Ever seen eyes go from normal size to saucer size?

Let me set the scene…

I stopped an 18 year old last week for speed. Shocking. I walk up to the passenger side of the car and contact the kid (shudder…half my age…I digress). The usual chit-chat (read: bullshit) where I ask, “Do you know why I stopped you?” Blah, blah, blah. And here’s where it gets interesting…

While the kid is getting his license out of his wallet, I glance in the rear seat of the Suburban he was driving. I see what appears to be the stock of an automatic rifle. Well, then. Very calm like, out comes my duty weapon. Kid doesn’t notice anything as he is still fishing his license out of his wallet. I point my duty weapon and the kid (finger indexed, people. Safety first) and ask him, “What’s up with the rifle?”

Remember watching cartoons as a kid and that male wolf saw that hot female wolf and his eyes shot out of his head? Picture that. And I can’t be sure, but I think I got a whiff of poop. I may have scared the shit out of this kid. He stammered, “I-I-I-It’s an airsoft gun.”

Okay, no problem. I got the kid out of the car and had him walk around to me. Yadda, yadda, imagine every episode of COPS you’ve ever seen. I cuffed him without incident and confirmed it was indeed an airsoft gun. He claimed it was his little brother’s and I tend to believe him. No big deal, but it’s not every day a kid from the Town has a Sig .40 pointed at him, so I’m pretty sure the airsoft gun is now at the bottom of some trash heap.

Here’s the lesson…don’t be stupid and keep that shit in plain sight. Or, even better, how’s about not in your car at all. Interesting side note, the orange tip had black electrician’s tape wrapped around it to make it appear more real. Effective. Also a misdemeanor. I didn’t arrest him for it, cuz I believed it was his brother’s. I told him about the tape, though. Let me put it this way…had he pointed that at me, I would have killed him. That’s some scary shit to say, but better him than me. It would have been sad and all, don’t get me wrong, but that goes along with this job. We have to make life and death decisions in a heartbeat. Literally. So, if you have kids, don’t let them alter their fake guns to make them look more real. They’re like that for a reason.

Okay, lecture over. The punchline is that the poor kid could barely sign his citation (of course I cited him…come on) he was shaking so bad. Never thought I would utter the words, “Look at it this way. It’s only a speeding ticket and you didn’t get shot.” Honestly, he was extremely cooperative (you’d be surprised how many aren’t) and didn’t seem to adversely affected by the whole thing. Never had anyone so happy to sign a ticket and wish me a good day.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

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7 thoughts on “Ever seen eyes go from normal size to saucer size?

  1. As your mom … rest assured that I completely support you – and you know how I feel about guns. However, you are absolutely right – better him than you. Remember that 1st rule of law enforcement: Go honme at the end of the day. xoxo

  2. Very interesting blog. You may be the only officer in the EB with one. You write some good stuff and at the end of the day as long as you go home, that's all that's important. Keep up the writing.

  3. I realize this is late to the party but I saw the link posted recently in the comments on Krupke's blog.

    First my standard disclaimer: I'm not a cop or a lawyer. 9 of 10 times I'm in agreement with peace officers on pretty much everything but pay close attention to both sides of the issues.

    This might be somewhere between that 9th and 10th time.

    How can you tell by the stock that a rifle is semi or automatic? If the rifle was in the back seat of a suburban, how much of a threat was the kid? Where the others in the car with him?

    I understand erring to the side of caution and asking him about it then taking him out of the car while checking it.

    The two extremes for police in cases like this are an officer being killed and an officer wetting his pants whenever anyone says 'gun'.

    This story seems to fall closer to the latter.

    (FWIW, I'm not second guessing your action here either or know what else may have been going on. The story sounds more Barney than Andy, though.)

  4. Shawn,

    I appreciate your point of view and apparent skepticism. I'll attempt to briefly answer your questions…

    First, semi- vs. full…doesn't really matter to me. If it looks like a rifle, I'm going to treat it as such. If I described it as either semi- or full, it was more for literary purposes than anything else.

    Second, if you see a potential firearm in a vehicle can you tell me how many others there are? The safe answer is that you can't, so better safe than sorry. There were no other passengers in the car, but where there is possibly one, who's to say there aren't more?

    And lastly, it was more Starsky than Hutch. 🙂 Honestly, though, I was by myself and the whole incident went very smoothly. I didn't yell "GUN!" or pee myself. I very calmly ordered to XYZ and he followed direction without question. I would offer an additional possible extreme outcome in addition to the officer dying or wetting his pants…an innocent, albeit stupid, kid gets shot. None of those outcomes sound better to me than what actually happened.

    Hope that clears things up a bit. Thanks for the comment!

  5. "There were no other passengers in the car, but where there is possibly one, who's to say there aren't more?"

    By the way, I just reread my comment. The above was in reference to other weapons, not passengers.

  6. Thanks for the clarification, MotorCop.

    For the record, I've a CHL and give it to the officer along with my driver's license when my lead foot feels the need for speed. This happens more than I care to admit.

    Everytime I've been stopped the officers asked where the guns where. I've always told them if they were going to see one while getting insurance, etc.

    I've never had any problems but then I keep both the pistols and the long guns well out of sight or cased.

    A license isn't required in TX to carry concealed in a car though – the operative word being "concealed" – if it can be seen sitting in the backseat, there's a problem. From what I understand, peace officers just treat every vehicle as though the occupants are armed through the entire encounter.

    I agree that the encounter went well.

    (Alas, I'm ashamed to say I never saw Starsky and Hutch back in the day.)