If the federal government were to attempt an overtly unconstitutional gun control overreach, which side would the police take? We just got our answer loud and clear — and it’s music to the ears of liberty-lovers across this country.

The police are an integral part of the communities they serve. They represent both the community and the government, a duality unknown in almost any other institution. Their role is simple: protect rights and keep the peace. This vital duty, one of the few true core functions of government, derives its effectiveness from the trust of the community, which sees police officers as their protectors. And that’s how it should be.

In a Tuesday morning appearance on Fox and Friends, the Fraternal Order of Police National Vice President Joe Gamaldi illustrated this in a stunning rebuke of Beto O’Rourke’s plan to use law enforcement to confiscate lawfully-purchased firearms. Gamaldi stated “At a time when everyone is asking us to bridge the gap with the community, his brilliant idea to connect with our citizens is to go door to door and seize their property? It’s completely ridiculous.”

He also called for a real discussion on gun crimes, including calling out activist district attorneys for failing to prosecute existing gun laws in some of our major cities.

I was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police for many years before retiring from law enforcement. Many times, I was concerned when the union sometimes did not share my view on politics and policy. But the union has proved its value in the tough times, and has been on the right side of many issues as of late — including support for the First Step Act — when it saw that the law would positively affect both police and the communities its they serve.

Gamaldi’s comments, however, threw down the gauntlet for what our local police officers really represent: protectors of their communities in every way, including protection from an overzealous federal government.

Gamaldi made it clear: Don’t ask our officers to violate the Constitution for your political goals, they simply won’t have it. Law enforcement has a proud tradition of considering itself the thin blue line between order and chaos, between good and evil. It was a proud moment for the largest and most powerful police union in the nation to say unequivocally “this is what we stand for.”

Police officers have always felt that they are the protectors of their communities, meaning that they are a part of those communities. The common reference to police officers as their city’s “finest” reflects that view.

We have seen this kind of reflexive push back by law enforcement against infringing on citizens’ rights occur with increasing regularity surrounding gun laws. Most notably, we’ve seen several sheriffs — the law-enforcement officers most accountable to the community through elections — refuse to enforce state laws that violate the Constitution. New MexicoColoradoOregon, and Washington offer a few examples of this phenomenon.

These instances should be indicators to lawmakers everywhere that the police are not simply a mercenary army to be used against an unassuming populace. Quite to the contrary, they are the community — and represent the biggest obstacle to those who would violate the rights of their community.