Charlie Mitchener is a 61-year-old general building contractor with an office near Patrick Lane and Fort Apache Road in Las Vegas. He holds permits allowing him to legally carry concealed weapons in Nevada, Florida and Utah.
Over the past three years, his office has been broken into five times. "Three of those occasions involved me interacting with Metro," he wrote to me recently. "Each of the occasions began the same: my introduction, my presentation of my Nevada drivers license and my concealed firearms permit. Prior to today, each Metro officer simply replied thank you, proceeded with his work and then when complete there was a conversation about firearms."
Things were real different at 5:30 a.m, Jan. 3, however, when Mr. Mitchener called Metro to report the fifth break-in at his office.
"Vin, I hope I did not see the future this morning," Charlie e-mailed me. "Today was drastically different."
The responding officer was a lady cop, officer J. Rogers, badge number 13525.
"Upon presentation of my (firearms permit), the officer asked if I had the weapon on me to which I replied yes. She then said to spread my legs and put my hands behind my back. I complied and she then handcuffed me. While doing so, she said that she wanted to make certain 'that we were all safe.' "
Officer Rogers stripped Mr. Mitchener of the Glock 19 he was carrying, took the weapon and locked it in her patrol car.
"Bear in mind that she had yet to clear my office (she was waiting for backup for clearing)," Charlie writes. "So, while remote, there was the possibility that the bad guys were still in my office and would come rushing out, finding me, to their delight, handcuffed. Apparently I was not included in her comment 'that we were all safe.' It is always nice when law-abiding citizens, particularly myself, are disposable.
"An hour or so later, when she had completed her paperwork, she came back in the office; I was in the rear and did not see her enter. She came to me and said that she had put my weapon in the second drawer on the left in the receptionist's desk.
"She then said that she could tell that I was upset with being handcuffed 'like a common criminal.' I explained that I was extremely upset and told her that it was out of respect to her that I provided my (firearms permit) and that the Second Amendment did have some meaning. She replied that the reason she did what she did was because she did not know if I was a bad guy or not. ... I thought to myself, 'How absurd, I apply by the law to obtain permits, and yell it from the housetop that I have a permit and am carrying, just as I presume all bad guys do.'
"I asked if she was following procedure to handcuff me and remove my weapon to which she did not have a good answer, other than I was larger than her. ... It certainly reminded me of the stories in New Orleans after Katrina regarding confiscating weapons from the law-abiding citizens."
Another officer told Charlie that, based on J. Rogers' badge number, she had probably only been on her own for less than six months and was probably not secure in what she was doing. "It certainly makes me want to provide all the information the next time my office is broken into," he adds.
I talked to Charlie on Tuesday. He had called the concealed permit division that morning, and been referred to Internal Affairs, where he reports a detective told him, "It all depends on the officers, that if they think it's the safest thing to do they can do that. And he said it's best not to bring a weapon in this kind of situation."
Ah. So after going through all the rigmarole required to obtain a concealed weapons permit, it's best if a business owner who is the first to arrive at his office in the dawn hours to find it's been broken into not carry a weapon? Where the hell would the cops suggest would be a better circumstance into which to carry our legal self-defense weapon -- a toddler's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese?
I contacted Metro about this incident Tuesday. Late Friday, a spokesman confirmed Mr. Mitchener's account as "generally accurate," stating the officer "acted in a way that was in the interest of her safety."
Charlie Mitchener followed the law. He has trained at Front Site and with Tactical Response and continues to regularly visit the range. Yet, "In an instant, I am in handcuffs (at 61 years old, this was a first), and there were no bad guys in handcuffs with me, just the guy who thought he was doing things correctly," he writes.
We should not be required to apply for any "permit" to carry a concealed weapon in the first place. Despite this, Mr. Mitchener did everything required of him by law, ordinance and Metro instructions.
The officer handcuffed and disarmed him "so that everyone would be safe"? What a bunch of bull. If the burglar or burglars had emerged, they would have been confronted not by two armed law-abiding good guys, but instead by one small, frightened officer and a handcuffed and disarmed legal occupant. This rendered Mr. Mitchener "safer"?
Please note that if Mr. Mitchener had not followed law, ordinance, and Metro request, if he had carried a firearm in his waistband without ever seeking a permit or informing the officer he had it, the tiny officer would have had no probable cause to disarm him, and he would likely have remained armed throughout the entire encounter. Thus, he was punished, degraded, and treated like a common criminal because and only because he attempted to follow law, ordinance and Metro's legally dubious "instructions."
The cops don't get it. The Constitution does not say "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed unless such infringement makes an officer of the government feel safer." The biggest reason the American populace are armed was never to fight off bears or wild Indians but to make agents of the government feel unsafe -- really, really unsafe -- should they try to take away our rights. That's why a citizen militia is "necessary to the security of a free state."
If these arrogant, uniformed employees of ours really want to treat us as the enemy, they may eventually get their wish, at which point they will discover they're vastly outnumbered -- and "backup" is never quite close enough to solve the problem they've created for themselves.
America in 2025, gals: Keep at it, and it can be your own private Afghanistan.
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal, and author of "Send in the Waco Killers" and the novel "The Black Arrow." See www.vinsuprynowicz.com/ and www.lvrj.com/blogs/vin/.