Let me say up front that I firmly believe in the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution. All citizens should feel free to come and go while bearing arms. It’s a guaranteed right we all have under the highest of the founding documents of this country. The way I like to phrase it is that the Declaration of Independence is the ultimate statement of the very reason for the existence of this great country; it’s the Founding Fathers’ apology, if you will, and the Constitution is the set of rules (notice I said rules, not guidelines) for how the government is to operate – and when it comes to the Bill of Rights, how it’s not to operate. Notice all the restrictions on government, and not on the people? Among the phrases that appear are Congress shall make no law…; shall not be infringed…; shall not be violated… and so it goes.
With all that said, if you have about 15 minutes or so, here’s a video that is a textbook example of how not to exercise your 2nd Amendment right:
In the above video clip, however, there’s a serious mistake this young man made with the way he handled the situation when he was stopped and questioned by the police for carrying a rifle on his back in what is presumably a suburban neighborhood.
First of all, the video is more than a little irritating to watch, because in order to view it, you have to crane your head sideways – top is to the left, bottom is to the right. There’s no compelling reason to do that, though, because it’s so dark you can’t see much anyway. Also, it’s at the lowest possible resolution at 144p, so if you enlarge it much, you lose resolution. I got what I needed to know from it anyway; all you really have to do is listen to what goes on in the video to know the kid was plainly looking for a confrontation – he wanted to make a statement, and he got his wish.
The smart thing to have done would have been for him to do as the police officer ordered him to, and place the rifle on the ground. Yes, there was probably cause for them to detain and question him, because they had already taken a couple of calls about a man walking down the street with a rifle and pointing it at people. Did he point his rifle at someone? We never found out, but while it’s perfectly fine for him to exercise his Second Amendment rights, it wasn’t at all fine for him to challenge the police. Not a smart thing to do, because it could have gone much worse for him than merely getting tased.
So, is that a strange point of view for a gun rights advocate such as myself to hold? No, I don’t think so, because the freedom, and indeed the right to keep and bear arms in no way means you can choose not to comply with the police when they make a request.
When a police officer stops you or anyone who is in possession of a weapon, the first thing they will want to do is separate you from that weapon until their business with you is concluded. It’s for their safety and yours, and doesn’t mean they want to confiscate your gun – they just want to hold onto it for a short while. If everything checks out with you, they’ll give your unloaded weapon back, then hand you the bullets. There’s nothing sinister about it – this has happened to me on two occasions during routine traffic stops when I happened to have my .45 on the seat beside me. The officers didn’t look particularly concerned about it, and actually explained to me why they wanted my gun for a few minutes. After it was over, they gave it back. Incidentally, on neither occasion was I asked why I was carrying the pistol in my car. And just to be clear, they didn’t search me or my car. All they did was write me a speeding ticket once, let me off with a verbal warning once, gave my gun back and let me go.
What this kid did was idiocy at best, and perhaps even lunacy, but all in all it turned out well for him. It’s just that in his irresponsible words and actions, he gave all gun owners a bad name. Gun owners, by and large, are responsible people who take gun ownership (and particularly carrying a weapon) seriously. We don’t need gun owners acting like the kid in this video, nor do we want them representing us to the public or the police. This kid may be proud of himself for what he did by ‘standing up for the 2nd Amendment’, but he’s got no reason to be. I have to wonder also just what his point was in giving the police his name, then refusing to spell it for them. Refusing to give them his address. Refusing to show them ID. Refusing in the most ridiculous way their request that he take the rifle off his shoulder and put it down by replying to them as though he were turning down the offer of a drink, as in “no thanks, I’m fine.”
Furthermore, I won’t even go so far as to say he was standing on principle, because he wasn’t. As I said at the beginning of this piece, he wanted something to happen. Otherwise, why didn’t he just walk away and go home when given the opportunity to do so by the officer at least twice before? Instead, he overstayed his welcome just so he could belabor his point. When the sergeant finally arrived on the scene, he was having none of it, and upon confirming that the kid had a loaded rifle with a round chambered, he tasered the kid and arrested him.
As far as I can see, the kid was practically begging for it, and got what he deserved, but he really should have taken the first officer’s advice: by all means, exercise your 2nd Amendment right, but do so in a sober, mature, and responsible way.