A 64-year-old retired US veteran was targeted and threatened by a police officer for legally carrying his handgun. The incident happened in a park in Bellingham, Washington.
The vet, John Laigaie, is a gun owner and Second Amendment supporter. On December 19, 2011 he was carrying his 9 mm handgun in the local park as he walked his dog. The gun was exposed, but this is legal in Washington.
Laigaie, an avid gun enthusiast, knows his rights.
That is why the vet fought back when an officer approached and challenged him.
The officer aggressively told Laigaie that it is illegal to carry a gun in public. The vet politely corrected him, but the policeman refused to listen.
As reported by KiroTV, “Laigaie knew that Washington is an ‘open carry’ state where it is allowed. He even offered the officer, Allen Bass, a copy of that law when Bass asked for his identification. When Laigaie refused to hand over his ID, he said the officer pulled out his own weapon and pointed it at him.”
The officer allegedly pointed the gun at Laigaie’s chest from a mere three feet away.
Although the vet saw his life flash before his eyes, he never thought to point his own gun at the officer.
Laigaie said, “A couple of times, he had it right in my chest and that was 6, 7 inches from muzzle to flesh. I wasn’t breaking the law, I was well within the law and he had no right to do that. I don’t like being bullied.”
Finally, two other officers came on the scene and told Bass that it is indeed legal to open carry in Washington.
After the incident, Laigaie filed a civil rights complaint.
Now Bellingham has agreed to pay Laigaie $15,000 for violating his rights.
As a result of this situation, all police officers in Bellingham will be thoroughly trained in gun rights specific to Washington.
One can’t help but wonder, however, why the officers were not receiving this training in the first place.
What are your thoughts on this situation? Was the officer being overzealous, or was this an isolated case of ignorance for the law? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.