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American Sheepdog Online CCW Resource Magazine - Who Is Sam Wolanyk?
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  • Who Is Sam Wolanyk?

    June 1, 2011
    Sgt T, for
    Copyright 2011, S. Thornton and ASD

    In Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, there is an often asked question, “Who is John Galt?” If you are familiar with Rand’s work then you know the answer. Sam Wolanyk is someone I am sure almost every member here is familiar with. You probably don’t recognize his name, or even his face, but you know of his exploits. Among my coworkers he is known as “TSA Sam.”

    Who is Sam Wolanyk? Sam is a civil rights activist, but not the kind we normally associate with the term, such as the ACLU. Sam is an activist for civil freedoms and gun rights.

    In November 2010 Sam made headlines by declining to go through the TSA Total Body Imaging scanner and not wanting to be molested with a pat down either at Lindbergh Field in San Diego, California. Instead he stripped down to his boxers and asked, “What else do you need to see?” I had the opportunity to visit with Sam recently and ask him about the incident.

    ASD: Sam, can you tell me what led to the incident that put you in the headlines?

    Sam: A couple of weeks prior to that flight I had to fly to Denver, Colorado and the TSA had just installed these body scanners in the airport in San Diego, California and I declined to be scanned. The TSA agent said I would have to be patted down. I asked for supervisor, who I spoke to at length, trying to ascertain why this procedure was in place. We went back and forth and finally, I was wearing a short sleeve shirt, I asked him, “You can see that my arm is bare, you can see every bit of skin. Are you telling me you are going to pat my arm down?” The TSA supervisor said, “Yes.” I then said to him, “You think that I hate America so much that I endured having a knife blade inserted under my skin, and then went through derm-abrasion to remove the scar, and then when I get on the airplane I am going to knaw through my skin to remove the knife and start slashing throats or something?” That didn’t phase him. So I thought well how bad can it be and opted for a private room. They sent in two guys and basically I got molested. It was disgusting and I was determined that I was not going to go through that again. Nor am I going to stop flying if I can help it because I travel a lot. Like it or not, jet travel is part of our way of life.

    So, on this next flight I was determined I was not going to go through this and I created a third option. They asked me to go through the scanner, I declined. They said I was going to be patted down. I was already in my bare feet at this point because I was on my way to Barbados and I was wearing sandals, and you have to take your shoes off. They told me to stand on the little foot prints. Then I stripped off my shirt and my jeans and stood there in boxer briefs, about 1 mm thick. The supervisor came rushing over and told me to put my clothes back on. I said, “Look, I understand you guys have a job to do, you have to make sure I’m not carrying any weapons or bombs and now you can do that. There‘s no need to touch, there‘s no need to scan. You can go through my clothes. You can go through my bag. I‘m happy to go through the metal detector, but I‘m not going to be irradiated or felt up to satisfy a stupid protocol.” They told me to get dressed or they were going to call the Harbor Police. I said go ahead and call them this is not indecent exposure, I’m not exposing any genitalia, I’m not trying to illicit a sexual arousal response from anybody else.

    They called the Harbor Police. The Harbor Police read me and admonition that if I did not complete the screening process I would be arrested. I said over and over again, “I am not refusing the process. If you see an anomaly somewhere feel free to pat it down. But, that’s my penis, those bulges are my testicles. There is nothing else here that is not consistent with standard male anatomy.” At this point, there were probably four or five officers, a bunch of TSA guys, and this was out in the open in front of everybody, I could see a light bulb go off in the TSA supervisors head and he said, “Put your clothes back on, then we are going to pat you down,” God as my witness this is what he said.

    ASD: (Sam and I are both laughing out loud at the stupidity of the situation at this point of the interview)

    Sam: I said, “I knew it. This is not about keeping people safe, it’s about ‘You will submit,’ and I’m not going to submit!” They said, “Put your hands behind your back, you’re under arrest.” I said, “Can I put my pants on now?” They said “No!”

    So, they walked me through two airport terminals in my underwear and bare feet, in handcuffs of course. They made me sign a Notice To Appear. They charged me with ‘recording at the airport,” and…

    ASD: Wait, they charged you with ‘recording?’ With video tape, or a camera?

    Sam: Oh, I had my IPhone running.

    ASD: And that’s a crime, to record?

    Sam: Believe it, or not, under the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Code, it is a crime to create a ‘still or motion picture, either silent or with sound, or an audio recording, without the express written permission of the San Diego Airport Authority.’

    ASD: So, if you’ve got your family there and you go “Ok kids where going to get a picture with grandma before she gets on the plane,” you can be arrested for that?

    Sam: That’s a misdemeanor. Now, they don’t enforce this law. They only enforce it against people they don’t like. People who don’t go along with the system. People like me. So that’s what they wrote me up for. I signed the Notice To Appear and they released me. Of course there were no other flights to Barbados so that trip was shot.

    In the ensuing days I called the City’s Attorneys office to see if they were actually going to file charges. I am not unknown to the city of San Diego because of an earlier false arrest. They knew who I was. So, I spoke to a junior city attorney and asked if they were going to file charges. He said, “We’re not sure, it’s under review.” I said, “Well, let me tell you something. First of all, I know everybody in the media.” This went nation-wide and world-wide. “If you file charges, when I get on the media and let everybody know that if they’re picking someone up at the airport, and they call them to find out where they are and leave a voice mail, they just made and audio recording on airport property and are subject to a misdemeanor. That won’t be the end of it. I highly recommend that you don’t do this because it will be a PR nightmare.” As it was they did not file charges for either offense.

    ASD: While doing research on your incident I discovered that there have been several other people who have come to the airport in minimal attire. Oklahoma City had one lady go to the airport in her bra and panties, covered as much as a bikini and another lady wore her bikini, because people are getting fed up with the TSA and with the abuse of the their rights and are taking measures to exercise their rights.

    Sam: Yes, and to avoid being violated. All of that happened after my incident. I actually had people writing me. On guy in particular who emailed me said that he had been at wits end about what he was going to do, because he was not going to have his rights violated, he was not going to be scanned or felt up. He said, “Now this is a solution, I’ll go in my biking shorts and nothing else to go through security. Thank you.” This has become the third option for people. I think if you are going to do this you have to show up at the airport in whatever you are going to go through wearing. Six or eight weeks ago, on another flight to Arizona, they told me to go through the scanner, I declined. They told me I was going to be patted down. I asked for a private room. I got in the room and stripped down. They called the supervisor, they called the police, and there were two “TSA suits,” and I was in there for about an hour and a half while they were on the phone to Washington, D.C. trying to figure out exactly what to do with me. Finally they ordered me to put my clothes back on so I could be patted down. At this point the police said, “The law says you have to complete the screening procedure according to TSA protocol and if you don’t you are subject to arrest.” I said, “Great! Show me where in the TSA guidelines it dictates a dress code, because it doesn’t.” They said, “We can’t show you that.” I asked, “Why not?” and they said, “Because it’s a matter of national security.”
    The old convenient, ‘national security.’ I said, “I’m not refusing, go ahead and pat me down, but do it in front of this officer because this is sexual battery in the state of California.” Of course they refused to do it and they arrested me for not completing the screening process. I said, “I’m not refusing to complete the process, you guys are the ones not completing the process.”

    ASD: What do you think would have happened if you had stripped completely naked in that private room, out of public view? Would they have arrested you for indecent exposure? You’re not exposing yourself to the public, it’s two quasi-law enforcement officers and the police.

    Sam: They probably would have arrested me for indecent exposure, which is beside the point. As far as they are concerned you have to follow the protocol. And, they are not above just making **** up, ‘Oh, we just decided to mandate a standard of dress.’ They can’t do that. If you are going to try this, just go in your bikini or bathing suit or whatever and have your clothes in your bag, enter the screening line, go through it, collect your gear and go on your way.

    ASD: You mentioned a previous encounter in which you were subject to a wrongful arrest, in the city of San Diego while exercising your right to openly carry a firearm in accordance with California law. You then filed suit against San Diego. As I understand that case has been finalized.

    Sam: My younger brother, Nathan was introduced to open carry, he’s really into guns, and for the record I’m not that into guns, except that they are very effective. If there was another way to defend yourself against any number of assailants I would adopt that. A gun is just a tool. It’s what we have and it’s effective. So he started open carrying and he told me about it. Nathan organized a couple of lunches at a local restaurant, El Indio, a Mexican restaurant, and we actually invited San Diego PD to those, so they knew people were doing this, they knew it was legal, and they showed up and generally didn’t 12031 (spoken as twelve-oh-three-one) anybody, and said “Hey guys,” and went on their way. I know that they knew this was legal.

    One morning I was waiting for a friend of mine down by the beach, we were going to have breakfast, and he showed up at the same time as two police cruisers. I figured they were going to 12031 me. This would be my first time.

    ASD: What is 12031?

    Sam: Under the California Penal Code, Section 12031 (e) says that law enforcement officers have the authority, not the right, but the authority to contact you to check and see if your weapon is unloaded so that you are in compliance with California law. The only way that you can carry in California is either with a concealed weapons permit, which in San Diego they will not give you, or unloaded and openly. There are other restrictions as well.

    So, I figured they were going to 12031 me. These two yahoos jumped out of their cars with their pistols drawn and pointed at my head. They ordered me to get on the ground, then they cuffed me. They checked my weapon, it was unloaded of course. Then they started asking me things like, “Where’s your permit,” but there is no permit required to open carry, only a permit for concealed carry. I told them, “This is legal. You guys are making a big mistake.” They told me, “Shut up! We don’t care what the law is, you can’t do that here.” Then a sergeant showed up and I figured he would know the law. I was trying to explain to them what the code is and where to look it up, but they refused to look it up. The sergeant asked me, “Why are you carrying a gun?” I said, “Because it’s my right to carry for self-defense and I think it’s important that we exercise our rights. And because I want to and I am able to.” Then he said, “Well, you’re a big guy. You look like you could handle yourself in a fight.” I said, “Well, I could say the same thing about you, and you’ve got a gun.” Then he said, “Well, I’m a police officer. It’s my job to make sure people like you don’t have weapons.” I said, “No, your job is to support and defend the constitution and bust real criminals.” Then he said, “Have you ever been to jail?” I said, “No,” He said, “Well, you’re going.” I said, “What’s the charge?” He said, “Uh, carrying a concealed weapon.” I said, “You’re telling me that this holster, that had the gun in it, that you could see, that let you know I was the guy carrying, you’re telling me that you can’t see it?” He goes, “I’m telling you that you have to have a permit to carry a weapon capable of being concealed.” I said, “That would be called a ‘concealable weapon permit,’ not a ‘concealed weapon permit‘. You‘re making a big mistake.” He said, “I don’t care. Your day’s shot and you’re going to jail.”
    They took me to the station, left me in the back of the car while they inventoried all items. Then they took me out of the car still in handcuffs and sat me down. I was instantly surrounded by officers who were haranguing me, giving me a hard time, saying, “What were you thinking?,” “Even I can concealed carry and I don’t do it.”, blah, blah, blah. I said, “Look, you guys don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t mean it’s illegal.”

    They finally got out a copy of the penal code and was reading the sections out loud to them, turning the pages with my nose because my hands were still cuffed. There was one older police officer standing on the side listening to this. He took my arresting officer down the hall and I’m sure he said something like, ‘Hey this guy didn’t do anything wrong, you’d better let him go,’ because they went into a room and when they came out they said, “We got clarification and you’re not under arrest anymore.”

    ASD: As a result of this you sued the city of San Diego and won, correct?

    Sam: That is correct.

    ASD: When we were having dinner the other night and discussing this, you made it clear that this case was not about the money, which really was not much anyway, but about exercising your rights and being a free American.

    Sam: Correct. Most of that went to my attorneys anyway. All we asked for was for that San Diego PD instruct their officers that, as the Supreme Court has declared, as well as many other courts, that the mere presence of a firearm is no indication of a crime, and that they have to have some indication of an actual crime, not even probable cause, just reasonable, articuable suspicion, before they can pull their weapon out. They said, ‘No, screw you.” and I said, “No, screw you. I‘m going to sue.” As a result they now instruct their officers on the legality of open carry and they are not as trigger happy as they once were.

    ASD: Thank you for taking time to visit with me.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Who Is Sam Wolanyk? started by Sgt T View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. tntboomgone's Avatar
      tntboomgone -
      What a Man! A hero. Zeroing in on the root cause of crime is not about taking lawful rights away from the citizens but taking freedom from the criminals who care less about legally obtained firearms & use whatever methods to obtain what is yours. When you have to resort to the "Castle Law" it's pretty much not your choice but the criminal's choice. The basic right to defend family, property, & freedom is a god given right that cannot be given by any government.

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