Yesterday, my academic association hosted the UW-Madison’s chief of police at the end-of-the-year luncheon, and she gave an excellent speech on the current state of gun control bills/laws and her feelings on it. Riseling has been on the force here at the UW for 23 years, so I would definitely say she’s more qualified to voice valuable opinions than the average Senator or House representative. She had a quick wit and a blunt way of speaking (the latter is probably a stereotype that’s true of police officers) and made some great points.

Obviously, the biggest point of contention was the gun control bill that failed to pass a couple weeks ago. Riseling pointed out that opponents of “any” gun control – because, after all, the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed” right – are forgetting that most amendments are regulated – or infringed, if you want to phrase it differently – all the time. The freedom of speech and religion, for example, two of the most famous examples of ‘Merica’s greatness, are regulated to prohibit threats and libel, or polygamy, or sacrificing virgins. Riseling pointed out that these have been accepted for decades, and that the 2nd Amendment even claims that the militia that the purpose of bearing/keeping arms was originally intended for (I’d personally like to mandate that all gun owners join militias, since they love the scream about the 2nd amendment so much) is supposed to be well-regulated, not unregulated.

Then Riseling pointed out – if we completely unregulated our “right” to keep and bear arms, then should a billionaire be able to purchase military grade helicopters with heat-seeking missiles on them, whenever they want, if cost is no option? It’s his right, isn’t it? What about a functioning tank? And then she did point out the ridiculousness of the current law at the Madison capitol prohibits more than 4 people to organize together to sing/protest, but yet people can buy .50 caliber weaponry and rocket propelled grenade launchers. Where do we draw the line? If you don’t believe that a casino mogul shouldn’t be able to own an F-16, then you’re infringing his rights – so let’s draw that line a little farther down.

Riseling emphasized that what she’d really like to see is a shared list of attempts by felons to acquire weaponry. It’s supposed to be illegal anyway – has been for years. But right now, only gun stores are supposed to check these things against a quick database – gun shows and private sellers don’t have to, of course. And then the gun store destroys the result of that check within 24 hours. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a centralized database of felons attempting to acquire weaponry, or attempting to acquire them from multiple places? Police, said Sue, are overwhelmingly in favor of this.

All and all, a smart lecture from a smart woman. The UW Police and the Madison Police (the latter’s silly ticketing of bicycles like they were deadly motorized vehicles aside) are pretty good, in my opinion. The capitol police, led by our thuggish corporate crony Governor Walker, is another story, but hopefully we can clean out that lot when we get rid of Walker in another couple years.