On December 14, 2014, Defendant took his legally purchased and owned semiautomatic pistol to The Firing Line gun range located in Westland, Michigan for target practice. After he finished target practice Defendant placed the pistol in what is commonly referred to as “transport mode” as defined by MCL 750.227d in that he unloaded the firearm, locked the action open and encased it in a holster separate from the ammunition. He then went to a friend’s house in Redford, Michigan to visit and play video games.
At some point thereafter Defendant received a telephone call from the mother of his child. Ms. Doe has had severe psychiatric issues and had in fact attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on pills just the week prior. Following her suicide attempt Doe was placed at the Psychiatric Intervention Center, located on Schoolcraft Road in Livonia, Michigan for treatment of her psychoses.
Ms. Doe informed Defendant that she was being released from the Center and needed a ride home. Defendant had been driving Ms. Doe’s vehicle, a car for which he was a cosignor on the loan but was not the actual owner. Defendant drove the car to the Psychiatric Intervention Center to pick Doe up as requested. Upon his arrival at the Center, Ms. Doe and Defendant got into a verbal altercation. Doe decided to call the police because she didn’t want Defendant in her car and reported that Defendant had a gun in her car. The Defendant decided to defuse the situation and seek alternative transportation home, leaving Doe to keep the car. Defendant removed all of his belongings from the vehicle, including the pistol and placed the belongings in a plastic bag. Responding to a telephone call regarding the altercation, Livonia Police arrived, immediately placing handcuffs on Defendant for “officer safety.” When asked if he had a firearm the Defendant readily admitted he had an unloaded gun in the bag. Defendant was placed under arrest and eventually charged with felony CCW for having the unloaded, cased firearm in a plastic bag.
At the Preliminary Examination the prosecutor first tried to say it was a crime to transport a firearm anywhere without a CPL. When asked about transporting a firearm to a gun range for target practice the prosecutor made up her own distinctions, stating that it would be acceptable to transport the pistol in a pistol case such as those that frequently accompany the purchase of a handgun but not in any other type of case. This is absurd.
This matter was set for trial before Judge _______________ on April 15, 2015. On that date the CCW count was tried by a jury. During deliberations one of the jurors became obsessed with what the gun must have looked like in the plastic bag, which the Livonia PD had failed to preserve as evidence. At lunch this juror visited several different stores in the Greektown area and brought six bags back to the jury room as samples to conduct her own research. This was reported to Judge ________________ and a mistrial subsequently declared.
Yesterday the matter was tried a second time. At the trial I pointed out to the jury that my client had four five options on how to deal with the situation.
OPTION 1. The Defendant could have continued the fight with Ms. Doe and subsequently been arrested for Domestic Violence.
OPTION 2. The Defendant could have driven away and left Doe there and subsequently been arrested for UDAA as he was not the titled owner of the vehicle.
OPTION 3. The Defendant could have simply left the gun and ammunition in the car and left, giving access to a firearm to a person who just attempted suicide a week prior.
OPTION 4. The Defendant could have put the holster on and Open Carried but the police were already on the way, knew a gun was present from the prior call and were responding to a domestic disturbance. Defendant was rightfully fearful of displaying a firearm in such a high stress situation and didn’t want to either be shot by police or charged with assault and/or brandishing.
OPTION 5 This is the option Defendant went with. He gathered his belongings and attempted to remove himself from the situation. After gathering his belongings Defendant stood on the sidewalk and was calling his mother for a ride home when the Livonia PD rolled up and subsequently arrested him.
The case went to the jury and 25 minutes later (shortest jury deliberation I’ve ever had) returned a Not Guilty verdict. While I am pleased with the result I find the fact that my client was ever even CHARGED to be outrageous.
The pro-gun world is starting to hear more and more about members of the anti-gun crowd “SWATTING” gun owners, specifically open carriers.
SWATTING, in case you haven’t heard, is the name people have given to the practice of calling the police and telling them someone has a gun and is actively shooting or planning to shoot innocent people. The goal is to cause a heavy-handed police response, with hopes of having the SWAT team arrive and storm the unsuspecting innocent with a violent and possibly deadly takedown. The video game crowd started SWATTING when the person about to lose the online video game would call 911 and send police to the home of his opponent.
Of course it is illegal. It is making a false police report. But people still do it and now that anti-gun crowd has decided they should do it every time they see someone with a gun. It is especially easy when the target of the SWATTING is practicing open carry.
The legal response to SWATTING should be swift and powerful for those people sending much-needed police assets against law-abiding citizens, but we can’t count on that. As long as these idiots can make anonymous reports, the police will still have to respond and gun owners will still be in danger during the police response.
So here is my suggestion on how to deal with the situation should you be SWATTED by some idiotic anti-gunner.
The first thing you need to remember is to keep your wits about you. If you and the family are just minding your own business at the mall and you are suddenly surrounded by police pointing guns at you and barking orders, I say follow those orders. Comply immediately. This is no time to become that guy who stands and argues, “I know my rights.” This is also no time to be the guy who starts hollering, “What is going on?” If you are on the business end of a heavy-handed police response, realize that you likely have been SWATTED and know that the person who called police told them you were an immediate threat and they should respond with force. Police arriving to such a call only know what the person on the other end of the line told the 911 operator. The caller could have said something like, “There was this guy threatening to shoot his wife if she didn’t shut up. He’s trying to act calm but he said he was going to kill her. You have to do something right away.”
That puts the police in a tough spot and you in a tougher spot. So, comply with their orders, be polite, and follow instructions. You might be handcuffed. Officers might separate you and your wife for interviews. The cops will very likely take your gun while they are trying to sort things out. If you remain calm you will have a better chance of convincing the police on the scene that you are not a threat.
Once the incident is winding down, it is time for you to start asking questions. Officers might not be able to tell you who called, but you can certainly let them know that you believe someone filed a false report and you want to make a complaint about that. Just remember to keep your cool. It may not be easy, because you have been wronged, but a calm demeanor will allow the situation to come back from the brink much more quickly.
There is nothing good about this and we as gun owners have every right to be angry if it happens to us, but we need to be angry at the callers, not the police. Taking an aggressive posture with the police will only elevate the danger. This is not a simple traffic stop. This is a situation where a caller has tricked police into thinking they are entering a very volatile and dangerous situation. It’s not right, but you need to help defuse this thing.
SWATTING is messed up on so many levels I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of idiot would do such a thing, but these are the kinds of idiots we deal with every day in the fight to protect our Second Amendment rights.
Just one more thing law-abiding gun owners have to deal with.
If you only remember three things, these basic elements will keep you alive. These rules are easy to follow, easy to remember, and require no special skills. Again, self-defense is mostly in your mind. Effective self-defense is about thinking things through before the need for defense arises. You’re not paranoid; you are prepared.
Video: Three Things You Need To Know To Help You Stay Alive!
Think about these three self-defense ideas and you will greatly increase your odds of survival. In fact, if you focus on item No. 1, you will greatly reduce the chances that you will even end up in a deadly force incident.