Convicted by the media

When it comes to a choice between following the law and being rendered defenseless, I often hear people say they’d rather be convicted by twelve than carried by six. What they don’t consider is that many times before they even get to the twelve they’ll be tried and convicted by the media. Take, for example, the case of Scott A. Smith.

Saturday night, Smith was arrested after being caught with a handgun in the Crocker Park Regal Cinemas in Westlake prior to a showing of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises”. News reports vary in some of the details, but he reportedly had the handgun in a “military-style bag” with two additional magazines, three knives, and a fourth knife on his person. Smith does not have a concealed handgun license and the theater reportedly prohibits firearms. After the arrest, his home was searched and turned up “seven rifles, five or six handguns, lots of ammo, gas masks and bulletproof vests” in addition to prescription drugs.

His attorney claims he simply had the weapons to protect himself and had no nefarious intentions. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. He will get his chance to be judged by twelve. Already, though, he has been all but convicted by the media who is having a field day with the story.

Arcuri said Smith sat in a position of “tactical advantage” with his back to the wall at the top of the theater. “What concerns us is where he was sitting in the theater. He was the first guy in there,” Arcuri said. “If he chose to do something there, all his potential victims were in front of him and he had an advantage over them.” – The Plain Dealer

Smith was arrested and charged with carrying concealed weapons and three other weapons offenses. He did not have a permit for the weapons. That may go some very small distance toward squelching the contentions of those who will now argue that a universally armed and dangerous society is the only effective response to an armed and dangerous society. – Phillip Morris, The Plain Dealer

Police are trying to figure out why a man took a bag of weapons with him to an Ohio movie theater showing the latest Batman movie. – NBCNews

“Our contention is that he’s drug dependent,” [Nicole DiSanto of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office] said. “And as a result, he should not be possessing a firearm.” – The Miami Herald

“For an officer to observe that, take the initiative, approach him,” Westlake Police Lt. Ray Arcuri said. “Basically, avert a tragedy if he pulls a pistol out and starts shooting.”  – The Miami Herald

The talking heads on the news and radio were far worse with their snark and derision.

I can’t help but think of the similarities if I were to accidentally walk into a “no guns allowed” zone. Sure, I have a concealed carry license so at least that part wouldn’t be an issue, but the accusations of paranoia would still be there. It doesn’t matter that the police, too, have stepped up security at many theaters in the aftermath of the Aurora Theater Shootings out of concern for potential copycats, but if a citizen takes steps to increase his security out of a similar concern then he is obviously paranoid.

Continuing with this line of thought, I typically carry a Beretta 9000s (an evil black plastic gun, easily concealed loaded with .40 caliber bullets even bigger than a 9mm!). I often don’t carry extra magazines, but I do on the occasion I’m carrying my 1911 (para-military semi-automatic able to be rapidly reloaded with .45 caliber ammunition!). I routinely carry a Swiss army knife and a small lockblade (multiple knives!). If my house were searched, they’d also find multiple rifles, shotguns, and handguns since I hunt, target shoot, and am a firearms instructor. They’d also find prescription drugs! Of course, I have a prescription for them, but none of the news reports I’ve seen have bothered to say whether Smith has a prescription, either.

The point is, there isn’t much difference between what Smith was caught with and what I routinely carry for personal protection and I’m certainly not a threat to anyone but a bad guy. I wish they’d wait for the facts to come out before sensationalizing the story, but I suppose that doesn’t sell papers or get people to tune in.

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