Gunnery Network
Gunnery Network

"Cops are People with Guns... Cops Are Not Gun People"
A Gunnery Network Editorial by Marvin V. Stenhammar
18 November 2002

Seek Professional Help

Seek Professional Help: If you are new to firearms ownership and shooting or if you have a new gun with unfamiliar features, don't be afraid to admit your lack of knowledge. Please ask for help. Start by reading the owners manual, then ask a certified firearms instructor to assist you. Schedule a class at the local shooting range. Do not ask a cop or a former military person for help unless they happen to be a Certified Firearms Instructor.

Please Note: I receive several e-mail messages and phone calls commenting on my views and remarks on "so-called" firearms experts. And I receive some pretty emotional and often scary e-mail messages on my humorous (who knew) and flagrant bashing of Deputy Duff the Flat Foot "Barney" and his notoriously inept side-kick Lance Private "Jug Head" the X-Marine. So what is up with that?  As stated above, "Cops are people with guns, cops are not gun people". 

What's the Difference? 

People With Guns: People with guns are often confused with gun people. They include Cops and X Military types who are / were trained in the safe and legal use of arms. They are trained at a basic "user" level and are typically not competent to instruct others. In the case of most police agencies, officers receive much more training in the legal aspects of armed response than in the technical aspects of firearms. Most importantly, they are NOT firearms enthusiasts. Many do not even own a gun. 

Many do not think that "civilians" should own firearms. When in fact police officers are "Civilians", not having Geneva Convention status or protection. Nor are they subject to the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). Just another "fact" that the typical "Barney" is uninformed on. Being a civilian is like being pregnant. Either you are or you are not. If you are not in the military you are a civilian. Civilian law enforcement agencies are made up of sworn officers who are civilians. I am now a civilian. Most Americans are "civilians" so are police officers, and for the record there is nothing wrong with being a "civilian".

What is wrong is the "Thick Blue Line" attitude exhibited by many police officers who think they are "different" or even worse "special". They are sworn officers.  They are still civilians and they are for the most part, nothing special.  The only thing special about them is that they have the legal authority to arrest you and to otherwise take your liberty. By nature, cops are "do gooders" and by definition, they are tattle tales.  

When we were growing up, no one liked the "Dudley Do Right" kids who would take it upon themselves to "Rat" you out when you made a mistake, or at least when they thought you did something wrong.  But cops are on "Rat Patrol" everyday and many of them have little or no regard for your civil rights or your liberty and many of them feel like they are "Here to save the world". So who saves us from them? And since they have no hesitation when it comes to telling on us, why are they so unlikely to tell on there own kind and allow cops to be criminals everyday?

When it comes to firearms, the problem arises when inexperienced gun owners and other citizens ask "People with Guns" questions of arms. People make the assumption that as "they" carry or carried a gun, "they" must know something about them.  This is a false and dangerous assumption. In my many years of experience as a Armed Professional and as a Firearms Instructor I have had to correct an inordinate amount of "bad poop" that is frequently and repeatedly espoused by cops and other "People with Guns".

When a civilian asks them a question on the legal aspects of gun ownership, many cops do not know the law.  They do not know the answers and if, like so many of their ilk, they are predisposed to be against "civilian" gun ownership, they often tell people incorrect information. Information that may discourage you from having or carrying a gun and information that may get you killed. I have heard many officers purposely mislead citizens when asked about concealed carry, open carry and carrying a gun on your own property.  In some cases, when I butted in and corrected there misinformation, they said they did not think that the person should have a gun. But due process and the Bill of Rights and most state gun laws say otherwise. When the person you ask is Anti-Gun you may get an untrue answer that supports there belief and has nothing to do with the law.

Gun People: Gun people are trained firearms instructors and are qualified subject matter experts. More importantly, gun people are firearms enthusiasts. "Gun People" actually own and regularly use guns and they are people who are competent in the safe and effective use of arms. Be it sport, concealed carry and defensive shooting, big game hunting or just plinking, "Gun People" are firearms enthusiasts who live, breath, eat & sleep guns. Gun People are qualified to instruct, they take and teach classes, they read gun books and routinely talk about guns and shooting to other "Gun People" and to their students. 

They are often called "Gun Nuts", but I think being a "Gun Nut" also includes the armed and crazy elements and the paranoid survive-all types. It also includes the "shit head" NAZI types and the neo-fascist of the far right wing. I exclude these loonies from being real gun people. For that matter, I exclude them from being "people" period.

Self-Serving dribble - Insecure Cop Hater - He wants your money - NOT

I have been a certified firearms instructor for 17-years. I am a certified law Enforcement Instructor with specific competencies in many disciplines including Small Arms Employment, Police Marksmanship, SWAT and CQB.  I have never received any form of financial compensation for teaching an individual student. I do let them buy my food.  Some put me up or provide lodging for week end and out of town classes. My students typically buy their own ammunition.

Cop Hater! Not: My best and most beloved friends are in fact "police officers". And they are damn fine people. They are fine people not because they are cops, but because they are great guys. One of them is a Lieutenant in charge of a county S.W.A.T.. team and he got me started in the Law Enforcement Instructor business. He is a great teacher and a remarkable shooter.  The other, who I have know for over 20 years and served with in the Army, can't shoot a hand gun worth a dime. He is a good rifleman. He admits his limitations and does not try to teach people how to shoot. He can safe a gun and knows enough to refer people who need instruction and training to a competent firearms instructor. 

No, I am not a cop hater. I am just tired of hearing about and having to fix all the bad info they put out. I hate their "Anti-Gun" attitudes. I hate all bad cops, who are thankfully make up the minority of all sworn officers. I abhor police brutality and I won't tolerate abuse of power or put up with inept police work. I expect them to be honest and professional as all concerned freedom loving citizens should.

On the money... I am normally compensated when I instruct departments - but not always. Some departments can not afford to pay an outside instructor. So, I don't always charge a fee. I have helped many small departments free of charge. I have personally trained over 500 women in the last 15 years. I have never charged them a red cent. I do not do this for the money. Why ask why? I do it because I love it - See " Gun People" [ Read Firearms Enthusiast ]. I teach firearms because I believe that law abiding citizens, especially women, should gain a mastery of arms. I do it because it is fun. I do it because it is rewarding. I do it because I love to teach.

If I had a dime for every one who told me "My brother-in-law is an "x-whatever" or the person who told me to do it this way was a cop, and he said "blah, blah, bang!"  I would be a rich man.  Further more, in my professional experience as a military man that did instructor time and overseas deployments with the FBI and the DEA (Snow Cap), and in my experience as a "Civilian" Law Enforcement Instructor, I have found that active duty police officers are the least knowledgeable students I encounter. Most of them don't know squat about guns. 

Technically & Tactically Proficient, NOT!

Many lack a basic knowledge of the facts and have little or no "guns sense". They typically have no clue about the current gun laws. Don't know a pre ban from a bazooka. Think that machine guns are illegal and are basically incompetent on technical issues relating to firearms. They are normally weak in the tactical use of arms and basic marksmanship. Most cops fire less than 200 rounds of ammunition a year. Many complain about that. Most police officers are crime scene investigators who will do an average of 4 years in a department before moving on to something else and serve with out ever firing a shot. It is rear to find a police officer who has actually been in a gun fight. 

Cops Are Anti-Gun

Many police officers are Anti-Gun and think that you should not be allowed to have a gun. Most cops are not firearms enthusiasts. Many of them do not own personal firearms and got there first gun when their department issued one to them. So most cops and former military people are simply unqualified when its comes to imparting and or teaching gun knowledge. Thus, my supposition that Cops are people with guns... not gun people remains intact and unabated.

There are exceptions and some cops and former military people are real gun people. They are not qualified to give information on arms because they are one or the other. They are qualified to teach you about firearms only because they have received additional training, have professional certifications and are firearms enthusiasts. This is in spite of and not because of there police or military affiliation. I am former military. I learned a great deal about firearms while in service, largely due to my assignment in SOF units - certainly not due to basic training. The overwhelming majority of Cops and X Military are simply not qualified to assist a novice shooter and are NOT firearms instructors. But for the most part, Cops are not gun people, cops are people with guns.