Until his fateful visit to an Oklahoma City restaurant last year, gun owner Timothy A. Harper had developed a following on YouTube from his videos.
His regularly livestreamed himself carrying a rifle or AR-15 pistol in public places and being confronted by police. His video of his run-in with officers at Edmond’s Hafer Park was viewed more than a million times.
He called what he was doing Second Amendment “audits” to educate the police on gun laws and to make the public more comfortable with seeing lawfully armed citizens
He was charged with a felony, though, after he took his rifle into Twin Peaks on Nov. 2, 2019.
Last week, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater dropped the criminal charge “in the best interests of justice.”
Now, Harper, 53, of Choctaw, insists he is done with carrying a rifle or AR-15 pistol in public to see what the reaction will be.
“I’m not going to be doing that,” he said Monday.
He said he already has accomplished his purpose and police no longer react to a citizen carrying a rifle like there was a mall shooter.
“Pretty much everyone knows what the law is, what we can do. The police have been educated. … Even Edmond changed their policies a little bit,” he said. “So there’s no need to go out and do these … anymore.”
He warned gun owners not to take rifles into restaurants until legislators change the laws.
“Don’t do that. Don’t do what I did until they fix that law,” he said. “You could get into trouble for that.”
Critics of Harper’s audits complained he was just trying to draw attention to himself and make money off YouTube.
The Oklahoma Second Amendment Association sharply condemned Harper last year for his “continued antics” after a run-in with police outside the Israel United in Christ Church in Oklahoma City. “Don’t let one person be considered the norm for Oklahoma gun owners,” the association said.
In an interview before the arrest, Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley — without naming Harper — complained about “people that like to create drama and want to create a situation that they can put on YouTube.”
“We are prepared to deal with those,” the chief told The Oklahoman. “But those kind of situations drive our resources away from what we need to be doing.”
Harper acknowledged he did a YouTube video of himself walking in public Saturday with a handgun. With him was a friend with a handgun and a long gun, he said.
“My friend came down to just celebrate me getting my rights back. And he said, ‘Well, let’s go walk around Bricktown.’ … And I did.”
He also acknowledged making money last year off his YouTube videos.
“Not like PewDiePie or anything like that,” he said. “It basically paid the bills. It was enough that I had to pay taxes on.”
Harper spent three days in jail last year after his arrest before being released on a $100,000 bond. He also lost his job as a pipe fitter at Tinker Air Force Base after being charged. He hopes to get his job back.
“We’re working on that. I just met with the union today actually and signed papers.”
He was accused in the felony charge of violating a state law that prohibits possessing or carrying a rifle in any establishment where alcoholic beverages are consumed.
(c) 2020 The Oklahoman
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