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Thread: Organizing in public with firearms (RCW 38.40.120)

  1. #1
    Regular Member eBratt's Avatar
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    During a recent traffic stop (see http://opencarry.mywowbb.com/forum55/5111.html for that discussion), an officer asked me about whether I got together with other people who open carry. My mind went to RCW 38.40.120 when considering how to respond.

    It reads:
    RCW 38.40.120 Authorized military organizations.
    No organized body other than the recognized militia organizations of this state, armed forces of the United States, students of educational institutions where military science is a prescribed part of the course of instruction or bona fide veterans organizations shall associate themselves together as a military company or organize or parade in public with firearms: PROVIDED, That nothing herein shall be construed to prevent authorized parades by the organized militia of another state or armed forces of foreign countries. Any person participating in any such unauthorized organization shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
    Paring that back to the applicable parts to the general public, here is what I see

    No organized body shall associate themselves together as a military company or organize or parade in public with firearms.
    Now, regarding the picnics and restaurant dinners that have been put together on this site, does that constitute "organizing in public"? We already know the answer to the "with firearms" part.

    The other part is "organized body" and its meaning. Does a group of people with a common affiliation to an internet forum who coordinate a common event to attend together while armed constitute an "organized body"?
    "The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good" - George Washington
    "Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest." - Mahatma Gandhi

    As always, insert standard IANAL disclaimer here.

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    I could not find anywhere in the washington statues where "Organized Body" defined.

    I did find mention of organized militia as well as unorganized militia.

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.a...&full=true

    It was the closest definition i could find, and frankly its pretty thin.

    Other places make mention of lobbying groups, religions interest groups which have definitive order to them. A President, Board of Directors. Something that governs and directs the group as a whole. While any assembly of ours is simply a group of armed individuals who happen to all show up at denny's at the same time for coffee and pancakes. It wrinkly my feathers that people who OC or even CC cannot hangout.

    Im finally left to wonder how many people are needed to make a body? 2 people? 10?

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator Gray Peterson's Avatar
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    Not applicable.

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    Regular Member GreatWhiteLlama's Avatar
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    Lonnie Wilson wrote:
    Not applicable.
    Well that was enlightening...
    Care to expand on that?

    "...our media are palace eunuchs gazing avidly at the harem of power and stroking their impotent pens in time to the rape of our liberties."
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    Regular Member eBratt's Avatar
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    Lonnie, I value your opinion greatly on here. I would love to hear more about what you undestand the statute to mean and what constitutes a violation of it and what does not.
    "The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good" - George Washington
    "Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest." - Mahatma Gandhi

    As always, insert standard IANAL disclaimer here.

  6. #6
    Campaign Veteran Right Wing Wacko's Avatar
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    eBratt wrote:
    It reads:
    RCW 38.40.120 Authorized military organizations.
    No organized body other than the recognized militia organizations of this state, armed forces of the United States, students of educational institutions where military science is a prescribed part of the course of instruction or bona fide veterans organizations shall associate themselves together as a military company or organize or parade in public with firearms: PROVIDED, That nothing herein shall be construed to prevent authorized parades by the organized militia of another state or armed forces of foreign countries. Any person participating in any such unauthorized organization shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

    I would think that any GOOD first amendment lawyer could get that law thrown out as violation of freedom of speech and freedom to assemble.

    That being said, I'm not willing to be the test case

  7. #7
    Regular Member just_a_car's Avatar
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    Lonnie Wilson wrote:
    Not applicable.
    Note: I am not a lawyer nor have any legal expertise.

    I believe this may be N/A due to the fact that "all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and"..."under 45 years of age" are considered as part of the United States Militia. Federal law trumps State law for definition of militia (I think) which means this RCW could be applicable, but only to certify that we, as law-abiding gentlemen, may organize and meet.

    See below (sorry for the size):


    B.S. Chemistry UofWA '09
    KF7GEA

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    State Researcher lockman's Avatar
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    I would agree. Under this statute, off duty or even on duty police officers would be subject if they congregated in a public place while armed.

  9. #9
    Regular Member Mainsail's Avatar
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    I’m thinking this is another case of trying to apply absolutes to parts of the whole.

    The title reads, “Authorized Military Organizations”, which we, when gathering for a lunch, are not. Thus, everything that follows would only apply to, and be enforceable against, groups organizing themselves to be a military organization. We are not, and have never claimed to be, a military organization.

    Lonnie might know better, but it sounds like another one of the Black Panther prevention laws. If we were to organize with a goal of taking down Fidel Castro, for example, we would be guilty of this misdemeanor.

  10. #10
    Regular Member Ajetpilot's Avatar
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    just_a_car wrote:
    I believe this may be N/A due to the fact that "all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and"..."under 45 years of age" are considered as part of the United States Militia.
    The Washington State Militia has no old age or gender discrimination:

    RCW 38.04.030

    [/b]The militia of the state of Washington shall consist of all able bodied citizens of the United States and all other able bodied persons who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, residing within this state, who shall be more than eighteen years of age, and shall include all persons who are members of the national guard and the state guard, and said militia shall be divided into two classes, the organized militia and the unorganized militia.

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