A prevailing anti-gun sentiment in certain regions of America combined with disturbing reports of excessive police force are two themes that could easily combine and lead to tragic consequences. Fortunately, that was not the case for Norridgewock, Maine resident Michael Smith.
Instead, he was merely ambushed this week by a squad of heavily armed officers who bombarded his home.
As it turns out, Smith recently hired a crew of workers to remove debris from his yard. At some point, the third-shift worker was startled from his sleep because of the noisy workers.
He promptly exited his home – without putting on a shirt – to request the crew leave the premises. At least one of the workers saw the tattoo of a gun Smith bears on his abdomen and apparently misconstrued it as an actual weapon.
After the laborer contacted police, officers armed with rifles swarmed Smith’s home, resulting in his need to explain the misunderstanding in an obviously tense environment.
“I got plans today,” he said of the encounter. “I didn’t want to get shot.”
Though he doesn’t face any charges, this incident demonstrates how common a massive police reaction is to what is, in reality, a nonevent. Smith told local media that he has never faced any prior negative reaction to his tattoo and does not consider the body art a mistake.
He recalled telling the officers, “Yea, I got this gun on me all the time. It’s tattooed on.”
In this case, it seems police only had information based on the report of one of the crew members working on Smith’s yard.
It is impossible to know whether the worker honestly believed Smith had a gun or was somehow upset with his temporary employer and decided to file a disingenuous report. What is clear, however, is that Smith was treated as a threat at his own home based on an ink representation of a handgun on his skin.
Children facing draconian punishments in school based on even the most playful reference to a gun might serve to prepare them for similar overreactions in adulthood.
–B. Christopher Agee
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Photo credit: Oregon Department of Transportation (Flickr)
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom