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Thread: Letter to the Chief of police and Sheriff

  1. #1
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    I have gone to school in this townnearly 2 years now (Troy), and I have seldom OC'd. As many of you know, I was arrested and charged (Man arrested for open carry thread under Alabama forum) for OCing this summer, and am still a little "gun shy" about it.

    Well, I'm tired of it. This winter has proven to be an extension of summer (it's 78 degrees outside right now), and it's just too hot to CC all the time when I know OC is perfectly legal.

    When I get off work tonight around 9, I am going to draft a letter to the police chief and the Sheriff to find out what their respective departments' stances are on peacable open carry. Do any of you have any suggestions as to what I might need to include? I want to be as polite and non-confrontational as possible, but I also want to make it clear that I will not be pushed around by police harrassment and bullying. I am going to cite some Alabama laws and AG opinions to back up my assertions of its legality.

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    Sounds like you've got a good handle on what to do.

    I can't improve on it, except to not ask their attitude.

    I'd just give them their attitude via statute, ordinance,and case law.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Hi Victor. I don`t really have any suggestions for you but I very much look forward to their reply back to you. An OC.org member here in Mobile ( Hungsquirrel ) is fixen to do the same thing to our local Sheriff. I guess maybeI need to get my ducks in a row and draft a letter myself. Good luck and PLEASE let us hear back from you on this as soon a posible. I need to know what you wrote so I can do the same here. Karl

  4. #4
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    Sgt. Scarbrough, Chief Everage, and the Troy Police Department,



    My name is Victor Mathis. I am a life-long resident of Covington County, and spend a lot of time in Troy for various reasons. I have a few concerns I would like to discuss with you involving the peaceable and legal carry of firearms for self-defense in this city, particularly the standard police procedure involving a citizen who is openly carrying a firearm.



    As I am sure you know, the “Code of Alabama 1975” (http://www.legislature.state.al.us/C...75/coatoc.htm) does not expressly prohibit the peaceable open carry of firearms in public. Without such a prohibition, carrying in such a manner, with or without a permit, is legal. I understand that if you were to enter a vehicle, you would need a concealed pistol license, but a citizen on foot in the state of Alabama may legally carry a handgun openly, unless expressly prohibited by certain establishments, or upon entering an establishment, the citizen is asked to disarm or leave. This is my, and my attorney’s, understanding of this issue in this State.



    There also exists an Alabama Attorney General’s opinion issued by Attorney General Graddick in 1984 (viewable at http://www.ago.state.al.us/oldopinions/8400205.pdf), which confirms that Alabama law does not prohibit openly carrying firearms in a peaceable manner.



    While I am personally a concealed pistol license holder, for personal reasons, I have sometimes found it necessary to carry my pistol openly. These reasons may include a range of things from comfort to convenience. I’m sure you understand how it could be uncomfortable to tryto conceal a 2 pound .45 caliber pistol in the middle of July in Alabama. Unfortunately, it has come to my attention (through personal experience as well as research) that in the past, police have not responded well to citizens peaceably carrying firearms in plain view in this great state. Often there is a gross overreaction by police officers (as was my experience), which ultimately may lead to an unlawful arrest. It is my hope that the Troy Police Department does not handle such a situation in this manner. While I fully understand the need to check out anyone with a gun in public, if the person is behaving in a peaceful and otherwise lawful manner, there is no need for police officers to escalate the situation.



    While you, or any of the officers on the police force in Troy may have your own opinions about open carry, I am simply inquiring as to the department’s official stance on this issue, and how any calls may be handled.



    I intend to post our correspondence on an online discussion forum known as Open Carry dot Org (http://www.opencarry.com). I hope that you will take some time to look over this website if this issue interests you. My username is “vmathis12019” on this website, and any posts made by any other users using any other usernames may not necessarily share in my views or opinions about anything.



    I am truly thankful for your time, and look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible. I would also be happy to meet with you in person to further discuss this issue. You may reach me at the return email address in this message.



    Sincerely,

    Victor Mathis



    This is the letter I just drafted. I'm exhausted from work, and listening to bluegrass music, so I may have trailed off a little, but I think it gets my point across. Again, I tried to sound as polite and sincere as possible, but I think I made it quite evident that I was not ignorant of the laws. I fully intend to post any replies I recieve from Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, the Public Information Officer with the Department.



    Believe it or not, I could not find an email address for Sheriff Thomas.I will most likely drop this letter, with the obvious adjustments,off at the SD Monday. I would schedule a meeting face to face, but work is looking rough this week.




    *edited for lack of good judgement...

  5. #5
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    You should send it via USPS, registered mail, delivery receipt required. This way you know when it arrived, and who took custody of it. If you do not get a timely answer, you can refer to the original correspondance in your follow-ups. Otherwise they can say "Letter? We don't got no steenking letter...".

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    You may also want to make it clear that AL has complete state pre-emption. In other words, now matter how much a local PD or Sheriff may want to restrict carry, they have no such power beyond what the state gives them.

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    Victor, that looked great to me. I will be checking in here everyday for the reply that you get. you did good , thanks from all of us. Karl

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    Vmathis,

    Very well written. I've witnessed a similar experience first hand, if you need any ideas, see; " OC in Middletown" under the Pennsylvania forum on
    OCDO. Best wishes !!

    ~~Springfield




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    I know I am from Ohio but, I was browsing some of the other states issues with OC'ing, and seen this. I really hope that this turns out well - local PD and sherriff's office have no right to restrict something that is not clearly defined as illegal in the lawbooks. Hope to see a post soon about how they are gonna deal with this.

  10. #10
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    I am drafting a letter to my local Sheriff. This letter is derived almost entirely from the tri-fold document...so without Comp-tech's hard work, this would not have been easy to compile. Thanks, man!

    Note that in my Word document, the quotes from case law, etc. are indented for easier reading, but this forum software gets funky when I indent those paragraphs, so I have left them unindented here.


    Dear Sheriff Cochran,

    I am a Mobile County resident who recently renewed his pistol license in person at the Sheriff's Office downtown. During renewal, the clerk advised me that unconcealed pistol carry was not permitted in Alabama. This information is inaccurate, and I feel compelled to address the issue. I aim to clear up the legality of unconcealed pistol carry as well as inquire as to how the Mobile County Sheriff's Office will handle encounters with law-abiding citizens who carry their pistols in an unconcealed manner.

    Numerous Alabama appellate courts have ruled on the matter of unconcealed carry, and have always upheld this right.

    In The State v. Reid, 1 Ala. 612; 1840 Ala.:

    “Under the provision of our constitution, we incline to the opinion that the Legislature cannot inhibit the citizen from bearing arms openly, because it authorizes him to bear them for the purposes of defending himself and the State, and it is only when carried openly, that they can be efficiently used for defence.”

    In K.J v. State, 690 So. 2d 541; 1997 Ala. Crim. App.:

    “[T]here is a conflict between the two statutes. Section 13A-11-52, like § 13A-11-50, does not permit the carrying of a pistol outside of a person's own premises under any circumstances. However, that section does begin with the phrase 'except as otherwise provided in this article.' ”

    The Court continues:

    “Section 13A-11-73 does not prohibit carrying an unlicensed pistol if the pistol is unconcealed and the person is on foot. ( . . . ) Ala. Code § 13A-11-52 applies only the extent that it is consistent with Ala. Code § 13A-11-73 because it is the later statute and a complete revision of the subject matter.”

    Another relevant case is Morris v. State, 342 So. 2d 417; 1977 Ala. Crim. App.:

    “The State's evidence . . . shows that the pistol was in a scabbard or holster, worn on the side and was not covered. We call attention to Title 14, § 175, Recompiled Code 1958,* which reads:

    'No person shall carry a pistol in any vehicle or concealed on or about his person, except on his land, in his own abode or fixed place of business, without a license therefor as hereinafter provided.'

    “It is to be observed that this law prohibits carrying a pistol (concealed or not) in any vehicle or 'concealed on or about his person, except . . . without a license therefor . . [**4] . .' It does not prohibit an unconcealed pistol.”

    * Note that the section cited in the above case has since been re-codified as § 13A-11-73, and is identical in wording.

    In case there still remains any doubt as to the legality of unconcealed carry, Looney v. State (41 Ala. App. 582; 141 So. 2d 535; 1962 Ala. App.) puts the matter to rest succinctly:

    “Code 1940, T. 14, § 175, * as amended, makes it an offense for a person who has no license therefor (except on his land, abode or place of business):

    1) to carry a pistol in any vehicle; or

    2) to carry a pistol concealed on or about his person.

    Thus, a permit is not required when a person afoot carries an unconcealed pistol.”

    *Again, note that the section cited in the above case has since been re-codified as § 13A-11-73, and is identical in wording.

    Now that I am confident you have been duly informed as to the legality of unconcealed carry of firearms in public, it would be prudent to address the issue of unconcealed carry on private premises. The first relevant section of the Code of Alabama on the issue is § 13A-11-52:

    Except as otherwise provided in this article, no person shall carry a pistol about his person on premises not his own or under his control . . . ”

    At first reading, it appears § 13A-11-52 prohibits unconcealed carry in private establishments. However, note the boldface “[e]xcept as otherwise provided in this article.” The Code of Alabama does “provide otherwise”, in § 13A-11-73:

    A person having been issued a pistol license is not subject to § 13A-11-52 unless the owner of the premises informs said person that firearms are not permitted at the premises. In an opinion (AGO 1984-205) regarding unconcealed carry, the Attorney General concurred with this interpretation of the law:

    “2. May a person carry an unlicensed and unconcealed pistol anywhere, either on his own property, on the public highways, public property or on the land of another person without violating 13A-11-52 or 13A-11-73? (providing he is not riding in a vehicle.)

    ( . . . ) [Y]es, generally, however, “anywhere” is a broad term. There may be individual or specific restrictions... landowners or residents may exclude licensees or invitees who do not comply with their rules prohibiting firearms . . . ”

    Furthermore, should any county or municipality wish to prohibit unconcealed carry, such an ordinance would run afoul of Code of Alabama § 11-80-11:

    “No county or municipal corporation, instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof, by ordinance, resolution, or other enactment, shall regulate in any manner gun shows, the possession, ownership, transport, carrying, transfer, sale, purchase, licensing, registration or use of firearms, ammunition, components of firearms, firearms dealers, or dealers in firearm components.”

    As you are now aware as to the legality of unconcealed carry, I would like to know how your department will handle encounters with law-abiding citizens carrying their pistols unconcealed. How will calls to your dispatchers—e.g., “There's a man with a gun!”—be handled? Will your deputies be educated as to the legality of unconcealed carry?

    Thank you for taking the time to address this important public safety issue.

    Yours sincerely,
    [My real name here.]
    Edit: added preemption info. Thanks, vmathis.

  11. #11
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    HungSquirrel Wrote:
    This letter is derived almost entirely from the tri-fold document...so without Comp-tech's hard work, this would not have been easy to compile. Thanks, man!
    You are most welcome HS....however, I must give kurtmax some of the credit.....he did a lot of the work on it too.
    Good job on the letter, I hope you get a positive response...please keep us updated.

    >Edit< One thing I did notice...the Reid case is from ALSUPCO....and not the app courts.

  12. #12
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    Indeed it is. Wouldn't the SC be considered an appelate court? At any rate, I should probably reword it to make things clearer.

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    Good job Hung!!! Great letter. Thank you so much for taking this task unpond yourself. And thanks Comp-tech and Kurtmax for the fantastic work and research that ya`ll put into the tri-fold!!! I can`t hardly wait to hear their responce. Lets all hope that it will be a positive one.

  14. #14
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    Once I get my AL permit I will use this same letter (if I may) to send to the sherrif here in Lee County.

    Except I will change " Numerous Alabama appellate courts have ruled on the matter of unconcealed carry, and have always upheld this right."

    To "Numerous Alabama appellate courts and the Alabama supreme court have ruled on the matter of unconcealed carry, and have always upheld this right."


    Great work and please let us know as soon as you get a responce.

    Edit: Could you post your word doc?

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    Best of luck to you also Kingfish. Please let us all know when it happens.

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    Once I get my AL permit I will use this same letter (if I may) to send to the sherrif here in Lee County.
    You needn't ask my permission. I highly encourage everyone here to write his local LEO!

    Here's my Word doc. If anyone sees any formatting issues, etc., please let me know! I am mailing the letter Friday.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  17. #17
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    Something that I failed to do in my correspondence with my local PD chief was send the letter and request confirmatino of receipt. You should consider that. That way, WHEN he doesn't respond (as has been my experience anyway), you can go to the local paper with proof that he received the letter and didn't respond to your inquiry (thus bringing to light the fact that he, and really ALL AL LEO seem to be enjoying a level of tyrannical authority rather than humble service).

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    vmathis12019 wrote:
    Something that I failed to do in my correspondence with my local PD chief was send the letter and request confirmatino of receipt. You should consider that. That way, WHEN he doesn't respond (as has been my experience anyway), you can go to the local paper with proof that he received the letter and didn't respond to your inquiry (thus bringing to light the fact that he, and really ALL AL LEO seem to be enjoying a level of tyrannical authority rather than humble service).
    V., you know more about what needs to be done then me for sure, but if you have not heard back from them perhaps you need to send it again, this time with the confirmation thing you spoke of. Good luck with it, let us know.

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    Hungsquirel,
    If you don't mind I'm going to use your letter in correspondance to the Montgomery County Sherrif, Montgomery Police Chief, and to the Mayor of Montgomery. whoever. when it comes to the later choice, I'm having writer's block trying to reword the closing paragraph. Basically I want to know how the Mayor's office will handle distribution of the correct information to local law enforcement agencies and what thier stance will be should there be any unlawful arrests made. thoughts?

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    I encourage ANYONE trying to educate law enforcement about open carry legality to use my letter as a template.

    As far as writing the local mayor, I had not thought of that option myself. I can't think of any good wording to close a letter to the mayor either. Perhaps something like:

    As open carry is legal but uncommon, will you communicate with Police Chief [Name] about this issue? If a citizen should ever be arrested for engaging in this legal activity, will you work with the police department to ensure the situation is resolved?
    I apologize for not being more help, but I have trouble thinking right after work. The joys of retail...

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    posted on the new forum.

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    OC okay in Mobile, AL according to Sheriff Cochran on live FM Talk Radio

    I asked him on the air. He agreed OC is in fact legal and stated all of his deputies knew it.

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    It's too bad this came up two years later... what charge was the OP arrested under.

    http://alisondb.legislature.state.al...5/13A-6-25.htm
    Section 13A-6-25

    Criminal coercion.

    (a) A person commits the crime of criminal coercion if, without legal authority, he threatens to confine, restrain or to cause physical injury to the threatened person or another, or to damage the property or reputation of the threatened person or another with intent thereby to induce the threatened person or another against his will to do an unlawful act or refrain from doing a lawful act.
    (b) Criminal coercion is a Class A misdemeanor.
    (Acts 1977, No. 607, p. 812, 2125.)



    Further, the mere possession of a firearm does not fulfill the requirements for disorderly conduct. This being two years outside of the statue of limitations means you can't go after the arresting officer for the above charge.
    It takes a village to raise an idiot.

  24. #24
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    The OP hasn't been on in a few years. I don't have IM configured, but he has an IM address in his profile. Someone want to send him an IM asking him back and inviting him to ALOC?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirbinator View Post
    It's too bad this came up two years later... what charge was the OP arrested under.

    http://alisondb.legislature.state.al...5/13A-6-25.htm
    Section 13A-6-25

    Criminal coercion.

    (a) A person commits the crime of criminal coercion if, without legal authority, he threatens to confine, restrain or to cause physical injury to the threatened person or another, or to damage the property or reputation of the threatened person or another with intent thereby to induce the threatened person or another against his will to do an unlawful act or refrain from doing a lawful act.
    (b) Criminal coercion is a Class A misdemeanor.
    (Acts 1977, No. 607, p. 812, 2125.)



    Further, the mere possession of a firearm does not fulfill the requirements for disorderly conduct. This being two years outside of the statue of limitations means you can't go after the arresting officer for the above charge.
    emphasis mine.

    Does this come from a court case or AG Opinion?
    Last edited by Packin'; 07-06-2011 at 09:48 PM. Reason: detail

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