March 21, 2014

Man Gets Raided For Gun Tattoo

By Claire Wolfe
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man gets raided for gun tatoo

Michael Smith was asleep Tuesday morning when a tree-cutting crew went to work in his yard. Smith, who works nights and sleeps during the day, climbed out of bed, shirtless and wearing only pajama bottoms, went outside and told the crew to go away and come back another time.

Some accounts say he asked. Others say he yelled. No account says he threatened anybody.

But just a few minutes later, Smith was awakened again. This time by police shouting at him through an electric bullhorn. They ordered him to come out of his house. When he did, he discovered his that his driveway was full of state troopers, bearing what a local newspaper described as assault rifles.


Because Smith has a tattoo of a gun on his belly. Somebody on the tree-cutting crew mistook it for a real pistol and called the cops. Fortunately, police didn't kick down Smith's door. They didn't shoot him. When they realized the "gun" was just a piece of body art, they didn't even arrest him. A Maine state trooper commented afterward, “Obviously it was a misunderstanding and he didn’t have a weapon, but we had to respond to the initial report as if he did. We take all precautions when we don’t have the details.” Did they really? This is rural Maine where guns are common. Smith had done absolutely nothing wrong. Not one thing (unless you count a fair number of ugly or politically incorrect tattoos as being "wrong"). Gunblogger Weer'd Beard, who knows that area, commented.

This call to the police should have gone like this:

  • “I saw a man with a gun!”
  • “Was he pointing it at you or acting threateningly?
  • “No he just had it stuck in the front of his pants?”
  • “Oh, well grow up, Cupcake!” **CLICK**

I mean there’s nothing even RESEMBLING a crime in the report.

One of the sorriest things about this entire sorry incident is its location. Not New York City. Not outside of Dianne Feinstein's or Charles Schumer's offices in Washington, DC. Not in some hoplophobic hellhole like Boston or Chicago. But in Norridgewock, Maine, of all places. The very definition of rural, gun-friendly America.

A similar, though far less drastic, event also occurred recently in upstate New York, where high school student Shane Kinney was given an in-school suspension for refusing to cover images of firearms on an NRA tee shirt.

Now, we all know that America's government schools have gone around the bend with their "zero tolerance" policies. Children and teenagers have been punished (sometimes severely) for pointing fingers in a "gun-like" way, for chewing Pop-Tarts into gun shapes, and for unknowingly having kitchen knives in vehicles or lunch boxes.

But again, the shirt incident happened in an area where guns are widely accepted. And -- absurdly -- school officials justified Kinney's suspension on by pointing to a dress code that forbids clothing that might incite or encourage "violent activities." (Note: This does not appear to be a general ban on "political" messages that many schools have. Guns, specifically, seem to have been the issue here.)

Owning guns and supporting the Second Amendment are not "violent activities." Nor do they encourage violence. Quite the opposite; they warn violent people to beware of a peaceable armed citizenry, prepared to defend the innocent and vulnerable.

Gun owners and gun-rights activists have won many victories in the last 20 years. Unfortunately, we seem to have made very little headway in overcoming fear of guns and gun owners.

In fact, pathetic (and dangerous) incidents like the one Michael Smith got caught in seem to show that ignorance and fear are spreading. And so is the impulse to report people to "the authorities" rather than using our own good sense and judgment in dealing with perfectly ordinary, perfectly legal situations.

If overreactions like these are happening in the gun-friendly rural reaches of America, we who aim to educate people about the virtues of firearms and the value of a gun-owning populace clearly still have a long, long way to go.

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