BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation today called the arrest of WPLG reporter Jeffrey Weinsier a “First Amendment outrage” that only subsequently focused on a concealed handgun he was carrying “simply to deflect public attention from the fact that Weinsier was arrested for doing his job.”
Weinsier is licensed to carry a concealed handgun, and reportedly does so because his investigative reports have resulted in death threats. He was arrested Tuesday at Miami Central High School while working on a story about school violence, and reportedly charged with trespassing on school property with a weapon, resisting officers, and possession of a firearm on school grounds. SAF has reviewed video of the incident.
“Weinsier’s arrest has far less to do with his Second Amendment rights than it does his First Amendment rights, and we think school authorities and the officers involved know it,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. “Our staff has reviewed the video and it does not appear Mr. Weinsier set foot on school property. He appears to have remained on a public sidewalk, where he had a right to be as a citizen, and a responsibility to be as a reporter doing his job.
“He never exhibited the handgun,” he added, “nor does it appear he entered any school facility. The only threat he seems to have posed to anyone might have been his already-proven ability to flesh out a story that perhaps school authorities would rather not see on the evening news.
“We are also alarmed at the attempt by one officer to block photographer Frank Debesa’s camera, so he could not document the incident on video,” Gottlieb said. “This is the United States, not a police state, and our Constitution protects press freedom to the same degree that it protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. The public has a right to know what goes on in their schools, and Weinsier was trying to tell them.
“The Florida statute regarding guns on school property appears to be on Weinsier’s side, but that will ultimately be for a judge to determine, if this case goes that far,” Gottlieb said. “We don’t think it should, and we are hopeful that WPLG stands behind its reporter because if authorities can arrest Weinsier today, who will they arrest tomorrow? A free society cannot allow any abuses of constitutional rights. The Bill of Rights is an all-or-nothing package, and we either defend every part of the document, or the entire thing is worthless.”