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Thread: Virginia Pilot Newspaper declares "Open Carry" legal across Virginia

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    Norfolk and visitor with a holstered .45 are tangled in a Catch-22


    http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=128887&ran=175683

    SNIP

    Chester Szymecki Jr. was waiting for some music to start at Harborfest when a sheriff's deputy approached. It was a warm June afternoon, and thousands of people wandered on and off the tall ships moored around Town Point Park. Szymecki had come from Yorktown with his wife, their three children and two children from their neighborhood. Szymecki had brought along something else, too - a .45-caliber handgun in a holster on his belt. . . .Szymecki was charged with violating a local ordinance that the City Council had passed in May, which set up rules to govern Harborfest. Among them was a provision banning handguns and other weapons. There's just one problem: A few years ago, the General Assembly barred localities from enforcing laws governing the carrying of firearms. That meant state law prevailed. And in Virginia, "open carry" is legal. . . . The case has enraged the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group that has successfully challenged local gun restrictions around the commonwealth. . . . Philip Van Cleave, the president of the league, says members plan to crowd the City Council chambers in protest at a future date. . . . Pishko described the gun ban in the Harborfest ordinance as an oversight, a "housekeeping" issue. . . . Szymecki said the incident has changed the way he views the police. He said he plans to file a lawsuit and have a "neutral court" decide whether police violated his rights.

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    I find a numbe rof things wrong with this article.

    First, why is it in the News/Crime section? How is this related to crime unless they are refering to the NPDs actions being criminal in nature?

    Second, The title, "Caught in a Catch 22" doesnt really make much sense. Catch 22 is when you cant do or have one thing unless you do or have the second thing first but ini order to do or have the second thing you need to do or have the first thing.

    Thirdly, The fact that the call this a "Housekeeping" mistake. Obviously the officers who responded were "brushed" up on the local ordinance, and apparently not the Preemtion law. How long ago was this ordinance passed? Before preemtion i could see it as a housekeeping error, they didnt get all the preemted parts out of local ordinances, BUT if it was written AFTER preemption, then its just an education error. But the biggest error is that these officers knew the local code but not the state preemtion law.

    In the military, if you cannot do your job to the satasfaction of your superiors then you lose your quals. In order to get them back you have to go back and do the WHOLE training again. Most of these officers seem to not be able to do their jobs properly. Instead of firing these cops i think the option of quitting or going back through whatever quals they had to do again might make the police force think twice before "shooting from the hip" and going with whatever "THEY" think the law is or shold be.

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    Localities in VA have been preempted from passing "new" gun control since 1987 - this ordiance was passed 20 years after it was illegal to enforce the ban!

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    Mike wrote:
    Localities in VA have been preempted from passing "new" gun control since 1987 - this ordiance was passed 20 years after it was illegal to enforce the ban!
    There we go, thanks Mike. This is obviously an education error. Had they of known about preemtion then they wouldnt have written this ordinance to begin with, which brings up another question. Do you really want the people writing "laws" in our area who dont actually know, or even take the time to find out about, other laws? Im surprised theyhavent passed an ordinance that says that your slave can serve your jailtime or something in your place!

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    Norfolk, with this same mayor, has had preemption shoved down it's throat too many times in recent years for me to believe they conveniently forgot that they can't pass gun laws anymore.

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    PackininVB wrote:
    This is obviously an education error. Had they of known about preemtion then they wouldnt have written this ordinance to begin with...
    I think the evidence is pretty clear from various communications cited elsewhere on this board that the Norfolk CC was well aware that statecode prohibited them from passing & enforcing such an ordinanceat the timethey wroteit. Instead, they decided to defiantly charge ahead anyway, thinking they could get away with an end run around that particular portion of the code. The crap in the article attributed to the city's attorney about this just being an "oversight" is just that... a load of crap. He's back-pedaling fast now because the city hasrealized thattheir"end run" has just blown up in their faces. Don't think for a moment that this unpleasantness was a simple "education error"; it was planned, it was premeditated and they knew exactly what they were doing. Or so they thought. Like most crooks, they figured they were smarter than the the rest of us and that they'd get away with it. This is not a matter of not knowing Virginia code; this is a matter of pure unadulterated arrogance. Just what we love so much in our elected officials.

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    Mike wrote:
    Norfolk and visitor with a holstered .45 are tangled in a Catch-22
    Fine article. Very flatly says that Norfolk was wrong and that VCDL and Chet S. are right.

    The article is well done and clear. Nothing wrong with it.

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    PackininVB wrote:
    I find a numbe rof things wrong with this article.

    First, why is it in the News/Crime section? How is this related to crime unless they are refering to the NPDs actions being criminal in nature?

    Second, The title, "Caught in a Catch 22" doesnt really make much sense. Catch 22 is when you cant do or have one thing unless you do or have the second thing first but ini order to do or have the second thing you need to do or have the first thing.

    Thirdly, The fact that the call this a "Housekeeping" mistake. Obviously the officers who responded were "brushed" up on the local ordinance, and apparently not the Preemtion law. How long ago was this ordinance passed? Before preemtion i could see it as a housekeeping error, they didnt get all the preemted parts out of local ordinances, BUT if it was written AFTER preemption, then its just an education error. But the biggest error is that these officers knew the local code but not the state preemtion law.

    In the military, if you cannot do your job to the satasfaction of your superiors then you lose your quals. In order to get them back you have to go back and do the WHOLE training again. Most of these officers seem to not be able to do their jobs properly. Instead of firing these cops i think the option of quitting or going back through whatever quals they had to do again might make the police force think twice before "shooting from the hip" and going with whatever "THEY" think the law is or shold be.
    1> You just answered your own question.

    2> No one said journalists were smart.

    3> This isn't an education error. This is someone's life and personal well being (as well as that of his family) being put in mortal danger.

    Imagine if you were Chet's wife and kids, alone in downtown Norfolk, and not a Serviceman like you are.

    *I* don't like being in Norfolk by myself.

    4> Again, this isn't a training issue, this is willful, or at least negligent endangerment of the civilian population they are sworn to protect, and a severe dereliction of duty.

    What would've happened if Chet had been shot (especially when they were tugging and yanking on his weapon), or, Gods forbid, if that half-dozen-plus NPD officers started getting trigger happy in an innocent crowd of fair goers?

    What's the average hit-percentage for a weapon fired on duty, outside the range? 25%? Less?

    You live in Hampton Roads, you know how crowded it gets.

    This is NOT some regulation problem, or paperwork foible. This is officers, acting under color of the law PURPOSEFULLY endangering the lives and well beings of Chet, his family, and EVERYONE AT THE FAIR.
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

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    Chopper Dad wrote:
    PackininVB wrote:
    This is obviously an education error. Had they of known about preemtion then they wouldnt have written this ordinance to begin with...
    I think the evidence is pretty clear from various communications cited elsewhere on this board that the Norfolk CC was well aware that statecode prohibited them from passing & enforcing such an ordinanceat the timethey wroteit. Instead, they decided to defiantly charge ahead anyway, thinking they could get away with an end run around that particular portion of the code. The crap in the article attributed to the city's attorney about this just being an "oversight" is just that... a load of crap. He's back-pedaling fast now because the city hasrealized thattheir"end run" has just blown up in their faces. Don't think for a moment that this unpleasantness was a simple "education error"; it was planned, it was premeditated and they knew exactly what they were doing. Or so they thought. Like most crooks, they figured they were smarter than the the rest of us and that they'd get away with it. This is not a matter of not knowing Virginia code; this is a matter of pure unadulterated arrogance. Just what we love so much in our elected officials.
    I agree. The Norfolk CC and City Attorney need to be replaced as they tried an end run around the law or they are grossly incompetent. In either case, heads should be rolling soon!

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    The preemption law passed in 1987 allowed existing local laws to stay on the books. So firearm laws from one locality to the next were still not consistant.

    When the revised legislation passed in 2004 even the existing laws prior to 1987 were preempted, so every city and county in the state now operates under the same set of rules.

    Except for the City of Norfolk, of course. The Norfolk Mayor is special, he is one of Bloomberg's buddies in the 'Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition' , and as such is above the constitution and any Federal or State law. Interestingly enough the Mayor of Alexandria, where there have been similar illegal actions against citizens, is also a member. But I'm sure that's just a coincidence.



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    The BS line about how it was an innocent "housekeeping" issue doesn't pass the giggle test! Danbus and Reverend had their interactions at a time and in corcumstances unrelated to the harborfest event, and the police made it clear ( in Danbus' case I think) that Norfolk could do as it pleased, the state law be damned, and they would reserve the authority to continue harrassing law-abiding OC ers if they saw fit. THAT is not a minor oversight, as the city flack would have everyone believe. We need to hammer these stinking thugs in City Hall and the cops on the street until we've totally " 'splained things" to them in terms they understand. I'll be happy to show up to the city council meeting and make that crystal clear!!! I'm also going to make a point of carrying openly in Norfolk as often as is practical, and anywhere I care to! We should plan on having all our subsequent OC dinners in that city for the time being, since that city clearly needs the most help in understanding reality.

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    AbNo wrote:
    1> You just answered your own question.

    2> No one said journalists were smart.

    3> This isn't an education error. This is someone's life and personal well being (as well as that of his family) being put in mortal danger.

    Imagine if you were Chet's wife and kids, alone in downtown Norfolk, and not a Serviceman like you are.

    *I* don't like being in Norfolk by myself.

    4> Again, this isn't a training issue, this is willful, or at least negligent endangerment of the civilian population they are sworn to protect, and a severe dereliction of duty.

    What would've happened if Chet had been shot (especially when they were tugging and yanking on his weapon), or, Gods forbid, if that half-dozen-plus NPD officers started getting trigger happy in an innocent crowd of fair goers?

    What's the average hit-percentage for a weapon fired on duty, outside the range? 25%? Less?

    You live in Hampton Roads, you know how crowded it gets.

    This is NOT some regulation problem, or paperwork foible. This is officers, acting under color of the law PURPOSEFULLY endangering the lives and well beings of Chet, his family, and EVERYONE AT THE FAIR.
    This is still an education problem, If the law-writers were educated on the laws then they wouldnt have written somehting that was already preempted. And if the officers were educated on what is and isnt legal then they wouldnt have harrassed Chet, and they wouldnt have put his family in danger. Yes i know how Norfolk/Hampton/VB can be (thats why i carry) and yes they did put Chets family in danger, but maybe they wouldnt have done so if they weren't so ignorant or egotistical thinking they can enforce whatever the hell they want to.

    Whether the actions of the officers were intentional (meaning they knew about preemption and could care less) or not (meaning they were just idiots) they did everything wrong, they violated Chets 4th amendment rights, and technically his familys 8th amendment rights (Taking away the head of the family illegally could technically be looked upon as cruel and unusual for Chets wife i guess) And they should all be fired or made to go alllllll the way back to basic because obviously they dont have the common sense or the education of a 4th grader to do anything besides just bully a lawful gunowner. Not only did they put Chet and his family in danger, they also put everyone else in danger because yes, they could have gotten jumpy (as theyobviously were ready to) and drawed on Chet, and more than likely missed, hitting bystanders.

    It is the police that are hurting Open Carriers everywhere. What do you think the public thinks when they see Chet or Danbus getting harrassed? Probably something along the lines of "I guess that guy broke the law by having a gun on him" and the opinion becomes that OC is illegal to them and the next time they see someone OCing they will be sure to call the cops.

    My whole point is that both the officers on scene and those who wrote the laws were 100% wrong, and that this article did not expess the thurough injustice of what happened. I felt that this article just wrote things off as no big deal. I think some letters to the editor are due.

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    PackininVB wrote:
    This is still an education problem, If the law-writers were educated on the laws then they wouldnt have written somehting that was already preempted. .....but maybe they wouldnt have done so if they weren't so ignorant or egotistical thinking they can enforce whatever the hell they want to.

    My whole point is that both the officers on scene and those who wrote the laws were 100% wrong.....
    If by "education problem", you mean they should be educated that they can not make up laws on the fly, or as it tickles their fancy, then yeah. I'll agree there.

    That being said, we have what, four, five incidents in a couple of months? The only education that's missing here is the kind that either comes from a branding iron or a ballot box.

    Preferably both.
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

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    This Virginian-Pilot article, and responses,can also be found at:

    http://opencarry.mywowbb.com/forum54/3634-5.html

    almostto the end of page 5, under the "Norfolk Illegally Arrests VCDL Member" thread. I sent an email to the writer Matthew Roy thanking him for a neutral article and also for referring to VCDL as a "Gun Rights Organization" - haven't heard us called that many times in the press. I did enquire about the "Catch 22" phrase and also pointed out that the article should have also included the harrassment that Chet's wife received, and their children witnessed.

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    I also email him. I also told him I appreciate the neutral article. I said that I felt like an article alleging an abuse of powershould have been a front page story which was the original intent of Freedom of press. I asked him to stay informed about what transpires in court and hopefully do a followup article.

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    What happens when a city breaks state law? To me, it seems that consequences can only come from local citizens who demand inquiries/firings whatever. OR someone more important from state level needs to do something. Can the governor come in and stomp a-- er make heads roll or something? Someone needs to put the council in the hot seat, not just the pd.

    I wish I believed there would be a public outcry, but it may take work to get one. There definitely ought to be, of course..

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    Lew wrote:
    What happens when a city breaks state law?
    From Megami, my friend on another board... (my emphasis added)

    The officers have no legal leg to stand on, Virginia state law is quite clear that open carry is legal, and the state reserves sole right regarding legislation regarding firearms. Since they had no legal leg to stand on, a suit regarding illegal detention, assault, and intimidation is quite viable with the aspect of "under color of law" being used as an enhancing factor and possibly being grounds for abuse of power charges. Likewise, the Norfolk PD may be open to a suit seeking a writ of mandamus from the state of Virginia for arbitrary and capricious law enforcement. Effectively, the Norfolk PD would be supervised by the state itself until the state is sure the matter has been corrected.

    And if the courts prove to be as corrupt as the cops, there's still Rich's option.

    Cops being criminals pisses me off.
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

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    Lew wrote:
    What happens when a city breaks state law?
    Not a damn thing.

    Oh, you could sue, of course, but evenif you win you're just taking tax money from city residents. It's not like the city politicians have to pay out of their own pockets.



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    "Color of Office" violations can be taken Federal. If that happens, and they lose, people can and do go to jail. Not a good place to be if you are a LEO.

    Regards
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