If you find it hard to believe that not too long after a violent attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol, someone would innocently stroll towards an inauguration checkpoint with unlicensed guns, ammunition, and unauthorized credentials then you’re not alone.
But that’s the defense being given by Wesley Allen Beeler, a 31-year-old man from Front Royal, Virginia who was apprehended by police in Washington D.C. on Friday with all that paraphernalia.
According to the Washington Post, which obtained court documents regarding the incident, Capitol police arrested Beeler while he was trying to enter an inauguration security point with a pistol while driving a truck that contained over 500 rounds of unregistered ammunition and an unregistered Glock—all with no license to carry. Authorities say he also was in possession of unauthorized, “non-government issued” credentials which he presented to enter the secure inauguration area.
The ammunition in Beeler’s truck included hollow-point bullets, and the truck itself was festooned with bumper stickers that read “Assault Life” and “If they come for your guns give ’em your bullets first.”
But according to Beeler, all of those disturbing details amount to a simple misunderstanding.
From the Post:
“It was an honest mistake,” Beeler explained after being released. In a tear-filled interview, he said he has spent the past week working as hired security in downtown Washington ahead of the inauguration. He said he forgot that his firearm was in his truck when he left his home in Virginia, where he said he has a license to carry. He said he realized it was there halfway through his trip but that he was running late, so he didn’t turn around. He denied that he had the more than 500 rounds of ammunition listed in his arrest report.
“I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in D.C. because I’m a country boy,” he said. “I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me.”
A person with knowledge of Beeler’s actions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is pending, said Beeler has no extremist ties, cooperated fully with law enforcement and was cleared from further investigation, except for the charge of violating District law by carrying a pistol without a license.
Beeler said he travelled to the inauguration site with his weaponry and unauthorized credentials because he was hired by MVP Protective Services to work the area as a guard.
Prosecutors apparently found his explanations sufficient, as they told a D.C. judge they were fine with him being released from custody on his own recognizance. Beeler was issued a stay-away order, however.
While I’m not saying that Beeler’s story is untrue, or that he should have gotten harsher treatment, it will never not boggle my mind the degree of understanding that some Americans can get from law enforcement and the justice system compared to Black people and our children. Even after a deadly terrorist insurrection, someone was able to roll up to the U.S. Capitol with guns and a load ammunition, no license to carry, and walk away freely without even having to post bail. Must be nice to be a country boy.
That Beeler had unauthorized credentials to enter the secured areas of the Capitol also doesn’t inspire confidence in the protections in place for Wednesday’s inauguration ceremony.