With no video evidence released and no charges filed, questions remain regarding the interaction between a Second Amendment activist and Broken Arrow police as fellow First- and Second Amendment advocates have come to the man’s defense.
Richard Hubbard, 37, was released from the Tulsa County jail on $15,500 bond at 11:03 p.m. Wednesday, jail records show. Police are alleging that Hubbard pointed a weapon and refused commands during his arrest at a Broken Arrow park on Monday.
Other First Amendment “auditors” — a self-described group with countless videos on YouTube and other platforms showing interactions with police, the public and government employees as they openly carry guns — insist that the Hubbard they know would never point a weapon unless he intended to use it.
“I know he would not do that,” said Timothy Harper of Oklahoma City. “I think somebody got panicked and called in and exaggerated the story and said, ‘Oh, my God! He’s pointing rifles at people!’
“I know he would not do that because we’ve talked about it. (Hubbard) knows the law. The only thing I may question is he may not have got on the ground as quick as he should have, but I guarantee you he knows not to point a rifle at anybody because he’s trying to make it look good, have positive interaction with the public and law enforcement.”
Harper has a YouTube channel similar to Hubbard’s in which he conducts “audits.” “News Now OKC” shows interactions not unlike those on Hubbard’s “Picture Perfect” account, with reactions from the public and police ranging from a brief check of a permit to a guns-drawn response.
With so-called “constitutional carry” coming Nov. 1, when openly carrying rifles, shotguns and pistols without a permit becomes legal in Oklahoma, Harper said the audits are an effort to build bridges with the public and law enforcement.
“If we don’t follow the law to the letter, then we’re not being good stewards of the Second Amendment and the laws that are in place in Oklahoma,” he said. “It will give us a black eye if we don’t act appropriately and condone everyone to act appropriately.”
Until Nov. 1, weapons classified as pistols, having a barrel length of less than 16 inches and lacking a traditional rifle butt stock, can be carried openly in Oklahoma with a license. It’s not uncommon for people to react with fear to the sight of someone carrying a rifle-like pistol, as Hubbard apparently was carrying, but Harper said he expects those fears to subside much in the same way he’s seen reactions to openly carrying pistols decrease since it was made legal in Oklahoma in 2012.
Harper and Hubbard both also conduct First Amendment audits, in which they exercise a right to record audio and video in various areas.
Commenters on social media and other auditor accounts have alleged, citing Hubbard, that Broken Arrow police lost the phone he used to document the encounter Monday evening.
Broken Arrow Police Officer James Koch said neither of the two responding officers was equipped with a body camera or dash camera, but he said the phone has not been lost and is being kept as evidence.
Although Don Spencer, president of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, said he likens the audits to demonstrations, he sees their purpose as gun laws change in Oklahoma. Spencer said he understands some negative and uncomfortable reactions to the audits because, unlike residents of states such as Arizona and Texas, Oklahomans aren’t yet accustomed to seeing rifle-style weapons carried publicly.
Spencer has never participated in an audit but said he expects the public’s perception of open carry to change as time goes on and it becomes the norm.
“You can go to a free speech demonstration, and it can get a little scary, and they’re just talking free speech stuff,” Spencer said. “If you’re not used to that, unfortunately the other part of liberty is there’s going to be some things that take place that we’re not comfortable with, but that’s a part of our liberty and our freedom is having to tolerate and accept some of that.”