I find this video very disturbing.
In a story published yesterday, we revealed that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had stopped using waiver forms at their ranges — forms which legal experts said could constitute an illegal gun registry.
Ian McGuire — a gun owner and a self-described “constitutional activist” who works as a CNA at the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs — played a key role in that story.
Ian’s a true activist. He pushes. He questions authority. He’s a pain in the ass. We need more like him.
As soon as the story was published, he went to FWC’s Cecil M. Webb Shooting Range near Punta Gorda to see whether the range safety officers were following the commission’s new policy, which was announced in Tuesday’s story by FWC’s executive director Nick Wiley.
Keep in mind that the RSOs at the Webb range know Ian. It’s clear they dislike him and especially his cell phone camera.
The video shows that they’re no longer requiring shooters to fill out the waivers. Instead, the RSOs now require shooters to sign in and get their hand stamped.
Ian, of course, questions that decision, asking hypothetically when taxpayers will be required to sign documents in order to use sidewalks and other public amenities.
In other words — Ian questions their authority.
It’s what happens next that disturbs me.
The RSO calls for assistance, and an FWC law enforcement officer is dispatched to the range.
The officer and the RSO tell the 26-year-old that if he doesn’t sign, he needs to leave. And if he doesn’t leave, he’ll be subject to arrest for refusing to follow the officer’s lawful order.
Of course the encounter was peppered with snide comments and a few insults from the RSO.
I make a living questioning authority, and I’ve seen all types of responses from public officials — good and bad.
This is bad.
I hope senior FWC officials will watch this video and see the type of customer service skills, or the lack thereof, in use by the RSOs at the troubled Webb range.
Rather than deescalating the situation, the RSO immediately called for armed backup, which led to a classic “do it now or get arrested” standoff.
I can’t blame the FWC officer, who clearly doesn’t want to be there.
Officers go where they’re dispatched.
In my humble opinion, the RSO should have got off of his golf cart — which he appears glued to — and then clearly, calmly and rationally talked to the young man — even if it took some time. That’s what a professional RSO should do for any disgruntled customer.
For public officials, there’s no doubt that any young activist — especially one armed with a cell phone camera — can be a pain in the ass.
But we wouldn’t have half of the freedoms we enjoy today without these pain-in-the-ass activists.
Webb has proven to be a troubled range for FWC, what with former range officials accused of stealing brass funds meant for a youth charity, with former well-liked RSOs getting fired, with its safety complaints, and now this.
The range staff at Webb needs customer service training — immediately.
And they need to stop overreacting when someone questions their authority.
If they can’t make these changes, perhaps it’s time to privatize the facility, because many of us are starting to shudder at the thought of what will go wrong next.