March 10, 2006

Innocent Until Proven Gun Owner

The gist is that Angel is out & has lawyered up. Gary Marbut has a page up that is archiving all the info on Angel's ordeal & there is a defense fund you can contribute to if so inclined.

But Angel has been catching hell in the press & on at least one blog. Even in the comments to my previous post on Angel a few critics have emerged.

Andy D. says:

"Uhm, I read that he threatened to kill his girlfriend.
link to article
Why else would the police go to his house?"

Charlie Barnes said:

"Yes - he DID threaten his girlfriend's life. She's also the mother of their son (who was present when he assaulted her) and which directly resulted in the charges against him.
He was arrested with (15) unregisterd handguns, (11) illegal rifles, an assault rifle and 17,000 rounds of ammunition. For 'personal protection'? Yea, right.
And the comment about 'having to register pellet guns in Michigan' is 100% hogwash. NOT TRUE."

I suppose I'll take the last one first. Let me start off by saying huh?

First of all I have seen no mention of a threat to anyone's life (except Angel's - A SWAT team is a de facto threat of death) aside form one story that I'll get to in a bit.. I have mostly seen allegations of threats but of a non specific nature. For all we know Angel could be accused of threatening to pinch someone's buttocks. Since he is being charged with a misdemeanor relating to improper use of a communication device I'd assume that he's not being accused of making death threats. Unless Mr. Barnes was there when the alleged threats were made I believe he's jumping to conclusions.

Mr. Barnes then goes on to claim that Angel assaulted his ex g/f in front of their son. WTF? No mention of that was in any story I've read, & I'd think that if he did actually assault anyone that would have been in the first paragraph if not the headline.

Mr. Barnes goes on to claim he was "arrested with (15) unregisterd handguns, (11) illegal rifles, an assault rifle and 17,000 rounds of ammunition". That claim seems like the result of a miscomprehension of this story (which I'll get to more in depth later).

Michigan has no registration laws concerning long guns so the only way a long gun could be "illegal" is for it to be fully automatic or shorter than some arbitrary length without having the .gov's permission to possess it. If angel had a machine gun or a short barreled long gun that'd have been mentioned specifically & prominently.

I have no idea where the "assault rifle" bullshit came from.

But for the record he's being charged with 3 counts of having improperly registered handguns & 1 count of improper use of a communication device. All the charges are misdemeanors. There are no charges related to "assault rifles" or "illegal long guns". Michigan has no laws concerning how much ammunition you may possess that I'm aware of.

Mr. Barnes throws in some snark after the misinformed recount of Angel's charges.

"For 'personal protection'? Yea, right."

Ummmm yeah; that is right. Any one of those firearms could have been used for defense. I know at least a few of Angel's arms were primarily for hunting &/or target shooting but even a dedicated hunting or target gun can be used in a pinch to repel a boarder. But regardless of the utility of each arm or even the number thereof, Mr. Barnes makes the mistake of presuming to have the moral clarity to dictate what another person needs. It's simply none of Mr. Barnes' damn business. But if he has objections to "excessive" quantities of arms or ammunition then let him bitch to me about mine. Course that won't be any more effective than arguing with a brick wall that is has too much mortar but perhaps through the course he'll realize how indefensible his premise really is.

"And the comment about 'having to register pellet guns in Michigan' is 100% hogwash. NOT TRUE."

Not according to the NRA's summary page on the firearm laws in Michigan.

I quote:

"Pellet guns are considered firearms in Michigan and thus are regulated by the above provisions. A pellet handgun must be registered and requires a license to purchase. In addition, a license to carry must be obtained to carry concealed or in a vehicle; if it has no serial number, the gun must be taken to the State Police who will stamp a number on the weapon. No person under 18 years of age may possess or use a BB gun beyond the yard of his home unless accompanied by a person over 18."

I have beef with the NRA's support of gun laws, but usually their summary of laws is accurate. Course if the NRA is mistaken I'd love to see some proof. Ya know - proof. That means something verifiable; not to be confused with random assumptions, accusations, allegations & suppositions.

In short Mr. Barnes doesn't seem to know what the hell he is typing about.

Andy D got his info from a news story & assumes that the "threat" involved one of death & that the police wouldn't have went to his house if it weren't true.

At this point it's simply a case of Angel's word against that of his ex. I know Angel & I do not know his ex so I'm inclined to disbelieve the allegations. But there's something else that makes me defend him - his guilt has not been proven to my satisfaction. At this point it's merely an allegation & not a serious one since he's only been charged with a misdemeanor concerning improperly using a communication device.

Innocent until proven guilty. It's disheartening that so many people forget or disregard that piece of wisdom.

The police will show up at your house for damn near nothing. Allow me to share an anecdote:

Some time back I had a room mate who was an alcoholic. No, strike that. The boy was a drunk. He'd get very paranoid & very whiney when he was sauced. One evening the driveway was full (the landlord had guests over) & I parked int he front of the driveway close to the drunk's room. 20 minutes later the cops come knocking on my door wanting to discuss the parking situation! Keep in mind I was not blocking anyone else's access to or from the driveway & the drunk in question did not even own a car!

So if the cops will show up at my door to discuss a parking choice I don't really see it as fanciful that they'd call the SWAT team in for an allegation that someone committed a misdemeanor.

But let's get on with the fisking...

First the short story that appeared on's site:

"Gun Cache Found in Condo
By Cheryl Chodun
Web produced by Sarah Morgan
March 6, 2006"

Sounds like it's going to be fair & unbiased from the start - a real exercise of journalism & objectivity. /sarcasm

"A local man was charged with keeping a stockpile of weapons inside his condo..."

Bullshit. He's been charged with 3 misdemeanor counts of improperly registered handguns. That's quite a difference from the language used by Ms. Chodun. it is not illegal in Michigan to have a "stockpile" of weapons. I know of know legal definition for "stockpile" concerning arms or ammunition. Therefore it'd be impossible to charge him with having a "stockpile".

"...and police said he threatened a woman, but Monday he was back on the street."

"...back on the street."? If Angel was homeless I'd drive up there my damn self & see to his needs. What the reporter (& I use the term very very loosely) is trying to do is paint a mental image of a hardened criminal let loose on society. All they could charge him with were misdemeanors. I wonder if she takes the same tact when writing about a jaywalker released on bond.

"Oakland County Sheriffs found 15 illegal handguns, 10 long guns and 17,000 rounds of ammunition in 38-year-old Angel Shamaya’s condo."

Nope. Only 3 of the handguns were suspected of being improperly registered. Increasing the number of questionably registered firearms by one or two could be seen as an error, but increasing the number by a factor of 5 is either deliberate or extremely negligent.

"Obviously the ammo is a concern. The biggest reason it’s a concern is because of the threats he’s made against her,' said Undersheriff McCabe."

Note that Undersheriff McCabe says that Angel made threats, not that Angel is accused of making threats. I find it odd that if a fellow robs a bank, is caught on camera doing so, says his first & last name clearly into the microphone & leaves his drivers license behind he's still usually referred to as a suspect, yet a vocal supporter of the Right to Arms is presumed to have done whatever he's accused of.

I will mention that Jay of 2 Valuable left the following comment at a post about Angel over at The War On Guns:

"As a side note, in spite of this situation, the Oakland County Sheriff's Department does a great job. And giving the Undersheriff a little bit of slack, our print media in Detroit has been known for its failure to accurately quote. One of the people I work with routinely, a city employee, shares on several occasions how our print media misquotes her, or even totally botches up stuff she says. I've experienced it myself."

Whether it was the Undersheriff being accurately quoted or the reporter (& I use the term very very loosely) misquoting him it's a very prejudicial statement.

"Shamaya, whose named used to be Scott McReynolds, was arraigned on a weapons charged and let out on bond."

I'm still wondering what mentioning his previous name accomplishes, other than to imply he's trying to hide something.

But if she'd have just substituted the very last sentence in the story for the first she wouldn't seem like an editorialist with an agenda. She might have even seemed like an actual reporter.

Now on the Detroit Free Press article:

"ORION TWP.: Man, 37, faces charges in seizure of weapons cache"

Nope. No bias there. / sarcasm

"A cache of guns and ammunition was seized Saturday at an Orion Township home after a woman reported to police that her 37-year-old boyfriend threatened to kill her."

If it was indeed a threat against her life that was claimed, then it was obviously a flimsy allegation since improper use of a communication device was the charge & not something more serious.

But "...a cache of guns & ammunition was seized..."? 3 allegedly improperly registered guns constitute a cache? Course it is very possible that Angel's entire collection was taken in which case the sentence should have read “A man's property was stolen by the local police after allegations of several misdemeanors were leveled against him by another person".

"Angel S. Shamaya was charged with four counts of firearms safety inspection violations, misdemeanors punishable upon conviction by up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine, and one count of malicious use of a communication device, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail."

Again none of the charges are that serious. I'd assume jaywalking carries similar penalties in Michigan. In some places I've heard that jaywalking carries harsher penalties than anything Angel is being charged with.

"Oakland County sheriff's deputies found 15 unregistered handguns, 10 long guns including high-powered semiautomatic rifles, and 17,000 rounds of ammunition in the home in the 200 block of Barrington Circle."

If there were 15 unregistered handguns then why is he only being charged with 3 counts (4 according to this article)? I assume the cops aren't that lenient so the answer would be that out of those 15 handguns only 3 were of questionable registry.

But note how they were quick to tell how many long guns he had & how much ammo even though their legality hasn't been called into question. Yet in the paragraph that preceded this one they refused to identify Angel's accuser.

"He was arraigned Saturday in 52-3 District Court and ordered to have no contact with his girlfriend, whose name was withheld by police."

Yes I know - it's generally a good policy not to publicize the name of someone allegedly threatened (or so the argument goes) but my point is that it's in very poor taste to run someone's business through the streets when it's not related to what he's accused of. & whether or not he had 17,000 rounds of ammo or a "high powered semi-automatic rifle" really doesn't speak to the issue of whether he threatened his ex or not.

While I'm on this let's talk about 17,000 rounds for a moment. Sounds like a lot doesn't it? To most non gun nuts it is. But I know of some folks who got through about that many rounds a month & more than a few who will do at least that much in a year. Buying in bulk reduces the price per round & us gun nuts are cheap bastards an economical lot.

But to give you some perspective:

That's 1800 rounds of .22 LR ammo within about 1 foot of space; 12" x 6" x 6" to be precise. & that's less than $70 of .22 LR ammo. If I had bought a case of the same brand it'd have been much less than that. 2,500 rounds of CCI Mini-mag .22LR can be had for less than $100.

The CMP sells surplus .30-06 ammo in 960 round lots for just under $0.24 per round including shipping. That's in 4 ammo cans that really don’t take up much space at all.

I could go on but the point is thousands or tens of thousands of rounds of ammo is not unusual for folks who enjoy shooting. I've heard it said that it's a good idea to have about 500 rounds for any firearm that you own. If you own ten then you should have at least 5,000 rounds of ammo. If Angel had 25 firearms then he's averaging 680 rounds per firearm which is not very far above the recommended minimum. I'd also assume a few thousand rounds were in .22 LR so it's probably less than 680 per firearm.

"Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe said detectives did not know why Shamaya had the guns."

Pro-gun blogger Publicola said that he did not know why Undersheriff McCabe had a car, or why some reporters have access to keyboards.

Really; is it so hard to fathom why people possess firearms? Sure there could be many reasons, but phrased the way it was it gives the impression that such possession did not make sense or had some nefarious purpose.

If you're wondering why I'm spending so much time defending Angel I'll clue you in; I'm selfish. I'm concerned about my own well being. &I am not smug enough to think that the press would treat me kindly since its busy dogging out Angel whenever it can. My motivation isn't that of a concerned friend (although I am concerned & do consider him a friend) but of someone who realizes that I could damn well be in his shoes & I'd want someone at least defending me against the unwarranted attacks that would occur.

Think 17,000 rounds is excessive? Well there are plenty of folks who would think 500 rounds of .22 LR are excessive. & most all of them will have a press pass.

What a person possesses should not matter. Only a person's actions count. Angel has been accused of making a threat against his ex-girlfriend & having unregistered handguns. If you've been to this site more than a few times I think you can guess that I don't give a damn about someone ignoring a registration law. In fact I doubt I'd ever comply with any registration laws, so I will not blame someone else for not doing so.

The only thing of concern is whether angel did threaten his ex-girlfriend. I don't think he did, not just because I know the man & think it'd be out of character for him to have done so, but because I still believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. Even if they're gun owners.

Posted by Publicola at March 10, 2006 06:49 AM | TrackBack

Unless Mr. Barnes was physically present at these alleged events, it would be advisable for him to shut his blowhole, and stop repeating libelous allegations against a man who hasn't even had his day in court yet.

Posted by: Nicki at March 10, 2006 08:59 AM

Comment removed at request of commenter

Posted by: at March 10, 2006 10:45 AM

Indeed. Given a choice between papers/media and what Angel and his friends say, I'll go with Angel and his friends unless I have found reasons to believe otherwise. I haven't.

Good luck, Angel. Even us Brits are behind you.

Posted by: Gareth Adamson at March 10, 2006 02:25 PM

I was hoping Angel would go after these guys! Go get 'em, Angel!

Posted by: R.J. at March 10, 2006 02:27 PM


Haven't talked to you in a couple years.
Sorry for your troubles.

I could add some great advice, but you already know it all.

You basically have to fight for complete victory to keep your record squeaky clean. Enough time, money and a good lawyer and you can win.
I'm helping a friend right now whose wife made up charges in a divorce & it's real hell for him.

You are going to need to keep an offsite storage for most of your arms for now on for peace of mind. (Only 17,000rds, you must be keeping mobile or need a better job. :) )

Very best of luck Angel.

Posted by: John Galt at March 11, 2006 10:49 AM

Good luck Angel. Sorry you have to go through all this, but I hope in the process we bring to light the slander and libel of the press and prohibitionists. Go after them and recoup manyfold any losses caused by them.

Posted by: Gardner Behrends at March 11, 2006 12:29 PM

Amazing, brief representation of how the 'sheep' in the majority of the public, are subjected to shaped, crafted 'news' headlines - and they have absolutely no idea they are being manipulated. Either they are being manipulated, or the reporting is pathetic, and lacking depth. In any case...WAKE UP AMERICA...Land of the Free, Bill of Rights, Innocent until PROVEN guilty - GET IT??

Posted by: Greg at March 12, 2006 09:44 AM


When you get the criminal matters behind you, and you decide to pursue litigation against the folks who are only too happy to defame you in print, give us a call here in Payson.

I’ll be happy to help.

Posted by: Mark in Payson at March 12, 2006 01:06 PM

17,000 rounds? Hell, that's a good weekend for some folks.

Posted by: Jay G at March 13, 2006 06:56 AM

Yea but why as gun owners are we supposed to help or feel sorry for someone who has committed aggression?
As a libertarian, and gun owner, we should know better - sorry to say...

If everyone on here is a gun owner, I hope we're all responsible and especially knowledgeable about the principles behind the second amendment. And since we all have an appreciation for innocence, I'm sure we understand that if he did do threaten his g/f, that would be wrong. Just because in the eyes of the law he is innocent until proved otherwise, it doesn't mean we should react as though he's a saint!

Is there more information on why you all think he's innocent? Should the gun community stand behind this guy even if he is found guilty?

Posted by: Andy D at March 14, 2006 12:38 AM

Okay, I read the full post and I can believe that the g/f threatening thing is flimsy, but the point I suppose is that the police were called there in the first place..

But I fully agree that any sort of registration charges or crap like that should be fought in court, but they are only misdemeanors, so that means he doesn't lose his gun ownership for live, and he gets to repossess the confiscated weapons??

If we ever are going to liberate ourselves against various firearm prohibitions nationally, is this a good example of how to do it? Or should we be smart and play along or else take a stand?

Posted by: Andy D at March 14, 2006 12:49 AM

Andy D,
Until a person is proven guilty then we should presume their innocence. Otherwise all it would take is an accusation to condemn any of us.

If a person does commit an act that is unjustifiable, such as using force against someone who has not presented a threat (real or perceived) then we should condemn that person after the facts have been ascertained. What we should not do is distance ourselves from someone because of unproven allegations.

& the police - look - any cop is going to figure that it's much better to check out something than let it slide when there's allegations of this sort. Notice the school lock downs because of a guy with a larger than average lunch box? So even a flimsy accusation from a person of questionable character may be enough to send out the cops. It is not proof of the validity of an accusation, only proof that an accusation was in fact made.

& if he's convicted he won't lose his arms for life. However there are many a police department, large & small, that still have the firearms they stole from someone even after that perosn was acquitted of every charge leveled at them. So I'm sincerely hoping he'll get his arms back either way, but it wouldn't surprise me if they tried to steal them on a permanent basis (optimism never was my middle name).

As for overturning the prohibitions - any unjust law should be fought no matter what the circumstances are. even people we find repugnant should be defended in their right to arms. personally I detest the klan, but if a klansman is being charged with an unjust law we should defend him for the sake of principle, just as we would an elderly nun (Course afterwards we should ostricize him).

As for the PR value or harm that Angel's case could cause it's arguable. Anything that can be used against gun owners will be, even unfounded accusations. But fighting an unjust law & winning would generally do us more good than harm. & except for the unfounded accusations of his ex Angel has a stellar reputation - well as long as you don't ask anyone from the VPC (but then again that elevates it in my book).

Bottom line is I think you were too quick to believe the accusations Andy, & too quick to assume that if the cops got involved something must have been going on. Not that Angel is a saint (or anybody is for that matter), but the word of an estranged lover is no basis to believe he's a demon.

Posted by: Publicola at March 14, 2006 06:15 AM

Every time I hear a press report that reports the firearms and/or ammunition that an accused had/has in his possession, I recoil in disdain. I wonder what would be said about me if a neighbor was ...say, upset that my trees dropped leaves on his property, and called the police while I was reloading some ammo for this weekends competition. I have in my garage a gun safe with a considerable number of pistols, rifles, and shotguns, some of which are semi-auto. I also have some containers of gunpowder for reloading, ("explosives" to an anti-gun media) and a large number of already loaded ammo. I also have some PVC pipe for a sprinkler system repair I will do this spring and some wire and electonics components for a stereo I'm installing in my car. ("Bomb making equipment????) My reputation would be completely destroyed! I've been a daily reader of Angel's "" for several years and have read most of his writings and I just can't believe he could be as bad as most of the media portrays him. I will be contributing to his defense fund as soon as I finish this.

Posted by: Bob C. at March 14, 2006 03:10 PM

Angel & friends:
Since the paper fucked up (as usual) in it's writing of the case, why not start a campaign to call and write the assholes demanding the truth be told?? It does work! IF the assholes in question get enough shit from the rest of us, they will start running scared. AND if a libel suit is promised--any friendly lawyers out there on this one??--you can bet your cleaning rods they'll come around.
It's past time that WE- as in ALL of US start holding these jerks feet to the fire. When they get away with this shit, they get brave, reckless and arrogant.

Posted by: mark at March 14, 2006 09:04 PM

someone said his innocents will allow him to reposses his weapons. my case was dismmissed and i was told to petion the court for the return. then informed by the assistant states atty that if i tried.he would pull the case back up and even if i would cost me so much in atty fees i would have been able to buy a gun shop and he would see it through. nice court house hallway conversation.courtesy of joliet ill. my criminal record- only traffic- 54 years old

Posted by: jayray at March 29, 2006 02:42 AM