Here’s a new trend which can only end badly. Having lost one battle after another in the courts, anti-Second Amendment groups have begun pushing some “extra-legal” means to intimidate legal gun owners in the public square. Unfortunately, the method of choice is probably going to wind up getting somebody killed. You may be familiar with the term “SWATting” which rose to prominence when hackers began making phony calls to 9-1-1 claiming some sort of life threatening emergency at the homes of their targets (political or otherwise) in the hopes of sending armed officers to invade the home. That dangerous ploy obviously seems like a great idea to some prominent anti-gun groups and they are encouraging their supporters to do the same to people who are observed carrying in public. (Fox News)
As more states relax rules about open-carrying of guns, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has taken to social media to urge the public to assume gun-toters are trouble, and to call the cops on anyone they feel may be a threat.
“If you see someone carrying a firearm in public—openly or concealed—and have ANY doubts about their intent, call 911 immediately and ask police to come to the scene,” the group wrote on its widely followed Facebook page. “Never put your safety, or the safety of your loved ones, at the mercy of weak gun laws that arm individuals in public with little or no criminal and/or mental health screening.”
That approach, according to a blog post by Ohio-based Buckeye Firearms Association, could give rise to needless, tense confrontations between police and gun owners. The association and other similar groups liken the tactic to “swatting,” or the act of tricking an emergency service into dispatching responders based on a false report.
While this is a bad idea (and a criminal one) under any circumstances, it’s a particularly cynical and hypocritical move on the part of the gun grabbers. They tend to be almost exclusively liberal and have a large crossover with the same groups who are constantly complaining about violent encounters between the police and suspects. The atmosphere around the nation is particularly tense for law enforcement officers as more and more of them are murdered and criminals become more brazen. Sending the cops out on a call where they have been falsely informed that someone is “acting suspicious” and is clearly armed just puts everyone on a hair trigger… literally.
Granted, in the vast majority of cases, a well trained gun owner is going to calmly respond to any police who approach him, not make any motions which look like they are going to draw their weapon and simply ask the officer what’s going on. At that point the police can ask about a permit (if in a state where one is required) and ascertain the situation. But there are always exceptions to the rule and if this goes wrong you could easily see a tragedy where there was no problem at all. And even if things work out in a completely peaceful fashion, you’ve just wasted the time of the cops who could have been out chasing down actual criminals. This is a disgusting tactic, and people found to be phoning in such bogus reports should be held accountable for abusing the emergency response system and put in jail. As the FBI notes, this has already happened.
Since we first warned about this phone hacking phenomenon in 2008, the FBI has arrested numerous individuals on federal charges stemming from swatting incidents, and some are currently in prison (see sidebar). Today, although most swatting cases are handled by local and state law enforcement agencies, the Bureau often provides resources and guidance in these investigations.
“The FBI looks at these crimes as a public safety issue,” said Kevin Kolbye, an assistant special agent in charge in our Dallas Division. “It’s only a matter of time before somebody gets seriously injured as a result of one of these incidents.”
Perhaps the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and their related ilk should stick to more traditional methods of trying to undermine the Second Amendment. One of the most popular is trying to twist poll results to make people think that gun rights aren’t as popular and cherished by Americans as they actually are. (For a great example of this, see this Mark Berman explainer in the WaPo.) It’s dishonest as the day is long, but at least it’s not directly getting anyone killed.