Members of an anti-gun organization called Stop Gun Violence are being accused of taking “swatting” to a whole new level by advocating calls to law enforcement any time someone is seen legally armed in public, according to a gun-rights organization.
“They are inciting their radical base to turn their own neighbors in,” Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America told Fox News about the controversy that has developed in Ohio regarding citizens who have permits to open carry firearms.
There, Buckeye Firearms exposed a call by Stop Gun Violence encouraging members to call police when they see anyone armed – even if legally.
“If you see someone carrying a firearm in public – openly or concealed – and have ANY doubts about their intent, call 911 immediately and ask police to come to the scene. Never put your safety, or the safety of your loved ones, at the mercy of weak gun laws that arm individuals in public with little or no criminal and/or mental health screening,” the statement said.
Wrote Chad Baus at Buckeye Firearms: “The practice is called ‘SWATting,’ and it even has it’s own Wikipedia entry: ‘Swatting is the act of tricking an emergency service (via such means as hoaxing an emergency services dispatcher) into dispatching an emergency response based on the false report of an ongoing critical incident. The term derives from SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), a highly militarized type of police unit in the United States carrying equipment such as door breaching equipment and powerful firearms.'”
WND reported in 2014 when one such incident turned fatal.
That was when John Crawford III was gunned down in a Beavercreek, Ohio, store after being swatted by a caller who claimed Crawford was loading and pointing an assault rifle at customers in Walmart.
Actually, Crawford was merely holding a BB gun that the store sells. But Crawford died when officers fired on him, and another shopper suffered a heart attack and died after the police opened fire.
Baus noted: “This isn’t the first time an anti-gun rights group has suggested endangering law-abiding citizens in this way. Groups like Michael Bloomberg’s Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have also advocated the dangerous practice.”
He reported, too, that the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence previously had issued a statement: “If you see someone with a gun, continue to assume their activity is suspicious. There is no way for you to determine the ‘law abiding’ from those with criminal intent. Call law enforcement to investigate and leave the area.”
“That’s right,” Baus said. “Not only was the OCAGV guilty of openly encouraging the act of burdening Ohio law enforcement community with frivolous prank calls, they shameless told supporters to flee the scene before the officers they called arrived.
“Could this be because they knew their prank callers might wind up being the ones charged with a crime?”
He suggested the tactic is a good reason for more provisions for concealed carry.
Pratt told Fox News: “It’s one thing if someone is using a gun in an illegal or unlawful manner. No one is questioning that. But this clearly sounds like swatting.”
He said those making such calls “would likely be the ones arrested for filing a false report.”
“And we are certainly hoping that would be the case.”
WND reported “swatting” started with Internet gamers who would hide behind online personas and report that their gaming opponent had a gun or had taken hostages.
The response often is a full-scale SWAT team at the location, with guns drawn and military vehicles at the ready. It’s even happened to actor Clint Eastwood.
On the Facebook page of Moms Demand Action, a group that tries to push retailers into public statements of opposition to guns, a Jennifer Decker wrote, “Every time I see someone with a gun in a store I will call 911 … because I feel threatened, they’ll get tired of that right quick!!!”
Alan Crammatte said, “Call the police and say you feel threatened by a man with a gun.”
The NBC affiliate in Philadelphia reported on one case in which 30 police officers surrounded a South Jersey house, surprising Rob Richards, who was playing video games with friends.
The occupants of the home were forced outside at gunpoint by police understandably concerned by the telephone call they had received that said: “My mom and dad got into an argument and it got physical. I took the gun and I shot my dad. I want to kill her and kill myself. I don’t want to be alive anymore.”
“Please don’t have them shoot me! I’m really scared!” she said.
Officers explained: “We got a call there was a man inside the residence at your house and that he had killed his wife and was getting ready to kill his children.”
In Nebraska, the state patrol launched a tactical response in Sarpy County at a home where family members were inside sleeping.
Lt. Kevin Griger pointed out the danger.
“Somebody’s in his own home, he hears the front door crash in, he grabs his personal weapon, goes to the front door, the SWAT team’s coming in, he doesn’t know that because he doesn’t anticipate any problems, you know, and a firefight en[sues] in the home and somebody gets hurt because of that.”
And WND columnist Phil Elmore has addressed the problem.
“Two years ago, this column warned you of the dangers of ‘SWAT-ting,’ a technological exploit in which hackers (or those with the ability to ‘spoof’ telephone numbers or otherwise fool emergency response networks) simulate emergency calls in order to direct law enforcement officers to a specific address. Often, Voice Over IP (VOIP) and other modern telecommunications methods are used to hide the caller’s true identity. Notably, SWAT-ting was originally invented as a new means of silencing conservatives by liberals.
“It has, however, spread to other spheres of cultural influence, becoming just yet another weapon in the growing arsenal of gamers, computer geeks and script-kiddie almost-hackers who want to find a way to reach through the Internet and harm someone.”
Elmore cited incidents in New York, Vancouver, South Dakota and other places.
“Making the police believe a dangerous situation exists at a given location should not be, in and of itself, a life-threatening condition. The first-responders who come to your home are there ostensibly to protect you, to rescue innocent people from harm that might be inflicted by bad actors. But increasingly, Americans and (their neighbors to the north) are discovering that the armored, masked, helmeted, machine-gun toting men who smash down their doors aren’t interested in rescuing anyone so much as they are interested in neutralizing potential threats. No doubt our nation’s SWAT teams are quite adept at this neutralizing … but this focus on command and control doesn’t leave a lot of room to protect and serve.”