To Reduce Fear of Police, Eliminate Laws Empowering Police to Abuse People

In a Friday editorial at the American Conservative, James Bovard examines a multitude of reasons why Americans rationally fear having an interaction with a cop. At the root, explains, Bovard, there are too many laws providing reasons for police to exercise force and too few restraints on when and how that force may be exercised.

Bovard writes his editorial as a response to South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s comment in a June Democratic presidential primary debate that Buttigieg is “determined to bring about a day when a white person driving a vehicle and a black person driving a vehicle, when they see a police officer approaching, feels the exact same thing — a feeling not of fear but of safety.”

After examining the wide scope of police authority under the law, Bovard concludes that what is needed to pursue the goal Buttigieg espouses is a policy change much more radical than any of the Democratic presidential candidates on the debate stage are likely to endorse. Bovard writes: “The best way to encourage citizens to have ‘a feeling not of fear but of safety’ is to repeal legions of laws empowering police to unjustifiably accost and wrongfully subjugate peaceful citizens.”

Read Bovard’s editorial here.

Speaking of fear of US government agents, then-House of Representatives Member Ron Paul (R-TX) similarly started of a 1997 House floor speech with this observation:

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year another member severely criticized me on the House floor for declaring on C-SPAN that, indeed, many Americans justifiably fear their own government. This fear has come from the police-state mentality that prompted Ruby Ridge, Waco, and many other episodes of an errant federal government.

Returning to this observation later in his speech, Paul comments:

Force and intimidation are the tools of tyrants. Intimidation with government guns and the threat of imprisonment and the fear of harassment by government agents put fear into the hearts of millions of Americans.

With constitutional limits on the US government’s power disregarded, Paul laments, “we have witnessed the massive build-up of a virtual army of armed regulators prowling the states where they have no legal authority.”

Like Bovard, Paul suggests a policy change in response that few American politicians would support. Paul declares: “Yes, we need gun control; we need to disarm our bureaucrats, then abolish the agencies.”

Watch Paul’s complete speech here:

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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