“Swatting,” for those unfamiliar with the term, is essentially attempted murder. One calls the police to report a hostage situation or other serious crime that would cause the police to respond with a SWAT team. In ideal circumstances, any police agency would first take steps to determine if there was a real threat, particularly a threat requiring the call out of a SWAT team. Unfortunately, that’s not the way some agencies roll, and innocents have been placed in deadly danger by false swatting reports.
Properly done, a patrol officer would be sent to the address, and observe from a distance for a time. The police could call the inhabitants and ask one to come outside to speak with the officer. Failing to do such basic, everyday proper tactics leads to greatly increased danger, not only for the police, but for innocent citizens.
One would hope that no police agency would be so hasty or lacking in tactical sense, but experience teaches otherwise. If malicious people couldn’t reasonably believe the police would overreact, there would be no point to making a false swatting report.
A new malicious trick, a sort of “swatting-lite” has cropped up. Fox News has the story:
Second Amendment groups are accusing the gun control lobby of putting law-abiding owners of firearms in danger by urging people to call the police on anyone carrying a gun in public.
As more states relax rules about open-carrying of guns, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has taken to social media to urge the public to assume gun-toters are trouble, and to call the cops on anyone they feel may be a threat.
‘If you see someone carrying a firearm in public—openly or concealed—and have ANY doubts about their intent, call 911 immediately and ask police to come to the scene,’ the group wrote on its widely followed Facebook page. ‘Never put your safety, or the safety of your loved ones, at the mercy of weak gun laws that arm individuals in public with little or no criminal and/or mental health screening.
One might understand such admonitions to ask the public to report potentially dangerous and alarming behavior, but that’s obviously not the intention of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Who does not understand that it is a good idea to call the police when people, particularly obviously armed people, are behaving in an alarming and dangerous manner? The CSGV’s intention is clearly to harass the law abiding gun owner who is doing nothing more alarming than lawfully carrying a holstered handgun. Notice that the CSGV is also suggesting that the police should be called when people are carrying concealed handguns. How, pray tell, would that become known?
Unfortunately, the police do overreact to such situations, as in the case of Erik Scott, a West Point graduate, who was shopping with his fiancé in a Las Vegas Costco one Summer morning in 2010. An overly excited store security officer saw Scott’s holstered, legally carried, concealed handgun when he bent over to examine merchandise on a low shelf and called the police. This provoked a massive police response, including a helicopter, and three panicky, incompetent officers shot Scott seven times—completely without justification–including five shots to his back as he was falling, face down, to the ground, killing him. I’ve been writing about this case since 2010. There are, of course, many other cases.
This practice [swatting] is exactly what they [Coalition to Stop Gun Violence] are doing,’ said Erich Pratt, spokesman for Virginia-based Gun Owners of America. ‘It’s one thing if someone is using a gun in an illegal or unlawful manner. No one is questioning that. But this clearly sounds like swatting.’
Pratt adds that it may be a move of desperation by those looking to get guns off the streets.
‘Anti-gun advocates are clearly frustrated. They want guns banned,’ he said. ‘But they have been thwarted in the past, so they are looking for alternative means.
They are inciting their radical base to turn their own neighbors in.
Irrational tactics and attempts to harass the law-abiding and legislators that support the Constitution are nothing new for gun banners. Resorting to lies and dirty tricks are also par for the course.
It is not the first time supporters of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and other gun control advocates have pressed for the public to call cops on legal gun owners. An October 2014 National Review article found that the Facebook pages and websites of groups including the coalition, Moms Demand Action and GunFreeZone.net included numerous comments from the public advocating that people call the police and intentionally exaggerate what they see in the hopes of getting cops to stop those open-carrying guns.
Open-carry laws are becoming more common across America, which is obviously alarming to gun banners who generally see anyone so much as owning—to say nothing of carrying—a gun as dangerous, and even unbalanced. during the age of Obama, gun ownership has greatly increased, particularly among women and even progressives, and attempts to enact restrictive legislation have almost uniformly failed, and failed spectacularly. This has resulted in declining revenues and influence for gun ban groups, who, in many cases, are struggling to remain relevant, or even to exist.
“The main issue that gun advocates have with the Coalition’s tactics is the potential of putting law-abiding citizens in real danger. Officials for the anti-gun group say that this is not the case.
‘In an era in which individuals are being allowed to carry loaded guns on our streets with no permit, background check or required training, it is common sense for concerned citizens to call 911 when they see an armed individual whose intentions are unclear,’ Ladd Everitt, director of communications for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said in a statement to FoxNews.com. ‘These [open carry] laws guarantee that we—and law enforcement—will have no idea about the criminal and/or mental health background of these individuals until they actually commit a crime; and by then it could be far too late. We have full confidence in our men and women in blue to assess these situations. Gun-toters who are truly law-abiding and mentally competent have nothing whatsoever to worry about. Their conversations with law enforcement will be brief and professional,’ he added. ‘As for those who are dangerous and have something to hide which would not withstand the scrutiny of a background check or permitting process, they should expect to face some tough questions as a result of these 911 calls. And that makes us all safer.
Note that Everitt is following the usual tactic of blatantly misrepresenting the truth. Merely buying a firearm from a dealer requires a federal background check. Every state with a concealed carry law requires a background check, most require that permits be carried when one is carrying a handgun, and most require training of some kind. The only real exceptions are those states that have enacted “constitutional carry,” where no permit or government involvement is required of citizens who are not, by law, restricted from gun ownership or carrying. Criminals, of course, do not follow the law and are affected by gun laws only on the rare occasions governments condescend to prosecute them for violation of those laws.
Everitt is also obviously of the mindset that believes law abiding citizens inherently guilty and dangerous such that they must prove themselves worthy of carrying guns to Everitt’s satisfaction. Coincidentally, there is no proof that would satisfy people like Everitt, which is the point. One would indeed hope that the police would be dealing with criminals illegally possessing or misusing guns, but that is not Everitt’s intent, nor will his suggested course of action result in criminals being inconvenienced. Gun control is always about controlling the law-abiding, never about controlling criminals.
But the Buckeye Firearms Association believes the effort amounts to ‘conspiring to obstruct legal justice.’
Pratt agreed, and said people who call the police without legitimate reason should be charged.
‘They would likely be the ones arrested for filing a false report,’ he said. ‘And we are certainly hoping that would be the case.
It’s unlikely that such swatting-lite would amount to “conspiring to obstruct legal justice,” under the laws of any state, but it could easily qualify as filing a false report. The problem is—and I’m sure Everitt’s attorneys have so informed him—it is difficult to sustain such charges in these cases. All the anti-freedom activist need do is make up a plausible story about a gun owner acting “furtively,” or in some vague way threateningly, and the police would be unlikely to make a false reporting arrest. While most line police officers support the Second Amendment, some do not, and a great many police administrators, who dictate policy, do not, making false reporting charges in these situations even less likely.
Open carry, whether done as an act of protest or as a matter of convenience, carries with it a variety of potential problems including negative public reactions and the necessity of being continually aware of one’s weapon and surroundings and protecting that weapon at all times. These are not insurmountable problems, but are real nonetheless. Concealed carry, done properly, tends to eliminate such difficulties, but for people like Everitt, nothing but the complete abolition of arms in the hands of citizens, and the concentration of armed force in the hands of government will be sufficient.
That’s what this is really, and always, about.