An Idaho "Gun Violence" Story for the Huffington Post

by William Grigg
Apr. 02, 2013

"We're working on a project to document the nationwide impact of gun violence, and we need your help," explained the Huffington Post editorial collective in an e-mail to their "readers in Idaho." "If you or someone you know has ever been affected by gun violence, we want to hear your story."

Eagerly accepting their invitation, I sent them the following account of gun violence, which they will almost certainly decline to use.

Dear Huffington Post:

My name is William Grigg, and I'm a resident of Payette, Idaho. I wish to share with you an infuriating story illustrating the impact of gun violence on two people who are quite close to me. What is particularly infuriating is the fact that the perpetrators and their whereabouts are known to authorities, but nothing has been done to punish them.

Michael Gibbons, known as "Bear," and his wife Marcella Cruz are organic farmers who live in a tiny village called Letha, Idaho. Last August 16 Marcella was dragged out of her home by an armed stranger who left the small, slender woman covered in bruises. Bear was treated in much the same way, suffering a severe back injury that left him unable to harvest their fall crop. While the two were held at gunpoint, several armed men invaded their home in the hope of stealing their property. They eventually lost tens of thousands of dollars as a result of that armed invasion of their property, which was carried out by the Gem County Sheriff's Office.

The August 16 attack on Bear and Marcella was triggered by a malicious false report of "domestic violence" by an antagonistic neighbor. A few days earlier, the same sheriff's office had responded to a legitimate domestic violence call in the same neighborhood involving an armed, drunken husband. In that case, they sent a single deputy and a social worker, and allowed the husband to leave without being handcuffed or otherwise humiliated. In the case of Bear and Marcella, however, the Sheriff staged a SWAT-style raid in which the supposed victim was assaulted by a Deputy (Detective Rich Perecz, who has a previous violent offense in his criminal record), Bear was handcuffed, and an illegal search of the home was made in the hope of finding narcotics evidence that could be used as an excuse to forfeit (that is, steal) the property.

Why were Bear and Marcella singled out for such abusive treatment? According to recorded radio traffic among the deputies, the paramilitary raid was carried out because Bear had been politically profiled as a "Constitutionalist" -- which meant that in the interests of "officer safety," SWAT tactics would be employed. Although the illegal search didn't turn up a molecule of evidence that either Bear or Marcella was growing or trafficking marijuana, Bear was eventually cited for possession of drug "paraphernalia" -- an old coffee can.

By any rational definition of the expression, this criminal assault was an example of "gun violence" of a kind that advocates of civilian disarmament rarely, if ever, protest. By one estimate, as many as 80,000 SWAT raids take place in the United States every year --or about 220 a day. Almost all of them are carried out against non-violent offenders, many of whom are terrified, innocent people like Bear and Marcella. And those atrocities are committed by the people to whom the Huffington Post editorial collective, and like-minded civilian disarmament advocates, would give a monopoly on firearms ownership.

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