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Open Carry Still Dangerous — Even Where “Legal”

me ID and that just proves who you are.”

Brewster: “Open carry is legal in Washington… Unless you have reasonable articulable suspicion to detain me, you don’t need to request ID.”

“In the end,” KING 5 News informs us, “Brewster showed his ID. Deputies did not detain him.”

The official response? “If they’re carrying guns around, there’s a strong possibility that somebody is going to come talk to them.”

Police are free to do that—as long as it’s understood we’re free to not talk back. That’s not how some Wisconsin open carriers at a restaurant were treated, though.

“When police arrived,” the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel relates, “two of the men refused to provide ID and were ticketed for obstruction of justice. Later, those tickets were rescinded but all five men were then cited for disorderly conduct.”

“Respect is a two way street,” a Journal-Sentinel editorial declares. “[R]esidents are not legally required to hand over an ID simply for possessing a visible weapon, but we suggest they do it anyway.”

What’s to respect about charges being filed over activity the police have no legal say prohibiting? And is the best course to ensure law enforcement is educated on its legitimate authority, or to become a culture where a demand for “your papers” is complied with out of fear?

Because official ignorance endangers open carriers, as one in Willowick, Ohio, found out when, per Ohioans for Concealed Carry, he “was ordered to his knees at gunpoint by several police officers.” And the chilling account they relate includes no small amount of disrespect by the enforcers, including blasphemies directed at the detainee.

It happened again in Cleveland. The Plain Dealer reported officers with drawn guns forced a “surprised group to… hit the sidewalk belly-down”—and then arrested an open carrier for a concealed carry violation!

And that treatment is officially (and illegally) sanctioned: “Cleveland has a local ordinance prohibiting open carry, and police are under orders by Mayor Frank Jackson to continue enforcing the local rules despite the state law.”

Also disturbing was a statement an East Palo Alto Police detective made on his Facebook page, laughing because most Californians can’t get concealed carry permits, and must open carry (with unloaded guns) to remain “legal.”

“Should’ve pulled the AR out and prone them all out!” he wrote. “And if one of them makes a furtive movement… two weeks off!!”

Despite open carry being legal in many states, some in the “pro gun” community condemn attempts to normalize the practice, worried that public backlash will prompt moves to enact laws against it—as was recently unsuccessfully tried in California. The irony of such “logic,” that we must forego exercising a right lest we lose it, appears lost on them.

As for the danger open carriers face from police: Affected state attorneys general must direct all sworn personnel be informed of the law. Require them to sign a form, just like they do when they acknowledge understanding other training policies, and put it in their files.

Before someone gets killed.

Visit David Codrea’s online journal “The War on Guns” at waronguns.blogspot.com or visit
DavidCodrea.com to read his Examiner column.

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  1. I am very lucky to live in an area where our Chief of Police is pro-gun and directs his officers to know the law. Even so, I think that it is important to excercise the right to open carry where legal even if it is dangerous. If we bow down and don’t excercise our rights we will lose them. Like Dave said though, I would hope that the police across this country learn their local and state laws and not overreact and kill a law abiding citizen asserting his or her rights. And if that were to happen, may they burn in hell.

  2. Jim Macklin says:

    Open carry removes the tool of surprise with a potential criminal attacker. But it also can easily result in a failure to communicate. The honest citizen does not expect to be confronted by an angry and hurried LEO barking commands that have never been heard before.
    People hear what they expect. A a flight instructor I can state absolutely that pilots in training have trouble hearing radio instructions from ATC because they don’t know what to expect. A great deal of the training time pilots require is communications.
    Recently a lawful concealed carrier was shot and killed by police in Salt Lake City [IIRC] when a store employee saw a gun in a holster.
    When the police arrived they ordered everyone out of the store. Lack of accurate communication and perhaps fabrications by the store resulted in a dead citizen.
    Concealed carry means concealed and open carry requires a great deal of care in your manner.
    Expect the police to challenge you at gun point, listen for commands, until you do what the officers tell you they won’t hear “I’ve got a license to carry” and anything you do will be considered resisting. It doesn’t help when two or more officers are shouting commands that do not match.
    “Put your hands on your head, interlace your fingers” is not the same as “Get down on the ground and spread your arms, hands palm up.”
    There are places where you definitely should be carrying and probably concealed. The IHop, the mall, parking lots and church, all places where attacks have and will happen. Some places lend themselves to open carry, the shooting range, a gun show, hunting, Arizona and Wyoming.

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