Dear Ms. Siemers,
I wish to comment on a quote in an article published by Texas Cable News (txcn.com), in which a Mr. Richard Leal, affiliated with your group, was quoted regarding open carry of a firearm as saying, “I don’t need to be intimidated by it. That’s not your purpose to intimidate me. But regardless of what your purpose is, it’s how I react to the situation (that counts)”. This statement is quite categorically wrong. The applicable law in Texas is Section 42.01(a)(8), stating that disorderly conduct is committed if a person “displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm”. Whether anyone was in fact alarmed by the sight of a weapon is immaterial; the test is that the actor intended his action to cause alarm.
Mr. Leal himself concedes that it is not the carrier’s purpose to intimidate, thus contradicting his next claim. Further refutation of Mr. Leal’s statement comes from Florida v. J.L., 529 U.S. 266 (2000), where the Supreme Court specifically states in unanimous opinion that a report of a gun is not, and cannot be, reasonable articulable suspicion that a crime has been or is about to occur. Further, the Texas 5th
Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in Grieve v. State of Texas, regarding a weapon “displayed” on an apartment balcony, “Although the State maintains the fact that someone called the police is sufficient to show the gun was displayed in a way calculated to cause alarm, we cannot agree. The mere fact that the police were called is not evidence of the way in which the gun was displayed
. Nor is the mere fact that a person saw a gun ‘displayed’ on a balcony evidence that the balcony was in a public place. Without some evidence describing the balcony or the manner in which the gun was displayed, we cannot conclude there were any facts or circumstances showing the gun was displayed in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm”. Both the Supreme Court and Texas 5th
Circuit CoA thus hold that Mr. Leal is wrong; the fact that someone was alarmed enough to inform police about the carry of a weapon, even if such carry would be illegal and even if the report is true[/i], does not constitute reasonable suspicion of any crime, disorderly conduct included.
Mr. Leal’s statements can be reduced to “seeing a gun carried by another person scares me, therefore I declare the carry of a gun to be wrong”. Mr. Leal is quite mistaken if he believes he has the power to make and enforce that declaration overriding a recognized human right to self-defense and to free expression. Such a view is selfish in the extreme, far more so than any perceived slight Mr. Leal may infer from the lawful carry of a weapon. I would advise him, and you as his superior in this organization, to correct his views regarding this topic, and to refrain from making such obviously fallacious statements to the press in future.