Yesterday evening I went to Provo Towne Center with a couple of friends. The 15 year old exchange student from Germany needed some new shoes so I thought I would buy him some. We went to the mall, and started looking for shoes in Famous Footwear. While we were there, I noticed that mall security was hovering at the entrance of the store. The security guard, (unarmed as per mall policy for their security personnel) was on his cell phone and his radio. I knew that I was the reason he was there, as I was OCing with my Glock 19C in my Fobus GL2SH retention paddle holster.
After about 20 minutes of shopping, we went and spoke with an acquaintance of one of the kids I was with who worked in the mall. The security guard continued to follow us. After we went to a cell phone shop, the police finally arrived. It had been nearly 45 minutes since the security guard started following me.
The officer entered the store and asked me to come over and talk to him. He also asked me to keep my hand away from my gun. I complied, asked him how his evening was and shook his hand. He asked me what the deal was with my gun. I was a little unsure as to what I should say, since in my mind there was no deal, I was simply carrying openly, in accordance with law. I informed him that I was a CFP holder, and he asked me why my weapon wasn’t concealed. I replied that it was not concealed because it was not required to be concealed. I mentioned common law theory that if something is not prohibited by statute, it is allowed. I also mentioned that since the Supreme Court has not yet ruled that the right has to be tied to militia service (which I doubt they will) I am allowed to carry a firearm openly.
The officer asked if my gun was loaded, to which I replied, “Statutorily, yes.” I just wanted to make sure there was no confusion in terms. A second officer arrived about this time, and began asking questions similar to those of the first. I retrieved my permit and ID for the officers, and they began looking into things. One of them asked if I was subject to any protective orders. I informed him that I wasn’t, and that being subject to such an order would have prohibited me from having a CFP. He countered that it would not have been the first time. I conceded the point. People could get the permit and then have a protective order taken out against them.
The officers asked that I accompany them outside, which is understandable. We were inside a store. I can imagine it being unnerving to a store owner to have an OCer, a security guard and two police in their store. We went to the front entrance of the mall and talked on the sidewalk. I was asked why I didn’t conceal my weapon, and I told them that the two reasons were speed of draw in a situation in which I hope to never find myself, and that I want people to get used to the idea that it is ok for civilians to carry guns.
The officers asked if I was “the guy from the restaurant.” I said that I most likely was, as I had been in a similar conversation with an officer in a restaurant several months ago. Apparently, after that encounter, the police had a briefing on the situation, but neglected to mention that OC is indeed legal.
The officer told me that with all of the things that have happened lately they ahd to be extra careful. He mentioned Trolley Square as an example. I cut him off and reminded him that Trolley Square has posted signs prohibiting firearms, but Provo Towne Center has no such postings. I told him that if there were such postings I would of course comply, as the mall is within their rights as private property owners to restrict the carry of firearms on their premises. He informed me that they had the right to ask me to leave. I acknowledged this, and pointed out that no such request had ever been made to me.
The officers eventually verified my permit (important only because I had a round in the chamber). I was informed that I was within the law, but they still suggested that I conceal my weapon and practice drawing from concealment so that I would not need to OC. They also mentioned that they always carry concealed when they are off duty. I was polite and didn’t mention that their preferred method of carry was irrelevant to me. They also mentioned that if I were to continue carrying openly in a public place like the mall, they would continue to receive calls, and that I would very quickly begin to hate the police.
I thanked the officers for doing their jobs, shook hands with both officers and the security guard.
I am thinking that the next time this happens, I am going to ask the officers a couple of questions. One is, “given that this is the fourth time we have had an encounter like this, and this will be the fourth time you will conclude that I am perfectly within the law, when should I start considering this to be harassment and a violation of my fourth amendment rights, particulary the prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure?” The other question will be, “would it be possible to set up a seminar with the police force so that I can come explain the firearms laws in Utah to the entire group all at once? It would save me a lot of time over doing this individually with every officer.”
Anyway, I just thought you all might enjoy reading this little story about my trip to the mall last night.