Legal Issues

The Real Consequences of Gun Control: Persecuting a Hero

Washington Times columnist Emily Miller gained national attention for her “Emily Gets Her Gun” series in the Times, and in her new book, Emily Gets Her Gun: …But Obama Wants to Take Yours, she details the wrenching step-by-step process she had to work through in Washington, D.C., to finally get a gun she wanted for self protection. Four months of jumping through regulatory hoops and $435 in fees later, she was able to purchase a basic black SIG Sauer P229.

In the book she discusses the travails of dealing with the D.C.’s gun bureaucracy and also dispels myths about guns and crime statistics and exposes what she sees as political plots to make guns less available to law-abiding citizens.

She makes clear in the book that the gun-rights debate isn’t just about firearms. It’s about protecting a fundamental right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. It’s about politicians who lie, manipulate, and outright break existing laws to get what they want. She writes that it’s about President Obama wanting a bigger federal government to control you. Not just your guns—you. The fight for gun rights is the fight for freedom. Emily Miller says stand up and fight back now because your Second Amendment will only be the first to go.

The following is Chapter 19 of Emily Gets Her Gun, “The Real Consequences of Gun Control: Persecuting a Hero,” excerpted in full with permission.

Emily Gets Her Gun: …But Obama Wants to Take Yours

Regnery Publishing, Inc.  • ISBN 978-1-62157-192-6

Kindle Preview

The anti-gun laws in the nation’s capital have made criminals of upstanding citizens—and they’ll do exactly the same thing in the rest of the country if Mayor Bloomberg, President Obama, and the anti-gun crowd get their way.

I first met Sergeant Matt Corrigan inside a D.C. Superior Courtroom on May 21, 2012. He was there to appear before Judge Michael Ryan for a hearing on the 10 charges against him—three for unregistered firearms and seven for possession of ammunition in different calibers. Wearing a blue suit and black-rimmed glasses, he looked nervous next to his lawyer Richard Gardiner at the defense table. The representative from the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia moved to dismiss all the charges.

After the hearing, Gardiner looked more pleased than his client. I expected some sense of vindication or, at least, relief, but the soldier was weighed down by the trauma of his experiences over the last two years.

“For court, I put on a face showing I’m okay,” the 35-year-old said. “Overall, this has broken me.” As he told me his story from the beginning, his raw pain often brought me to tears.

At 4:00 a.m. on February 3, 2010, Sergeant Corrigan was asleep in his basement apartment in a row house at 2408 North Capitol Street when he heard his name being called on a bullhorn from outside. There was a heavy snow falling—the first storm of what became known that winter as “Snowmageddon.” Floodlights glared through the front and back windows of his English basement apartment. “Matt Corrigan, we’re here to help you, Matt,” the voice said in the darkness. He turned on his cell phone, and a police detective immediately phoned and said, “Matt, don’t you think this is a good time to walk your dog?” The SWAT team outside could see the eleven-year-old pit bull, Matrix, a rescue from dog fighting, who had been with Sergeant Corrigan since graduate school in northern California.

“I’ll come to the window and show myself,” he offered. Sergeant Corrigan still had no idea why his house was surrounded, but he knew exactly what he should do in this situation. “I’ve been on the other end of that rifle trying to get someone out,” he explained.

In 2005, Sergeant Corrigan was an Army reservist in a drill sergeant unit based in Alexandria and a statistician at the Bureau of Labor Statistics during the day. He volunteered to serve in Iraq. Corrigan and nine other soldiers embedded themselves with the Iraqi army to train them to be a functional military force. Among other duties, the sergeant would go out on patrol in Fallujah with the Iraqis and clear routes of improvised explosive devices. He was awarded the bronze star.

His 12 months of service ended without much time to readjust to civilian life. “In 20 days, I went from being shot at to sitting in a cube wearing a suit,” he recalled of the difficult transition back to his civilian job as a statistician. “Your body is in America. Your head is in Iraq.”

Like many recent war veterans, he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sergeant Corrigan told me that he was still looking for the “IED triggerman” in his daily civilian life. He was having terrible nightmares that left him constantly sleep-deprived. “I kept seeing my own dead body with my friends and family standing over me, looking disappointed. Sometimes I died in Iraq, sometimes here,” he recalled of the dreams.

That February night, Sergeant Corrigan had struggled to fall asleep, after four or five nights of sleeplessness in a row. In his Army Reserve job, he was working on preparing a mental health manual for his soldiers on mild traumatic brain injury and suicide prevention. Looking for someone to help him get some sleep a little before midnight, he called the counseling number on the National Veterans Crisis Hotline.

Though it wasn’t listed as such, he had inadvertently called a suicide hotline. The woman who answered his call, who said her name was Beth, asked for his name, unit, address, phone number, whether he was active duty, and if he was using alcohol or drugs.

Then she asked if he had any firearms. Sergeant Corrigan had three personal guns for protection in his home. He had a Smith & Wesson 5904 in 9mm that he bought when he turned 21 years old. He purchased an M1A Scout Squad rifle from Springfield Armory in 308 cartridge when he was accepted into a fully paid graduate school program. Then he bought a SIG Sauer P226 in .40 caliber when he got his first job after graduate school.

Sergeant Corrigan had recently moved from Virginia to the District, but he had not registered his guns because he thought the process was too risky. “It didn’t sound right that I could just carry my guns to the police station and not get arrested,” he explained. (I have heard the same thing from many people who move to D.C. When asked, I recommend they pay an FFL $125 to pick up the guns and take them to the police station.)

Sergeant Corrigan answered Beth’s question truthfully, admitting that he owned guns. Bizarrely, she took his answer to mean that he was about to kill himself. In fact his guns were locked and cased.

“She kept saying, ‘Put down the gun,’” Corrigan recalled. “She talked like I had the gun in one hand and my cell phone in the other.” He repeatedly told her that he was not holding a gun, but she insisted that he say the words, “The guns are down.” He told me, “I finally got agitated and said, ‘I shouldn’t have called’ and hung up.”

He took a sleeping pill that had been prescribed to him by the Veterans Administration hospital and went to bed. Without his permission, however, Beth called 911 and reported that he “has a gun and wants to kill himself.” According to a transcript of the 911 recording, the crisis counselor told the cops, “The gun’s actually on his lap.” The drill sergeant told me he said nothing of the kind, and that his two pistols and rifle were hidden under clothes and in closets, to avoid theft.

While Sergeant Corrigan slept, dozens of SWAT and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officers spent hours preparing a full-scale invasion of his residence in the middle of the snowstorm of the century. This was not an operation to protect the public from a terrorist or to stop a crime in progress. It was to rouse a sleeping man over a secondhand report that he might have an unregistered gun.

Around 1:00 a.m., the police knocked on the door of Tammie Sommons, Sergeant Corrigan’s upstairs neighbor in the row house. Police officers told Sommons that someone had reported the smell of gas coming from Sergeant Corrigan’s apartment. “I told them that there was no gas in his apartment—it was all electric,” she recalled in an interview. “I said if they smelled something, it’s just my roommate, who was cooking chicken parmesan.”

The officers asked Sommons whether Sergeant Corrigan owned any guns. “I said, of course he has guns, he’s in the military,” she replied. Sommons had never seen the sergeant’s guns, but she is from a military family, in which gun ownership was the norm. She disclosed this information to the police because she was unaware at the time that the District requires residents to register guns with the city.

Over the next hour, Sommons repeatedly told the police she was sure that Sergeant Corrigan was merely sleeping. She knew he took prescription sleeping pills. But they weren’t interested in a simple explanation.

“The cops said we needed to leave our house because Matt was going to shoot through the ceiling,” Sommons told me. “They painted this picture like Rambo was downstairs and ready to blow up the place.”

At 3:00 a.m., the police called in an EOD unit—the bomb squad. They brought in negotiators. They had the gas company turn off the gas line to the house. A few minutes before 4:00 a.m., they started calling Sergeant Corrigan’s cell phone, but they got no answer because he had turned it off before going to bed.

At 4:00 a.m., with the police invasion in place, Sergeant Corrigan was jolted awake by the bullhorn and the bright lights. By phone, the drill sergeant agreed to exit his home. As he walked out his front door, he turned the knob on the handle so that it would lock when he closed it.

When he got outside the door, he saw about twenty-five officers in full body armor and Kevlar® helmets, carrying M4 rifles. SWAT and EOD teams were on all sides. Streets were barricaded for blocks.

Police memos from that night describe the situation as involving a man who is, “threatening to shoot himself,” but “doesn’t want to hurt anybody.” None of the cops’ documents indicate a threat that warranted a barricade and the closure of several streets to create “an outer perimeter that prohibited both traffic and pedestrian access.” With dozens of cops on the scene, they even created a “staging area” two blocks away.

The veteran knew how to surrender with the least chance of being hurt. He put his hands over his head and turned in a circle so they could see clearly that he was unarmed.

“I looked down and saw ten jiggly red dots all over my chest,” he said, referring to the laser targets painted on him by sighting devices on the police officers’ weapons. Recalling this, he appeared afraid at just the memory. “I crumbled,” he said simply.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw an officer ready to tackle him, so he dropped to his knees and crossed his ankles to demonstrate complete defenselessness. Officers in full protective gear handcuffed Sergeant Corrigan’s hands behind his back and pulled him up from his knees.

“They immediately zip-tied me tighter than I would have been allowed to zip-tie an Iraqi,” Sergeant Corrigan said, pulling up his dress shirt cuff to show his wrist. “We had to check to fit two fingers between the tie and the Iraqi’s wrist so we weren’t cutting off circulation. They tied mine so tight that they hurt.”

Once restrained, Sergeant Corrigan was forced into a large tactical command center called the “BEAR” that was parked at the staging area. Without reading him his Miranda rights, he said, officers began questioning the Iraq veteran, trying to get him to admit to owning guns. He remained silent about his three unregistered weapons.

A police commander then jumped into the truck and demanded to know where Sergeant Corrigan put his house key. “I’m not giving you the key. I’m not giving consent to enter my house,” Sergeant Corrigan recalled saying.

He said the officer responded, “I don’t have time to play this constitutional bullshit with you. We’re going to break your door in, and you’re going to have to pay for a new door.”

“Looks like I’m buying a new door,” Sergeant Corrigan replied.

Realizing quickly that his house would get raided without his permission, he asked for one thing from the police. “I said, ‘Please don’t hurt my dog. He’s friendly. He’s a good dog. Please don’t hurt him.’ They said they wouldn’t.”

Sergeant Corrigan was taken to the Veterans Affairs hospital in restraints. He didn’t want to be put in the hospital against his will, so he agreed to sign himself in temporarily. “After having all those guns at me, I was broken,” he said, pointing at his chest, where he’d seen the red laser dots from the police rifles. “I hadn’t slept in days. I just wanted to sleep.”

Once Sergeant Corrigan was out of the area, the police broke down his door, without bothering to seek a search warrant before doing so, according to court documents.5 “They were all keyed up because they had been there and ready to go all night,” said his attorney Gardiner, who represented Corrigan in court.

The first to enter the supposedly dangerous apartment was not the bomb squad, but a team that secured Matrix and handed him off to animal control, according to police reports. Only then did the EOD personnel enter to search using portable X-ray equipment.

During the “explosive threat clearing efforts,” police reported finding the sergeant’s “hazardous materials,” which included two pistols and a rifle, binoculars, and ammunition. The report also details how it took the combined efforts of the police, EOD, and the D.C. Fire Department to seize the “military ammunition can that contained numerous fireworks type devices.” These were in fact merely fireworks, left over from the Fourth of July.

The police also took into evidence what is described as a “military smoke grenade” and “military whistler device.” This smoke-screen canister and trip wire had been put in Sergeant Corrigan’s rucksack by his squad leader back in 1996. Corrigan had forgotten all about them for years. The rest of the materials were handed over to the crime scene search department at 7:30 a.m.

Police Lieutenant Robert T. Glover was pleased with the seven-hour operation, which resulted in securing items commonly found in millions across the country. In his report to Chief Lanier, he concluded, “As a result of this barricade incident, there are no recommendations for improvement with respect to overall tactical operations.”

The dry after-action notes give no clue to the property damage done that night. Officers tore apart the 900-square-foot basement apartment. They cut open luggage with knives instead of simply unzipping it. The raiders dumped over bookshelves, emptied closets, and threw clothes on the floor. The guns were seized, along with the locked cases, leaving only broken latches behind. The ammunition, hidden under a sleeping bag in the utility closet, was taken.

The police broke Sergeant Corrigan’s eyeglasses and left them on the floor. The cops also knocked over the feeding mechanism for the tropical fish in the sergeant’s 6-foot-long aquarium. When he was finally released from jail two weeks later, all of his expensive pet fish were dead.

The police turned on the electric stove and did not turn it off. They left without securing the broken door. When Sommons came back to her house later that day, she looked into Sergeant Corrigan’s apartment and described it as “ransacked.”

“It made me lose respect for the police officers involved,” Sommons told me. “Here was Matt, who spent a year fighting for our country in Iraq—where these police would never set foot in—and they treat him like trash off the street.”

Sergeant Corrigan spent two nights in the VA hospital. When he was released on February 5, police officers were waiting. They handcuffed him and finally read the soldier his Miranda rights, according to court papers, charging him with three counts of unregistered guns and seven counts of possession of ammunition—all based on evidence obtained without a warrant.

The police took the reservist to the 5th District station, where they put him in an open booking cell before questioning him. Sergeant Corrigan’s then-girlfriend, now-wife, Chetna Lal drove to the station but was told she couldn’t see him. She said the police told her to wait at D.C. Superior Court for an arraignment.

After a while, Sergeant Corrigan agreed to sign a waiver to be interrogated. Officers asked the drill sergeant for details about each gun, such as where he had bought it and what it was for. He was called out of his cell once more to be taken to a city mental health clinic to be evaluated. The doctor determined that he was not a suicide risk and sent him back to the police station.

Because of “Snowmageddon,” Sergeant Corrigan said, most of the other people in police custody were released with an order to come back for arraignment at a later date. He said he asked an officer to check on his case and was told, “You know what you’re in here for. There’s no way you’re being released.”

Finally, in the evening, the police put those remaining in custody in a van to be transferred to the courthouse. On the way, officers told them that the court had closed early because of the weather. When he arrived, Sergeant Corrigan was booked and put in the central jail to wait for a hearing. Lal, who had been waiting all day at the court to see Corrigan, was never allowed to see him.

“They said that maybe they would be able to arraign us on Saturday morning,” recalled Sergeant Corrigan. “Then Saturday came, and they said court was closed, and it would have to wait until Tuesday because Monday it was closed because of the snow.”

In all, Sergeant Corrigan spent four nights in the D.C. Central Detention Facility without being allowed even a phone call. While the soldier had spent a month living on a rooftop in Iraq, he called D.C. central jail, “the worst place” with “roaches everywhere you looked” and “rats running between the cells.” The only food provided was a bologna sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise and a cup of Kool- Aid. He said the worst part was trying to sleep through the “nighttime screamers.”

By Monday, he was still in jail, unable to even make a call to explain not being at work. On Tuesday morning, Sergeant Corrigan finally had his first hearing. Since he hadn’t been allowed to make a call to hire a lawyer, he was assigned a public defender who asked him a few basic questions. But when the case was called, the court-appointed lawyer did not appear. Another public defender, who knew nothing about the case, merely entered a not guilty plea. The judge set the next court date and remanded Sergeant Corrigan to a halfway house.

The reservist was then told that because of the snowstorm, there was no room for him in a halfway house, and he had to go to the D.C. jail. He was forced to turn in his clothes, change into an orange jumpsuit, go through a medical evaluation, and be classified.

All this time, Sergeant Corrigan’s family and friends were desperate to find him. They were unable to do so because city bureaucrats had not entered his correct name or birth date into the jail system. The Superior Court arrest affidavit gave the defendant’s name as “Matthew Carrigan.” The arrest warrant also has the wrong birth day and month. The police arrest report from Officer Dino McFadden also had the same incorrect information.

The police knew Sergeant Corrigan’s actual name. Lieutenant Glover’s report to Chief Lanier (which he wrote on February 9, while the soldier was still in jail) gave the soldier’s correct name and birth date. The emergency response team’s incident report also has the correct information.

Sergeant Corrigan protested when the jail administrator wrote another variation of his last name—“Carrington”—on his prison wrist badge. He said no one would be able to find him with the wrong name on his records. But he was assured that he could be found with his prison identification number. Not so, as his jail I.D. was associated with the wrong name and birth date.

Lal said she was turned away from the prison four times as she frantically attempted to find her then-boyfriend. “I think this kind of thing would happen in India,” she said of the country of her birth. “But not in a billion years would I think this would happen in the United States of America.”

Possessing firearms in the District makes you a target for criminals. When Sergeant Corrigan was arraigned, the line of other defendants in court waiting their turn heard the gun charges against him. Word quickly spread through the jail population that the soldier was a source for illegal guns. The inmates nicknamed him “21 Guns” and constantly badgered him for help in securing firearms for them on the outside.

The gun association would normally make an inmate safer on the inside, but as part of the processing, the administrators repeatedly asked Sergeant Corrigan for personal information in front of the other inmates, including his home address. The soldier now called “21 Guns” quickly realized that the criminals in jail asking him to get them weapons on the outside could easily show up at his home later, demanding a firearm.

After about five days of badgering from other inmates, Sergeant Corrigan asked to be put in protective custody. The conditions there turned out to be worse than among the general population, he said. He was locked in his cell for twenty-three hours a day. When he was taken to any kind of administrative appointment within the jail, he was shackled.

Sergeant Corrigan had his own cell for a few days, and then he got a cellmate he described as looking like John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban. One night the sergeant woke up in his bottom bunk to find his cellmate trying to strangle him with a towel. The experienced military man was able to keep off the deranged attacker until the guards made their regular rounds.

Finally, a friend who is a Navy JAG officer succeeded in tracking down Sergeant Corrigan in the jail. Then Lal was able to hire an attorney, who secured the soldier’s release on his own recognizance at 12:30 a.m. on February 20.

He returned home seventeen days after his arrest to an apartment that had been destroyed by the police. There he discovered a notice saying that if he didn’t pick up his dog, Matrix, within three days, the canine could be “euthanized.” Thankfully, Lal had rescued the soldier’s beloved dog just in time.

Sergeant Corrigan returned immediately to his job and his military duties, but the charges were a black cloud hanging over his head. From February 2010 to May 2012, Sergeant Corrigan was forced to abide by the conditions of his court release. That meant checking into the courthouse weekly, attending mandatory mental health appointments, and undergoing weekly urine testing for drugs.

The D.C. court also banned him from touching a firearm. “They basically took away my military career for two years,” he said. That is a recurring theme in Washington. Our armed forces trusted Sergeant Corrigan to carry deadly weapons—the reservist continues to serve one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer—but the District bureaucrats did not.

Gardiner, who Corrigan had by then hired, had filed a motion in August 2010 to suppress the evidence because the police had violated his client’s constitutional right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure.

“When I was secured, a warrant could have been obtained,” the soldier told me. “When I offered not to give my consent to enter my place, a warrant could have been obtained. When the first weapon in plain view was alleged seen, a warrant could have been obtained. When they did not ‘have an initial on explosives,’ a warrant could have been obtained. During each of these incidents what was the exigency that prevented a warrant from being obtained?”

The assistant attorney general for the case, Avril Luongo, opposed the motion to throw the unregistered guns out of evidence. She said exigent circumstances justified the search. By this, she was referring to a November 2010 filing that said Sergeant Corrigan was an expert in planting explosives and that there was a smell of gas in the building. The document also claimed that police had “gained intelligence about the defendant, including information that the defendant was an Iraqi war veteran with specialized training (believed to be training in connection with deploying ‘booby traps’).”

The government’s court filing concluded, “Under the totality of the circumstances—the smell of natural gas, the information that the defendant had a military background and experience with booby traps, the defendant’s call to the suicide hotline—the officers reasonably believed a crisis situation existed. Thus the urgency of that crisis, including the need to secure the premises, was the basis of their decision to perform a warrantless search.”

Both of the supposedly exigent circumstances—the smell of natural gas and experience with booby traps—were fabricated.

The EOD team on the scene said there was no evidence of explosives at the apartment. The same experts declined to use a dog trained to sniff out explosives, and instead brought in a special gun-searching dog.

In the discovery phase of the proceedings, Gardiner asked for copies of the police notes and documents from that evening, and found they contained no reference to “booby traps.” He asked Luongo for the rest of the evidence supporting her theory, but that was all she had. The prosecutor told the defense attorney that she would talk directly to the police officers to get the answers. “She never told me what was said, but the next thing she filed was the notice to withdraw the claims of booby traps because the police couldn’t substantiate it,” said Gardiner.

The prosecution began to fold. Before a hearing on the motion to suppress on April 18, 2012, D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan wrote the court, “Upon further investigation, the government is no longer relying on the proffer that the Metropolitan Police Department was aware that the defendant had training in the deployment of ‘booby traps.’” At the hearing, the attorney general’s office only had the supposed “smell of gas” to prove their search was based on an exigent circumstance.

Lieutenant Glover’s report to Chief Lanier noted a “strong odor of natural gas emanating from the immediate area in and around the target address.” But this excuse fell apart quickly. Sommons took the stand and testified she told the police that night that there is no gas in the basement of the row house. In court, Gardiner questioned Officer Carlos Heraud, who was one of the first on the scene and had interviewed Sommons about the gas. Asked on the stand if he smelled gas that night, Officer Heraud said he did not. There was no mention of gas or explosions in the officer’s handwritten notes from that night. Furthermore, an hour or two before the police woke up Sergeant Corrigan and arrested him, they had Washington Gas turn off the line to the building.

The judge found this evidence overwhelming. On April 19, D.C. Superior Court Judge Ryan granted the defense’s motion to suppress the evidence because the search had violated the Fourth Amendment. The prosecutor asked for thirty days to determine whether the city would appeal the ruling. The judge granted the request, then set the next status hearing for May 21.

The city was finally forced to stop persecuting Sergeant Corrigan. Luongo called Gardiner a week before the hearing to inform him that the city had decided against appealing the decision. She also said that all the charges against Sergeant Corrigan would be dropped because of the lack of evidence.

Gardiner then petitioned the court to return his clients’ property— guns and ammunition. (The lawyer had just gotten back the guns of his other active-duty veteran client, Lieutenant Kim, after two years.) Judge Ryan initially protested that Sergeant Corrigan would be violating D.C.’s registration laws if the guns were returned to him. Gardiner told the judge that his client is now a resident of Virginia, where registration is not required.

A new prosecutor assigned to the case told the judge that he was unprepared to discuss this issue. Judge Ryan gave the city three days to file a response, and said he would rule within a week. When the attorney general’s office filed the documents, it repeated the discredited claim that Sergeant Corrigan was planting booby traps and that the police smelled gas on the property.

Gardiner was “amazed” by this development. He asked the judge’s clerk if he could file a reply. “I wrote that the opposition is unethical because he presents facts to a judge that he knows are not true because the assistant attorney general previously filed a notice to the court that withdrew these claims,” he said.

The court did nothing from May until August, when it asked Gardiner to provide additional documentation that Sergeant Corrigan could legally own guns in Virginia. Again, the court delayed until December, when it asked Gardiner to file a statement indicating “whether Mr. Corrigan has complied with any applicable requirements for possessing said ammunition.”

Not until April 9, 2013—nearly a year after the charges were dropped against the war veteran—did the court issue an order to release the illegally seized property. Finally, a month later, the District of Columbia got around to returning Sergeant Corrigan’s firearms. The veteran was notified that his belongings would be sent via FedEx to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s office.

Sadly, just like Lieutenant Kim, Sergeant Corrigan found his property damaged. “The sheriff told me that the rifle and handguns were sent in the same tube, bouncing around with each other. He said there was some paper, but not enough to matter,” Sergeant Corrigan reported back to me after picking up his guns. “They moved the handguns into the box with the bagged brass so they wouldn’t get beat up any more than they already were.”

Both the pistols and the rifle had numerous chips that were not there before. The Sig had a stock-size smash mark. The officers had etched their initials and case numbers on them.

“I carried an M4 for fourteen months of a combat deployment, toting it around every day, getting in and out of vehicles, searching homes, and setting up overwatch positions. My battle rifle from combat had fewer dings and scratches than the one that was in D.C.’s possession for three years and three months,” said Sergeant Corrigan.

“I had an expectation that the weapons would be defaced from Lieutenant Augustine Kim’s story. I was hoping it would not be that big a deal, that getting the property and its value back was more important,” Sergeant Corrigan explained to me. “It became immediately apparent that it is a huge deal. Every time I go to the range to shoot or clean my weapons, I’ll be reminded of this debacle, of everything that happened to me.”

The veterans I profiled followed each other’s stories. When other soldiers come to me for help in similar situations (in D.C. or a state that has radical gun control laws) but do not want to go public for fear of their careers, I help get legal counsel and also connect them with other victims of these draconian laws so they can support and advise each other.

Sergeant Corrigan was going to try to have the guns fixed and the etching removed. He told me, “I want these guns to represent the accomplishments in my life again and not the initials and numbers of the D.C. officers that violated my civil rights.”

The damage to the veteran was beyond repair. Sergeant Corrigan filed a civil suit in February 2012 against the District asking a minimum of $500,000 for violating his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Gardiner added some of the individual officers to the lawsuit in mid-2013.

I asked Sergeant Corrigan why he was pursuing this civil case after winning the criminal case. “Everything from this point on is to hold those responsible accountable. Because you know if they did it to me with this amount of finesse and police report padding, they have done it to others. I think, in general, this is why a growing portion of the public is fed up with the current enforcement mechanisms.”

The Iraq vet added, “I adhere to the Constitution—both here and overseas. I expect that the authorities that I served for would do the same thing. The facts are they didn’t uphold that piece of paper that I have defended through service for the last seventeen years. I expect better, and I demand better.”

Have you read “Emily Gets Her Gun?” Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (32)

  1. “When Policemen break the law, then there isn’t any law; just a fight for survival”.
    —Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin) 1971

  2. G-man wrote”It can be assumed we were all raisedvwith a sense of true American patriotism”,. That sir, I believe is a pipedream that many are taking for granite. As we watch the erosion of the US, the lack of patriotism is growing by leaps and bounds. Based on your statement G-man, you have a belief in God and as such it is a critical part of your makeup. Therefore, I would profer that you would be just as upset as I when the Air Force Academy decided to make optional in the oath the phrase “under God”, because some minority doesn’t like it. There is a belief that the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree. You are as your father raised you, with devotion to country and honor.

    To you Sir, my hat off to you.

  3. @ Emily Miller. Your skills and hard-hitting stories alerts us to the “WHAT” went on in each atrocious scenario, but as most of us are commonsensical, we are left wondering about the “WHY”.

    Why do ordinary men in law enforcement choose to do these things? It can be assumed we were all raised with a sense of true American patriotism with each of us having the same aspirations towards a good job, a house, a spouse, kids, and freedom. So what changes about these people when they don their law enforcement uniform? What company of culture is thrust upon young cadets that comingle with their daily work experiences which ultimately culminates in the poor choices made as these horrendous scenarios unfold?

    My previous comment (by G-Man, Comment #4) above expresses part of the problem, but where exactly is the seed planted? Now that would make for an interesting and educational read. It may even help combat the problem. Maybe this is something you would consider working on?

  4. Thank you for the support. Unfortunately, Sgt. Corrigan’s case is not isolated. There are two other veterans profiled in my book, “Emily Gets Her Gun…. But Obama Wants to Take Yours” who were also jailed and charged by D.C. Just this week, I wrote about Mark Whitaschek who goes to trial on Nov. 4 after the police raided his house twice (once without a warrant) and charged him for two felonies of possession of unregistered ammunition — one charge is for a spent shell. Read that story here:

  5. It’s pretty clear that left wingers who seem to know what is best for all of us will stop at nothhing to impose their will. Taking our guns is definitely on their agenda, and that includes that dumbass sitting in our presidents chair. EWveryone move to Texas, we believe in an Americans right to carry a gun and the police here are not ones to harrass you as long as you cooperate with them. They are simply doing their jobs when some left winger calls in on an American citizen carrying a fun and it is scaring the hell out of them. In those cases the police have to respond, but in almost every case nothing happens and the licensed carrier is set on his way. There are times when the gun carrier wants to make a point and resists law officers and find themselves in a bad situation. When you use a little common sense, cooperate, and don’t make an “in your face” scene, the officer will simply let you go. I know there are a dozen stories of people having law officers “harrass” them, but I can assure you they brought it upon themselves.
    Most of us carriers from Texas have enough common sense to know the officer is simply doing his job whether he likes it or not and doesn’t need a lot of trash talk about youir “rights”. The officer knows your rights and hasno intentions of taking them away.
    I know there will be a dozen replys of how you know of an incedent where the law officer overstepped his boundries, but again, that’s usually here say and usually not completely true.
    So, move to Texas and enjoy carrying you gun in peace. Just don’t let it show. We are not open carry and trust me, when one of those left wing do gooders see it, the police will be called.

  6. I hope that “Beth” lost her job and is held culpable for her horrible actions that night. Should be fired and ?. It sickens me to think the hotline he called for help that night could be so incompentent. Or has the DC police altered what was submitted by the VA?

  7. It’s hard to know where to start. I’m a Marine 55-59 and a retired Deputy Sheriff. I spent 32 years protecting the rights and lives of U.S. citizens. To see what is happening today makes me both sad and angry. The current administration is so corrupt it is sickening. The Attorney General was found in criminal contempt of congress and Obama squashed it. He said at the beginning of his first term He would not do anything to honest firearms owners. A bald faced lie. He had Kerry sign the UN whatever it’s called that is a movement to facilitate the confiscation of all privately owned firearms throughout the world. The incidents in DC are the tip of the iceberg. There is a saying that has never been more true, ” When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. Having had a great relationship with the FBI
    and being a graduate of the FBI National Academy I can say the FBI hasn’t been the same since Director Kelly the last COP to hold that office. The BATFE has been anti gun for years. It’s time to let the congress know we are the ones in charge as written in the documents by men who wanted us to be in charge. Our Congressmen and Senators are supposed to do our bidding not their parties or their personal agendas.
    Sorry I could say more but I don’t want to be another Sgt. Corrigan God bless him.

  8. It is a sad state we find our country in, even sadder that people would subject a decorated veteran to such an ordeal. He is a far better man than I. The civil suit in my book better than warranted, I would have uped the anti in the lawsuit by a factor of break the bank, to include every officer involved by name. Besides the monetary part of the lawsuit, I would be going after reprimand and forced removalfrom any future service in law enforcement.

    I am not vendictive by nature, but abuse under the guise of power is wrong and when conducted as was by these officers, judges, etc all must pay for their abuse of this fine American Hero.

    The time has come to stop the abuse, stop pursuing laws just to say you did something, when the current laws lack enforcement.

    My oath to the Constitution still stands after 45 years,

    Molon Labe, Semper Fi

  9. This story is a sad one, indeed. I am a Libertarian by virtue, retired military and law enforcement, life member of the NRA, a firearms instructor, past FFL holder/gunsmith, and most importantly an AMERICAN by birth and ancestry. It is with great sadness that I read stories such as this. I am old enough to remember when, as a kid walking down the street in my small town carrying a shotgun or rifle over my shoulder while going to the local dairy farm to hunt rabbits or birds, wouldn’t even have gotten me a second look by local residents. Let me say this-guns are not the problem!

    The problem also is not black or white, liberal or conservative. The problem, in my estimation, is politicians, and to a great extent, lawyers. They manipulate and abuse our system of laws in order to gain power and money. Add to this the unrelenting influence of non-American money flowing into the U.S. from drug dealers, weapons dealers, and influence peddlers/buyers, and we end up with the current situation. Many people laugh at the strict Constitutionalists, but the U.S. Constitution is all that is standing between “we the people” and the third world status the politicians in D.C. want to impose on the common man in this country! At this point, I think everyone has their questions about Obama’s intentions for the U.S. He is fulfilling his promise to “fundamentally change America”, and the changes he has in mind will not make the U.S. a better place to live. The American people would be wise to wake up and smell the coffee!

  10. I think the general population is missing the obvious. During the last 5 years, we have a president and an Attorney General that tell ICE agents not to enforce immigration laws; they find no law broken when men armed with clubs stand outside a polling location and demanding to now how people will vote before they are allowed to enter; and illegal immigrants who break laws are released without trial and without deportation. On the other side of the coin, we have stories like this one where a gun owner and veteran is treated horrifically or we hear stories about a man’s house being torn apart, his children pulled out of the shower and handcuffed while naked on the floor because of an empty shot shell and a single spent cartridge ( Are people realizing that the criminals are the ones receiving a free pass and the government is going after gun owners? How have we gotten into the situation where the criminals have more rights than law abiding Americans and where people who follow the law are being persecuted?

    While President Bush signed the Patriot Act around ten years ago, it has shown that Mr. Obama and Eric Holder have taken that law well beyond it’s intended use and are now using it to pursue they personal agendas. One only needs to look at how secrecy laws have been used more times to prosecute journalists during the Obama administration that since the law was written in 1917 to realize what is happening. This needs to stop and stop soon before the politicians rip this country apart.

  11. It outrages me to see those who are supposed to “Protect and Serve” treat those who fought for our freedom like this. To see the enormous amount of fabrication and lies that the police committed in this circumstance, not to mention the terrible waste of resources used that our tax money pays for, really sickens and saddens me. I hope that this black mark of shame haunts the D.C.P.D. For years to come. I also think that the actions of the rep from the support hotline are reprehensible, as she also fabricated a bunch of facts and treated him like a criminal. It makes you think wove before calling any assistance hotline. What an absolute conspiracy that happened here. If this type of thing keeps happening, We the people will not stand for it!

  12. First my story was completely true, but the New Yorker was not a guy. She was an older woman. Probably someone’s grandmother.

    Further, this is not about republicans and democrats, Obama and Bush, this is about the size and role of government. I do not stand on the side of the right or the left, I stand on the side of liberty, and against the violation of the rights of individuals and the constitution, by anyone. Be it by the federal, state, or local government, criminals, or companies.

    The battle lines are not between left and right but between those who respect the individual freedoms and personal rights and those who would trample those rights in the name of power, fortune, or ideology. The rights to bear arms, and speak out against those who infringe on our liberty are precious. As I cling to my freedom I do not begrudge any or hate anyone, I only decry those who would step on the liberties of my fellow man. We have the right to defend our selves from criminals with deadly force if necessary and from governmental oppression with our speech, our votes and our civic duty. I for one carry a gun, vote every time, and look forward to jury duty.

  13. @TAD
    First my story was completely true, but the New Yorker was not a guy. She was an older woman. Probably someone’s grandmother.

    Further, this is not about republicans and democrats, Obama and Bush, this is about the size and role of government. I do not stand on the side of the right or the left, I stand on the side of liberty, and against the violation of the rights of individuals and the constitution, by anyone. Be it by the federal, state, or local government, criminals, or companies.

    The battle lines are not between left and right but between those who respect the individual freedoms and personal rights and those who would trample those rights in the name of power, fortune, or ideology. The rights to bear arms, and speak out against those who infringe on our liberty are precious. As I cling to my freedom I do not begrudge any or hate anyone, I only decry those who would step on the liberties of my fellow man. We have the right to defend our selves from criminals with deadly force if necessary and from governmental oppression with our speech, our votes and our civic duty. I for one carry a gun, vote every time, and look forward to jury duty.

  14. I see a comment by one person who wants to equate all of tommorrws events with what pizzed him off years ago. I wonder if the lack of objectivity ever weighs him down?

  15. I hope Sgt Corrigan wins his lawsuit and the jury piles on another million or more in punitive damages against the D.C. cops. As an older Nam vet I can’t imagine anything like this happening to me or any of my fellow vets back in that era. Almost equally disturbing are the moronic attempts by some commentors to use this disgraceful episode as a springboard for more anti-Obama venom.

  16. Okay, guys…

    I didn’t hear the acronym ACLU come up anywhere in the article. Where the hell are they when ordinary citizens, with NO history or current evidence of misbehavior, have their civil rights get stomped into the ground by a police state??

    Where’s our President, on the TV screen and with a disturbed look on his face(like last time), telling the American public that he’ll bring all the government’s forces to bear against those who indiscriminately trample others’ rights?

    What happened to the color-blind society all the kiss-a#$ politicians have been promising us for scores of years? And people wonder why the NRA is so vehemently opposed to turning even more control of personal freedoms over to the bureaurcrats…

  17. As a recently retired police officer and as a citizen I am appalled at the actions of the DC police. There were many times in my law enforcement career that I had to enter a residence under exigent circumstances but if the statements of Corrigan and Sommons are truthful- the police reports and the police ordering the gas turned off a hour AFTER entering the residence among other things certainly seem to support their truthfulness- there was NO exigent circumstance in this case. If Assistant AG Luongo didn’t know that when she filed the charges she is incompetent and should be fired. If she did know that, she knowingly violated more than a few federal laws and should be fired and prosecuted. The DC officer that ordered the search without a warrant should also be fired. The DC officers that destroyed Corrigan’s property in their “search” should at a minimum face departmental discipline AND be ordered by a court to personally reimburse Corrigan for his actual losses. Any DC police officer that is found to have deliberately falsified his or her report of this incident should face departmental discipline up to and including dismissal.
    As a recently retired police officer I would like to believe this incident did not occur as described. It actually hurts me to say the evidence seems overwhelming that it did occur exactly as described.

  18. I’m not sure where to start here. This is the sort of thing I would expect to hear of from a world war 2 German citizen , apparently we have a Nazi regime in Washington. The right of the people means nothing anymore and who do we blame. Did we not just vote that fascist back into office , don’t get me wrong he didn’t start the fire but sure as hell threw gasoline on it. It is time for the people to rise up and take the government back and put it back into the hands of the citizenry. I think impeachment is in order here.

  19. Sorry, but what do you expect?

    We invaded Iraq based upon lies and any Iraqi civilian that was willing to defend themselves against a foreign invader who kicked in their door was seen as a terrorist and killed.

    Now our veterans (along with the rest of us) are receiving the same treatment at home by law enforcement, many of which are ex-military themselves.

    Don’t you get it? The globalist agenda is to enslave America and treat the citizens like enemy combatants just like we did the Iraqis who were never a threat to us until after we invaded their country. This occupation was at the behest of traitorous liars on both sides of the aisle whose masters are the international bankers who control the corporations that profit from the war machine.

    It’s called karma. The globalists have now duped us into policing ourselves with the same severity as we did others. How do you like it?

  20. Welcome to Amerika.

    The Department of Homeland Security has issued IDIQ Contracts for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition including hollow-points. Not only is there preparation to subdue the American people, there is de-facto arms control based on the resulting non-availability of ammo to the American people. President Obama also wants military leaders who will fire on U.S. citizens. He is looking for officers who will ultimately swear loyalty to him and blindly do as he says rather than follow lawful orders. He is not only purging the military of commanders who will follow the Constitution, but is striking fear in the hearts of those still serving. It’s part of the effort to weed out those who won’t swear loyalty to President Obama and obey orders to fire on American citizens who refuse to give up their guns.

  21. Unconstitutional and anti-Second Amendment actions have been perpetrated under other administrations such as in New Orleans during President Bushs’ presidency however, it was never the official stated policy of the DOJ before.

  22. It is true that DC has been anti-gun for years and before this president. It is also true that his Attorney General is the point man for the administrations anti-gun agenda, that the Department of Justice has conducted illegal search and seizures and other Bill of Rights violations at a rate greater than any other administration. It is true that the rate and degree of acts against our citizens has measurably grown under this president. President Obamas leadership in this area has affected citizens all over the country in all walks of life and particularly active duty military and veterans.

    This is the first administration in American history which has in writting and as a matter of policy declared that Americas military and veterans are the enemy. The evidence is there, it is not hard to find and cannot be denied. All one has to do is open their eyes and look. In this case an objective mind will lead to a subjective conclusion.

  23. @Jamison,

    First of all, just because the President happens to be black, does not mean that someone who disagrees with his policies is racist. That is a thoroughly ridiculous and ignorant assertion. Second, yes, D.C. has had draconian guns laws for quite some time; however, it is reasonable to assume that D.C. law enforcement has become emboldened by the rhetoric of the current administration. Politicians have a way of turning a blind eye to an issue which violates someone’s civil rights if doing so furthers their agenda.

  24. ….Arizona displays another common conservative tactic…isn’t it ironic that on their jury, there was one guy from NY and of course, he was anti-gun? Wow, what a coincidence! Everybody knows that all people from NY are anti-gun, right?! Luckily, there were several gun owners on the jury and the patriotic Arizona folks set him straight!


  25. I find it amusing that right wingers can’t remember what their own leaders did to crush the Constitution of this nation. Want to talk about increasing the size of the Government? GW Bush created the largest bureaucracy in this nations history when his administration created the Department of Homeland Security, and organization that can’t even stop illegal drugs from crossing our borders let alone protect anyone (get out your duct tape and plastic sheeting). I don’t agree with what the Obama admin is doing and I agree with the previous poster…they should have far more important things to do. However, the Patriot Act is equally, if not more dangerous than what’s going on now. Even so, conservatives just can’t grasp it because it’s not something they can see. Since they can’t see it, then it must not be important. When liberals screamed about how the Patriot Act violated the constitution and our rights, conservatives pulled their usual crap of calling us all anti-American socialists…the truth is, YOUR leaders did things that were equally detrimental to US ALL, and YOU IGNORED IT. Stop acting like YOU are the only ones being picked on. What’s more, get a brain and understand that not all liberals agree with what’s going on. You aren’t the only patriotic folks out there and you aren’t the only ones who are angry about what’s going on.

  26. I do not think myself anything special or unique but the norm.. a regular guy. Wow, sounds like my life’s experience with any law enforcement and courts and quite frankly any government affiliations condensed.. Matters not what law enforcement entity you deal with, the outcome is always the same.. Lies, deception, abuse, neglect.. and continues. I might also add theft, attempted murder and murder. I have been on both sides.. Government, Enforcement, Corrections, to name a few. The supposed too be good guys side. I have also seen the other side. What I know and have personally experienced would likely fill volumes.. I want no more to do with it or them. Unfortunately it ain’t over yet. God Bless Sir. Try to keep it together. Best. PTSDC

  27. This sort of abuse of power is why I believe in serving jury duty, and not trying to get out of it. We the people are the last line of defense for our freedoms.

    I was on a jury during a criminal case where the defendant was charged with a non-violent felony and was being hit with additional felony gun charge because they owned a handgun which had been put away in an inaccessible place their house. Additionally, this person possessed no ammunition for the gun. Yet simply having a gun in the home at the time of their arrest led to felony charges, and this happened in Arizona a gun friendly state. Luckily, there were several gun owners on the jury and, I and my jury members unanimously found the defendant not guilty of the gun charge. I wounder what would have happened if no gun owners had been present, as there was one juror who had recently moved to AZ from NY and was at first convinced that anyone who owned a gun would only have it for criminal reasons. I’m not sure we changed that new-yorker’s mind but in the face of 8 to 1 odds it became a non-issue.

  28. This is not just happening in extreme anti-gun regions like D.C. In areas that are pro-gun with respectable law enforcement backing, instead the ATF and FBI pick up the slack and carry the torch of abuse out of Washington.

    Without elaborating, my military son is currently experiencing a very similar situation in a gun-friendly state, but carried out by the Feds. These Federal agencies create and manipulate environments that they know local law enforcement would never pursue.

    The only reasonable explanation for going after law abiding citizens and turning them into criminals is the modern Fed has been emasculated. Whether it is due to their own cowardice or orders from above, they fear going after the real bad guys. And so, to fill their time and justify their budgets, they create bad guys out of citizens they know won’t really harm them. Want a litmus test for proof?

    Try this for thought: With all the hardcore crime going on, if the Feds were actually pursuing as much as they could, does anyone believe they’d have time to go after all this petty stuff we read about, or invent and conduct bogus Fast and Furious schemes? We really don’t have the budget or manning for this crap; especially if real crime is being pursued.

    I’ve worked military and law enforcement combined for 32 years so I know what I am talking about. There is not a Fed reading this that doesn’t feel deep inside that I speak the truth. We’ve all been forced to carry out our superior’s orders we knew were BS. Granted, sometimes we were a small piece of the big picture and had no way of knowing the end result. And when we do fight it, we pay the price as individuals for bucking the system.

    It just appears to be one big screwed up unstoppable machine with no end in sight.

  29. I am deeply disturbed by this story, and the way these police acted seems to be the normal behavior of police now. I’m sorry but was I asleep when martial law was implemented? I also am a veteran and am highly trained, but if the government has their way it seems I along with hundreds of thousands of other veterans can expect the same kind of treatment. If tyrannical police and an abusive, self serving White House and POTUS are allowed to get away with ignoring the constitution then I say maybe it’s time for a new administration. My hat is off to Sgt.Corrigan you are a better man than even I think I would be in this type of situation. If the law and the constitution aren’t being followed then maybe it’s time for administration that does. These kinds of abusive power were the reasons so many of our ancestors came to America to be able to have talk, worship, read, and write any way they wanted without interference from government of any kind. We are supposed to be protected in this country from these kinds of things, and it’s what thousands of veterans have fought for. I for one say maybe it’s time to clear out Washington and install a government that is once again by the people and for the people. Malon Labe !

  30. “A man with a gun is a citizen. A man without a gun is a subject” J R Lott
    If enough Americans knew what really goes on these things would not.

  31. That is BS. You can’t all of the sudden blame this on Obama. DC has always been like that no matter the president. Seems a little racist to me how the black president gets all the blame on an age old issue.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Discover more from The Shooter's Log

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading