Those who support the Second Amendment rights often get harassed — even when they’re not exercising those rights. It happened to a Tampa-area businessman recently, and it wasn’t pretty.
John Filippidis lives the American dream on Florida’s Gulf Coast. He built a business, raised a family and plays by the rules. He also has a concealed-weapon license, and he often uses it, according to The Tampa Bay Tribune.
“I wanted to be able to defend my family, my household and the ground I’m standing on,” he told The Tribune. “But I’m not looking for any trouble.”
Filippidis decided to keep the gun home, locked in the safe, when the family took a road trip to New Jersey to celebrate Christmas and attend a wedding.
The visit went as planned. The family’s return to Florida was another matter.
Shortly after entering Maryland with his wife, Kelly, and three teenage girls, Filippidis noticed he was being checked out by an unmarked police car. The car would follow for a bit, pull slowly ahead, then fall back again behind the family’s 2012 Ford Explorer.
“Ten minutes he’s behind us,” Filippidis said. “We weren’t speeding. In fact, lots of other cars were whizzing past. We keep wondering, is he going to do something?”
When the family was pulled over, they discovered they’d been bird-dogged by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.
Ten minutes after an officer took Filippidis’ license, registration and proof of insurance to his patrol car, he returned the documents, ordered him out of the vehicle and told him to hook his thumbs behind his back and spread his legs.
“You own a gun,” the officer said. “Where is it?”
“At home in my safe,” Filippidis replied.
The officer told him to stay put, then returned to the Explorer to check with Kelly Filippidis.
“Your husband owns a gun,” he told her. “Where is it?”
She wasn’t aware that he’d left it home, and told the officer it could be anywhere — in the glove box, in the console — she just didn’t know. The officer walked back to Filippidis, who was still standing spread-legged between the SUV and cop car.
“You’re a liar,” the officer said. “You’re lying to me. Your family says you have it. Where is the gun? Tell me where it is, and we can resolve this right now.”
Right about this time, one has to ask, How did they know he was a gun owner? And why was he stopped in the first place?
The officer called in backup and spent the next two hours searching the Explorer and its contents. Probable cause of what? Legally possessing a firearm?
“All that time, he’s humiliating me in front of my family, making me feel like a criminal,” John Filippidis said. “I’ve never been to prison, never declared bankruptcy, I pay my taxes, support my 20 employees’ families. I’ve never been in any kind of trouble.”
With a sense of frustration, he told The Tribune: “And he wants to put me in jail. He wants to put me in jail. For no reason. He wants to take my wife and children away and put me in jail. In America, how does such a thing happen? … And after all that, he didn’t even write me a ticket.”
According to The Tribune:
Now, despite having fielded apologies from the officer’s captain as well as from a Maryland Transportation Authority Police internal affairs captain, John is wondering if he shouldn’t just cancel his CCW license.
For a guy who’s not looking for trouble, that’s not an unreasonable conclusion. And it would please fans of gun control by any means. But let’s hope John Filippidis, American family man, taxpayer and good guy, doesn’t cave, because it would be a sad statement about the brittleness of our guarantees — some would call them sacred — under the Constitution.
After searching the vehicle, the officer let Filippidis leave with a warning. Warning for what? For not exercising his Second Amendment rights?
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