Thursday, November 18, 2021

Armed Encounter with a Yuma County Sheriff's Deputy

On November 1, 2021, I was doing some target shooting and chronograph work on public land, in an unused sand and gravel pit with a good backstop, off a dirt track north of the Foothills/I8 interchange. The weather was clear and calm, about 72 degrees.

I had just fired my last shot when a Yuma County deputy pulled up behind my vehicle. 

It was about 0940. I put down the pistol I was shooting. It was suppressed. I waited for the deputy to advance about 50 feet. The pistol was in full view.

The deputy asked if I knew how far I was from houses, I said it was more than a quarter mile. A quarter mile distance from occupied dwellings is required to shoot on public land in Arizona. The deputy said that I was an adequate distance from any buildings.

I was carrying my old Glock17, concealed. 

He asked if I had a firearm on me. I said I did. He asked if I would please refrain from touching it while we talked. I said that was fine.

He indicated someone had called in about someone shooting in the area, and, while what I was doing was legal, I might consider changing the location or geometry a bit. 

He asked for, and I handed him, ID. It was my Arizona drivers license, with the option of not having the Social Security number on it. 

Was that necessary? Probably not. I believe you pick your battles and choose your ground. This ground was about legal shooting, not whether the deputy had the authority to demand to check my ID.  

This correspondent had been in his shoes. I knew he was following protocol. It doesn't hurt that I am known in the county.  There have been other incidents where deputies have contacted me during Second Amendment activism.

He checked it out with dispatch. The acoustics were very good on his earpeace. I could not hear anything of the reply.  He asked if I lived in the area. I said, yes, then corrected myself and said, I have a place in the area. I asked if he minded if I retrieved my target (25 yards away). He did not have a problem with that.

He reiterated that many people walk in the area, so I should be very careful. He said more winter visitors (snowbirds) were showing up, now that the weather was cooler. He mentioned there was traffic in the area, and I had to be sure of my backstop.

He recorded my information, made a mild suggestion that I orient to obtain a better backstop, and wished me a good day.

It was about 9:56 when we finished. 

He went back to his vehicle.

I loaded up my vehicle. He backed up from blocking me in and drove off. I followed.

He did not ask for any permits. Arizona does not require permits. He immediately recognized I was acting legally, said so, and shifted to promoting firearms safety. He let me know we want to accommodate out winter visitors. (They support many local businesses.)

My suspicion is a winter visitor called. It has happened to this correspondent while open carrying. In a previous case, one deputy opined it was likely someone from Canada. 

With the current border restrictions, the Canadian possibility was less likely than other visitors.

Most states are not as free as Arizona. In some states, target shooting on public land is rigorously restricted. In other states there is very little public land. Visitors from those areas are sometimes startled with the freedom we have in Arizona.

Significantly, while I had all the paperwork necessary to prevent legal hassles, the deputy never asked about the suppressor on my pistol. 

This correspondent would like to see Arizona emulate Texas with the silencer/suppressor law passed there in the last legislative session.

If Arizona would pass such a law, the deputy would be forbidden from any legal hassle about silencers/suppressors. They would be specifically protected.

The incident shows the importance of selecting sheriffs who are sensitive to Constitutional issues, especially Second Amendment rights. 

Most contact with peace officers will be with local peace officers. If the local jurisdiction is administered by peace officers who are Constitutionally sensitive, the chances of problems with exercising your rights are much less likely.

Knowledge of the local laws is useful in preventing problems with deputies and other peace officers. 

The Internet makes information about local laws fairly easy to find.

©2021 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had a similar situation with a deputy. I got into town fairly late and decided to sleep in my van a couple of miles out of town. Just about asleep when a car pulled in behind me Then a tap on my door. I rolled down the window and asked if I was doing anything wrong He said I want to see some ID I handed him my drivers license He went back and called it in . then came back and handed it to me. I thought for sure he would recognize me. several years before he was the judge at a pistol competition for his previous employer. he was the judge that stated no one is that good and cheated me out of my prize money. three shots for best group at 25 meters my target only had two holes one slightly larger than the other less than a bullet slug apart. I was using a .22. he said one shot was a hey holer, meaning the bullet did not hit the target straight on and that I missed the entire target with the third shot. well ten years after that competition I put his employer into bankruptcy with my business. they should have given me my prize money and maybe he would not have had to work for the sheriff. My business was a project for my small business management degree. I bought most of my ammunition from his employer to get as good as I was at outrageous prices. The director of the northern Arizona highway patrol was shooting to my immediate left and offered me a job on the spot. I made my three shots before he fired once He turned to me and said young man if you take more time you will get a better group and this is for money. then he took his three shots. Then he invited me to look at his group then he looked at mine. took a dime out of his pocket and covered my group and said I could give you two cents change, do you always shoot that fact and that accurate. Speaking truthfully I said I have not had my hands on this pistol for six months and my trigger pull is of or there would only be one hole He sa8dany one that can shoot that fast and that accurate I want on my side of the badge . He argued with the completion judge, His three shots yiu could put a half dollar in the triangle he made. He thought he would win until he saw mine. That deputy probably needed help to qualify. .@@'s do not keyhole at 25 meters, especially on a very calm day. This all took place December of 1967. I was in Vietnam by march of 1968 and my gun arm was damaged in April 1968. I'm still a very good shot but my fast draw days ended. I was the only one that qualified expert in basic training in my company.