by David Roberts
former Security Contractor and Marine Force Recon Sgt.
Owner of Tennessee Arms Company, LLC
The shooting between the police and bikers at the twin peaks restaurant in Waco Texas recently has highlighted a disturbing trend in law enforcement. By looking at the probable cause affidavit (link) you can see that a fill-in-the-blank approach was taken to the arrest. This is a classic case of guilt by association. That association was linked with club involvement that revolves around a motorcycle. Does that sound familiar to anyone?
Gun owners and Motorcycle clubs share more similarities than you would notice at first. There are smaller sub-cultures that revolve around both hobbies. The small minority of criminals in either group are the ones highlighted by the media. As a result both are marginalized to a certain extent by many members of society. Like gun owners most bikers are just normal people who live pretty normal lives. My mother owns and rides her own motorcycle and she is about as controversial and dangerous as a housefly. I'm a tattooed combat vet gun owner but also run a business, employ several people, and raise two kids as a single father. Not exactly Sons of Anarchy by any means but my mother and I represent most of both groups. We are just normal people who like to do what we love with like minded people.
The shooting in Waco, Texas is showing a willingness of law enforcement to use mass arrest in place of real police work and Constitutionally protected standards of probable cause. The arrest and continued detention of many bikers who were simply there and not involved in the parking lot altercation at all is troubling. Gun owners are already seen as dangerous by many people and it wouldn't take much of a stretch to be lumped in as some type of "group" if some idiot decides to be insane.
For example lets change a few details and let it carry through to see how plausible it is. A group of gun clubs and shooting groups get together for a friends of the NRA banquet at a local eatery. There are probably 200 or so people there eating and drinking, many of them armed, some of them openly carrying. No big deal everyone is still legal (this is still the South) and a fight breaks out in a bathroom that spills into a parking lot. The police roll in hard and start arresting people because of the danger posed by having such a large number of armed people in one place. Even the people that were completely outside the situation were lumped in and charged as if they were. Are you starting to see the problem yet? I'm intentionally leaving out the gunfight that happened in the parking lot because the details are sketchy at best and aren't really key to the point anyway.
I consider myself as a professional who carries a firearm. I have the training and experience to make rational decision concerning it's use and employment if I have to use it in a hostile situation. I have also been to many ranges and around gun-owners whom I wouldn't trust with matches and a sharp stick. I would rather not be lumped in with some idiot or group of idiots who do something stupid because I am in the general area and am wearing a club teeshirt.
As i see it (strictly my opinion) roping in an entire group of people because of a club affiliation is entirely against the fabric of what our country was built on. The principles of personal responsibility and freedom to do what we choose when we decide to get around to doing it is kind of what makes an American and American. When the SWAT team rolls up and comes into the restaurant you are hiding in because some idiots are outside shooting at each other and arrest you because some dudes are shooting at each other it really does make you wonder. When is the next time I'm going to be at some event somewhere and get rolled into someones drama (or in this case manslaughter charge) because I wanted bad hot-wings and a beer. Should I expect to be rolled in as a gang member because I'm one of those "angry Iraq Veterans" or some other nonsense. Do we really want the government to be able to even make such an arbitrary call without due process or is simply filling my name on the line of a form letter going to be enough?
I am not a lawyer but I can read. The feds making a law and interpreting it however suits them doesn't change actions clearly against the intent of the document. I'm pretty sure the framers of our great nation didn't intend for people to be arrested and held for weeks for doing nothing more sinister than trying to not get shot and having someone fill their name in a form letter.
Time will tell how this plays out i guess.