Crimes Against Civilized Order

Armed and Safe is quite correct to point out that my Governor is a gun banning turd, but I did want to highlight something else he mentioned:

Alright, I have a big problem with this, even before we get to the “fight for three ‘gun-control’ laws” part. Whenever I see calls for “tougher penalties for shooting at a police officers [sic],” I get the impression that we are expected to believe that the lives of police officers are implicitly more valuable than the lives of us “Average Joes.” That’s a concept I utterly reject.

As long as proper protections are in place for self-defense, and the law requires knowledge that the person the actor reasonably knew, or should have known, the person he was shooting at was a police officer, acting in his official capacity, I have no problem with a law like this. But it’s not because I believe police should be considered by law to be a special class of “super citizen”.

The legal theory behind why shooting at, or murdering a police officer is a more serious offense is because it’s more than just an attack against another person, but an attack against civilized order. Riotous behavior is really, in theory, no more than a property crime in most cases. These days you really never see the authorities using deadly force on rioters, but in most states, it’s perfectly lawful to use deadly force on people engaged in riotous behavior. Under Pennsylvania Law:

The use of deadly force is not in any event justifiable under this subsection unless the actor believes that the use of such [deadly] force is necessary to suppress a riot or mutiny after the rioters or mutineers have been ordered to disperse and warned, in any particular manner that the law may require, that such [deadly] force will be used if they do not obey.

The reason for this is similar to the reason for making the penalty stiffer for shooting at a police officer.  Although rioting is typically a property crime, it is more properly a crime against order.  Civilization is but a thin veneer, and it doesn’t take much scratching to reveal the ugliness underneath, and our laws have tended to reflect that.  It is for that reason that we ought to treat assault against a law enforcement officer more seriously than we do other types of assault, not because they are a protected or privileged class of citizen.

19 thoughts on “Crimes Against Civilized Order”

  1. I wonder who would be mutineers in this context. The police? Military personnel? City workers?

  2. and shooting at any other citizen isn’t an attack against societal order? Are you daft?

  3. As long as there is something in there about shooting unknown/unannounced assailants who break into your house with bogus warrants…

  4. Sebastian,
    Then they will just lie. “Oh, yeah like Frank yelled Police as we came through the door after we blew the hinges into smithereens with our shotgun. I mean, yeah Frank yelled Police.”

    Reduce the penalties on shooting LEOs and INCREASE the penalties on their shooting non-LEOs. That would encourage the arrogant thugs with badges to NOT escalate incidents. In fact it would encourage them to work with the people in the community, not in opposition. Then again, I also support restricting them to a .38 revolver with no reloads. Again, encouraging them to resolve issues peacably, and to build support within the community so that they have decent armed backup when necessary.

  5. The cop that got killed in the donut shop in Philly was murdered. Plain and simple. That is a crime of the same magnitude as if it had been any other customer, or the counter person.

    We have reactions here to different scenarios. So, I will address the second one, too. We need a law that if a LEO gets killed in a no knock warrant raid, no liability, civil or criminal attaches to the killer. Then we would see a lot less death and suspicious Katherine Johnston style murders. I think we would all be amazed at much more effective the police would be and how much safer they and the public would be.

  6. Then they will just lie. “Oh, yeah like Frank yelled Police as we came through the door after we blew the hinges into smithereens with our shotgun. I mean, yeah Frank yelled Police.”

    I think we do need to address the problem of raids. I’ll tell you what, I think you folks are making enough points to convince me that maybe this law ought not be supported until the problem of no-knock and paramilitary police techniques, and their inevitable abuses, are addressed.

    Then again, I also support restricting them to a .38 revolver with no reloads. Again, encouraging them to resolve issues peacably, and to build support within the community so that they have decent armed backup when necessary.

    Thugs on the street are not interested in resolving anything peacefully. The same argument could be used to restrict civilians to the same thing. I have absolutely no problem with the police having access to, and carrying weapons that are generally available to the civilian population.

  7. I think StraightArrow has the nub of it. Our constitution specifies no grants of nobility, and the 14th Amendment speaks of equal protection under the law. When one class gets any sort of disproportionate treatement under the law, then those precepts are violated.

    These special laws (and perqs) for law-enforcement are nothing more than a resurrection of the old doctrine that when one assaults a messenger of the King, one assaults the King.

    When “order” entails state-sponsored harrasment by federal agents of decent people and business (see Ryan Horsely / Red’s Trading Post), and agents whose behavior amounts to armed thuggery (DEA, ATF, et. al. — we all know several cases), then I, for one, would welcome a whole lot less of it.

  8. I must agree with Sebastian on one point for sure, the police should be able to carry any weapon they can bear. But, so should the rest of us. Restrictions against any should be against all.

    There can be no peace when one segment of society even perceives it has a monopoly or near monopoly of force, let alone if it actually has it. In this instant, though the police do not have a monopoly of force, they believe and the law allows them overwhelming force by denying the citizen access to the same equipment. Thus, placing the law abiding citizen at the same target of disrespect by police as the criminal receives.

  9. I read somewhere, that the most basic definition of government is an agency with a monopoly on the use of force in a given geographic area.

  10. I don’t really think the government has a monopoly on force, so much as it has a monopoly on retribution. We retain the right to use force to defense life, limb, liberty and property, but surrender retribution to the state.

  11. These special laws (and perqs) for law-enforcement are nothing more than a resurrection of the old doctrine that when one assaults a messenger of the King, one assaults the King.

    I don’t support most laws that elevate police officers above the common citizen. I’m uncomfortable with many aspects of qualified immunity, and have problems with the overuse of paramilitary police forces for routine, non-violent offenses. But I do think there’s a valid legal theory as to why crimes against law enforcement are treated more severely than other crimes, that don’t have much to do with the status of a particular officer. I would note that some of the provisions on this bill add law enforcement officer after “unborn child”, so it’s established that society recognizes certain types of crimes as more serious infractions than other types. For instance, does statutory rape laws make adolescents a special protected class of people? Forcible rape of a child is typically a more serious offense than forcible rape of someone who’s reached age of majority.

    Now whether I support the particular bill in Pennsylvania is another thing, but I think the basic legal theory is valid.

  12. You are correct that the state does not have a monopoly of force, but they are working hard to attain it. They do however have a monopoly on consequence free abuse of force. Therein lies the problem.

    Knowing you can do anything you want and most likely never suffer any legal consequences for the evil you do is a perfect recruitment enticement to the very people we would not want as agents of law enforcement. Unfortunately, we see this in action every day.

  13. I think there is definitely something about police work that can tend to attract the wrong kind of people to it. I think the qualified immunity doctrine, as currently practiced by the courts, is part of the problem here. I also think the militarization of police forces doesn’t help any either. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you need a SWAT team, but as Radley Balko points out on a regular basis, most of the times you don’t, and sometimes that can end in killings of innocents.

  14. I think it’s actually a dangerous line of reasoning to make it unilaterally worse to injure/kill a cop than to do the same to the average person. On one hand, I agree that targeting a witness to a crime, or an officer involved with the investigation goes beyond a normal crime because it threatens our entire legal process. That should apply whether it is during the investigation/trial, or afterwards as retribution.

    But the fact that it is worse across the board is being used against the common citizen regularly. I have a collection of articles saved on my computer at work of cases where home invaders yell out “Police” or “FBI” as they kick down the door to ensure that the residents don’t do anything to stop them. I think the solution to this is that the police should not have some special blanket of protection when they’re effectively invading your home with one of their no-knock warrants.

    I do know one thing. If someone bashes down my door, I don’t give a damn what they yell as they come in. I don’t break the law, so I find it perfectly reasonable for me to shoot first as they charge at me, regardless of what they claim to be.

  15. Yeah, I understand that. It’s one of the reason I’m opposed to the continued use of state resources to fight the war on (some) drugs. Absent the War on Drugs, there’s little reason to execute this type of raid. I think everyone has made a good point that as long as police tactics of knocking down the door and moving in with a SWAT teams is common practice, that this kind of law entrap honest people who were just defending themselves.

  16. Corey Maye (Google his name) is a perfect example of a man defending his home and child from a home invasion by unidentified men who turned out to be police officers at the wrong residence. He is now on death row in Mississippi. He should not be.

    Dead officers engaged in home invasion (no knock warrants) should just be considered a cost of doing business. If they want the costs to be lighter, they need to change their mode of operation.

  17. The reason for statuatory rape laws is that below a certain age, there is a legal presumption that an individual has not matured sufficiently to be able to give informed consent. That’s quite dissimilar from “has a badge”, but I acknowledge the case of creating a special class. The case of age of majority appears in several places: voting, buying alcohol or tobacco, entering into contracts, level of prosecution … I’m sure there are more.

    I suppose we can dig deeper into this can of worms by pointing out “hate crime” legislation. Penalties are worse if you kill someone because that person is “black/gay/Jewish/?” than if you do it for some other cause.

    I’m not absolutely opposed to extenuating circumstances being introduced in the penalty phase of a trial. I am, however, opposed to automatically applying them across the board.

    re. monopoly of force. A monopoly does not require the complete absence of competition. I should have qualified the definition by modifying force with “sanctioned”. The right to keep and bear arms, and engage in self-defence, which we enjoy here, in no way undermines the monopoly enjoyed by the various governments in existence here in the U.S.A. If you don’t believe that, then try forming a private police department, or even worse, a militia. Didn’t work in Arkansas.

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