you think this can not happen in the United States? This is
the Capitol of our country, every Citizen should be ashamed of
Just wait it
will get worse. PLMcD.
Pistol-packing preacher protests arrest; DC police
By John Thompson
Elizabethton Bureau Chief
ELIZABETHTON — For the rest of his life Pastor William
Duncan of Caldwell Springs Baptist Church will remember the
Fourth of July as the day he lost his freedom.
“I learned our freedoms can be taken away in a
heartbeat,” the 64-year-old Duncan said of the ordeal he
encountered in Washington, D.C., when he was arrested in
front of his shocked family and forced to spend last
month’s Fourth of July weekend in the city’s jails.
The nightmare for the entire Duncan Family began with a trip
to the nation’s capital to celebrate Independence Day and
enjoy the spectacular fireworks show on the Mall.
Duncan had been to Washington a few times in the past but
his wife, Carolyn, had never been there. Accompanying them
were their daughter, son-in-law and his 4-year-old
granddaughter and 9-month-old grandson. Duncan’s daughter
is a police officer, and her husband is a federal agent.
The family’s ordeal began when they reached the hotel’s
parking garage, which is shared with a Federal Emergency
Management Agency building. A security guard at the parking
garage entrance asked if Duncan had any weapons. Duncan said
he carried two Smith and Wesson pistols under his seat.
Unaware that his Tennessee handgun carry permit was not
valid in the District of Columbia, Duncan was surprised when
police were called. He was even more surprised by the
belligerent attitude of the officer in charge. Surprise
became shock when federal agents and a Special Weapons and
Tactics team arrived. The street in front of the hotel was
“It looked like the middle of New York City and they had
just arrested Osama bin Laden,” Duncan said. Duncan’s
federal agent son-in-law attempted to help him. He
identified himself and explained the family was in town to
celebrate Independence Day and that Duncan was a Baptist
preacher and not a terrorist.
Soon the federal officers were satisfied there was no threat
and left. The hotel security people said they did not have a
problem and offered to store Duncan’s guns in the hotel
safe during his stay. Most of the police also seemed
satisfied that Duncan was not a threat. The one exception
was the officer in charge.
“You know what you have done, you will have to go to
jail,” the officer told him.
At the police station, the officer grilled Duncan about the
reason for carrying two big guns.
“I told them I have arthritis and two bad shoulders. If
someone attacked my family there was no other way I could
protect them,” Duncan said.
The officer said he did not think it was likely anyone would
attack him or his family. Duncan then told them the story of
the Lillelid Family, who were traveling to a Jehovah’s
Witness convention in Johnson City in 1997 when the four
members of the family were shot at a rest stop. Only the
2-year-old son survived the shootings and he was left
orphaned and permanently disabled.
“What would happen if someone like those thugs attack me
and my family? The Lord said a man who won’t protect his
family is worse than an infidel,” Duncan said.
After the questioning, Duncan was given his one call to his
family. He told them he was being held without bond and he
hoped to see them on Monday at his court hearing.
As shocked as he was by his arrest, Duncan was even more
shocked when he was taken to jail.
“I pity anyone who has to go into the jails of D.C.,”
He was placed in a cell in which the toilets did not work.
They were filled with filth.
“There was no soap, no toilet paper, I wasn’t given any
blankets or a pillow. I was strip searched
three times. My dignity was gone.”
The family had provided the police with his Bible and his
medication for arthritis and restless leg syndrome. The
items were never given to him.
Without his medication, Duncan could not sleep on the steel
bunk. He spent his first night in jail walking around the
cell and trying to keep his legs working.
“Every guard and every prisoner treated me with
respect,” Duncan said.
“There were some very bad people in there with me, but I
never felt threatened. There was a peace that I felt. I knew
that everything was going to be OK.”
Some prisoners said it was God’s will that he should be in
there with them. He didn’t know quite how to take that,
examining his own conscience to see why he was being
punished, but some of the prisoners seemed to feel he had
been sent to them for a purpose. They asked him to teach
That made him really miss his Bible, but he spoke to them of
“The only time I really broke down was on the night of
Independence Day,” Duncan said. He heard booms and
realized the sounds must be the fireworks he and his family
had traveled to see.
“I got off my bunk and went to the door. I said ‘dear
God, we are here to celebrate freedom and my freedom and has
been taken from me.’ I couldn’t see the fireworks but I
His family also missed the fireworks. After his
arrest, they retreated to their hotel room and hardly left.
Carolyn said she didn’t eat the whole time and her
daughter, a nursing mother, found she could no longer
provide her 9-month-old son with milk. To this day she can
no longer nurse him.
As the hours crawled by, Carolyn felt she had to do
something but did not know what she could do to help her
husband. Finally, she thought of a leader in the church,
Dexter Lunceford, who is a trooper for the Tennessee Highway
Patrol. She called and told him what happened.
Lunceford wondered what he could do and decided to call
Sonny Fletcher, a close friend of Rep. Phil Roe of the 1st
Congressional District. Fletcher reached Roe with the news.
“I was infuriated when I got the phone call,” Roe said.
“They called the SWAT team for a preacher and a veteran.
They are arresting the good guys.”
Although it was Sunday night of a holiday weekend, Roe went
to work to make sure Duncan was freed. He also called
Carolyn several times to assure her his staff was working
“I didn’t know Dr. Roe before this. I had voted for him,
but that was about it,” Duncan said.
Roe was a cosponsor of a national right-to-carry reciprocity
bill in 2009 and his chief of staff staff, Andrew Duke, was
familiar with National Rifle Association lobbyists and
representatives. He was able to reach attorney Richard E.
Gardiner, who is in private practice but formerly served as
legal counsel to the NRA.
After a weekend in jail, Duncan took comfort when a public
defender assured him his case would be dropped. He was
shocked when he approached the judge and heard the
authoritative voice of Gardiner tell the judge he would
Duncan was quickly released on his own recognizance. He was
allowed to return home and the case was dismissed three
His problems are not yet over. Duncan wants the case
expunged from his record and his guns returned. The Judge
has stated the guns will be forfeited to the District of
Columbia. Gardiner is working on that.
“I told the church when I came back that I would resign if
anyone didn’t want a jailbird for a preacher. They told me
they weren’t ashamed of me, that I was a hero".
I don’t want to cause the church any embarrassment and I
don't feel like a hero, I feel violated.
I thank God and Attorney Gardiner for my release.
preserve our independence, we must not allow
our rulers to load us with perpetual debt...
am for a Government rigorously frugal and
simple".... Thomas Jefferson