By Dean Weingarten
Criminals almost never openly carry, because they do not want to draw attention to themselves. Police virtually always know that open carriers are engaged in political activism. An open carrier who had a loaded gun pointed at him by Grand Rapids, Michigan Police, when the police knew that he was not breaking any law, has filed a lawsuit charging violation of his rights on first, second, and fourth amendment grounds.
From the complaint:
38. Plaintiff’s act of openly carrying a pistol in public was intended, in part, to increase awareness that open carry is lawful in Michigan and to rally public support, therefore qualifying it as symbolic political speech. Defendants then violated Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights without provocation or justification.
From recently obtained radio traffic, it is clear that the dispatcher knew that open carry of firearms was legal, and that this information was relayed to the police that were sent to the scene. Why they were sent is uncertain, because the dispatcher informed the woman who called 911 that openly carrying a pistol in a holster was legal in Michigan. Tim Beahan on mlive.com suspects that the purpose was to harass the open carrier.
I’ve mentioned elsewhere that this is more likely ‘payback’ for OC proponents pressuring GR to eliminate an illegal orinance, and Heartwell’s personal fear & prejudice clouding his judgement.
The article at mlive.com has sparked a lively debate in the comments, with those who defend the police actions questioning whether a dashcam video exists (as mentioned in this previous article), and those supporting the open carrier saying that they have seen it, but cannot ethically release it because the open carrier’s lawyer is not yet willing to do so. Mlive.com reporter John Agar is reported to have requested the video from the Police. Those who say they have seen the video say that they expect the city to release it at any minute.
Most peculiar are those who claim to support open carry, but say that the open carrier is going to cause a public reaction that will push the legislature to ban open carry.
What is the point of a right, if you cannot exercise it for fear that you will be arrested?
Michigan police have already been educated that open carry is a right in Michigan. It will be interesting to see if another settlement is in the works for the City of Grand Rapids.
©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch
About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.