Yesterday’s odd situation

The full story (as currently reported) is here.

Dee Gardner said Gene “Bear” Hall was in his yard carrying the gun and wearing a bandolier filled with bullets over a black leather jacket.

When she turned around from the mailbox, Gardner said, the gun was pointed at her. Although Hall did not speak, “he had a cold stare on his face,” Gardner said.

Gardner walked back inside — “Lord, just let me make it to the steps,” she recalled thinking — and called 911.

When police showed up shortly after noon, Hall went back into the white, single-story house where he lives with his father — beginning a standoff that lasted through the afternoon.

It looks like, contrary to initial reports, there was a non-verbal, non-specific threat by the person with the gun, when he deliberately pointed it at a neighbor in a threatening manner. Additionally, there’s a felon-in-possession issue (which actually appears to be a felon-in-“possession”-simply-by-being-in-the-same-home-as-someone-who-owned-a-gun issue).

With these new facts, I will withdraw any criticism of the presence of SWAT. Someone brandished a weapon in a threatening manner, then essentially barricaded himself into his home and refused to come out and speak with the police who came to investigate. He created a situation where the level of danger to others was completely unknown. Did he have hostages? Family members he might hurt? Was he going to come out shooting? Was he just being a go tsao de idiot? The police had no way of knowing what was going on. Having SWAT on scene and immediately available was entirely appropriate.

Unless they can show the father actually picked up a weapon, or had one immediately under his control on his own initiative, the felon-in-possession charge should be dropped. What’s he supposed to do, run screaming from his son’s home as soon as he realizes there are unsecured guns there? Is the son supposed to give up his 2nd Amendment Rights just because he lives with his father who at one point broke the law? Ignoring for the moment the debate about whether or not felons should lose their Second Amendment Rights forever, the current implementation of felon-in-possession laws is just plain wrong. Under current interpretation, if the son kept every firearm either locked in a safe that the father had no access to or under his direct control, he would be fine. But if the son took one firearm out and left it on a table in another room, the father would have to immediately leave the home or he could be found guilty of a felony even if he didn’t know the gun was there.

Think about that. Guilty of a felony without even knowing the criminal act was occurring. Just. Plain. Wrong.


[Source: Roanoke Times article, retrieved 11/17/11]

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