When Dr. Peter Steinmetz slung an AR-15 muzzle-down over his shoulder last year and walked in into Phoenix’s Shy Harbor International Airport, he was, not, as some in the media have alleged, going to get coffee.
Speaking to Bearing Arms this morning, Steinmetz said that he set out that morning to make the political point that “we have non-infringeable rights” to carry firearms in this nation for our self-defense.
Dr. Steinmetz says that he walked “the entire length of the terminal” with very few people even noticing that he had a firearm slung over his shoulder. He says that it was only after walking the length of the terminal that he decided to stop at Starbucks to pick up a cup of hot chocolate, and it was only after picking up his hot chocolate that six Phoenix Police Department officers came running.
Officers asked what he was doing. Steinmetz responded by asking if he was violating any laws, and if he being detained. When officers declined to provide an answer, he told them that he intended to walk a bit further, and then said that he was going to finish his his hot chocolate. He said that he was going to sit down and finish it, and one of the officers said—somewhat sarcastically—that they would go and have a seat with him, to ensure that his Second Amendment rights “wouldn’t be violated.”
It was at that point that Dr. Steinmetz says that he selected the row of empty terminal seating caught on airport security cameras, which he says he selected so that the officers would have room to sit down with him as they stated.
Dr. Steinmetz said that his decision to sit down is what seemed to have pushed the Phoenix PD officers over the edge. Steinmetz said that the six officers huddled together, and that he heard overheard them discussing ways to find an excuse to arrest him.
Finally, he overheard one Phoenix PD officer to another: “go ask those people over there if they would be willing to be a victim.”
The officer captured in the screen-cap (above) then approached and spoke with a mother and daughter who apparently then claimed that they felt threatened, giving officers an excuse to arrest Steinmetz for what increasing sounds like what laypeople might describe as “contempt of cop.”
Those seemingly bogus charges put Maricopa County prosecutors in a seemingly insurmountable position, and they have now conditionally agreed to refrain from going to trial, as long as Steinmetz meets a set of conditions that appear to be little more than face-saving on behalf of the Phoenix PD:
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has agreed not to pursue charges against a man who carried an AR-15 rifle into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in July as long as he meets certain requirements, records show.
Dr. Peter Steinmetz, a director at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, had been facing two counts of disorderly conduct. After signing a “pre-indictment resolution offer” on Tuesday, Steinmetz told 12 News that the deal was a victory for gun-rights advocates.
“I certainly didn’t intend to commit a crime; I did not commit a crime,” Steinmetz said. “I think the important point that was made is that, in fact, as Americans, we have a non-infringeable right to keep and bear arms and that you can legally do so at Sky Harbor Airport.”
The agreement stipulates that Steinmetz must complete NRA-certified courses by the end of March 2015 and avoid openly carrying a firearm in the Valley’s major airports for the next two years, although he may carry a concealed firearm. He is also required to make a $500 donation to the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club Youth Program.
Bizarrely, the three NRA certified courses mandated by Maricopa County have nothing at all to do with the incident, even remotely. Dr. Steinmetz is required to take “certified pistol,” (presumably Basic Pistol Shooting) ,Home Firearm Safety, and Personal Protection in the Home courses. None of the courses have anything to do with firearms law, rifles, open carry, or airports.
When asked why he elected to accept the “pre-indictment resolution offer” Dr. Steinmetz told Bearing Arms that he could “either spend $50,000 to fight the charges,” or accept the deal and “continue doing what I was doing anyway.” It was, as he said, “kind of a no-brainer.”
When asked if he would resume open carrying in Maricopa County airports after the terms of his deal expire in two years, Steinmetz said simply, “I’ll wait and see how things go.”
While Bearing Arms has long held the position that long gun open carry is impractical, and as applied by many open carry activists is a safety hazard, we’re far more disturbed by the actions of the Phoenix Police Department so blatantly attempting to manufacture excuses to arrest a citizen simply because he seemed to annoy them for knowing the law.