"I’ve never been in any kind of trouble... In America, how does such a thing happen?" This incident outlines why America must remain free of overbearing, gun fearing self-serving politicians and their dangerous "law enforcement" bureaucrats.
HUDSON – John Filippidis, silver-haired family man, business owner,
employer and taxpayer, is also licensed to carry a concealed firearm.
He’d rather he didn’t feel the need, “but things aren’t like
they used to be. The break-ins, the burglaries, all the crime. And I
carry cash a lot of the time. I’m constantly going to the bank.
“I wanted to be able to defend my family, my household and the ground I’m standing on. But I’m not looking for any trouble.”
Filippidis keeps his gun — a palm-sized Kel-Tec .38
semiautomatic, barely larger than a smartphone in a protective case — in
one of two places, always: in the right-hand pocket of his jeans, or in
the safe at home.
“There are kids in the house,” Filippidis says, “and I don’t
think they’d ever bother with it, but I don’t want to take any chances.”
He’s not looking for any trouble, after all.
Trouble, in fact, was the last thing on his mind a few weeks
back as the Filippidises packed for Christmas and a family wedding in
Woodridge, N.J., so he left the pistol locked in the safe. The state of
Florida might have codified his Second Amendment rights, but he knew
he’d be passing through states where recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions
affirming the rights of individuals to keep and bear arms have been met
by hostile legislatures and local officials.
“I know the laws and I know the rules,” Filippidis says. There
are, after all, ways gun owners can travel legally with firearms
through hostile states. “But I just think it’s a better idea to leave it
So there the Filippidises were on New Year’s Eve eve,
southbound on Interstate 95 — John; wife Kally (his Gulf High
sweetheart); the 17-year-old twins Nasia and Yianni; and 13-year-old
Gina in their 2012 Ford Expedition — just barely out of the Fort McHenry
Tunnel into Maryland, blissfully unarmed and minding their own business
when they noticed they were being bird-dogged by an unmarked patrol
car. It flanked them a while, then pulled ahead of them, then fell in
“Ten minutes he’s behind us,” John says. “We weren’t speeding. In fact, lots of other cars were whizzing past.”
“You know you have a police car behind you, you don’t speed, right?” Kally adds.
Says John, “We keep wondering, is he going to do something?”
Finally the patrol car’s emergency lights come on, and it’s
almost a relief. Whatever was going on, they’d be able to get it over
with now. The officer — from the Transportation Authority Police, as it
turns out, Maryland’s version of the New York-New Jersey Port Authority —
strolls up, does the license and registration bit, and returns to his
According to Kally and John (but not MTAP, which, pending investigation, could not comment), what happened next went like this:
Ten minutes later he’s back, and he wants John out of the
Expedition. Retreating to the space between the SUV and the unmarked
car, the officer orders John to hook his thumbs behind his back and
spread his feet. “You own a gun,” the officer says. “Where is it?”
“At home in my safe,” John answers.
“Don’t move,” says the officer.
Now he’s at the passenger’s window. “Your husband owns a gun,” he says. “Where is it?”
First Kally says, “I don’t know.” Retelling it later she says,
“And that’s all I should have said.” Instead, attempting to be helpful,
she added, “Maybe in the glove [box]. Maybe in the console. I’m scared
of it. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I might shoot right
through my foot.”
The officer came back to John. “You’re a liar. 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.”
Of course, John couldn’t show him what didn’t exist, but
Kally’s failure to corroborate John’s account, the officer would tell
them later, was the probable cause that allowed him to summon backup —
three marked cars joined the lineup along the I-95 shoulder — and empty
the Expedition of riders, luggage, Christmas gifts, laundry bags; to pat
down Kally and Yianni; to explore the engine compartment and probe
inside door panels; and to separate and isolate the Filippidises in the
back seats of the patrol cars.
Ninety minutes later, or maybe it was two hours — “It felt
like forever,” Kally says — no weapon found and their possessions
repacked, the episode ended ... with the officer writing out a warning.
“All that time, he’s humiliating me in front of my family,
making me feel like a criminal,” John says. “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.”
Face red, eyes shining, John pounds his knees. “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.”
Tom Jackson, Tampa Tribune