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On the contrary: let's dig up all the links we can so that we can find out who was responsible, and prevent it from ever happening again. Just before he died, Ian had said he was going to devote the rest of his life to fighting police brutality: http://pastebin.com/dX3VSPkM

Not only would we dishonor his memory by not digging up links and making speculations about what happened (did he commit suicide, possibly due to a brain injury from the police beatings? Or was he killed by the police? If so, by whom?), we are also putting ourselves in danger. What happened to Ian could happen to any of us.

Of course we should be sensitive to his family and friends and not traumatize them further. But that's no excuse for leaving the criminals who did this to walk free and kill more of us.

Don't "wait for the family to release more information". Find the information yourself, in Google Cache, on Twitter, wherever you can. It may not be there tomorrow or the day after. And don't wait until people are no longer paying attention. That's a losing public relations strategy. Seize the day.

I should probably post this on a throwaway... but this hit somewhat close to home.

A few years ago I was going through a very tough time. I lived in the UK at the time and went to california for a meetup. After even more personal crap happened, I went on a walk seriously considering suicide.

Kept trying to call friends, family, nobody picked up, it was the hardest day of my life to get through. Next thing I knew I found myself on top of a tall building at which point I had the clarity to figure out I really should talk to a suicide hotline.

Unfortunately I didn't know the number and internet abroad was impossible to get at the time, so I ended up calling 911. Funny that, it turns out when you do that in california, you are considered a "danger to yourself" and must be arrested.

Still I figured it was the better solution and let the cops take me. I ended up in handcuffs for the day, was roughened up quite a bit, treated like cattle until I was sent off to a ward for 48 hours. My belongings were all taken and I was not allowed to call anyone overseas (where the only people I knew resided). When I pleaded for help, I was threatened to be put on indefinite hold.

Everything I remember about this sucks. It's honestly a miracle I got through it alive - CA tried very hard to help me kill myself. Had to fake being happy and well and all of this being a terrible mistake to be released when the time was up. I later got much better, higher quality help when back in Europe.

I learned one thing: Don't have mental health issues in the US. And if you do, don't talk to the cops. Never talk to the cops.

> I found myself on top of a tall building at which point I had the clarity to figure out I really should talk to a suicide hotline. Unfortunately I didn't know the number and internet abroad was impossible to get at the time,

I'm really sorry you had that experience. And I'm so so glad that you didn't die that night.

I wanted to let you know that there is work currently happening (in the UK) to prevent death by suicide from tall buildings. For example, in Gloucestershire we're trying to get multi-story car parks to put up signs for the Samaritans as a short term measure. Longer term we want to try to improve safety of the building, perhaps though planning control, or through asking owners to retro-fit fences.

Alongside that we're trying to improve health services to be more responsive for people at risk of suicide, especially men.

(If anyone has any ideas about useful suicide prevention measures please feel free to email me via the email in my profile).

> so I ended up calling 911. Funny that, it turns out when you do that in california, you are considered a "danger to yourself" and must be arrested.

This is something about mental health that people often don't understand: sometimes it's provided by police in a police van or a police cell. They have very little training in MH. In the UK things are slowly changing. The police have a power under the MH act to detain people and take them to a place of safety to be assessed by doctors. In many parts of the country that place of safety is a police cell, but some areas have specialist Section 136 suites. (Section 136 of the MH Act).

Thank you for having the courage to speak about your experiences. It sounds like a difficult time was made very much worse - it sounds awful.

You mention the samaritans - those people are awesome and they're the ones who helped me through the tough times when I came back home.

If anyone is looking for volunteer work in the UK, especially if you have people skills, check them out.

You sound like you work in mental health. Can I ask you who you work for?

I don't work, I'm an ex-service user, currently an "expert by lived experience". I do some "service user participation work" in Gloucestershire. This is for 2gether NHS Foundation Trust (the mental health trust for Gloucestershire and Herefordshire), for the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, and for Public Health.

This guy Michael Brown (absolutely no relation to Ferguson) an Inspector in the UK west midlands police force has been steadily writing many intelligent things over the years about the intersection of mental health care and policing.



I'm living in Reading, U.K. and have seen these signs from The Samaritans in one of the towns tallest car parks.

I'm originally from Gloucester so appreciate what you are doing for that part of the country.

This is even the case in Canada though. I tried to overdose when I was 16 and someone found me. The cops were unfortunately first on the scene and started screaming at me, calling me all sorts of horrible things. When the ambulance arrived they then handcuffed me to the ambulance bed while I was getting my stomach pumped. I could barely move at that point. The cops are poorly trained and incompetent. I agree, never talk to the cops.

I was in an accident and emergency ward on a friday night in a central London hospital recently. Something that took me by surprise was the number of patients there in the company of the police. They were there to be treated for injuries, rather than mental health issues, but i was impressed by the conduct of the policeman attached to the very drunk guy in the bed next to me; despite the fact that the drunk guy was screaming and threatening people, the policeman patiently tried to get him to calm down, at one point promising him a cup of tea if he behaved himself, and then actually delivering on that promise.

I don't know if that was typical. I don't know if policemen treat drunks differently to the mentally ill. And god knows the Metropolitan Police are not exactly famed for their kind and gentle treatment of the denizens of the city. But in at least one case, a guy was okay.

London police has a very good reputation. I've never had any dealings with them (despite many visits to London, a nice reflection on how they typically don't bug you without a reason) but from the people that I know that live there in general it seems like they actually take the 'protect and serve' bit to heart, contrary to many other police forces the world over.

While I'd much rather deal with the Met than any US police force, they're hardly universally loved - e.g. the riots after the death of Mark Duggan.

It helps that they're mostly not armed, apart from all the guys standing around with MP5s defending public spaces from terrorists.

Duggan was a self confessed members of a drug dealing gang (Star Gang), was considered dangerous, and had a gun is his car when killed.

The Guardian were rightly forced by the PCC to retract their article that claimed Duggan was 'unarmed' and should feel ashamed of themselves for helping stoke that fire.

> London police has a very good reputation.

Maybe internationally, but they're pretty dodgy for a UK police force.

That's probably because the UK has far, far, far, far higher standards for its police than the US. Even the worst police in the UK are far better than the police here in the US.

Can't say about the Met, but Thames Valley Police have been quite good as far as I can tell.

They're trying to change how drunk people are treated in emergency departments. "Brief psycho-social interventions" can reduce the number of ED attendances.


Canada has some of the worst and some of the best police officers that I've ever seen. City/local police: not so hot. RCMP on the whole probably the best police force that I've had contact with.

Often times, same dichotomy in the US. State Patrols are professionals, locals are bubbas.

Experiences differ. Local LEOs often play roles in crime prevention or investigation. In the states I've been recently, the state patrols are strictly revenue agencies. Life for the public would improve by their absence.

Long story short, a vengeful ex-girlfriend had me put in 72 hour mandatory psych evaluation twice because she didn't want me to break up with her. She claimed I was threatening to kill myself when that wasn't the case.

The first time, I freaked out and had to be held down by a group of people, including an orderly that purposely hurt me and left a large bruise on my shin after pushing it downwards against a metal bar off of a hospital bed. I was shot up with morphine to calm me down and then strapped in to a bed - and all I recall after that is waking up in the morning to someone staring at me from the door way. Supposedly, action was taken against the orderly - but I have no guarantee or follow up on that. Additionally, when the police originally arrived at my apartment, two officers searched it looking for a weapon (they found a steak knife that had fallen next to the stove which they questioned me about - I don't even remember it falling there - could've been there for a while) - I am pretty sure they had no right to search my place, but I could be wrong.

The second time, I was forced to take double the dose of the medication I normally took for anti-anxiety/depression which actually caused me to hallucinate while I was locked up. This 72-hour hold actually lasted much longer because the staff psychiatrist left for an extended Thanksgiving weekend, so it came out to 5 days.

It truly worries me how bad of an experience this was. I met some interesting people with interesting issues during these two brief experiences - but I don't see how they were being provided with the help they actually needed.

Never call the cops. Police due two things: apply force and file paperwork. If you have a medical or person problem, the police are not who to call. Sadly, that meand you can't call 911 either, you have to find the phone number for MEDICAL support.

so 911 is not police, fire or ambulance in the US?

what do you ring if you need firefighters or a doctor?

It's all of those things, but since we have an excess of police and not of those other public servants it's typically the cops who arrive first. Even the cops who wouldn't interfere with paramedics at work are likely to harass people who need paramedics in their absence.

911 is police, fire, or ambulance. But which combination shows up is decided by the dispatcher, not the caller, so you can't call 911 if you want to be sure that police won't respond.

This.So this. Those of us who knew Ian and cared about him have our own responsibility to know what happened.

There is no situation that the cops can't make worse.

Don't call the cops. Don't ever ever call the cops.


No, you can control a regex if you're very careful.

I've got an idea if someone really wants to go on a hunt... This might seem incredibly nosy, but I don't think it would be too personal - check RadioReference for his city, they archive police scanner feeds, if you pay them a little, you can access the archives.

If something happened and he was having some sort of mental health or drug problem, hopefully that would be mentioned, if something really did go down with the cops, you might hear a bit of that too. Might be interesting to see what exactly happened to him, just don't go jumping to any conclusions and starting witch hunts. This is crazy enough as it is and probably won't lead to a full picture in any case, but it might shed some light.

I can tell you that the police don't treat the mentally ill very well. They are not trained in helping out the mentally ill.

I got a friend who is mentally ill and is homeless sometimes, police beat him up and arrested him for being at a McDonald's on his Macbook. He was in jail for a year, gave him the wrong psyche meds, kept delaying his preliminary hearing until he had to plead guilty to get out of jail. Charged with threaten with intent to terrorize and only the police officer's word against his for evidence.

I am mentally ill myself, I became disabled in 2003. In the IT industry one has to keep the mental illness a secret or else they lose their job or end up not being hired for jobs. Basically my career was over when I developed a mental illness.

I can tell by Ian's tweets that he was not in his right mind. I hope his family files a lawsuit against the police, because they basically forced him into suicide for whatever they did.

>I can tell you that the police don't treat the mentally ill very well. They are not trained in helping out the mentally ill.

The problem isn't training. You don't need training to be nice to people and not beat them senseless, nor do you need to be a genius to see when someone is having mental problems, or to know that being an asshole to someone who's clearly suicidal isn't helpful.

The problem is that the police in the USA are largely evil. There's no other explanation for it. You have to be an evil person to enjoy beating other people, not to mention shooting them in the back and other violent things that our police do to people on a daily basis.

This. I'm sorry to say that I agree. What is really astonishing is the low quality of the police forces in cities in the United States which pay police very very well (when all of their benefits are taken into account).

If he was in a city of any decent sized police force, it's likely that the authorities were dispatched via a mobile data terminal -- and you wouldn't hear anything about it over the air.

If the pastebinned tweets I've seen are really his then he was clearly unhinged when he made them. Whether that is due to head trauma or if the problems with the police came about because he was already having issues, I have no idea.

Either way, while I totally understand his family's request for privacy, I do wish as a culture we felt more comfortable discussing things like this when they happen instead of basically all trying to sweep it under the rug.

People shouldn't be shamed for having mental health issues, but neither should we expend so much effort on pretending like we don't have something of an epidemic going on in this area these days.

He sounded extremely angry, but unhinged isn't the word I'd use. If what he said was true, he had every right to be extremely angry.

Nobody is trying to sweep anything under the rug but Christ, the man has been dead for less than 48 hours. I don't think giving people a few days or a week to process it and grieve is an unreasonable proposition.

It is probably not so much discussing health issues as them having lost a loved one and don't want the Internet probing them for questions about him.

You make a bunch of speculation, use slurs ("he was clearly unhinged") to talk about him, and then wonder why people ask for privacy?

At least from a .uk idiomatic POV (or at least from mine), 'unhinged' is a description of a potentially temporary mental state (hence 'unhinged when' making sense as a conjugation) rather than an attempt to attack the mentally ill. I'm not fond of the speculation, though, but can find nothing to say about it beyond that that wouldn't merely be adding my own speculation and thereby exacerbating that aspect.

Or: You can apply the principle of charity to somebody's choice of words and still critique their point, and that often works out better in terms of constructive results.

Mental illness is primarily characterized by temporary states. Personally I don't think you can be "unhinged" without being mentally ill. It's better to use language that more accurately characterizes the situation, than something which is just a synonym for crazy.

> Personally I don't think you can be "unhinged" without being mentally ill

I consider that attitude to be deeply unfortunate and to be unfair both to the temporarily unhinged and to the long term mentally ill. If you had a term that was an alternative to unhinged that didn't make your socially conditioned prejudices twitch, I'd have preferred you shared it rather than simply attack both groups for using language that they consider to be accurate (because then you wouldn't've managed to insult most of my friends in one tone deaf unconstructive reply)

I'm long term mentally ill. You don't know what you're talking about.

Well, of the six long term mentally ill people I've asked if there was a better term now, I'm at zero suggestions and all of them except you said 'unhinged' was great.

So unless you're actually going to suggest something, I'll be keeping with the term they're happy with, I'm afraid.

That is exactly why I tried to admonish people in a top post to avoid doing this. Maybe it is just me being naive, but it seemed an "in memoriam" article would not be the place for this, and was hoping people would instead choose to share something positive about his life. But you know, internet happens...

I read the article, which says nothing about the cause of death. I decided to check HN comments, and I am grateful for various interesting facts about Ian, his life and accomplishments. But still, the main question on my mind is - what the fuck did happen? Maybe it's a bad part of being human, being curious about the reason for the tragedy. I suppose others also feel like this, and so speculations always start quickly.

He said on Twitter that police beat him up once, and then a second time after following him home. I hope there is a real investigation, this is enraging.

In the UK, which is a common law country, the local coroner would be involved with any death that was not expected (i.e. not an older person or someone who is terminally ill and under medical care) or in which there are suspicious circumstances. That process may involve a police investigation and, independently of that, there can be an inquest. Inquests have quite a history in the case of deaths in police custody in the UK, as a result of police action, or where there is some doubt about the probity of the police investigation (Google Hillsborough Stadium, Mark Duggan, Ian Tomlinson).

I'd appreciate if any US residents can comment on the procedures locally and I realise that procedure may vary in different states.

My first thought was 'another cancer death' but it appears to be more involved. The phrasing of the request from the family suggests to me that the situation may be more complex. I was reading this guy's blog just yesterday, odd times.

A suicide or homicide will almost certainly trigger a post-mortem. In the US the quality of the process varies widely by state. Some states have medical examiners, who are appointed and generally expert clinicians. Other states have a coroner system where the coroner is an elected position. Unsurprisingly states where the latter is true tend to have worse results.

The situation is often worse that that. The suicide to whom I was most closely related wasn't investigated by anyone. (Self-inflicted GSW, but still...) A medical examiner's assistant pronounced the death, then left and was never seen again. (Later the funeral home people arrived.) The medical examiner for our county lives 70 miles away and basically never comes to the county. When later we had to prove certain circumstances to certain parties, we were hampered by the fact that not only was there no completed paperwork, but no one could be found whose responsibility it is to complete paperwork. An actual coroner would be a big improvement in this county, but apparently that's an expense we can't afford.

Can the coroner do anything with legal force, or only inspect the body and file a report?

Yes, a whitewash would never happen in the UK.


Yes, I should have said 'inquests can give people another avenue in some cases'. And I should also have pointed out that the process can sometimes be very complex and take decades [1].

I wasn't trying to claim any kind of superiority for the system as operated in England/Wales. I was wondering aloud about what is supposed to happen in US/relevant state, so that I can track subsequent news, and I have the answer now from user lstyls.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Stephen_Lawrence

In the case you cite, it is worth noting that the Hutton Inquiry replaced an inquest, which is very unusual.

USA doesn't have an independent coroner with legal power like that. Police and District Attorney (local prosecutor) investigate deaths, including investigating themselves.


I was pretty sure that the one and only job of a Coroner in the U.S. was to report cause of death.

I was also under the impression that if cause of death is not natural, then the local authorities are supposed to open an investigation.

In Canada too. In Ontario, any death involving police automatically triggers an investigation by a police of police (Special Investigations Unit). Really shocking cases can lead to a public inquiry in parliament.

Of course we need to investigate but don't jump to any conclusions and start yelling about police brutality.

If he had mental health problems then police can easily be perceived as they are after him and any attempt to restrain you will be seen as violence.

It is really tragic but if it likely to be police brutality then the family will pursue it. If they don't pursue any action then my guess is that Ian had a mental illness and this is just a series of very unfortunate events due to that.

I today's USA, I see no reason to assume the police story is more reliable than a potentially mentally ill citizen's story. When video evidence isn't destroyed, t tends to point to police brutality.

> "If he had mental health problems then police can easily be perceived as they are after him and any attempt to restrain you will be seen as violence."

> "i had to have swtitches"

Yes, the cops will give themselves a complete and impartial investigation like they always do in US. /s

I meant to say, let's fight criminals tomorrow or wait for the family to release more information.

Also please note this message on Debian's site from his family:

"His family has asked for privacy during this difficult time and we very much wish to respect that."


> let's fight criminals tomorrow

Given that Ian's twitter pointed the finger at law enforcement for inciting this, what you are really saying is let's give the police time to cover up the details of what happened, obscure or destroy evidence, recruit prosecutors to their defense, and wait for months or years while an alleged internal investigation occurs.

A close relative of mine committed suicide. It was a difficult time and I empathize with the family's situation. However, assuming Ian's twitter posts bear some relation to reality and are not pure hallucinations, then the family is wrong to ask for privacy and space. To do so is to sacrifice justice for an imagined peace and to grant an undeserved mercy to those responsible.

To imply that the family is wrong for not wanting to discuss this publicly ~36 hours after it happened is disgusting.

That's not what's being implied. The family can be respected while the culprits are pursued.

You are disgusting for disrespecting his own wishes for justice.

Nobody here is in a position to second-guess his family. We know nothing but what we've read on the Internet.

It's a bit ambiguous from the Debian post, but from the Docker post, it sounds like the request for privacy is a request that media and others leave the family alone personally, i.e. don't show up at their house, ring their phone off the hook, etc., rather than a request that nobody discuss the circumstances of the death publicly.

> If you would like to share your thoughts or condolences, Ian's family and the Docker family appreciate you sharing them by posting a comment on this page. Additionally, Ian's family has requested that well-wishers and press respect their privacy and direct all inquiries through Docker.

I don't think it takes a lot of imagination to understand that in this day and age privacy could also mean online privacy.

Years later his children will search for their father's name, find this and instead of people remembering positive contributions to the community, they'll find people digging in the dirt, looking for signs of drug use, calling death threats for cops, revenge, mental issues, speculate stuff without facts in general.

It would seem to me at least giving that statement from the family the benefit of the doubt instead of going for a legalistic interpretation "Well they didn't explicitly say not to discuss stuff online, so go ahead everyone, start guessing, send FOIA requests, call him unhinged etc..."

Red states are wrong about many issues but gun control isn't one of them. Cops think twice when they know there's an equalizer in the equation. If you live in a part of the country where the populace is disarmed, don't be surprised that police are beating the shit of you, or terrorists are targeting your gun-free zones. Exercise your 2nd amendment rights, and open carry that AR15 with 30 round magazines proudly.

> Cops think twice when they know there's an equalizer in the equation.

What exactly do you mean by that?

The reason I'm asking is that everything I've read or heard from law enforcement acquaintances is that cops are much more likely to draw their weapon in situations where they think guns are present. That is, they might be less likely to "beat the shit [out] of you", but they are much more likely to shoot you. If a cop is bent on subduing me or doing me harm, I'd much rather they rough me up than shoot me.

Also, I just have to say that if you feel the only thing standing between you and police brutality is your gun, you must inhabit a very different mental space than I do. I grew up with guns (in rural Alabama), and I'd probably have one now, if my wife weren't against having one with a child in the house. I can think of many reasons to own a gun. Protecting myself from the police is not one of them.

I really don't get people who think their guns will protect them from the government. Ultimately we, the people, are the government. What protects us from overreach and abuse of power these days is strong encryption and better transparency laws.

Crime is at an all-time low these days, and very few people hunt for food. You're probably much more likely to be killed or assaulted by a cop than anyone else, so it seems to make perfect sense that someone would want a gun to protect them from the cops.

Stats show you're much more likely to be killed by someone you know, not a random cop walking the beat.

Everyday crime prevention and hunting for food aren't the only other reasons to own a gun. They can be used for sport, like target shooting. And home protection doesn't just mean stopping a home invasion. For example, I've lived through hurricanes where my community was without electricity for multiple days, and I've seen looting firsthand. In that type of situation, having a gun can be a beneficial deterrent.

Honestly, I find this whole idea of protecting yourself from cops with a gun to be asinine. I'm not saying it would never happen, but in general, the second you pull a gun on a cop you've dramatically increased your chances of getting shot, repeatedly. Any other cop who comes on the scene will shoot first and ask questions later.

I don't have hard stats to back that up, but I do know that if you get into a confrontation with a cop, your best bet is to practice de-escalation techniques. Be calm and respectful until their adrenaline levels have dropped. Mentioning or drawing a weapon will escalate the situation.

Heh, pulling out deadly weapons to scare off looters? That's such an overreaction. They're people, and at worst they're thieves. Nothing in that deserves having a weapon fired or pointed at you.

Not sure if you're being sarcastic, having a hard time interpreting your tone. I agree though, shooting at looters to scare them off would be an overreaction, and I was raised to never point a gun at a human (or animal) unless you intend to shoot them.

What I remember is my dad, with his shotgun in a pocket/cradle position (muzzle pointed at the sky, a common field carry), going out to talk to people rummaging through the debris in our back yard, collecting tools and supplies blown out of our barn/toolshed, i.e., pretending to be reclaiming their stuff but actually stealing ours.

The normal protocol in that situation is to knock on the door and ask the owner's permission to reclaim your stuff, show them what you think is yours, etc. If somebody is violating that protocol, I think it's okay to take a defensive posture with them. Shooting at them or running out with your gun pointed at them would be a ridiculous overreaction and terribly unsafe.

The rules of engagement are similar. You still want to practice de-escalation techniques. You don't know if one of those boys in your yard (I remember mostly groups of 2-3 older teenagers doing this looting) is carrying a weapon. You don't run out guns blazing, shouting "get off my lawn." You walk out calmly and ask if you can help them find something. You're just trying to communicate that somebody lives here, we see that you appear to be stealing our property, and we have the means to defend our property if necessary. So move along – or explain what you're doing here.

The "or explain yourself" part is important too. It's central to my whole argument really. You don't know somebody's intentions just from looking at them. I remember one incident where a guy was looking for some tarps to cover a big hole in his roof. He appeared to be some rascal taking our shit – and he was, kind of – but it was more like somebody digging through your garbage for scraps to feed his family. So my dad came in and got me, and we spent the next hour pulling some of the plywood off our windows and helping him strap it (precariously) to the back of his ATV.

The difference between interacting with suspected looters and interacting with cops is that cops are agents of the state. If a cop feels threatened, he can give you a lawful order to lie on the ground, surrender your weapon, etc., and if you disobey, you're breaking the law. Now, exactly what constitutes a lawful order versus a "request" is debatable and depends on the situation, but I doubt there's a judge or jury in the US who would question the cop saying he felt legitimately threatened if you draw your weapon or point it at them.

I've seen your post go through substantial edits, so I'm a little wary about replying at all--it might change significantly again. That said...

No, I'm not sarcastic. Bringing out a gun to show people you'll shoot them over possessions is a serious overreaction.

Your story seems to describe a childhood event, and to be honest it sounds like a child's interpretation of the events: things are cast in black-and-white terms with your dad playing the role of the classic "good guy with a gun", there's clear-cut justice where he helps out another family in need, the villains are obviously just villains and thieves. That's all fine, and I have no doubt that you vividly remember these events and that they played out that way.

However, the reality is that, despite what you say, bringing out a gun is an instant escalation-to-the-top technique. Showing someone you're ready to shoot them (and that's exactly what walking up to a stranger with a gun in your hand is doing) is not de-escalation, it's escalation, it's raising the stakes to the highest point.

I mean, they're, in your own words, older teenagers. If they're not supposed to be there, use words! "Hey, that's not your stuff! Go home!" Brandishing a weapon, adding a gun to the mix is dangerous, because immediately and very clearly life is at risk.

If one of those older teenagers thought the same thing--"guns are a good way to go and get my tools back from that crazy guy who's been looting and hauling our stuff back to his barn"--and was walking around with their own gun, what's he or she going to do if some crazy guy with a shotgun comes up and starts yelling at him? All of a sudden, oh shit, the crazy guy's here with his gun and he could point it at me!

Because you're right, you don't know someone's intentions just from looking at them, whether it's the teenagers who you're afraid are picking over your wreckage (your perspective), or the guy who came up to them with a gun in his hand (their perspective).

Yeah, sorry, remembering one event led to other memories bubbling up after the initial post. The only substantial edit was to add the paragraph highlighting the point about perspective, not knowing others' intentions – I think. I haven't edited it since your reply, FWIW.

Anyway, I think I hear what you're saying. Some of it is contextual though, right?

If I were to walk up to one of my neighbors in my little suburban, sidewalked neighborhood with a shotgun, even muzzle-up leaned on my shoulder, that would be atypical for this community, and I agree that would absolutely be interpreted as aggressive, escalating, etc., in this context. I would certainly be leery of a neighbor walking around holding a gun.

However, I grew up in a farming community. It was common to see people driving pickups with guns mounted on a rack in the back of the cab. It was common to see teenagers (myself included) exploring the woods by our house with a .22 rifle hanging from their shoulder or strapped to their bicycle as they rode past our house. If you bumped into a neighbor at the edge of your land, there was a (estimating here) 20% chance they'd have a rifle on them. My point is just that guns were prevalent in that context. So, carrying a gun in that context is not the same as brandishing it (technically to hostilely shake or wave) or indicating that you're ready to shoot someone.

EDIT: But yes, walking up to strangers on your land carrying a gun does carry an implied threat. I'm just saying it's much less of an escalation in that context.

Brandishing a weapon (carrying it openly and aggressively) will get your permit revoked in most states. Showing it, waving it, even mentioning that you are carrying are all classed as brandishing. The accusation of brandishing is often enough to lose the permit.

So the only sure way to carry is concealed. And never mention that you are doing it.

I'm not up on this area of law, as it's been over a decade since I've owned a gun.

Are you saying that carrying/showing/mentioning (let's say non-aggressively) a gun on your own private property can be classified as brandishing? I've never heard that, but I really don't know.

EDIT: Also, what permit are you talking about? I don't know how things are now, but when I was growing up in AL (~20 years ago), you didn't need a permit to own a rifle or carry it on your own land.

Every state does it differently. Some allow open carry, but have a permit for concealed. Some allow concealed unrestricted, but a permit for open. Iowa requires a permit to carry in any way.

I have 3 permits, first Iowa and then two more to cover (most) of the other states. Still can't carry in Illinois or the People's Republic of California.

Not sure about brandishing vs private property. I'd guess anywhere you need a permit, you could be accused of brandishing.

Thanks for clarifying, I appreciate it. I'm always a little wary of big edits on sites that don't show an edit history. (HN devs, why not??)

I agree that context matters. You're describing a different time and place, pretty far removed from the vast majority of Americans now: rural life, probably a couple decades ago.

In 2010, over 80% of us lived in cities. Six years ago, less than one in five of us lived in rural America--now I'm quite sure it's even fewer. The context of "let's walk around with guns" is basically missing from the vast, vast majority of our lives.

Like you said, living in a city, you'd be sketched out if you saw someone with a gun. And, indeed, we see this play out again and again. People going into restaurants with AR-15s, people wandering around neighborhoods with those big guns on their shoulders. Pretty consistently, someone calls the cops, because, in context of "I live in a city" that applies to 80% of us, this is sketchy behavior.

This is what gets me about the people that want to import gun attitudes from another time and place--from what is basically a distant and foreign culture for most of us--into modern city life.

As a thought experiment, let's not say "the rural American landowners who wrote the constitution 250 years ago felt a certain way about guns, so let's keep on going with that". Let's start from "most of us live in cities, what do we want city life to be like?" And it sounds like neither you nor I particularly want to see random people walking around with guns.

Heh, as a good for-example, yesterday I was downtown, at lunchtime, in a crowded part of the downtown area. Lots of food cards, hundreds of people gathered around. Out of nowhere, a mentally disturbed guy started harassing some lady's daughters. A bunch of us immediately started yelling at him to back off, and started putting ourselves physically between him. The dude was obviously mentally ill, but also possibly a threat to someone, just from flailing his limbs around like a crazy dude.

Well, we kept him separated from the lady and her daughters--just with our voices and our bodies--and he continued to have a freakout, yell, and after 2-3 minutes the cops on bikes showed up to keep him contained until, I'm guessing, some cop in a car could haul him to some kind of lockup. I'm sure, if he'd gotten more aggressive, me and a few other people (heh, even some in business suits) would have tackled him and sat on him.

What's scary to me is...what if someone had a gun and thought they'd be a hero? Best case is, they suppress that thought, pretend they don't have a gun, and we get the outcome like we had, with minimal damage to all. Worst case is, they start firing, and either shoot the crazy dude, or even worse, they shoot some bystanders. Odds are, here in the city (where 80% of us work and live), guns won't make ordinary people into heroes, they'll just make tense situations deadly.

Yeah, I really detest the idea that more people carrying guns will make us safer. I mean, just look at how often cops make mistakes. I believe most cops have good intentions, but the urgency of an apparent life or death situation triggers that good ol' fight or flight response and spikes adrenaline. This inevitably leads to accidents and bad judgments in the moment.

The self-reported hit rate for bullets fired from police weapons is only 30-40%, in the US. Some 3rd party estimates put it around 20%. That means at least 60% of bullets fired by cops miss their target – and these people are generally well trained with firearms (if not other parts of policing), usually required to re-certify their marksmanship multiple times a year, etc.

I personally do not want to trust some rando with a gun to a) make the right decision about when lethal force is prudent and b) execute that decision competently.

Anyway, I'm preaching to the choir here. I'm sure gun people can raise counterexamples of where some citizen with a gun saved the day. So, I know I'm just wasting keystrokes.

On that note, I think I'm done with Internet comments for the day. :) Have a happy new year.

Same to you, happy new year!!

How do you know if he will just "rough" you up? Maybe Ian thought the same too. Expecting mercy from a criminal is like hiring a pedo to babysit your kids.

I was pulled over once while carrying and the cop went from asshole to polite in a millisecond once I informed him I was legally carrying at 4 o'clock. Ultimately if a cop is going to draw on me with criminal intentions, then I will defend myself as if he were a criminal.

How do you know he's drawing on you with criminal intentions?

So, you had an experience where you perceived a cop's attitude to change. That's fine. Maybe next time the cop asks you to get out of the car. Maybe he says you match the description of a suspect and tries to handcuff you, confiscate your gun. At what point are you going to draw your gun and defend yourself? It's not like the very, very small percentage of cops who are "criminals" have some flashing sign to alert you. By the time you realize some shit is going down, it's going to be too late.

And who said anything about expecting mercy from a criminal? Do you know any cops? If not, you should make an effort to get to know some, at least the community officer assigned to your neighborhood, if that applies to your locale. Most are decent folks trying to do good. Most are not "criminals".

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