We received a report from one of our friends and comrades about an incident he experienced this past weekend with the Gaston County Police Department. (North Carolina)
Since the complaint is still pending, we will not post his name for his own sake. We felt this should be shared because the facts of this incident are concerning not only in regards to gun rights but property rights in general.
On Sunday June 15, the subject of this incident (who we will refer to here as "John") was sighting in the scope on his rifle behind his home on his own property. He began his session at around 1:00PM approximately.
Taking his time to properly sight in the optic, he continued on into the afternoon until about 3:45PM. At this time he heard shouting , and turned to see a Gaston County PD officer standing at the edge of the wooded property. The officer had his hand at a ready position to draw a weapon, which to be fair is probably standard procedure when responding to a firearms related call.
"John" carefully and cautiously placed the rifle on the ground and in accordance to law, informed the officer that he was a Concealed Carry Permit holder.
The officer seemed to ignore him, either because he didn't care or it was not a concern of his.
The officer was overly aggressive, and told John that a neighbor had called in a report of a lot of gunfire, and there was a county ordinance in Gaston Co. restricting the discharging of a firearm within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling, including one's own.
He informed John that he was not allowed to target shoot on his property and could only do so at a range. John told the officer that he was not aware of the ordinance, but he was beyond 500 feet from his or anyone else's residence. The officer became extremely agitated and then began questioning why he was shooting and what he was shooting at. John told the officer he was simply trying to zero in the scope on his rifle, which seemed to displease the officer a great deal.
According to John, at no time did he establish himself as any kind of threat to the officer, if anything John may have been quite submissive to the officer's demands.
This is the most concerning part:
At this point the officer said:
"THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO. You are going to stop shooting right now. And if I have to come back out here, I WILL CHARGE YOU AND I WILL CONFISCATE YOUR FIREARMS."
So let's recap this. A neighbor well out of range of the 500 feet limit calls the "County Police" on John, Officer shows up and tells John he is in violation of an ordinance when in fact, John is well within the limits of the law. Officer gets agitated when John points this out, and then threatens his person and his property with State sponsored aggression to prove his point.
At no time was John rude, obstructive or belligerent with the officer. In fact, John's politeness and calm demeanor seemed to irritate the officer more.
I spoke with John last night and he has this to say:
"The last thing disturbs me more than anything in this encounter .and it should for
anyone who would hear such a thing. “…I will come back, charge you, and
confiscate your firearms.” That’s chilling. It also seemed designed to elicit a response
because many firearms owners usually would get angry at hearing that, and they
should, but that was not the time to do so. Is aggressive and threatening behavior
standard protocol for Gaston Police? To confiscate firearms because of a little noise,
and an ordinance I wasn't aware existed? Is that the proper response for this
situation? Are you telling me that a neighbor can complain about a noise, one time,
and then my property is stolen and my rights taken away? If this is standard
procedure for Gaston County Police then I need to be aware of it. Gaston County
citizens need to be aware of it. North Carolina citizens need to be aware of it. There
was no call for that officer to behave in this manner whatsoever.
This is a disturbing trend in Law Enforcement as of late.
This desire to confiscate the weapons of law abiding citizens.
We have seen evidence of this in Connecticut, and New York
State. There is NO place for it here in the Old North State.
We will keep you informed of what comes of this incident.