A very close friend of mine who is a retired police officer wrote me a very interesting response to our last blog about whether it is lawful to handcuff a licensed gun owner while an officer verifies the validity and authenticity of a gun license. I know this retired officer to be extremely pro Second Amendment and so it was so interesting to hear from an actual police officer who has had to deal with these issues. The two main take-aways are, in my opinion, that there is a complete lack of training (or at least there was back then) on Second Amendment issues and so much of what happens on the street could be remedied if people (including officers) just act nicely and use their words. I know this particular officer and I know that he is not a bully and rather is very good at obtaining compliance with his words. As he points out, if he was a jack a$$, he probably would me in the law books also. I have reprinted his comments below, verbatim except to remove identifying information.
I just read your post about the Connecticut incident. In my rookie year, I was sent to a house on a report of the homeowner mowing his grass while possessing a firearm in an open carry manner. The complaint was the next-door neighbor who had multiple disputes with the subject over the complainant’s dog.
One month prior, the dog got out and almost bit the man who was mowing the grass while he was unloading groceries from his car.
Upon arrival, I observed a middle-age man with a 1911 holstered, cocked and ready, along with two additional magazines of ammunition. After verifying the gun was lawful, no supervisors were available to answer the question as to whether or not he can freely open carry in view of the public while he was on his property.
Back in 1994 we did not have smart phones or the Internet. I seized the firearm in good faith, apologizing to the gun owner, stating that I was unsure if he could do what he was doing. The homeowner surrendered the firearm without argument and said he would contact is attorney. It was a very cordial interaction.
Peter I kid you not, that within 10 minutes of me arriving at the police station, the police chief, who was on days off, called the desk and said I better give that gun back right now!
After that incident, the entire department received a two hour training course presented by the township attorneys on how to handle people with licensed firearms.
In the six months that I attended the Police Academy, the topic of the Second Amendment, legal possession, etc., was never discussed.
We only focused on illegal possession. The homeowner had his firearm back in under an hour with a sincere apology on my part. He was very forgiving, did not initiate an internal affairs investigation for the violation of his rights, the violation of the fourth amendment, etc. He even went ahead and wrote a letter to the police department and the township Council discussing what had occurred, and his desire for the police to receive proper training. It definitely was a teachable moment.
There were no hard feelings between he and I. During my career I interacted with him a half dozen times in a non-professional setting. Basically I had bumped into him at the bagel store, at 7-Eleven, etc.
Had he not been so understanding, I’m sure my name would’ve been entered into the caselaw books for New Jersey… LOL