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Policeman's Advice: Stay Armed, Stay Free; an interview with Joe Horn, by Carlo Stagnaro

Policeman's Advice: Stay Armed, Stay Free
An Interview with Joe Horn

by Carlo Stagnaro

from The Laissez Faire City Times, Vol 5, No 31, July 30, 2001

It is commonly believed that law enforcement officers are advocates of civilian disarmament. In fact, by forcing people to give up their guns, policemen and military would virtually be the only armed ones in the world. In other words, their monopoly of lawful violence could lead them to monopolize even unlawful violence. This is why pro-Second Amendment advocates say gun-control is the key to tyranny.

Anyway, there are many police officers who stand for the right to keep and bear arms. They think armed citizenry is their ally, rather than an enemy to defeat or destroy. Gun-control laws simply disarm law-abiding people, not criminals; so it leaves police without any possibility to be helped by the people. Moreover, stats show that armed civilians are even more efficient than police officers in stopping criminals and, on the other hand, courts have universally ruled that officers have no legal obligation to protect anyone in particular. In order to have and maintain a polite society, people and police officers should join a sort of common "social contract," declaring their enemies both private and government criminals.

It might be interesting to hear a policeman's opinion. So, here we present the view of Joe Horn, retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and Member of the Advisory Board of the Second Amendment Police Department (

Among the common places of anti-gun rhetoric, there's the statement that more guns mean more crime. Many researchers claim this is not true (see John Lott's work); many others say it is. You were a member of the LA County Sheriff's Department: what does your experience say?

Perhaps they should mean more guns in the hands of unjailed or unpunished criminals mean more crimes. More guns in the hands of law abiding citizens translates directly to less crime and more dead criminals, killed in the commission of crime by their last intended victim. We have over 20,000 laws against guns that I rarely see enforced. If they were, and swiftly, there would be an even lower crime rate. If you remove the inner city drug gang violent crime from our national crime rate, the rest of the US has a crime rate like Monaco or Luxembourg, and the rest of the US is heavily armed with some 80,000,000 gun owners owning some 300-500,000,000 guns. Our police fatality rate keeps dropping to the point that last year 160 police died on duty. Over HALF of that number died from accident or heart attack. Less than 80 were killed by criminals. Out of 800,000 local cops making contact with 280,000,000 citizens 24x7, that is not bad. I'd like to see none killed, but the reason we have police is because of criminals and sociopaths.

Gun-control is supposed to disarm criminals. In your opinion, does it work?

Gun control is one of the liberal altar gods. Like Caribbean Voodoo, it places the responsibility for the evil intent in a criminal's heart in the gun, an object of metal, wood and plastic. This belief relieves them of focusing on accountability and responsibility of the miscreant. The liberals think evil and crime would not exist if there were no guns. Of course, they completely ignore that fact that violent crime happens with a plethora of weapons other than firearms and did long before firearms existed. Voodoo is the belief that inanimate objects have power to force humans to behave in a certain way against their will. To liberals, no one is responsible for what they do. The Liberals may not be sticking pins in dolls, but they believe in Voodoo. The Liberal gun control agenda is not rooted in social and community improvement. Simply stated: it is that they know they cannot impose their Marxist/Socialist rule upon armed citizens without a fight. It's really that simple. Their concern about crime is quite limited, in that all they want is to disarm the populace for their own agenda. It's not going to happen here.

Gun-control also should prevent crazy people from getting guns and carrying out massacres. What about it?

There are already laws that try to prevent this. You will notice that frequently, some individual in his or her car will just lose it mentally and drive up on a sidewalk and kill or maim dozens. I do not hear the cry for automobile control and no law can prevent that from happening. We're dealing with human beings, human nature, not precise and perfect machines. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, all of the workplace shooters, school shooters were under psychiatric treatment and were taking psychotropic drugs for personality management. Perhaps we should ban legal psychotropic drugs and force people to deal with their problems while sober in the cold light of reality. We didn't really have these problems before 1989. The use of psychotropics has increased exponentially since then.

Why, in your opinion, do most (or many, at least) police officers support gun-control laws?

It is not my experience that most of them do support gun control laws. In the U.S., there is a dividing line of age that separates those over 40 and those under 40. The older cops largely support the Constitution and liberty while many of the younger cops are more likely to support gun control. This is, I believe, because modern education is so poor and also because of the increasing influence of the Federal Government (Free money, equipment) in local police issues like affirmative action, (which means hire by color and gender and not merit), training (there is a great deal of the siege mentality, fear of an armed population, "us versus them" thinking in federal training). The other issue is that fewer police have military service where they learned in depth about restraint, the US Constitution and swore an oath to uphold it.

Many modern "feel good" police personnel bureaus do not want military veterans these days; they might be a bit more rigid than the new police personnel muffins want them to be. Of course the muffins don't work in the streets, where the criminals are as bad, vicious and violent as ever, if not worse.

According to Dave Kopel, among others, law enforcement agencies should not be militarized. Militarization will lead (and actually leads) to lots of abuses, like Ruby Ridge and Waco. Do you agree with such a statement?

Yes I do. The militarization of American local law enforcement is an issue I have been in opposition to for years. I call these guys ninja wannabes. The Military mindset is to kill the enemy and wreck his infrastructure. Waco and Ruby Ridge were military operations with devastating results. Then they lied to Congress and gave themselves medals for shooting a 14 year old kid, his dog, and his mother holding a baby (Ruby Ridge) and they lied again and gave themselves medals for burning down a church where time was on their side, killing all inside except the few they shot down when they tried to escape the flames. Then they drove a tank into and over the remains and ground up some of the bodies with the tracks of the tanks.

It was a day of great shame.

US Gov: 87 men, women, children and a dog
Constitution: 0

The sad thing about these events is that too many people decided to see American law enforcement as a paramilitary enemy that is above the law, and I don't know how to repair that or if it can be repaired.

What do you think about the UN Conference on Small Arms?

I think that the UN needs a psychiatrist. Under their proposal, small arms that were smuggled to the resistance fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto, Greece, Yugoslavia, France and Russia in World War II would be illegal, while the guns in the hands of the Nazi Stormtroopers would be lawful. The UN stood by in Bosnia and let Serbs massacre Muslims. It stood by impotently in the Congo in the 50s while people were butchered and it stood by in Rwanda while 500,000 were butchered. What did all these victims have in common? They were unarmed. The UN is an anachronism of the 52 year old socialist wet dream of world domination by socialism. The United States reserves the right to drop arms to the enemies of our enemies and so do all the other sovereign nations of the West. The citizen who does not have the right of Armed self defense and resistance to tyranny has no other rights.

Finally: have you any particular message for our European and, more generally, non-American readers, especially those who are involved in law enforcement?

Yes: Remember that many people around you every day are armed. The honest citizens with arms are not who you should fear; in fact, embrace them as a resource and back up in bad times. They will save your life. The only people I worry about are criminals, armed or unarmed. Thanks for this opportunity and my best regards to Italian and European Police and the Italian and European readers. Stay armed, stay Free!

Carlo Stagnaro's web page is and his email address is


Joe Horn
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Ret.
2AMPD Advisory Board Member
Archives of Joe Horn's Gun Rights Articles

Disclaimer: All comments are the personal opinion of the writer and not intended to represent any government agency, whatsoever.


Printer Version

To trust arms in the hands of the people at large has, in Europe, been be an experiment fraught only with danger. Here by a long trial it has been proved to be perfectly harmless...If the government be equitable; if it be reasonable in its exactions; if proper attention be paid to the education of children in knowledge and religion, few men will be disposed to use arms, unless for their amusement, and for the defence of themselves and their country. Timothy Dwight, Travels in New England and New York [London 1823]

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