L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 256, January 25, 2004
"From the ashes a fire shall be woken"
Hunter for Justice
Special to TLE
Sometimes, big bad things happen that have a profound affect on our civil liberties. The USA PATRIOT Act is an example of such a big bad thing. Other times, little things happen (albeit big to those directly involved) that could also prove to have a significant affect on our rights in the near term. One such small thing is the year-end arrest of Jeffrey Jordan.
Jeff (a longtime freedom advocate known as "The Hunter" to many fellow libertarian-leaning friends and acquaintances) was returning back to his New Hampshire home from a holiday visit to his family in Kansas when Ohio State Troopers pulled him over for speeding. Newspaper reports say that, when a trooper noticed that Jeff had a couple of ammo magazines in a belt holder, he proceeded to conduct a search (despite the fact that those things are perfectly legal, even in the firearms-unfriendly state of Ohio).
It should be noted that Jeff is a concealed carry permit holder in several states. He's knowledgeable and well-trained where firearms are concerned. And he's a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment as well as holding a firm belief that we're all responsible for our own self defense. As a result, Jeff was carrying a pair of loaded guns. While he was well within his rights to do so, he found himself up against Ohio's longtime reluctance to legalize concealed carry in that state. As a result, while merely exercising a basic Constitutional right, he found himself the object of felony weapons charges.
To add insult to injury, the trooperswho, having discovered the handguns, were now most unhappy with Mr. Jordangot themselves a search warrant for the vehicle Jeff was driving at the time of the traffic stop. They subsequently uncovered what a local television station called an "arsenal" that included knives, swords, a rifle, and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition. They also found something they thought "could be" a "homemade detonator." Police were quoted in a local newspaper article as saying they wanted "to know why" Jeff was carrying all of those weapons. Ohio authorities contacted the police in New Hampshire where Jeff lives, and now they, too, say they are conducting an investigation into him and the fact he (in the words of the police) is "strongly supportive of private gun ownership and critical of government efforts to limit possession of weapons."
Among the published reports are those including a photograph of Jeff looking disheveled and a little shell-shocked (if you'd like to see what Jeff really looks like, take a look at the photo accompanying the reprint of a Letter to the Editor on his behalf). So we now have a man publicly represented as looking a little wild and perhaps disreputable who is accused of having an "arsenal" in his possession as he travels. What we don't have are the stories behind the story, to wit:
Jeff not only believes in the Second Amendment, he believes that target shooting is fun. He was carrying the rifle (which was, incidentally, in a locked box in the back of his SUV) for target shooting purposes.
Anyone who has ever enjoyed a little target shooting knows that the activity goes through prodigious amounts of ammunition. Does 1,000 rounds sound like a lot to you? It's not to a target shooter.
Among the "knives" implied to be weapons were such dangerous objects as a perfectly ordinary "Leatherman"-type tool and pocket knives such as many people carry.
The swords are evidence only of Jeff's guilt as an inveterate Lord of the Rings Collectorthe swords were fantasy weapons.
The "homemade detonator" could have been just about anything except a detonator. Jeff works for the phone company as an installer, and also is an amateur radio operator. He's got all sorts of wires and connectors and gadgets at any given point in time. What he doesn't have is any interest in demolitions.
That awful photograph was the perfectly logical result of a man who'd been on the road for 700 miles and didn't take time to comb his hair before being handcuffed and subjected to flash bulbs going off in his face.
So the media is coloring Jeff as a very scary guy at the same time we have Ohio's draconian anti-Second Amendment laws being wielded willy nilly (the recent passage of a CCW law in Ohio has no bearing on what Jeff did or didn't do on New Year's Eve). Police have confiscated his firearms, ammunition, knives, and swords (to date, they have returned his vehiclewhich is described as having been "trashed" by policeas well as some other personal belongings). Although everything he's been charged with wouldn't have been a crime in New Hampshire where he lives, it remains to be seen what personal and professional fall-out will result from charges in Ohio and an ongoing investigation in both states.
At last word, Jeff's attorneys were going to be fighting the charges on several grounds, not least of which was whether or not the speeding stop and the subsequent search were either warranted or Constitutional. For just a moment, though, let's pretend that they were. Consider under those conditions whether or not Jeff Jordan broke Ohio law, and the answer could very well be yes. But did he do anything wrong? This time, the answer is a clear-cut no.
Everything that Jeff Jordan's case may do to set a positive Second Amendment precedent (such as CCW reciprocity, for example) can be echoed for the Sixth Amendmentand frankly, the entire Bill of Rightsif he ends up in court and faces a jury that takes its full responsibilities seriously. If he has a jury that's cowed by a politically correct judge and prosecution, he faces a tough row to hoe. But if a jury can be seated that understands the entire scope of its task, then we could be looking at the best thing to happen to our civil liberties in a very long time. And that is this: The jury can judge the law even as it judges the defendant. Many judges won't acknowledge that, and some are even puppets enough to prohibit such action, but the jury has all the power and can do just that if it so pleases (to learn more, visit the web site for the Fully Informed Jury Association). Jury nullification is perfect in this case because it's patently obvious that it is not the man, but the law that is in the wrong.
The Liberty Round Table has set aside a portion of its web site to benefit Jeff "Hunter" Jordan, who is one of the Round Table's Knights of Non-Aggression, and who has been honored by the group by being named a "Defender of Freedom". Those who wish to contribute to his legal fund can do so in a variety of ways. At the very least, each and every one of us owes Mr. Jordan some kind of support as a token of our gratitude. After all, at significant risk to himself, he has committed to fighting a case that could result in important benefits for us all. And for those of us who have had the privilege of interacting on some level with Jeff, there's more: he is an inspiration. May we eachwhether friends, acquaintances, or strangers with the love of liberty in commonhave the courage to live up to the high standard he's set.