug war angle. This makes me wonder what the response among mainline conservatives will be. The incident brings into conflict two things that are both dear to the hearts of many conservatives: support for the right to bear arms on one hand, and love of brutal displays of militarized police violence and intimidation on the other. (With some honorable exceptions, conservative outrage at jackbooted thuggery is highly selective and generally limited to select acts committed by liberal administrations, in my experience.)

I'm curious to see which value will win out among conservatives as more law-abiding gun owners are inevitably terrorized or killed by police as the militarization of law enforcement spills over from drug war enforcement into the rest of society. I'm not optimistic, though maybe four or eight years of President Obama or President Clinton Mk II would teach conservatives some useful lessons. Then again, they didn't seem to learn anything from the first Clinton.

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