Of course you carry a gun, right? You live in the state with the No. 1 ranking for preservation of gun rights. You live on the Mexican border. We all know what Fox News says about that. You roam the rural areas near the border. Why wouldn’t you? Of course you would sling that AR-15 over your shoulder or wear a sidearm as a matter of routine when working, driving, and hiking near the border. You could probably even get on TV as you act out the part of a besieged rancher who is afraid of his shadow. Well, not so for me. I own guns, but I don’t regularly wear one when I am near the border or have one available in any visible fashion.
I would like to carry a firearm for defense because I do see bear and mountain lion sign with some regularity when I am working and hiking in rural areas, but the human problems are a bigger threat and come first when ranking the potential for harm to myself and my family.
First of all, there are no endemic human violence problems to deal with on the southwest border. Crime and violence on the U.S. side of the border are very low contrary to the message of the well-harmonized voices of the court intellectuals who try to promote expensive wars at home to augment the expensive wars abroad. I have walked the border my whole life and enjoy the peaceful friendly nature of the border area and its people.
And I do love the fact that gun rights have been preserved to a large part in this state. In Mexico, that is not the case and the population has suffered. Freedom to be armed and defend oneself does deter violent crime as is visible in this state’s crime statistics.
The violent force in this area that presents itself daily is the roaming passel of unaccountable federal agents who have orders to stop everybody, despite the lack of “reasonable suspicion,” “probable cause,” or any other supposedly legal standard because of the person’s presence within 100 miles of the international border. I am subjected to their whims continuously with the flashing red lights, vehicle stops, angry interrogations, roadside detentions, and violent posturing with lethal weapons. The oft shaved-head minions do their best to escalate the encounters as they feign an angry offended attitude in response to my few pleasant words as I am restrained from movement during an “official” encounter. Verbosity in explaining one’s daily activities, background, personal possessions, or car ownership doesn’t defuse the situation either. A demonstrated willingness to be interrogated often emboldens the agents who then press harder to manufacture “inconsistencies” that they will use to justify a more intense forced search.
E.g. “Subject said he was planning to take a hike, but I noted that he was wearing tennis shoes not hiking boots. This inconsistent statement prompted me to investigate further.”
E.g. “Subject said he had run into town to grab a bite to eat at McDonald’s, but I didn’t see any fast food items in his car. This inconsistent statement prompted me to investigate further.”
E.g. “Subject said he was driving along looking for his stray cattle. I didn’t see any cattle in the area. This inconsistent statement prompted me to investigate further.”
This is all about manufacturing a reason to search you and your car and detain you. Agents have their favorite “inconsistent statement” logic that they deploy over and over in their reports to justify a more intrusive involuntary encounter. They claim the right to search you and your car anyway for any reason, but the intense word game remains as a legacy from less intrusive days when searches were justified by either consent or a one-sided conclusion drawn by a state representative that a detainee had been tripped up sufficiently with unrecorded word play.
A consistent, “I don’t consent to any searches; I don’t want to make any statements” will raise their ire momentarily, but will dissipate after they detain you for up to half an hour, their policy prescribed maximum roadside detention period for persons who have done nothing.
If you are one of those that think you are safe because of your racial appearance, be aware that the U.S. Border Patrol and other agencies are now very careful to insult and accuse all races despite what your driver’s license, license plate, spoken language, and genetic appearance say about your probable nationality.
I wish that the Fox News groupies across the country could walk the border, experience its peaceful friendly nature, experience the regular encounters with the oppressors, and learn to ignore the latest attempts to manufacture a crisis and steal wealth in support of an American Stasi.
My family and I have been subject to many of these occasions of manufactured emotional intensity. So, I don’t want the presence of a gun to raise the hackles of the already offended officers who aren’t getting their way with me in an attempt at a forced interrogation. At that moment, they have already been the victim of “contempt of cop” in their minds and all the allowed “good shoot” scenarios from their academy days may scroll through their heads if they are the type that is riled sufficiently by my failure to give up my freedoms and bare my soul and life history for their judgment, scrutiny, and subsequent lecture. Officers often have their firearms drawn and presented when approaching a rancher chopping firewood or a family having a picnic on private property. The appearance of a firearm at that moment on the body of the innocent victim may be the only excuse the wanna-be killer hero needs to start blasting. These agents are likely to be ex-military or ex-cops from a less gun friendly state who think that armed persons are all ne’er-do-wells. If there is more than one of them, I expect one to scream “Gun! Gun!” when he sees my holster followed by the sound of M-4 bolts cycling and the usual array of guns pointed at my head. And, since officers are “legally” allowed to act on the statements emanating from other officers, even regarding things they haven’t witnessed, it would only be fair in the mind of the “Gun! Gun!” hearer to join the fray and act upon that overheard information with reciprocal deadly force. After all, officers only have half a second to make a decision, right?
And for those who think they can list a couple of violent agent encounters with bad guys to show me where I’m wrong about the noble heroes and the peaceful nature of the border, you would be surprised to learn how often the Border Patrol throws bullets around in an unreported fashion and how easily the resultant “friendly fire” issues that do require paperwork can be turned into an encounter with the fabled, clichéd, universally hated, and supposedly ubiquitous “drug rip squad.”
The other night I was reading a thick booklet on Arizona candidates in this latest election cycle. It was shocking how many of them listed “sealing the border” as one of their core positions. Western states are big and these candidates and their electorate don’t live on the border for the most part. They capitalize on the dragons created by the mass media and know that most of the voters are in bigger cities like Tucson or Phoenix and have no real knowledge of the border. As I see the iron curtain descend in my home town, I can imagine the feeling in Berlin when people were forced into economic and personal segregation enforced by the Stasi for the benefit of state-proclaimed taxing districts.
When I was interviewed on camera by Lt. Col Oliver North for Fox news a few years ago while flying in a Huey over miles of new and improved border fence, we moved into the inevitable discussion of “sealing the border.” I explained that 60% of the winter produce consumed in the U.S. crosses the Mexican border on its way to U.S. supermarkets. I told him my concerns over the economic and personal damage that would occur if a new iron curtain was forged and dropped in-between close-knit communities separated by an international border. He agreed, but said that his “taskmasters” at Fox News required a different angle to the story. So, obviously, that never aired.
Many people from border states relish the tough guy image and will be the willing source of scary disinformation as they describe to relatives and acquaintances back east the evil badlands that they wander. A modern version of Wild West folklore is disseminated to up one’s personal cachet. This self-perpetuated mythology enthralls politicians who gleefully witness the public spreading the noble lie on their behalf. Pray that you never have to instruct your family in your part of the country, as I do, on how to react, what to say, and where to keep their hands so as to not be shot by a gang of thugs that will disappear and disavow their actions as quickly as they appear.