By Carten Cordell and Kathryn Watson │ Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau
What should someone do if there is an intruder in their home and the police aren’t there yet?
Striking at the heart of the gun control debate, the question was posed to police departments in New York, New Jersey and South Carolina by one of O’Keefe’s undercover operatives. Law enforcement’s responses ranged from buy a dog to lock yourself in a room and make some noise. Some advised buying a firearm, with one officer saying it could take up to a year to get a gun permit.
Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, said that while the video demonstrates the futility of some of these laws when it comes to self-defense, lawmakers are at fault, not the police.
The video “focuses (the debate), but it’s unfortunate that the police are there,” Marshall said.
“They are simply giving back the status of the law. They are not originating it, they are just enforcing an imprudent policy,” he said. “Because they are the messenger, they are the ones who may get to receive the criticism from some of the public who watches this.”
The video attempts to show the gridlock that certain firearm restrictions produce, limiting ownership and asking law enforcement to shoulder responsibility for defending the populace from violent crime.
Marshall said situations like those shown in the Project Veritas video represent a failure on the legislative level, not the enforcement level.
“Liberals want to develop a client state, not a citizen state. In a client state, you have to ask for somebody to do something,” Marshall said. “You ask for all of these other services, well self-defense should be a service you can do yourself.”
Some lawmakers saw O’Keefe’s video as much ado about nothing — especially for the Old Dominion.
“I don’t think there is any news here. Virginia’s current gun safety laws are adequate to enable people to protect themselves in their homes,” said Delegate Scott Surovell, D-Mount Vernon.
But even in Virginia, with some of the most gun-friendly laws in the nation, law enforcement officials don’t have an universal gun ownership message.
Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, watched the video and said law enforcement officers in Virginia always recommend practical suggestions like locking doors and windows, keeping the lights on, and carefully answering the door to prevent an intruder scenario. But owning a gun is a “very personal decision,” she said.
“Law enforcement advises those individuals who choose to own a gun to get professional advice on how to safely store firearms, especially if children are in the home, and to get firearms proficiency, judgment and safety training from a reputable firearms dealer or shooting range,” Schrad said.
Marshall cited the recommendations of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Task Force on School and Campus Safety, created Dec. 20, 2012, in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Conn., as an example of ineffective governing. The task force did not recommend firearms training for school officials and advocated only for a feasibility study on the issue.
“This is the question that the gun-control critics just get completely lobotomized on, what to do in the time between the 911 call and when the police arrive? Just sit there like some witless tadpole with somebody popping everybody off?” Marshall said.
“And either he kills himself when the cops arrive or he lays his gun down, which is why I thought it was ironic that commission that the governor set up recommended longer jail times. They don’t work for people that commit suicide at mass shooting.”
Delegate Patrick Hope, an Arlington Democrat and an advocate of stricter gun control laws, said Virginia isn’t like New York, where some of the video was filmed — and that’s a good thing.
“Maybe this explains why everyone’s coming to Virginia to buy their guns, because you don’t have to have that kind of wait or anything to buy a gun,” he told Watchdog.org.
Hope, who filed a bill prohibiting the possession of weapons in legislative buildings in the 2013 general session, said not even he wants to revoke citizens’ rights to defend themselves at home.
“In Virginia, even I’m not advocating for anyone to have anyone take away their right to protect themselves in their homes with a handgun or a shotgun,” Hope said.
But permitting firearms that propel lots of rounds in mere seconds and allowing the mentally ill and criminals to own guns without thorough background checks is a different matter entirely, Hope said.
“And that is the issue at hand,” Hope said.
Even though the video makes its point at the expense of law enforcement, Marshall said, it should get people thinking.
“I hope people, if they watch this, think about the policy that is behind this. Tell your elected officials that maybe they need to rethink this.”
Contact Carten Cordell at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Katie Watson at email@example.com.
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