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William F. Buckley, who was a Yale grad, once said that he would rather be governed by the first 400 people in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard. Cambridge, it seems, is still the place where common sense goes to die. I’m referring, of course, to Professor Wlliam Henry Louis Gates, who managed to get himself arrested in his own home because he apparently mouthed off to the cops. Professor Gates was ignorant of, or chose to ignore, the very same rules that all smart gun owners should abide by.

The first rule of police work, as spelled out by Sean Connery in The Untouchables, is to …… come off shift alive. The average cop doesn’t know if you eat people’s livers with some fava beans and a nice chianti. That is why he or she is going to proceed with great caution in any transaction such as the one that involved Professor Gates, and may not accord you the reverence you believe is your due.

The second rule to bear is that the police are not required to listen to a bunch of your s**t, your race, creeed, religion, or unhappy childhood notwithstanding, and that they can make your life a lot more difficult than you can make their life.

The third rule, which applies to shooters more than any other class of citizens, is that the instant guns appear in the equation, the stakes are ratcheted way, way, up. That is why I always drive below the speed limit, observe all traffic laws, always wear my seat belt, and do not text while driving. I almost always always have guns in my SUV, and the last thing I want is an officer asking to see my license and registration and then inquiring if I have any weapons at hand.

Even if you do get caught, a calm word can often turn away wrath. A couple of years ago, I was doing 25 on a 10 mph road. The cop looked at my license and registration, saw that I was not drunk and that I was wearing my seat belt, and then said an odd thing:

“Maybe,” he said, “I should just take you off into the woods and give you a beating.”

Rather than screeching about my civil liberties, I said:

“Officer, if I have to take an ass-kicking from the cops, I guess there’s nothing I can do about it, but you wouldn’t happen to have a good-looking female officer who could do it, would you?”

He laughed, told me to slow down, and went back to his car.