[size=Judge supports PA open carry activist, suspended CPL restored][/size][/b]
[size=by][/size][/i][size= Dave Workman, (GunWeek][/size]) Senior Editor[/i]
[size=A Pennsylvania man has become something of an open carry activist hero after first having his concealed pistol license (CPL) suspended by a county sheriff because he openly carried at a polling place last November in New Franklin.][/size]
[size=Greg Rotz][/size][size= told Gun Week that he frequently carries his pistol in the open, even though he is licensed to carry concealed. There is no law against open carry in Pennsylvania, but a constable on duty on the afternoon of Nov. 5, 2007, when Rotz showed up to vote, first tried to convince him otherwise, and then made a report to the now-retired sheriff, who suspended Rotz' carry permit.][/size]
[size=The former Franklin County sheriff, Robert Wollyung][/size], reportedly told WHTM news that carrying a firearm is a privilege, not a right.
[size=But Wollyung's][/size] opinion would not have gotten very far with the crowd that showed up Jan. 8 at the Franklin County courtroom of President Judge John R. Walker, who took less than 30 minutes to restore Rotz' carry permit.
[size=Rotz has become the latest "icon" of sorts in the national open carry movement. His plight brought gun activists from all over the map to the court hearing, and when it was over, they broke into applause, according to The Chambersburg Public Opinion, a newspaper that serves the town where Rotz lives.][/size]
[size=In a telephone interview, Rotz told Gun Week that his legal adventure began on Election Day at about 5 p.m. when he showed up at his polling place with his Smith & Wesson .40-caliber Sigma semi- auto on his belt. The constable, identified by the newspaper as Gerald Speilman][/size], allegedly told Rotz he was not allowed to carry the pistol in the polling place and asked him to put the pistol in his car. But Rotz challenged him to show where in the state law that prohibition exists. When the constable apparently tried to use a reference that prohibits armed police officers in a polling place, Rotz told him, "I'm not a police officer, I'm a private citizen."
[size=After a telephone call, the constable acknowledged that Rotz was right, but then three days later, Rotz' permit was suspended by the sheriff.][/size]
[size="I've been to restaurants, stores, doctors' offices," Rotz said. "I've never been asked to leave and never been confronted by police."][/size]
[size=When he appealed Wollyung's][/size] action, Rotz found himself getting plenty of help from open carry activists all over the map.
They contributed a reported $3,000 to his defense fund to help defray legal costs. As Gun Week has previously reported in a series of stories last year, open carry is being practiced, and promoted, by a small but growing number of activists around the country, in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington state, for example. It surprises people the number of states where the practice is legal, but over the past few generations, it has apparently gone so much out of vogue that nobody realizes it is legal. Thus, when someone shows up in public with a pistol openly carried on a belt, it raises eyebrows and often involves a face-to- face with one or more police officers.
[size=The movement even has its own Internet forum, www.OpenCarry.org][/size], which discusses activities in all 50 states, and now includes at least a half-dozen different discussions of the Rotz case in the Pennsylvania section of that forum.
[size=Out West, in Washington state][/size], where open carry proponents have been active over the past year, a leader of that movement, Lonnie Wilson, has been working quietly but with determination to educate local police agencies about the legality of open carry. The result of his efforts has been that several police departments have issued training bulletins reminding officers and sheriff's deputies that packing a pistol in the open is not illegal.
[size=Backing that up are at least two appeals court rulings in recent years, the most recent an unpublished ruling from June 2007, affirming that the open carrying of a firearm in a non-confrontational or provocative manner, is not illegal. Washington state statute and its strong state constitutional provision covering the individual right to bear arms have occasionally frustrated anti- gunners.][/size]
[size=In Pennsylvania, which is hardly the "Wild West," an estimated 60-80 open carry proponents including Mike Stollenwerk, one of the founders of OpenCarry.org][/size], showed up at the court hearing to give Rotz moral support.
[size=Also in the courtroom was the new Franklin County sheriff, Dane Anthony. Rotz said he shook Anthony's hand after the hearing and feels assured that he will not have the same kind of interaction that he did with Wollyung][/size].
[size="As far as I'm concerned," Rotz told Gun Week, "I'm not going to have any issue with the sheriff in the future."][/size]
[size=However, as in other places where open carry has raised some eyebrows, Judge Walker did note from the bench that he is personally going to contact his state lawmaker and try to have legislation introduced that would prohibit open carry at a polling place.][/size] The New GUN WEEK, February 15, 2008