Kids and cops are linked in American folklore. One of the great emblems of this relationship is, of course, Norman Rockwell’s painting, “The Runaway,” in which a Mass. State Police trooper sits at the counter in a diner listening to a little boy who, after wise advice from the cop, likely isn’t going to run way after all. You also see this special connection made manifest in the charities police choose, especially in Massachusetts, with Cops for Kids with Cancer and the fact that the Mass. Chiefs of Police Association has supported the Jimmy Fund as long as have the Boston Red Sox (since 1953).
As you read this piece individual police officers all over the US are bending down to help children. They are comforting and aiding the injured, reassuring the scared, putting their lives on the line to protect and rescue the innocent. They are probably tying a few shoes and, like the freshly-minted icon from the Marathon Bombings, lugging two gallons of milk to some children whose parents can’t get to a store in the midst of a massive manhunt for a mass murderer.
Cops and kids are united in another, much more terrible way: they are also some of the people in our society most likely to get shot at by gunmen with semi-automatic weapons. It’s jarring to think of the models in this almost saccharine image, the late Trooper Dick Clemens and Ed Locke, his 8 year-old runaway, as primary targets for gun violence. From MIT and Watertown to Newtown to the South Side of Chicago, cops and kids are ducks in the proverbial barrel. That is, they are out on the street frequenting the places where the killers with semi-autos do their business.
Personally, and not to be partisan, I cannot accept the statements of legislators at any level who vote against sensible gun regulations while avowing their concern for children and “our brave men and women in law enforcement.” To me, such statements border on the cynical and worse. Worse are those leaders of state gun advocacy organizations who will increasingly imply and even admit that they are energized and informed by the idea that the “people”must be armed because they may have to take up arms against the government. This is not the old argument about having a gun for personal protection. This is a much darker motive. One does not have to listen long before these individuals describe law enforcement as jack-booted storm troopers out to enforce a police state featuring paranoid fantasies about the UN and black helicopters. Ron Paul, a former member of Congress and candidate for a major party presidential nomination said this, “The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city.”
The backers of anything-goes weapons traffic, including and especially those in Congress and the Supreme Court, have parsed the 2nd Amendment to frustrate all attempts at sensible regulation. Yet let’s parse some more. I see the phrase “well-regulated.” I also read a recent article* in a journal of the AMA that demonstrated a statistical correlation between “well-regulated” weapons ownership and fewer gun deaths.
For cops and kids.
*”Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Fatalities in the United States, ” Eric W. Fleegler, MD, MPH; Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH; Michael C. Monuteaux, ScD; David Hemenway, PhD; Rebekah Mannix, MD, MPH, JAMA Intern Med. 2013, Published online March 6, 2013