BY CHRISTOPHER BAKER – “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” People often hear this statement thrown about and automatically believe that it is a derogatory statement against our police officers. That line of thought could not be further from the truth. The fact is, it has absolutely nothing to do with the police, but everything to do with the limitations of physics. Although law enforcement officers are heroes in every sense of the word, they are not superheroes-they cannot fly or teleport. As such, police officers are limited in their ability to respond to an incident by how quickly they can safely navigate traffic-if they are even notified that a crime is being committed. However, it appears that Louis M. Kealoha, the Honolulu Chief of Police, seems to believe that those under his charge are indeed superhuman and can arrive anywhere, at any time, without delay, in order to prevent a violent crime from being attempted or committed.
“If you or any of those around you are placed in danger of bodily injury by word or deed, the police department should be contacted immediately so that proper action may be initiated.” Those are the exact words of Chief of Police Kealoha in his letter informing me that my application for a permit to carry a concealed firearm for the purpose of self-defense had been denied. However, by their own admission, in the Honolulu Police Department’s 2009 Annual Report, the average response time to a Priority 1 call (an emergency where there is a threat to life or property) is 7.59 minutes from the time the dispatcher receives the call until the first police officer arrives on scene. Ask yourself, how long is 7.59 minutes when someone is trying to rob, rape, or kill you? What if the victim was your mother, wife, or daughter? One must remember, the clock doesn’t even start ticking until someone is able to call 9-1-1.
So, the question that I pose to Chief of Police Kealoha is, what exactly does “proper action may be initiated” even mean? Given the sheer number of things that can go horribly wrong in 7 ½ minutes, I’m prone to believe that he really means, “file a report and hope we can catch the guy who did this.” Luckily, the Honolulu Police Department has some extremely talented police officers, and as a result, the solve-rate of violent crimes is quite high. However, solving a case does not take away what was done; it merely brings justice to the victim or to the victim’s family. One other interesting point about the current process to acquire a permit to carry a concealed weapon is that, even if someone is able to show “good cause” and then manages to meet the State’s arbitrary (and currently unknown to the public) standard for approval, they are still forced to wait two to four weeks before being issued their permit. Once again, Chief of Police Kealoha, how does that even begin to address an “urgent need” for self-defense?
The sad truth is that the police have no legal obligation to protect citizens from harm. The District of Columbia’s Court of Appeals even went so far as to say in Warren vs. District of Columbia that it is a “fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen.” So not only does Chief of Police Kealoha get to decide who should and should not be allowed to exercise their right to self-defense, he has the audacity to imply that by simply picking up the phone (an action not so easily accomplished when one is being actively attacked) and calling the police, no one will ever be hurt or killed. Tell that to the 3,559 victims of violent crime in 2009 (2010 data was not available at the time of writing).
What if, instead of being forced to rely on others to take care of us, our right to defend ourselves and our loved ones from those who wish to do us harm was restored? What if that 7.59 minutes was turned into 7.59 seconds? How many of those 3,559 violent crimes would have been prevented if the victims had been allowed to exercise their God-given right of self-defense instead of waiting for an undermanned, overworked, and underpaid police department to show up?
In closing, I challenge you to cast aside any negative feelings about guns and concealed carry and ask yourself one simple question: are you confident that you can hold off an attacker for 7 ½ minutes while you wait for the cavalry in blue to arrive?
Christopher Baker is with Hawaii Concealed Carry at www.hawaiiccw.com