The 2nd Amendment is not usually a touchy subject for those of us on the right. In fact, most conservative Republicans would argue that there shouldn’t be much of a debate over our right to bear arms. While we often engage in debate with the liberal anti-gun left, amongst ourselves, we generally find the solace of like-minded brotherhood. However, that kinship can be strained when we discuss what can be perceived as overbearing law enforcement.
In our high tech digital age, cameras are a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, and we all have had to learn to get used to their intrusion. As a former teacher, I was daily on edge, waiting for the sneaky student with the cell phone camera looking to catch me make a mistake or embarrass myself. Police Officers are learning the same kinds of lessons from “citizen journalists” all over the country, keeping their cellphones at the ready in case something needs to be recorded.
The newly omnipresent nature of video recording technology has turned the Internet into a wellspring of “police overreach” videos. I won’t use the term “brutality” (though we have seen that as well) but “overreach” seems fair.
Recently in Temple, Texas just such a case was uncovered. An active duty veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, by the name of CJ Grisham, was on a hike with his teenage son. The teenager was attempting to earn his scout hiking badge. They were hiking in a rural area of Texas, so the father had his rifle strapped to his chest, just in case they ran in to any large predators that he would need to defend them from. (Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, proved the value of packing heat in the great Texas outdoors just a few years ago.)
Just a few miles into their hike, a Temple police officer stopped the pair and asked them to move toward him. The father and son complied. After they neared each other, the officer asked,why Grisham had a rifle – to which he replied, “Does it matter officer? Am I breaking the law?” At this point, the officer grabbed the rifle, which surprised him, and he instinctively pulled back. Next, the officer pulled his weapon and demanded that Grisham move to the police car. Again, the soldier complied. The following video was recording because his son needed to document his hike — it turned out the video would instead document his father’s arrest.
I want to step in here, before editorializing. I completely understand an officer’s concern when confronting an armed man. However, his seeming lack of knowledge of Texas (and many other states’) laws dealing with open and concealed carry is maddening. In my home state of Georgia, it is lawful for a citizen to open carry, but few do so because of the probability of being harassed by well meaning police officers. Seemingly, that is also what happened here.
While I could argue it would have likely gone better for Grisham had he remained calmer, I’m not sure I could have remained as calm as he did. Remember, he was accosted without being told why. He had a gun aimed at him, was slammed on the hood of a car, then handcuffed on the side of the road like a criminal… all while his son was watching. Would you have been able to keep your voice to a dull roar? More importantly, should it even matter? He’d done nothing wrong and should not have been confronted, detained or arrested.
The real problem has nothing to do with Grisham being arrested, but with the apparent disregard for the law that the officers had. Once they realized that he was doing nothing wrong and was completely within his right to carry his firearm – they should have released him with an apology for the inconvenience. Instead, they were embarrassed that he was willing to speak to them in the way he had and decided to arrest him for “resisting arrest.”
The events here happened over a year ago, and while the Temple police department has since reduced the charges to “interference with public duties” (a Class B misdemeanor), they have yet to return Sergeant Grisham’s rifle or handgun.
Our police officers have a tough job to do, but if they cannot obey and abide by the laws they are sworn to uphold, perhaps they should look for a different line of work. Our right to bear arms is inscribed as securely as it can be within our legal system; even a nervous officer cannot infringe it. We must support cases like these when they arise because you never know when it could be your weapon the police are confiscating or your body they are illegally searching.
You can follow Sergeant CJ Grisham’s updates here, as he fights to clear his name and get his weapons back. We are thankful for Sergeant Grisham’s service to our country and his apparent dedication to teaching his son good citizenship.