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Come and Take It

Gun Watch

Gun Watch

Texas-(Ammoland.com)-Michael Keoughan was exercising his right to bear arms in Texas last Wednesday (22 January).  He is part of a Texas group of second amendment supporters that demonstrate that the second amendment means something by legally carrying rifles slung across their back.   They openly state that they are educating people about their rights under the Texas and Federal Constitutions.

Before the Civil War (or War Between the States), Texas had a strong right tokeep and bear arms clause in its constitution.  After the Confederacy lost the war, the reconstruction government created a new Texas constitution.  The new Texas constitution had a “soviet style” right to keep and bear arms.  That is, they listed the right, but made it irrelevant by saying that the legislature could ignore it when they thought they needed to stop crime.   The reconstruction legislature immediately made the bearing of arms illegal.

When the reconstruction government was kicked out, a new constitution was written and passed.  It reinstated the right to keep and bear arms, but failed to completely remove the legislature’s ability to modify it.   They left in a phrase saying that the legislature could regulate the “wearing” of arms.  The legislature never removed the reconstruction ban on wearing pistols or large knives.

That is why the right of Texans to openly carry rifles and shotguns is protected by the constitution, but open carry of pistols and large knives is not.

Come and Take It, the second amendment group that Mr. Keoughan belongs to, aims to restore the right to openly carry pistols and other weapons to Texans.  It has held numerous open carry demonstrations around Texas, and is in the process of planning another for Andrews.    Mr. Keoughan was checking out the rout of their rally when he was arrested for openly carrying his rifle strapped to his back.   This is the second time that an Come And Take It member was arrested in Andrews for open carry.  The Police chief, Jones, was notified that the rally would be taking place, and still says that he will support it.

The ruse that the police used to arrest Mr. Keoughan was “disorderly conduct”.  There is a provision in Texas law that defines disorderly conduct with a weapon as:

“DISORDERLY CONDUCT. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly…(8) displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm.”

The problem for the police is that Mr. Keoughan and Come and Take It adamatly state that their actions are not “calculated to alarm” but are meant to educate.    It is difficult to argue their point when the vast majority of people that they meet on the street are not alarmed.  From newswest9.com:

“I had great interactions throughout the entire day until the police showed up,” Keoughan said.

Police Chief Jones disagrees:

“We didn’t know who he was, had no clue but we started getting a mass number of phone calls,” Chief Jones said. “By displaying the weapon, he caused undue alarm.”

Some people were alarmed.  We do not know how many, or how alarmed, because from past experience with these events, the calls are often an inquiry asking if the open carry is legal, which is exactly the sort of education Come And Take It is attempting to achieve.

The Chief is wrong to presume that causing alarm is the same as “calculated to alarm”.   If merely “causing alarm” were sufficient to arrest, then the entire constitutional guarantee of bearing arms in Texas could be voided by anyone claiming that they were “alarmed” by seeing someone bearing arms.

The quote in newswest9.com may be taken out of context, but he seems to imply that checking someone out is the same as arresting them:

“This is the issue that they don’t want to address that we have to address,” Chief Jones said. “When we get a call about a person with a gun, do we ignore it? Walking down the street? They’re alluding to the fact that we don’t have any right to make contact to them because they’re not doing anything wrong. I beg to differ with them.”

No one is saying that the police cannot drive by someone that a citizen finds suspicious, or talk to them.   Police know that criminals almost never openly carry guns, and that those who are working to restore second amendment rights often do.   We can contrast what happened in Andrews with what recently happened in Fond du Lac Wisconsin:

“It was basically just a unique display of (the gun owners’) right to bear arms under the state’s open carry law and the U.S. Constitution,” Meyer said. “In a similar incident in Appleton, police engaged the individuals and caused additional turmoil. Our police observed them, making sure that they weren’t a threat to public safety.”

It is difficult to square Chief Jones assurance that he supports the First, second,fourth and fifth amendments, with Mr. Keoughan’s arrest:

 “I can’t emphasize enough that we support their right,” he said.

The police, after determining that Mr. Keoughan was exercising his rights, did not have to arrest him.   In fact, it appears that they arrested him without legal cause to do so.

The leading candidate for Governor,  Greg Abbot, has said that he supportslegalizing open carry of handguns in Texas.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

  • 12 User comments to “Another Bogus Open Carry “Disorderly Conduct” Arrest”

    1. I am a resident of Texas, and I support open carry. That said, just because you can, does not mean you should. Depending on your attire/appearance, as well as the context and location you are in, I can see how others could become afraid or alarmed. With rights come responsibilities, and a wise man knows when to exercise them and when not to. Common sense should always be used, and that cannot be legislated.

    2. I live in Arizona where open carry is common. People here don’t generally react negatively or become alarmed and afraid. You know why, because they are used to seeing firearms being openly carried. A wiser man knows, one of the best ways to stop people from equating gun ownership with criminals is for them to see ordinary people openly carrying guns.

    3. oldgringo on February 1, 2014 at 6:14 AM said:

      Criminals don’t open carry…By doing so the element of surprise would have been removed thereby giving raise to someone’s suspicion and or the police before they were able to commit their dastardly deeds…However it also is the duty of the police to stop someone who may be suspect of causing harm to the public if he or she can not give a valid reason for openly carrying their firearm…If the suspects are protesting for their right to openly carry or have a valid excuse for carrying a firearm that should have satisfied the officers with their questioning and they should have moved on…
      Finding there was no reason to detain them and or the threat to the safety of the public is nonexistent…Sadly too many police officers prefer the role of bulling v.s. being a responsbile peace offer which also gives cause for alarm for those who choose to open carry!

    4. Didnt have cause to arrest him? Of course they had cause, they had an ambiguous ” disorderly conduct” law that almost every municipality has at their disposal. That being said if you walk down the street with an ar-15 across your back I don’t care how righteous you think your motives are, people are going to call in. And soon the open carry right will be taken away.

    5. askeptic on February 1, 2014 at 1:37 PM said:

      I’m alarmed when I see LEO’s with a history of Fascist behavior openly displaying weaponry.
      Can I have them arrested for violation of this provision of TX law?
      How would Chief Jones react to a citizen’s arrest of one of his officers?

    6. If the citizen had the rifle or shotgun inside a zippered locked case, they would have stopped him and arrested him anyway.

      If he had a baseball bat inside the locked case they would have arrested him.

      Use it or loose it, like all of our rights.

      No doubt this will end up in the higher courts and perhaps a new governor will sign legislation that fixes this ambiguity in the existing law.

    7. That this happened in, of all states, TEXAS, sickens me. What next? Arrest and imprisonment for carrying a 2″ pen knife?? Real dangerous, that!

    8. Gregory Romeu on February 2, 2014 at 6:24 AM said:

      Slavery was reborn in a country that can pack 60,0000 people into a football stadium but can’t get 60 to attend a city council meeting. This is all a result of complacent and spineless Americans sitting on their butts, watching sports, Dancing with the Dipsticks, playing video games or whatever other excuses they can come up with and NOT maintaining their government.

    9. If this man has the money to fight this he undaughtly will win.The federal courts have upheld the right to carry openly for a long time. The problem is the cost that it will take to win.States do things like this and settle out of court if it looks like they will lose, thereby retaining the law that almost certainly would have been declared unconstitutional.The next guy down the road may not have the money to fight it and has to forfit his gun.Just another way to bring us gun control.

    10. Why would this guy want to antagonize the general public “just because he can”? Come on now, everyone knows “You Don’t Mess With Texas”! Here in Tennessee it is called a HCP (handgun carry permit) and I do. Should I see a person “toting” a long gun around, slung over his/her shoulder, I would be ready to reach for mine and with the other hand poking the 911 button on my cell. Would have be fun to watch the authorities “slap” the cuffs on him.

    11. @Smitty: “And soon the open carry right will be taken away.” You’re not making sense here. You say that if folks exercise their Rights, those Rights will soon be taken away. Was George Orwell your logic teacher? This sort of thing could give Texas a bad name. I am upset by the government taking our money and giving it to slackers. By your logic, they need to be arrested so they’ll knock it off… Not holding my breath…

    12. Open carry is legal in Colorado. I am a law enforcement officer. I do not open carry off duty because I know it would alarm people. Imagine me walking into a movie theatre or school carrying a rifle. Legal? Maybe. At least until I walk onto school or private property. Why would someone do it unless they have evil intent or desire to alarm? Try it here and find yourself on the business end of a firearm. Common sense and civility need to prevail despite the intentions of some idiot spouting on about their rights and trying to prove a point.

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