Score one for the good guys!
It is kind of sad when the police, who are sworn to uphold and defend the law, do not even actually know what the law is. Such was the case recently in Bellingham, Washington. For those of us who do not know, Washington (state, not the District of Columbia) is an “open carry” carry state under the law. This simply means that someone who has a properly licensed weapon may carry it out in the open.
John Laigaie III is a 64-year old retired US Army Veteran and supporter of the Second Amendment. He regularly carries his licensed handgun on his hip, in a holster, out in the open. Of course, in Washington state that is his right, and one which he does not take lightly.
Recently, Mr. Laigaie was walking his dog in a park in his home town of Bellingham when he was stopped by a police officer. The officer approached and asked to see his identification, which John gladly offered. Then, the officer claimed that he could not carry a gun in the park. The officer actually said it was illegal to carry a firearm in the park. Of course, this was clearly incorrect.
Thinking clearly, Mr. Laigaie did not touch his weapon. Instead, he simply explained to the officer that Washington is an “open carry” state and that he was indeed allowed to legally carry his 9 mm handgun. He even offered to show the officer a copy of the statute, which he also carried with him at all times (just in case a situation like this should ever arise, apparently).
Of course, the police officer, being trained in all the niceties of public service and interaction reacted accordingly. Rather than showing any interest at all in discussing the law or even remaining in a “discussing” mood, the officer pulled his own weapon and pointed it directly at the innocent citizen!
The officer eventually backed down and then allowed the Army vet to leave without charging him. The details of what actually transpired between when the officer drew his weapon and eventually backed down are not clear at this point, but they were probably tense moments.
After reflecting upon this situation, Mr. Laigaie felt that his civil rights were violated and he wanted the police department to learn their lesson on this one. So, he took advantage of another of his Constitutional rights and sued the police department. The end result of all this is that the police department clearly saw that they had no way to defend themselves in this instance. They have now agreed to pay him $15,000 in damages for violating his civil rights. But it gets better, the police officers and 911 operators will also be receiving additional training regarding gun rights laws in order to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. It is kind of like the conservative version of ‘sensitivity training,’ don’t you think?
The fact that the police officer was so ignorant of the law really speaks volumes as to how far things have fallen. When those who we entrust to uphold the law do not even know what law to uphold, is it any wonder things have gotten so twisted and backward? The bottom line is that we all need to do what is necessary in order to protect ourselves and our families. I, for one, am very thankful that Mr. Laigaie did not take this incident lying down, but instead actually did something about it. Now all law-abiding and red-blooded Americans have another precedent we can point to to show how we can protect our own rights.