Our Standing Army

Y’know, as a conservative, I have a bent toward law and order.  With an emphasis on “rule of law” and “general order”. 

We’ll come back to that. 

One of the knee-jerk memes from those on the left who try to play at legal scholarship in re the Second Amendment is “the founders were talking about muzzle-loading muskets, not assault rifles”.  It’s balderdash, of course; a founding father might not know what all the parts are and all the buttons do, but the stock and the tube on an M4 Carbine aren’t that different from the ones on the founding fathers’ Brown Besses and Kentucky Long Rifles. 

But on the flip side, there is something out there affecting our freedom – potentially – that the founders wouldn’t know if they saw it. 

One of the reasons we have a Second Amendment is that our founding fathers were very afraid of the idea of the standing army, and wanted the people to see to their own defense.  The alternative, the Founders saw, was a standing military that would unthinkingly carry out the wishes of the rulers, at the expense of The People.  Their model was the armies of Europe – professional forces who served the King, not the “country”, and who frequently weren’t even from the country; kings knew that mercenaries who weren’t from the area would have fewer compunctions about opening fire on rambunctuous locals; “never station a soldier among his own people” is still a standard practice among dictators.

This was, of course, at a time when “police forces” were almost unheard of.  Towns might employ firewatchmen; sheriffs might gather posses for any particularly trying tasks.  But the “police force”, the full-time professional law-enforcement that we know today, didn’t become common until well into the 1800s. 

And the the police of the 1800s, or for that matter the 1950s, might not recognize some of what they see among police forces today. 

Paul Szoldra writes for Business Insider.  He’s also a Marine veteran of the War on Terror.  And he comments on what’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri:

Troops in full “battle rattle”, equipped not one degree behind the Airborne Ranger fashion curve are out on the streets in not-remotely-metaphorical-or-rhetorical force:

When did this become OK? When did “protect and serve” turn into “us versus them”?


“Why do these cops need MARPAT [Marine Pattern] camo pants again,” I asked on Twitter this morning. One of the most interesting responses came from a follower who says he served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division: “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone.”

I’ll leave that to the actual veterans (I haven’t seen any “Ma Deuces” or “Two Forty Golfs”), but the “show of force” is really emphasizing the ‘Force”. 

 Let’s be clear: This is not a war zone — even if the FAA banned flights under 3,000 feet. This is a city outside of St. Louis where people on both sides are angry. Protesters have looted and torched a gas station, and shots were fired at police, according to The Washington Post.


The scene is tense, but the presence of what looks like a military force doesn’t seem to be helping.

The amount of “us against them” – we the people are apparently “them” – from the police seems to be accelerating. 

 “Bring it. You fucking animals, bring it,” one police officer was caught on video telling protesters. In Ferguson and beyond, it seems that some police officers have shed the blue uniform and have put on the uniform and gear of the military, bringing the attitude along with it.

It’s a tense situation.  I get it.  The cops want to go home at night. 

But then so do the rest of us.  We scarcely go a day without some story of the police, somewhere, busting down the wrong door; throwing flash-bang grenades into rooms of sleeping children; making innocent people lie on the floor with guns in their faces, handcuffed, as the police tear the house apart looking for something to justify the raid (and as many laws as there are, everyone’s broken some kind of law or another); of cops shooting family pets that growl at them; of police manhunts shooting up all sorts of innocent people along with the perps. 

And worse than all of that, the tendendy among some police to assume that peoples’ constitutional rights are an impediment. 

I’ll repeat the usual disclaimer; most cops are good cops. 

But it’s not the individual cop in the street that worries me.  It’s a police culture that is becoming more and more aggressive; more militarized, and militaristic.  A culture that, more and more, thinks everyone that’s not in blue (or black, or camo) is a potential danger to be pre-empted. 

The US Military, nearly alone among world militaries over the centuries, has kept itself almost completely out of civil politics and government (outside of lobbying for funding).  They have followed Posse Comitatus – the separation of military and civil power in this country – pretty scrupulously.  I personally have little doubt that if a US President were dumb enough to toss out the Constitution and try to usurp control of the country, the military would at least refuse to carry out the order, and at best side with The People.  

But the police?  They are the enforcement arm of “the civil power”.  And you don’t have to see too  many stories about local police departments getting mine-resistant armored cars and the latest assault rifles, of federal agencies buying up tractor-trailers full of ammunitiion, of cops strutting around the city in full battle rattle to arrest petty drug offenders, to wonder if the Founding Fathers weren’t worried about the wrong standing army.

13 thoughts on “Our Standing Army

  1. The trend you note will continue. The Left wants an army that is ideologically committed to the state rather than the people. Federals want control of local cops, and will get it one way or another.

  2. “most cops are good cops”

    No Mitch, they’re not. A good cop in today’s PD is a rarer than a four leaf clover. What we have out there are tough guys who want opportunities to physically test themselves against others every day, but, they don’t want to do it on equal terms. We have professional liars. We have a group that believes they are above the rabble they supposedly work for. They do not believe the constitution applies to them, because they are “the good guys”, and everyone else is a suspect.

    The fact that more middle class families are not effected by the Copper Corps is that most middle class people don’t go out as much as they used to. They have too much to lose and there are too many opportunities out there to lose it.
    Fear of DWI’s and violent crime have left Friday\Saturday nights to thrill seekers and those that don’t give a rip.

    The best advice I can give people is to stay as far from cops as you can, and if they confront you; say nothing and record everything.

    Here’s a video I share among my friends, watch it.


  3. Mingo is exactly correct. Where do you think all that military hardware comes from? The Feds. Coppers fancy themselves elite soldiers, and the feds feed into that at every opportunity.

  4. One thing I’ve wondered for a long time is how many more serious crimes would be solved if the police worked on them instead of in speed traps and the like. Maybe we all would trust them more if we interacted with them other than getting caught going 40 in a 30 zone that should have been marked as 45.

    And maybe some of the money they’re spending on cruisers and radar detectors ought to be spent instead on a few weed-eaters that could get rid of some of the brush that is nudging people out into the street. And then some more on training; say “anger management” so an officer doesn’t launch into a profanity-laced tirade when he catches a couple of kids jaywalking.

  5. And finally, how much would medical care and disability costs go down for police forces if an officer would be walking a beat at least three days per week instead of eating donuts in his cruiser? And how many more young punks would be caught because the officer’s legs wouldn’t be carrying 50 extra pounds of fat and another 40 of gear?

  6. Pretty much. I’m not a fan of heavily armed police departments. Two years ago, I asked the Washington County Sheriff in MARPAT why they needed a LENCO Bearcat. It’s mostly used, if I recall correctly, for ‘dangerous’ warrants.

    I can see why there is a need for things like body armor and the like, but it seems the fear that a civil police force would become an occupying army are more correct than I’d like.

  7. Many local cops these days are vets with combat experience. As long as they stay local, that’s fine, but a local police force that is responsible to the feds is trouble. Local cops need local oversight. The federal government is constitutionally limited because it is not particularly responsible to the public.
    If I ever get approached by a fed, even if it’s just to talk about some crime I witnessed, I ain’t saying a word without my lawyer’s okay.

  8. If there is one thing that politicians of both parties have learned it’s that you don’t win elections going against the cops or even questioning their priorities. In my little town the part time mayor (who has a full time job as an accountant for a business) learned the hard way when he questioned why the city couldn’t keep its police cars for an additional year beyond what had been the norm. Soon our weekly local paper/shopper was filled with stories of police in other communities being killed/killing others when their ‘old’ equipment failed at some critical moment. The mayor backed off and now our police have spiffy new SUV’s instead of their old (and no longer manufactured) Crown Vic’s.
    Speaking of prepped for battle… check the tape of the authorities looking for the Arden Hills gas station shooting suspect at the Blaine airport. At about 1:00 you’ll see an APC with a masked gunner ready to drop anyone who steps out of the hanger at the wrong moment.

  9. That’s ridiculous, Seflores. They were looking for one guy with a handgun.
    In one recent year on my little island (pop. 130k) the cops killed four citizens. Three were rundown (one an old lady literally crossing the street to go to church). The fourth was a marital dispute. Cop literally shot his wife’s head off.

  10. “I’ll repeat the usual disclaimer; most cops are good cops.”

    Like Swiftee, I am not sure of the accuracy of this statement anymore. In just this locality, we have had officer Beard threatening citizens with his gun, and the cop in Brooklyn Park (or Brooklyn Center, I can’t remember exactly) that was testi-lying a women into prison until a parking lot video camera showed that his under oath testimony was not an exaggeration, but an outright fabrication. The “good cops” seem to have no problem with these guys on their force. I would think that if the majority were good, they would do more to isolate the bad from themselves and the citizenry.

    In LA we have had 6 or 8 officers emptying their weapons, reloading, sometimes multiple times, while firing at 2 innocent, unarmed women. Not one of the officers was fired, or even lost a day of pay. Are those good cops who got carried away? That I have seen, none were even ashamed enough to voluntary resign.

  11. A thought that occurs to me is that the big question isn’t whether officers are good or bad people. I know from the Bible that they are sinners like me, and I know from my profession as a quality engineer that their professional behavior will be a strong function of what incentives occur in the officer hiring process, and what incentives are presented to officers while on the force.

    So in other words, the difference between Andy Griffith and Bull Connor, so to speak, is that the town of Mayberry created incentives for Andy to deal with minor crimes (Otis’ drunkenness, the Darlings’ mayhem) outside of the legal system. On the flip side, Birmingham wanted Connor to keep a lid on everything, and this he did–to our shame.

    Seems to me that we need to watch some “Andy Griffith” and see how they set things up to get Andy and Barney out on the beat and solving problems without getting the courts involved.

  12. “Seems to me that we need to watch some “Andy Griffith” and see how they set things up to get Andy and Barney out on the beat and solving problems without getting the courts involved.”
    The purpose of the modern liberal state is to involve the courts, and federal bureaucrats, in every process.

  13. Pingback: Ferguson | Shot in the Dark

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