Imagine being an 84-year old veteran of the Korean War and having a hearty bacon-and-eggs breakfast at your local diner with a friend.
Now imagine while refilling your coffee, the eavesdropping waitress hears you say the words “shooting” and “school” in the same sentence.
It’s pretty hard to imagine what actually happens next: your local Massachusetts police show up at your elementary school crossing-guard job to escort you home so they can seize your guns.
And then imagine, because you used the words “shooting” and “school” while taking a bite of toast at a diner that you are fired from the job you secured because you were lonely after your wife died and besides – you love children.
This is not some sensational TV drama folks – this is real life in the back-asswards age of red-flag laws.
While recently having breakfast with a friend, Stephen Nichols mentioned his concerns about a school resource officer who was evidently prone to take frequent coffee breaks, leaving his post each morning. Troubled by a lack of law enforcement presence, Nichols said he was worried someone would come “shoot up the school.”
On the strength of those few words, a nosy waitress called the Tisbury Police about what she overheard, and the Police Chief Mark Saloio and another officer relieved the 84-year-old of his crossing guard duties while he was escorting kids across the street. They then drove to his home and removed his firearms license and guns. Any paperwork provided for the seizure? Any due process? Nope.
Outraged yet? How about petrified? If this doesn’t make every law-abiding gun owner’s head explode, we don’t know what will. If it could happen to an 84-year-old school crossing guard because of some some reckless waitress, it could happen to any one of us.
In an interview with the Martha Vineyard Times, Nichols said he’s been legally licensed for firearms since 1958. He has “worked in auxiliary roles with the Tisbury Police for a staggering six decades and has also been a court officer and constable.” Plus, the school indicated that crossing guards are “hired, trained and scheduled entirely by the police department.” But think on this: even if Nichols hadn’t worked with such community distinction, the seizure of a law-abiding citizen’s firearms – on the word of a complete stranger – is contemptible. Since when does voicing concern over the safety of innocent children translate to an unconstitutional cluster?
If it could happen to an 84-year-old school crossing guard because of some some reckless waitress, it could happen to any one of us.
In his own heartfelt words, Nichols expressed deep concerns for the safety of Tisbury School: “When I was in the United States Army — and it wasn’t just me, it’s anybody who’s in the United States service — if you are on guard duty for eight hours, you didn’t leave that position. And I’m just so accustomed to that … [So] when I see someone who’s supposed to be protecting kids leave the school unguarded — if you’re on guard duty, you stay there.”
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more people had such a sincere dedication to duty?
Following the incident, the friend to whom he made the “reported” comment said Nichols was no threat of any kind and that the fallout was “absurd.” The public outcry was heavy and thankfully, the school relented and gave him his job back. But the fate of his guns remains unclear and the Tisbury Police are refusing to comment.
Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a slew of anti-gun bills – some of which expand red-flag laws in California. He was quoted as saying the new laws would “guarantee continued success” and that “This is another tool in the toolkit from those that know individuals the most. What’s inevitable is you’re going to see these expansions in other parts of the country, and I think this will also expand the debate in Congress.”
God help us.