Saturday, August 31, 2013

Washington Lawful Gun Owner Fires Warning Shots at Paraglider - Charged with Misdemeanor - Keeps Guns

Stephen B. Flinn faced off with an air-borne intruder after the glider encroached on his airspace.
A Washington man moved from the busy hubbub of the city to the quiet humdrum of the rural countryside. He quickly learned, however, his seclusion would be frequently interrupted, by paragliders.
Sixty-six-year-old Stephen B. Flinn was sitting in his living room, enjoying his newfound peacefulness in the hills of rural Douglas County when a paraglider buzzed his tower.
Flinn grabbed his shotgun and fired a warning shot into the air to “get the glider’s attention.” But that didn’t deter the pesky, flying outdoorsman. In fact, it made him pretty angry.
The airborne glider cursed at Flinn, threatening to come to his house if he kept up his shenanigans.
Undeterred, Flinn fired another shot, bringing the police to his doorstep. They confiscated Flinn’s shotgun and convinced him it would be in his best interest to call the authorities next time, instead of firing two blasts into the air.
Flinn stated he was pointing his 12-gauge shotgun away from the glider and simply trying to shoo (not shoot) the intruder away. Because of this, he is facing only a misdemeanor charge instead of a felony charge of assault.
The lighthearted article in is rife with Joe Biden jokes and an overall attitude of boys will be boys. 
Apparently the charges reflect this nonchalant attitude. 
It's extremely dangerous to fire warning shots in the air, but what's worse is the question of what else might a person capable of shooting to scare a paraglider away capable of doing?
A misdemeanor charge which after all is said an done will result in nothing more than a slap on the wrist is not enough for this dangerous idiot.  He should lose the guns.
Now, I can't wait to hear the usual suspects defend this man's actions in the name of gun rights.


  1. "They confiscated Flinn’s shotgun and convinced him it would be in his best interest to call the authorities next time, instead of firing two blasts into the air."

    They did take the shotgun he used to fire the shots in question, though I know you want him to be a prohibited person. He is charged with a gross misdemeanor which could result in up to a year in jail.

    "Douglas County Prosecutor Steve Clem said the gross misdemeanor charge was more appropriate to the case than a felony charge of assault."
    “There was no attempt by the property owner to injure the paraglider by aiming at him and shooting at him,” Clem said."

  2. For informational purposes only: I've talked before about the legalities, or lack there of, of warning shots and agreed with the danger of firing guns in the air. This is not intended to take back any of that or contradict it, but to educate any who don't know the physics of various loads:

    If someone is going to fire into the air, a shotgun is the gun to do it with. This is why I have, in the past, made fun of a commenter who claimed to be a gun owner and avid hunter and then stated that he only needed his rifle for duck hunting and shotguns were too dangerous and powerful. The small shot used for hunting birds, ducks, geese, and even turkeys has too little mass to surface area to have a lethal terminal velocity. This is why people are able to shoot birds and clay pigeons out of the air safely with shotguns.

    Recommendations against employing warning shots still stand. This is just to note that if the gun was loaded with bird shot, this is not quite as reckless an act as doing the same with a rifle or pistol loaded with standard ammo.

    1. I get what you're saying about the shotgun vs. the rifle, but this guy was way out of line, was he not?

    2. Mike,

      Yeah, I think the guy was out of line. If I had to come up with a defense for him, I probably could come up with something not completely laughable(Laci probably could too), but death threats for flying over your property (which is what the law considers warning shots) is not proportional to the offense.

      As I said in the first post, it was for informational purposes, not to advocate for this guy. I just wanted to educate folks.

      I also want to note, on the side, that the pilot doesn't come off lily white in this either with his threats to come to the guy's home. There was a part of me, as I read this story, that said, "These two deserve each other."

  3. Typical gunsuck loser. You don't own the airspace over your residence, above a certain distance. No one, for instance, can charge airlines a fee to go over their house. This guy is another gunsuck loser.

    1. Anon,
      The rules regarding airspace are a bit murky in this area. The FAA requires aircraft to maintain a five hundred foot clearance from people or man-made structures except for take-off and landing. Then throw in the fact that in legal terms, paragliders and some other devices aren't considered to be aircraft.
      The pilot stated that he was flying 60 to 80 feet above his house. That being said, using deadly force to "shoo" someone away without a deadly threat isn't reasonable or legal. In this case, the proper "escalation of force" (best case) would be to talk to whomever is running the launch site. Then the word could go out that they need to keep their distance. Or he could call the police and they would likely do the same.
      If that doesn't work, he could complain to the FAA on safety grounds. Neither party behaved well in the encounter since the pilot threatened to come to his house if he continued. But, if it were against the law to be a jerk, who would run the prisons? So this got handled properly, IMHO

  4. Someone close to that location should tell the gunner "Hey! The paragliders aren't harming the REST of us - so what the hell is YOUR problem??". If THAT doesn't work, BOOT 'im!