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.

When I read this story, I had to get a drink, because reality now apparently resembles a satire scripted by the love child of Christopher Buckley and Berkeley Breathed.

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.

53 Responses to This is What Happens to a Disarmed Populace – Staten Island Edition

    • I’m sure he’ll very quickly pass an ordinance banning paintball guns before long, thanks to this incident.

      • Don’t be ridiculous.

        He’ll just skip right to the chase and ban everything with any potential for fun or enjoyment. That will take care of everything from salt and soft drinks to paintball guns and airsoft guns, and everything in between.

  1. While this is some epic levels of stupidity, I think it falls a little short of the Mooinite invasion of Boston in 2007.

  2. Another thing that set people off was that one of the group was a woman wearing a Muslim head scarf.

    • Nothing works like the sight of one of them Scary Muslim Virgins, for getting the drones all up in arms calling for Massa Gommiment to “do something.”

  3. We PotG ought to think about how incidents involving toys and non-firearm-lookalikes impact our campaign to support and defend the 2A.

    I can imagine arguments that are constructive. E.g., ‘Look at all this hysteria over toys! People are altogether too sensitive to crying “wolf”.’

    And yet, we have to consider how constructive arguments are received by non-gun-owning voters. Perhaps, from their point-of-view, seeing children with toy guns or adults with paint-ball guns is cause for alarm.

    We ought to strive to achieve control of the the argument; such a proposition is better (for us) then leaving the Moms to seize control of the argument.

    I think it’s altogether useful and desirable to advocate that toys be “decorated” e.g., with an orange muzzle color; and, non-firearm projectile-firing guns be decorated with a yellow muzzle color. Observe that such a law does NOT tough firearms whatsoever.

    A complementary, but optional, law would be to prohibit firearms from being so decorated.

    All that would be required is to make the decoration law a misdemeanor punishable by a small fine. Almost everyone would comply; one fine should be sufficient to make the point. Now, we would eliminate unnecessary chattering such as about this incident and more importantly those involving the police shooting children. If the police hesitate in shooting just one child, that might be one less incident to have to debate.

    I don’t think we can make a serious argument that we have a natural right, guaranteed by the Constitution, to decorate the muzzles of our guns with orange or yellow bands. Our common law harsh treatment of the crime of fraud would tend to support the notion that someone with a real gun ought not be at liberty to deceive a defender (cop or civilian) by disguising it in such a way as to hide his intentions to fire.

    • It’s ALREADY required for toy guns (including paintball and airsoft) that look like real guns to have orange tips. Many people remove or paint over those orange tips to make the gun look more realistic. Alternatively, criminals have been known to paint the muzzles of real guns orange to fool cops.

      • Obviously, requiring manufacturers (of toys and air guns etc.) to decorate their products is a good start. Requiring owners to maintain such markings is also useful.

        If memory serves, the kid killed in California had a toy gun whose markings had broken off. A friend has a child who has a toy gun where the muzzle has broken off. If citizens got used to a law mandating that they maintain these markings then I think that would constitute a real improvement.

        What would it really cost? The cops could be issued a role of orange tape. When they notice children playing with unmarked guns they could approach the kids (and parents if available). Explain that the law requires the orange markings be maintained. Tape the gun and warn the kids/parents that they are vulnerable to a $25 fine if they are caught. In a few years most people would be on the same page.

        I have doubts that criminals mark real guns to make them look like toys. What would be the point? If you are on your way to knock-over a gas station the last thing you want to do is dilute the intimidation factor by decorating your gun to make it LOOK LIKE a TOY. If you are on your way to gun-down a rival gang member why would you decorate your gun? Do you think the rival is likely to hesitate and give you the benefit of the doubt? Wouldn’t he be much more likely to assume you were bluffing and try to out-draw you?

        If it’s a felony to carry a falsely decorated real gun then the stakes for getting caught carrying such a gun rise considerably. If you are a felon-in-posession then falsely decorating your gun is one more charge. If you are merely carrying a gun without a permit then falsely decorating your gun is one-more-charge. Generally, there just isn’t much up-side to carrying a real gun with false markings; as against considerable down-side in getting caught in possession of such a gun with an additional penalty.

        • “If citizens got used to a law mandating that they maintain these markings then I think that would constitute a real improvement.”
          Excuse me? Re-education is the answer? How about we train our cops not to shoot first. Whatever happened to “putting your life on the line”? The change in policing mentality since I was young 1960-1980 is staggering.

        • This is a fallacious argument.

          Yes, the police need training and rules-of-engagement. These measures can always be improved; and we should pursue them. But this is not enough.

          It is simply NOT the case that the shoot/don’t-shoot decision is typically clear-cut. It is more typical that there is at least some “fog of war” that makes the decision a judgement call. Under such circumstances errors in judgement are inevitable.

          Even when we approach perfection in training and rules of engagement the police will still encounter children and adolescents handling toy guns in contexts that are not clear-enough to avoid a mistake in judgement. Why should we eschew a solution whose cost is pennies per-toy that could reduce the risk of some (albeit not all) such mistakes in judgement?

          Even if you are convinced that all my assumptions are mistaken, where do we PotG want to APPEAR to stand on this issue? Do we want to APPEAR to care nothing for the safety of children? Do we want to APPEAR to put the entire onus on correcting police mistakes before even considering a possible complementary measure? Do we want to APPEAR to be making a stubborn stance based on the 2A when – clearly – the 2A does NOT cover toys or air-guns? We also need to consider the optics of what we are doing.

        • Oh cool, advocating for more laws and restrictions that criminals will ignore. We should take away the freedom to decorate firearms however we want because safety! Think of the children! We should take away the freedom to decorate toys and paintball guns however we want, because more safety!

          You’re right, our country needs a bunch more laws and felonies and stuff. We’ll be much safer and those impressionable anti-gun voters will be satisfied.

          I’m unimpressed with your logic.

        • Why don’t we ban black and dark colours for real guns? If we mandated neon colors then it would be easier for LEOs to identify firearms at a distance? I mean only criminals need to conceal for nefarious purpose and if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. You aren’t a criminal right? Not being allowed to have a black or fde gun doesn’t infringe on your right to keep or bear arms. If it saves one life right?

          How about working on changing the militarized police culture and attitude that has made the Us (Police) vs them so strong that instead of doing their jobs and accepting the risks because they want to help people, they only care about finishing their tour of duty… Wait I mean coming home at night. We need to change that attitude because now any time “gun” comes up, that don’t first think “law abiding citizen exercising their rights” they think “Possible OPFOR whose only reason to have anything gun shaped is to hurt me or my buddies… Or those other people”. Sorry guys, this isn’t a society problem, this is mainly a police one.

          Can parents and people help minimize risks? Yes, by teaching their children about guns and the risks involved (even when using paintball/replicas) along with the four rules and how to deal with police. (Note this seems to be a refusal of the mad mom’s and such )

          But nope, let’s give up freedoms to make it easier for police to do their jobs (after all privacy and freedom is overrated), if it saves one life right? Let’s take what should be the responsibility of parents and get the state to legislate it for us. It is here to take care of every need so we no longer have to worry about stressful responsibilities ever again!

          Right ? Right?……Right….?

        • No to the law saying cops should roll with orange tape to mark unmarked “tpys” (i.e. that look like a real gun)

          That just forces cops to enter confusing situations for both sides. It’s less safe for everyone. Also, you’re just giving up privacy to the aithority. Although the statist grabbers would love that, I would not.

      • Minor correction; for the most part (a few local laws vary) the orange tip is required ONLY for retail and shipment. Once you own it, you can remove it. There are a handful of cities that do ban any alteration to toy or imitation firearms, but they’re the exception.

        • First thing I did, when I unboxed my airsoft Thompson M1A1, was pop off the orange tip. It detracted from the realism. I, also, have pair of expensive W. German airguns that look like firearms. Other than the pistol on my hip, I always transport my airguns and firearms in cases. The cases protect my investments and prevent unwanted attention. I would do the same if I had paintball guns.

      • paintball guns do not have to have orange tips. That being said you would have to be either legally blind or completely ignorant of even basic firearms knowledge to think a paintball gun looks like a real gun. There are a few markers that are indistinguishable from the real thing unless you are up close, but the vast majority have hoppers and air tanks that give them away immediately.

        • No doubt, that’s so. However, if someone is transporting a paintball gun without the hopper or tank attached then – at some distance – it could be mistaken for a gun.

      • Dunno what the laws are where you live, but I’ve never seen or heard of a paintball marker with an orange tip, airsoft is a different story because the guns look real. Most paintball markers look nothing like a real gun, typically only noobs and the mil-SIM crowd make their markers imitate a firearm, even then they fail pretty hard considering you need a hopper and compressed air or co2 tank attached. All the rails and stocks and faux magazines on a marker just make it extra heavy and serve no purpose in paintball. Anyone who actually plays will ditch this pretty quickly to get a marker that is far more compact and much lighter and looks absolutely nothing like a firearm anyway.

    • MarkPA,

      The moment that armed people and police are calibrated to not shoot a person whose firearm has an orange or yellow tip is the moment that violent criminals will begin putting orange or yellow tips on their offensive firearms.

      There is a much simpler solution: police should refrain from shooting a person unless they see that person actively attacking innocent victims.

        • I see. So, do you think that civilians should wait until an attacker fires the first shot as well?

          How about if an attacker is armed not with a knife but with some other per-se weapon? You may answer differently for civilians and cops. E.g., the attacker has pepper spray. He is threatening to attack a:
          – cop
          – civilian

          Each target has reason to believe under the totality of the circumstances that the attacker intends to kill or inflict great bodily harm. Since the attacker is not firing a firearm, neither defender has a right to shoot?

          I think you will have to elaborate on your theory before you can expect a lot of support for your conclusion.

      • I harbor no delusion that decorating toys and air-guns will work any magic.

        In some cases where the bearer looks pretty young and the toy is clearly marked, most police will proceed with just a little more caution. That could save some lives.

        In cases where a cop is confronted by an older adolescent I doubt that the decorations are going to slow-down the response.

        It’s probably worth-while to engage some cops in the discussion. Do they think that consistent decoration of toys would reduce the number of mistaken judgements? Do they think that they are vulnerable to falling for a criminal disguising a real gun with orange tape? Do they think that criminals they encounter would risk getting caught with a real gun disguised as a toy?

        If the cops are convinced that they will kill as many children with toys as they have historically then I’ll withdraw my suggestion. If the cops are convinced that criminals can slow their response with a bit of orange tape, then I’ll withdraw my suggestion.

  4. Wow… and of course Criminals/terrorists are so stupid none of them would EVER think of utilizing a reaction of this nature as a Dry run & or Diversion during an actual attack or crime.

  5. New York =no common sense.

    Proud of birth in Brooklyn.

    Happy to have left, as it is a greater loonie bin than before.

  6. Can’t play, too dangerous? Yes. Overreactions, obviously. Losses of control? Absolutely. The true danger is nearly always in the ambush and what is not seen coming. A failure of the police to protect and explain our Rights as citizens causes much trouble by inflating the anti-2A delusions.

  7. All I had to see was Tippmann to know I’m looking at a marker. I’ve been out of paintballing for almost a decade, but they used to make really good stuff.

    • My first thought when looking at the smaller picture (couldn’t read the Tippmann on the side) was that the small protrusion below the grip was a panther grip (has the hand rest on the bottom). I though that was very odd on that rifle. The rest of the lines also didn’t look quite right and suspected it was a paintball gun. Zoomed in and sure enough that is what it is. I own a couple of Tippmanns myself (98Custom and A5).

      In such a situation, I think the easiest way to keep people from losing their weak little minds is to keep the hopper attached. That giant tumor on top simply screams, “NOT A GUN” not that that will stop fools from freaking out anyway.

  8. On the plus side, only 3 dogs were killed and 2 bystanders shot during SWAT raids of local paintball shops. The officers involved have already been cleared of all wrongdoing as it was totally reasonable that such actions should be taken at venues that clearly could have had real guns as they sold exclusively paintball toys.

    /sarc

  9. Fortunately, the paintball players didn’t release 99 red balloons, or the feds might have nuked Staten Island. And if you know Staten Island, you might think that’s a good idea.

    • This incident illustrates nicely the attitude of the NY (and NJ) cops toward guns and people with guns. Nobody should have them and if you are seen with them in public, you’ll be lucky to survive the police encounter. I’ve said it before: most cops in NY/NJ hate guns. And since carrying here is illegal, the first thought of any cop responding to a call involving a gun will always be “whatever it is, it must be illegal” and they’ll behave accordingly. Meaning: you’re guilty unless proven otherwise.

      • It was precisely this mind set that led to the banning of all open carry in California several years ago. The same hysteria and panicked calls to 911, the same overreaction by police, even though, after the Mudford Act (signed by Ron Reagan in 1969) banned the open carrying of loaded firearms, all of the open carriers peacefully demonstrating for their rights were carrying unloaded pistols. But that mattered not at all.

        The only people who can carry openly are those that people expect to be armed, i.e. police and armed security guards. If you are not wearing some kind of a uniform, you are immediately suspect–which suspicion is a totally emotional reaction as anyone with ill intent is unlikely to be walking around with a handgun on his/her hip. It makes no sense, but open carry is no longer the norm in the urban areas of most of the US, unlike the 1800s where the opposite was true.

        • “If you are not wearing some kind of a uniform, you are immediately suspect . . . ”

          Sounds intuitive; however, I can offer 2 incidents that refute this assumption.

          I lived in NJ for 20+ years. I have seen exactly 2 people OCing not-in-uniform.

          The first was a middle-aged woman who occasionally stood in line with me at the neighborhood Dunken Donughts. After a couple of times observing her carrying her six-shooter on her hip I asked her: “Are you a cop?” She answered “Yes”. Ever a contender for the title of Captain Obvious I remarked: “You are not in uniform”. She responded “I’m a detective.”.
          That was it. Dozens of Catholic schoolgirls milled about giggling paying no attention whatsoever to the woman with a gun. There was no evidence I could observe that anyone’s boxers were in a bunch.

          The second case was a twenty-something woman waring a polo shirt and slacks. In a Court House. She went to the traffic ticket window ahead of me. As she was waiting to complete her business I asked her if she was a cop. She said No. When it was my turn I asked the lady behind the counter if the previous “patron” was an armed courier; I was told Yes.
          Perhaps she really was waring a “uniform” with some sort of company insignia on it. I didn’t notice it. However, if the insignia didn’t read “Brinks” I doubt that anyone would have understood it to be the uniform of a recognizable armored courier company.

          There were a few other people in the lobby of the court house at the time. Nobody seemed to notice.

          These two experiences lead me to doubt that OC is as big a deal as the Moms would like us to believe. Other commentators on this board report similar experiences with their own OC practice in places such as Michigan, Ohio or Virginia.

          It could be that the majority of people who get upset about “inappropriate” OC are OFWG who are PotG. Maybe we need to consider the ugly possibility that we – ourselves – are our own worst enemies.

  10. It would be interesting, and probably very informative, to evaluate the number of deaths associated with anti gun fear and paranoia. Like cops shooting kids with toy guns…
    When I was a kid we shot the cops all the time with our cap guns, and they shot back, with their fingers. A smile and a nod. Not so much anymore.

  11. Lol. Many other states, if you called the police to tell them this, they’d tell you they’re not sending anybody.

  12. Another object lesson in how to snarl up the sheeple and get the cops out of the way in preparation for a real terrorist act.

  13. Saw this on Facebook, the OP stated that everyone should arm themselves and kill any Muslims in sight and that “they” were coming for us. If you read the entire article, and I did, in the VERY END it said they were just paintball guns.
    I reported the article to Facebook (why waste my time, I know), they said it didn’t encourage violence or void any policies.

    yea….

    yea…

  14. 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.
    That statement is self evident as people who live in and want repressive firearm laws would have little sense to begin with.

  15. I suggest that the problem is worse than the author postulates.

    If your very own life is not your responsibility, it’s a top-down effect; absolutely everything else is already pre-determined to not be a responsibility, ether. It doesn’t grow into these other facets, it seizes them all in whole by default.

    Did you see me split the crap out of that infinitive?

  16. This is absurd. More and more people are becoming less people and more “sheeple”. Their ignorance, fear and hysteria is leading to this nonsense and in turn is making this country less and less safe daily through the constant erosion of rights and liberties due to unfounded fears based on this hysteria and ignorance. Luckily most areas of the country aren’t plagued by this liberal insanity and still remain free. For those areas that are, NYC, NJ, CA, MA, CT and a few others all I can say is I hope it remains localized to these bastions of stupidity because they will eventually collapse and hopefully that collapse stays there and doesn’t spread.

    • Hopefully the collapse will cause the rest of society to come to its senses… and if it starts to spread, well “Escape from New York” could be considered a training film. We seal the borders and let the rats cannibalize each other.

  17. This:

    “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. … 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’s also the point, and the affront that gets the folks against citizens having access to guns so spun up. Better, or at least more comfortable to believe people aren’t in control of their environment and shouldn’t be. And if you take responsibility for your own life (as far and you can), and your own environment (as far as you can), maybe they are on the hook to do the same.

    Your choosing to protect yourself is an intolerable reminder to the anti-gun folks of the horrible existential reality that aren’t god, and yet they can do some things, even though trapped in a world though never made.

  18. Did this not take place in the USA? If so, there are guns everywhere. Why does anyone care? And even if random plebs care, what probable cause do the police have that a crime was being committed? Especially to lock down everything.

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