By Dean Weingarten
Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)-A little after midnight on the morning of February 20th, Jason Orsek was parked in the parking lot of Trinity Christian Center in Temple, Texas. He had every right to be there; he had received advance permission from the pastor. The center has a fast wi-fi connection, and he had been given a password and permission to use it. He was uploading an instruction video that he had created to show the differences between black powder percussion pistols and modern handguns. Police had complained that they could not tell the difference, so this video showed them how to do so.
Temple, Texas is the town where C.J. Grisham was arrested while legally carrying a slung rifle. Grisham's arrest was caught on video. He was charged with interfering with a police officer. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, the second in his conviction. He is currently appealing the conviction. That incident, and the outrage that it fueled among Texans, spurred the growth of the open carry movement in Texas. Jason is an open carry activist. He knows Grisham and supports him, though he is Vice President of Come and Take It Texas (CATI) instead of the open carry organization that Grisham belongs to. Jason says that he is well known in the area as a supporter of open carry and Grisham.
A little after midnight, two police cars rolled into the parking lot. The officers asked Jason what he was doing there. Jason told them. The officers asked for identification. Jason refused, as is his right under Texas law. To show that he was lawfully on the property, Jason went so far as to have the officers contact the Pastor, Ed Dowell, though he was reluctant to do so, so late at night. The officers called Pastor Dowell and confirmed that Jason was completely within his rights to be there and use the wi-fi. The officers told Pastor Dowell that Jason had firearms. The pastor said, effectively, “So what?”. James Franklin of Come and Take it Midlands/Odessa, was on the phone with Jason at this time, and was able to confirm this account.
It is legitimate police activity to check out a vehicle in a church parking lot after midnight, with an occupant inside involved in undetermined activity. After they have determined that the occupant is there legitimately, and has a completely reasonable explanation for his activity, I would expect them to leave.
Not this time.
The officers spent several minutes in one of the squad cars, perhaps to determine what to do. They then returned to Jason's car. The officers used their flashlights to look inside. While doing this, one of the officers noticed part of a holstered Glock that was in the back of the car. Jason says that he was not aware that it was exposed. Jason has a legal Texas Concealed Handgun License (CHL).
The officers now ordered Jason out of the car. He was allowed to turn off his computer, the upload stopped at 80% done. The officers searched the vehicle and found Jason's holstered Glock in the back. They arrested him for unlawful carrying of weapons, Texas code 46.02:
Sec. 46.02. UNLAWFUL CARRYING WEAPONS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun, illegal knife, or club if the person is not:
(1) on the person's own premises or premises under the person's control; or
(2) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person's control.
(a-1) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun in a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person's control at any time in which:
(1) the handgun is in plain view;
Jason repeatedly asked the officers not to tow his car. They had it towed anyway, even though it was parked on private property. Jason was taken to the police station, processed, and held until bail could be raised. The pastor was concerned enough that he called the police the next day to find out what had happened. When he heard that Jason was still in jail, he was outraged and attempted to have Jason released. CATI members were able to raise the $3,500 bail that was required. Jason was let out on bail after spending two nights sleeping on concrete. I have slept on concrete. It is not comfortable. Pastor Dowell loaned Jason the $251 to get his car out of the impound lot.
Jason has belongs to a legal protection group because of his open carry activism. He has nothing but praise for Texas Law Shield, who arranged for Attorney Ed Walker to represent him. Jason and his lawyer are extremely confident that they will get the case dismissed because no laws were broken.
A similar case occurred in Wisconsin to Krysta Sutterfield in November of 2011. Krysta was in her vehicle, using the wi-fi of a business that she had been given permission to use. She was legally openly carrying a firearm. When ordered out of the vehicle, the officer said that she saw the firearm, but that it was concealed. Krysta ultimately prevailed in court. Her saga is recorded on a 15 page discussion at opencarry.org.
Police officers have a saying: “They may beat the rap but they will not beat the ride.” Police know that they can inflict considerable punishment on people that they disapprove of simply by putting them through the judicial process, even when the charges are not legitimate. Punishment by “the ride” only works on people who do not have the resources to fight the system. Those who wish to restore Constitutional rights, like Jason Orsek, are learning how to insure that those rights are respected.
Jason recently talked to me to confirm some details about this story. He was back in the parking lot of the Trinity Christian Center, working online.
I will report on developments in the case as they occur.
c2014 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.