The worst thing about a society that compels its citizenry to be disarmed by law is not the fact that it allows the strong criminal element to prey more easily on the weak. That’s obviously a factor, but it’s something out there and obvious. What I find to be more troublesome is the insidious effect it has on the people as a whole. I suspect that a people used to being disarmed will start viewing themselves as less in control of their environment, being less willing to take responsibility for their own safety . . .
That isn’t something I can quantify. Yet. But stories like the one reported by NBC New York on Sunday. Some guys were walking around on Staten Island with paintball guns. The result? Well, let’s go to the video tape…
Photos of people with guns at a Staten Island parking lot led to a massive law enforcement reaction Friday evening and huge traffic backups during the commuter rush. Police gave the all clear just after 6:30 p.m., saying that the guns in question were believed to be paintball guns, not semi-automatic rifles, as originally thought.
The security scare led to police checkpoints and vehicle searches on bridges and major roadways on Staten Island. It was a headache for commuters, with traffic going into New Jersey backed up all the way to and across the Verrazano Bridge by 4:15 p.m. Police also flooded the area, with added patrols looking for the vehicles. Two nearby Coast Guard facilities were placed on a brief lockdown.
It all started when authorities issued an alert to law enforcement after a retired NYPD officer captured photos of what appeared to be several people armed with weapons by two vans in a Midland Beach parking lot near the foot of the Verrazano Bridge. Authorities sent a bulletin to the FBI and area police.
Police used a license plate number on one of the vehicles to locate its owner. He told FBI and NYPD investigators Friday evening that he was planning to go paintball shooting with friends Friday, John J. Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, said.
Police also interviewed workers at a nearby paintball park and confirmed that the people in question had been at the facility earlier in the day. Police were reportedly at a number of paintball shops on the island investigating.
A couple of guys coming home from a paintball game leads a busybody ex-cop with too much time on his hands to make a phone call and…police “flooded the area”? Traffic backed up? Two Coast Guard facilities were put on “lockdown”? How much did this little exercise in Bloomberg-esque fear and paranoia end up costing the taxpayers?
Yes, I’m aware that recent events in Tennessee may have the security services a little on edge. Still, is it likely that a terrorist with malicious intent would walk around in a group openly carrying rifles without, well, actually shooting anyone? And thank god the boys in blue were sent to interrogate salespeople at local paintball shops!
The gun control crowd likes to gas on about “common sense” with regard to firearms, but there seems to be a dearth of it in places where repressive firearms laws are the norm, as in Staten Island this weekend.
DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.