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James J. Fotis, Executive Director, Law Enforcement Alliance of America

Do cops back gun control? Bill Clinton, Sarah Brady, Charles Schumer and most of the national media would have you - and every legislator in the land - believe the answer is yes. From the chorus of national police groups that line up behind Bill, Charlie, and Sarah every time network TV cameras roll you'd be hard pressed to believe anything to the contrary.

With a little background on why national gun control zealots attract national police organization groupies, the reasons behind the perception that "cops support gun control" becomes crystal clear. Let me give you a hint, its c-a-s-h!

On the issue of gun control itself let me say I approach that question from a different perspective.

I'm a cop. I worked the streets. I learned how criminals act and how they think. I've used the sidearm my department issued to me. I've got the permanent physical reminders of a cop who more than once found himself in harm's way during years of active "street" law enforcement. I survived a "classic shootout" trading shots at a distance of roughly seven feet, something most cops don't survive. Believe me when I say I know viscerally the issues that most concern rank-and-file police. I'm not a political cop nor was I a fast-track desk jockey looking for my chance at a grin-and-grip color portrait autographed by the resident of the governor's mansion or the White House.

Today, as the Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA), I represent other cops, corrections officers, private law enforcement, crime victims, and citizens across the nation who are fed up with the futility and hypocrisy of our criminal justice system.

When I'm asked if cops support gun control, I respond with a clarification: If by gun control, you mean taking away from every sullen-eyed slack who pushed rock cocaine, ripped off old ladies, mugged a pensioner, murdered an equally low-life, gang banger competitor, or defined his social encounters in terms of robbery, rape or murder, the answer is a resounding yes!

Every real cop I know is all for ripping weapons away from violent, criminal street-slime.

But that is not what gun control means to the Bradys, the Clintons, Charles (the whiner) Schumer and his Senate clone, Dianne Feinstein. Their definition of gun control means restricting the rights of, and disarming, peaceable citizens. And the answer to that idea is a loud and clear, unambiguous "NO", at least from real cops.

Real cops are men and women who take the trouble to understand what we meant when we swore an oath to enforce and uphold the laws of the land. Our oath of office includes the Constitution with its Bill of Rights, including all ten of the ten sacrosanct amendments. Most real cops are staunch opponents of any and all efforts to erode Second Amendment rights.

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Sarah Brady is fond of saying we have no federal gun laws...

She's dead wrong.

We have plenty, we almost never use them.

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Sarah Brady is fond of saying we have no federal gun laws regulating firearms and their criminal mis-use. She's dead wrong. We have plenty of tough federal gun laws on the books, the problem is we almost never use them. In fact, gun laws with tough penalties for armed criminal abuse are, and have been, the law of the land for long before Ms. Brady climbed aboard the Handgun Control, Inc. bandwagon.

Save making the moment a criminal touches a firearm a capitol offense - and using the death penalty - you can't pass another meaningful federal law against criminals and guns that isn't already part of the federal code. Our federal criminal statutes, pre-Brady and pre-"Clinton Crime Bill," cover every imaginable infraction involving a thug and a gun.

Federal criminal gun law penalties are stiff. Yet, federal gun laws are a constant source of frustration to real cops. They simply are not applied to bad guys - with a notable recent exception when a deranged Colorado felon decided he wanted to assassinate the White House. No, not President Clinton, the building itself at 1600 Pennsylvania was his target. Then and only then did the Clinton/Reno Justice Department decide to slap federal gun law violations on an armed felon. Mark my words, they will never apply those same laws to the thousands of violent criminals who are prowling our nation's streets.

Current federal gun law legally bars convicted felons, illegal aliens, dishonorably discharged military members and those judged insane by the courts from owning, holding, borrowing, buying, selling, or using firearms of any type, for any reason. The basic penalty for each infraction is a five year sentence in the penitentiary and a $250,000 fine.

Three-time losers face mandatory 15 year jail terms and a $250,000 fine. Use of a firearm during the commission of a crime tacks on yet another five year/$250,000 tab on top of the initial penalties. Again, that is per violation. Altering the serial number, sawing off the barrel or converting a firearm to one that fires fully automatic brings its own ten year/$250,000 penalty.

Virtually every violent felon on our streets today faces potential jail and a monetary fine under federal gun laws of massive proportions. We are talking the very stuff -- decades in jail and hundreds of thousands in cash penalties -- that is guaranteed to catch the attention of even the most dense-sculled underworld neanderthal.

The beauty of existing federal gun laws (notwithstanding the Brady Law and "Clinton Crime Bill") is that they are designed to bring the bulk of their punishment potential to bear on any armed criminal who fits the profile of an "average" violent felon: a recidivist, a drug user or someone involved in the illegal drug trade, and someone who more often than not is armed with an illegal or altered weapon (a shotgun or .22 calibre rifle with a hacksaw-bobbed barrel and stock or a handgun with its serial numbers filed off).

No matter the jurisdiction, or if the offense violated federal or state law, armed criminals face federal charges with a potential to levy up to 65 years in prison and $1.75 million in fines. For one armed crime!

If that doesn't have the potential for effective crime prevention, what does?

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), in cooperation with LEAA, have launched a nationwide campaign to educate the public and to demand full enforcement of existing federal gun statutes against armed and violent criminals.

Enforcing federal gun laws against armed, violent criminals is not part of the Clinton/Reno agenda. They don't want to punish criminals. They want to punish legitimate gun owners. For some twisted reason, the Clinton Administration is deathly afraid of honest citizens who happen to own guns.

So long as the Clinton/Reno team controls the Justice Department we will face a deafening silence regarding the enforcement of federal gun laws from Washington, D.C. But, like a certain patient Biblical figure, the nation's gun owners can and must demand enforcement of applicable gun statutes against violent criminals until the wall of hypocrisy and indifference by this Administration crumbles. November's elections were a great first step.

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Many years of patient, deliberate work went into the anti-gun game plan...

and cops played a key role.

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Passage of the Brady Act and the "Clinton Crime Bill" by the foes of private firearms ownership was no fluke. Many years of patient, deliberate work went into their anti-gun game plan that was formulated more than a decade ago. And, cops played a key role in the success of their strategy.

Those two anti-gun victories shook Second Amendment advocates to their very core. Handgun Control, Inc. and the White House portrayed traditional pro-Second Amendment groups like the National Rifle Association as callous, pro-crime and anti-cop with their hired lobbyists that are out of touch with the daily threats that face law enforcement. A good number of traditionally pro-gun votes were swayed specifically by pressures from national police organizations and their spokespersons.

The success of that strategy can be traced directly to one crucial factor: millions of your tax dollars slipped by the Clinton Administration into the "research" pockets of national law enforcement organizations.

Chief among long-time advocates of civil dis-armament is former New York City Police Commissioner, Patrick Murphy. Murphy, who now heads the U.S. Conference of Mayors, was enlisted to help craft Handgun Control Inc.'s assault on the Bill of Rights.

While with NYCPD, Murphy never earned the respect of New York City's rank-and-file cops. He didn't seem to care; his eyes were focused elsewhere, on the big political picture. He was a master of political gamesmanship and he quickly moved from New York to Washington, D.C.

In the nation's capital, Murphy spawned several police "type" organizations with a blatant anti-gun ownership agenda. His first, the Police Foundation, beget a host of clones including the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).

Murphy proteges from New York City spread like a deadly anti-gun virus to organizations and departments throughout the nation. Brendan Behan became Chief of Baltimore County police. Robert DiGrazia hopscotched from New York to Boston to St. Louis to Montgomery County, Maryland. (DiGrazia was last sighted as a paid "expert" for the Police Foundation testifying against police officers in cases of alleged brutality.) Tony Bouza landed as Chief of the Minneapolis P.D. And of course, Joe McNamara made his anti-gun reputation as Chief of the San Jose, CA Police Department.

Police groups like the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs Association and the Fraternal Order of Police, traditionally neutral or leaning toward a pro-Second Amendment stance, found their leadership and policies shift 180 degrees and following Murphy's lead down a path that led directly to an endless source of federal grant cash.

Last year the Police Executive Research Forum, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs Association and the Police Foundation collectively hauled in $4.4 million in Justice Department grants. Before then the Department of Justice dollars flowed just as freely. The International Association of Chiefs of Police raked in over $630,000. National Sheriffs Association cheerfully pocketed $516,943. The Police Executive Research Forum netted $447,343. The Police Foundation accepted a more modest $221,634.

Add up the totals and you get a small peek at the economic and political clout the Clinton White House wields in shaping public policy and buying national police groups into line. Every federal dollar dumped into law enforcement bank accounts is quite legal. Each has a perfectly "rational" explanation. It is merely coincidence that the police groups that scurried to do the President's bidding happen to be the same ones that were awarded the lucrative federal grants. (And the Swiss Navy just launched its newest aircraft carrier to patrol its costal waters.)

Law Enforcement is not the enemy of private gun ownership. Ask the uniformed men and women pressed into service as silent sentinels at every Brady/Crime Bill press conference. Most served under threat of departmental sanction if they refused. Most vehemently disagreed with the positions and the legislation put forward. All were muzzled from expressing their own true feelings. Two lawsuits suit are now pending against the Arlington County, Virginia Police Department and its Chief on just this point.

For the moment, thanks to the wisdom of voters sending an unmistakable signal to Handgun Control's Congressional allies this past November, we have the anti-gun forces in a state of temporary suspended animation. They are taking stock of their resources and as they attempt to chart their way towards future enactment of Brady II.

The Law Enforcement Alliance of America -- the nation's largest coalition of law enforcement professionals, crime victims and concerned citizens -- gives voice to pro-gun law enforcement. We fought long and hard against the Brady Act, the original misnamed "assault weapon" ban and the "Clinton Crime Bill." We brought together officers and police organizations, representing more than 100,000 law enforcement professionals, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in defense of our Constitutionally guaranteed rights and in complete opposition to the "Clinton Crime Bill."

We took to the halls of Congress to try and pass a real, street-smart, anti-crime bill that punished criminals and protected the rights of crime victims and gun owners. We came within a handful of votes of success.

Had we the resources equal to the federal handouts dumped into anti-gun police organization's coffers, the manpower, and the time, we could have enlisted a majority of local Fraternal Order of Police lodges as well as chapters of most every police union or benevolent group in the nation against the "Clinton Crime Bill" .... and the outcome would have been vastly different.

If we are to stop the anti-American, anti-freedom, anti-gun agenda of Sarah Brady, Charlie (the whiner) Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, and Bill and Hillary Clinton, we need a comprehensive effort by everyone who cares about our Constitutional Rights.

During the three years LEAA has been on the national scene, we have worked to bring together law enforcement, crime victims, and every citizen who cares about the Second Amendment to build an unstoppable law enforcement-based organization truly representative of the men and women of law enforcement who work daily to combat criminal violence. To do this we need your help and support.

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Membership Information

The Law Enforcement Alliance of America is a nationwide, membership-driven legislative advocacy organization based just outside of Washington, D.C. LEAA is comprised of law enforcement officers, crime victims and concerned citizens, and has sponsored numerous pieces of legislation at the Federal and State levels - including H.R. 218 (National Concealed Carry for Law Enforcement), H.R. 515 (The Weight Ban Bill - to stop criminals from bulking up at taxpayers' expense while in prison), and civilian CCW liberalization at the state level. For more information and a membership application, please contact LEAA directly at 1-800-766-8578, or simply send a check for $20.00 for a one year membership along with your name and address to: LEAA, 7700 Leesburg Pike, Suite 421, Falls Church, VA 22043.

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