Gun Control vs. 911: Government Has No Legal Duty to Protect Any Particular Individual

By Joe Sinagra


“Gun control is one of the best examples of laws that corner private citizens—forcing them either to put themselves into danger or to be a lawbreaker.”

~ James Bovard (Mazel Freedom Press, 1999 Introduction to ‘Dial 911 and Die’)


We take it for granted that the police must protect each of us; those beliefs are a deception in faith. Police owe a duty to protect the public in general, but not to protect any particular individual.

On March 16, 1975, two men broke down the back door in Washington, D.C., of a domicile shared by three women. The attackers kidnapped, robbed, raped, and beat all three women over 14 hours. These women later sued the city and its police for negligently failing to protect them or even to answer their second 911 call.

The court held that government had no duty to respond to their call or to protect them.

In 1987 Iowa, two men broke into a family’s home, tied up the parents, slit the mother’s throat, raped the 16-year old daughter, and drove off with the 12-year old daughter (whom they later murdered). The emergency dispatcher didn’t immediately send police to investigate the 911 call concerning the kidnappers/murders/rapists while the abducted little girl was still alive. First? He had to field calls about a parking violation downtown and a complaint about harassing phone calls.

When the dispatcher got around to the kidnapping, he didn’t issue an all-points bulletin but, instead, told just one officer to come back to the police station, not even mentioning that it was an emergency. To make a long story short, even though there were many instances of incompetence and negligence, the case was swiftly dismissed before going to trial as a state appeals court claimed that the authorities have no duty to protect individuals.

The general rule of law in the United States is that government owes a duty to protect the public in general but owes no legal duty to protect any particular person from criminal attack. Neither the U.S. Constitution nor the federal civil rights laws require states to protect citizens from crime.

State legislatures and courts protect government entities and police departments from civil liability for failing to provide adequate police protection.

A false and dangerous belief held by gun control ideologues is that private citizens don’t need firearms because the police will protect them from crime.

Numerous court decisions and state laws have held that cops don’t have to do a thing to help you when you’re in danger. In other words the government owes no duty to protect individual citizens from criminal attack:

-One California appellate court wrote, “[p]olice officers have no affirmative statutory duty to do anything.”

-One Kansas statute precludes citizens from suing the government or the police for negligently failing to enforce the law or for failing to provide police or fire protection.

-A Massachusetts decree states the government has no legal duty “to provide adequate police protection, prevent the commission of crimes, investigate, detect or solve crimes, identify or apprehend criminals or suspects, arrest or detain suspects, or enforce any law.”

-Even the District of Columbia’s highest court states “that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen.” (Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1, 4 (D.C. 1981)

-In Bowers v. DeVito, (686F. 2nd 616, 618 (7th Cir. 1982) a federal appeals court ruled ordinary citizens have “no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen.”

The Constitution won’t protect you either. The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the case of DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services made it clear that “the Constitution does not impose a duty on the state and local governments to protect the citizens from criminal harm.”

Our politicians on Capitol Hill have their own police to protect them and their families; they don’t have to wait for a 911 response. The average citizen does not have that option available to them.

Individuals are responsible for their own personal safety and their loved ones. Police protection must be recognized for what it is: an auxiliary general deterrent. Even if the police were obligated to protect us, or even if they tried to protect us, most often there wouldn’t be time enough for them to do it. According to American Police Beat, the average response time for an emergency call is 10 minutes.

There is an old saying “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

The Department of Justice statistics reflect that the best response time is 4 minutes and the worst over onr hour.

Even at the best response time of 4 minutes, the Department of Justice determined the average interaction time between a criminal and his victim is 90 seconds. You are on your own for at least 4 minutes or more.

That translates to you being robbed/injured/maimed/raped/murdered and waiting for an additional 2 and a half minutes for the police to arrive. Police will almost always arrive AFTER the crime has happened and the criminal has gone.

The fact remains is that the police are not your body guards. They cannot be at all places at once. And thanks to our Supreme Court, they don’t have to be as a matter of law.

The Castle Rock vs. Gonzales case is another one of many which says that the police cannot be sued for failing to enforce a restraining order that lead to the murder of her three children. The plaintiff’s three children were taken from her home by her estranged husband in violation of a protective order. She immediately alerted the police and then repeatedly renewed her request for assistance over the next several hours. Despite her pleas, the police made no effort to locate the children or enforce a mandatory arrest law. The children were killed later that night. The United States Supreme Court ruled in a 7–2 decision, that a town and its police department could not be sued for failing to enforce a restraining order.

Gun Control will not stop the mentally insane nor the criminals who rob, steal, rape and plunder. It does, however, prevent law abiding citizens from making the choice to protect themselves from harm if the need arises.

Joe Sinagra
About Joe Sinagra 73 Articles
Joe is a U.S. Air Force veteran, small businessman and former candidate for the New Jersey legislature and New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District. He continues to actively work for GOP causes and candidates in the Central New Jersey region.