Law Enforcement Contact With Lawfully Armed Citizens

Armed citizens should think clearly about encounters with law enforcement when they are legally armed. It’s been a bad experience for some, but a positive one for others. The former is pointedly illustrated by the recent contact made by Officer Daniel Harless of the Canton, Ohio police with citizen William Bartlett. A sickening 17-minute video of that incident can be seen here. Internet rumor is that Officer Harless may lose his badge over this. He deserves to have that happen because as you will see if you watch the video, he is not fit to be a sworn police officer.

A more professional approach was taken by Oceanside, CA police officer Matthew Lyons when he contacted a citizen openly carrying an unloaded firearm. California allows open carry so long as the gun is unloaded (so why carry it?). The citizen would only identify himself as “Jeremy,” refusing to give his last name. He made a video of the encounter that he posted on Youtube, but may best be watched here where an excellent accompanying story is included. Refusing to show identification or at least giving a police officer your full and correct name would itself be a criminal act everywhere I have ever lived, but apparently that is not required in California, at least for now. Even if not legally required refusing such minimal cooperation with police is simply asshole behavior, in my view.

“Jeremy” said the video was to “make a statement.” Officer Lyons was not offended, in fact hammed it up for the camera. There’s irony here; the video makes officer Lyons look good, and “Jeremy” looks like a bit of a jerk.

Officer Lyons remained calm and cool throughout the encounter and is to be commended for his professionalism. In fact, I was so impressed I went to Amazon and bought Officer’s Lyon’s book that he wrote about the Oceanside police department. It’s not that I’m particularly interested in the Oceanside police department. It just made me feel good to offer some small support for a cop doing a dangerous job and keeping his humanity about him. Unless one is an automaton, emotional survival in law enforcement is a constant challenge.

Advice to lawfully armed citizens upon contact with police: Keep hands in view, don’t touch the gun, tell the officer where it is and where your ID is, and above all, be polite.

“Jeremy” the jerk probably doesn’t realize how lucky he was to have met Matthew J. Lyons and not Daniel Harless.

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