SWATting: From Random Prank to Political Tactic

When the concept of SWATting first emerged a few years ago, the incidents were typically dismissed as random pranks. Teenagers acting out in retaliation for a loss on XBox Live. Idiots calling the police on celebrities to see the reactions. While these incidents were no less dangerous, they were not politically motivated. Now, that has changed.

First, a primer on SWATting for the uninitiated. SWATting is the practice of calling the cops and falsely claiming that a violent crime is in progress. A kidnapping, an armed gunman, that kind of thing. The police show up in a heightened sense of alert, guns drawn, and the potential for a violent confrontation is high. Actual SWAT teams aren’t always involved, but high-profile incidents where they were gave the prank its name. The prank is extraordinarily dangerous, putting innocent people in a situation where they could easily be shot by the police.

Isn’t it ironic that it would become a favorite tactic of the extreme anti-gun leftists?

The pro-Second Amendment website Bearing Arms has broken a story about one of these incidents that occurred in Fairfax, VA on the 15th of October. The harrowing and disturbing story recounts the experience of open carry proponent Robert Dickens, who was leaving 7-11 with his pistol on his hip when he was pulled over by the Fairfax County Police. Before he could get off his motorcycle, three more cop cars pulled in behind him.

What could have ended in tragedy was thankfully put to rest due to Dickens’ calm demeanor and the professionalism of the Fairfax cops. They told Dickens that a man had called to report an armed robbery at the 7-11, giving the police a description of Dickens. While the caller later turned out to be a habitual SWATter with mental health issues, it goes to show what kinds of people these anti-gun zealot organizations attract with their insane philosophy. The Facebook page of Moms Demand Action, for instance, is regularly littered with frothing supporters who advocate calling the police whenever they see open carriers in the wild.

One of the most notable SWATting incidents of the year took place in an Ohio Wal-Mart, which led to the death of John Crawford, a shopper who was carrying around a BB gun sold by the store itself. Cops shot Crawford before he had a chance to surrender. The 911 caller, Ronald Ritchie, has not yet been charged for making the exaggerated claims that led to the incident, and his motivations have not been uncovered.

I don’t think these incidents represent the gun-control movement as a whole, but there’s no question that groups like Moms Demand Action need to be better about culling the lunatics from their own ranks. As Bearing Arms points out, they ruthlessly delete any comments from their page that don’t agree with their anti-gun philosophy, meaning they are at least tacitly approving of the ones that advocate SWATting.

Gun control support in the U.S. is on the decline, but that’s good news and bad news for freedom-loving, law-abiding gun owners. Good news, because it means we’ll see fewer restrictions when it comes to Second Amendment freedoms. Bad news, because it means the anti-constitutional minority may grow more desperate as they are rejected. Judging by what some of these people already find acceptable in their holy war against guns, I shudder to think what might be coming.


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