Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Montana Man Held Without Bail in Peaceful Gun Free School Zone Incident


On August 23, 2023, Gabriel Cowan Metcalf was taken into custody at his residence by ATF agents for having a firearm in a designated Gun Free School Zone in Billings, Montana. The firearm, a Rossi single-shot 20-gauge shotgun, was found in a scabbard on his lawnmower. During the arrest, a search warrant was carried out, leading to the seizure of six rounds of ammunition and a Samsung mobile phone.

Local Billings police had previously interacted with Metcalf but noted that he was not in violation of any state laws. Police Lt. Matt Lennick mentioned that Metcalf had not committed any illegal activities that would warrant arrest or confiscation of his firearms.

Metcalf himself has asserted that he doesn't suffer from mental health issues or substance abuse. He believes his actions were in self-defense and that he poses no threat to the community, including the children attending the nearby school. Billings police did not pursue any mental health evaluation for Metcalf.

The court has decided on a pretrial detention order for Metcalf, a measure that usually entails no bail being set. The defendant will remain incarcerated until the end of his trial, which could extend for years if a constitutional challenge is involved. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan cited "History of Violence or Use of Weapons" as the rationale for the detention.

The order details that Metcalf had been patrolling his property, which is across from an elementary school, believing it was necessary for self-protection against a perceived threat. Given Metcalf's steadfast belief in his right to bear arms in a school zone, the court determined that no set of pretrial conditions could guarantee the safety of the community.

No known history of violence has been associated with Gabriel Metcalf. His "use of weapons" seems limited to possessing a single-shot shotgun. Previously, questions were raised about the possibility of the prosecution seeking unusually high bail to pressure Metcalf.

Unlike Kyle Rittenhouse, who had a $2 million bail set after fatally shooting two people in self-defense, Metcalf was not granted the option of bail. Local police had not found any legal grounds to arrest him but requested an ATF investigation since they couldn't justify taking him into custody themselves.

The specifics surrounding the person Metcalf claimed to be protecting himself against, David Carpenter, remain somewhat ambiguous. Authorities hesitated to conduct a face-to-face interview with Carpenter for safety reasons and resorted to phone interviews instead.

As Metcalf is currently indicted and his weapon seized, he is legally barred from acquiring another firearm. Despite this, Judge Cavan expressed skepticism that Metcalf would adhere to conditions prohibiting firearm possession if released on bail.

Metcalf's public defender is considering appealing the decision to hold him without bail. If an individual's belief in the Second Amendment is a basis for pretrial detention, this raises questions about the integrity of constitutional rights.

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