Road rage accidents are a real thing, but it's not every day you hear of a crash caused by an angry President Donald Trump supporter wielding a gun.
Edward Burns, 48, pulled alongside Laura Umphenour, whose Toyota Sienna van was covered in political stickers, including some that were obviously critical of Trump. He then promptly let her know that he had a problem with her political views — in a very aggressive way.
After the verbal barb, the police stated, he took a Smith & Wesson .380-caliber handgun out of a holster on his waist and allegedly pointed it at the woman. Seeing the gun, the targeted driver became startled, causing her to crash into his car and then a guardrail.
“Edward is a conservative and the decals were liberal in nature,” the police report reads. “Laura said she was scared and jerked the steering wheel, which caused her to lose control of the vehicle.”
Burns, who's an Ozark, Missouri, resident, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon for wielding the firearm. While he was arrested, he later posted $5,000 bail. But he's still due back in court on Oct. 11.
Umphenour said that while she has been criticized for her stickers before, she has never had anyone point a gun at her. Her attorney, David Ransin, said that Burns targeted her simply because of her political beliefs.
The aggressive behavior toward his client, Ransin said, “had nothing to do with driving behavior.” Instead, he added, “[i]t was purely initiated by Mr. Burns and his disapproval of her exercise of her First Amendment rights with the bumper stickers.”
At the scene of the accident, officers said that Burns had a fully-loaded pistol in his briefcase. While talking to the cops, Burns allegedly said he had “made a bad choice.” Still, he added, Umphenour's stickers were “stupid,” he allegedly said.
Umphenour and her attorney said they plan on filing a lawsuit against Burns claiming the woman is emotionally shaken after the entire ordeal.
Nobody should have a gun pointed at them for expressing their political beliefs.
Threatening to use violence or acting violently against someone because you disagree with their beliefs, whether political or religious, is the very reason why so many serious — and even deadly — incidents have been happening lately, and not only in the United States.
It's time for people of different backgrounds and ideologies to simply understand that the very fact people are capable of thinking for themselves is what makes them unique and, yes, human.
In times of incredible political divisiveness, acting more aggressively will only make matters worse. This case is a perfect example of how things can quickly snowball into something much bigger if we do not put our humanity first.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson