Gun-toting picnic coming to TC
By Sheri McWhirter email@example.com
TRAVERSE CITY -- Gun advocates have Traverse City in their cross hairs.
A nonprofit group called Michigan Open Carry, Inc., on Saturday will host a gun-toting picnic at Sunset Park along East Front Street, an effort leaders said is intended to promote the legal, open carry of firearms and the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.
Scott Sieffert owns the Discerning Shootist store on Woodmere Avenue in Traverse City and is helping to promote the event and cause.
He is a firearms safety and concealed pistol license instructor.
"A lot of it is based upon a person's rights in Michigan. It's to let people know they can openly carry a gun on their person," Sieffert said. "Guns aren't evil. They are no more evil than tools like a drill or a chain saw or an automobile. It's how you use it."
That means participants will be walking around with pistols in hip holsters in a public park. Not everyone thinks it's a bang-up idea.
The event may raise apprehension, particularly among those who may not be aware of the event, said Deni Scrudato, a Traverse City commissioner.
"What will people think if they've driven by and seen a bunch of people openly carrying guns? People will be concerned," she said.
Scrudato understands the gathering is legal, but she questions whether the picnic is little more than a chance for participants to "show off" their gun ownership.
She's not alone in her worries.
"I find it a little disturbing," said Virgilene Warren, who lives a few blocks from the park. "It sounds like something that shouldn't be in a neighborhood. I really don't think it's appropriate."
Warren said she has no qualms about gun ownership, but is scared by the notion of firearms carried in a park where neighborhood children play.
"It may cause concern for some," but not everyone, said Fred Wilmeth, president of Traverse City's Oak Park Neighborhood Association.
Reactions will depend on where people stand on firearms laws, he said.
Wilmeth doesn't own a gun, but isn't opposed to those who do, he said.
The picnic is not designed to intimidate, but spread awareness of Michigan's open carry law, as well as increase interest and donations for next year's planned "Second Amendment March" in Washington, D.C., said Brian Jeffs, president of Michigan Open Carry.
"It's a group of pro-gun people who promote the open carry of a handgun, which is legal in Michigan. A lot of people don't realize that, even those in law enforcement," Jeffs said.
Traverse City Police Chief Michael Warren knows the law and is prepared for concerned calls from passersby on Saturday.
"It's 100 percent legal as long as the gun is properly registered and openly displayed," Warren said. "We'll have adequate staff on in case there are any issues, but we are not anticipating any."
Michigan law allows the open carry of pistols in a hip holster, so long as the weapon is not brandished, or waved menacingly.
Emergency services dispatchers are trained to explain the legality of the situation to worried 911 callers, Warren said.
"I'm sure we'll probably get a couple calls on it," he said.
City commissioners in March changed an ordinance that previously prevented firearms possession in city parks. The local law contradicted state law and had to be repealed, said R. Ben Bifoss, city manager.
It's unknown how many people will show for the event, although such gatherings tend to attract between 30 and 150 people, Jeffs said.
The picnic is scheduled from 12 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Pistol-packing picnic to promote open carry right
The Oxford Leader
CJ Carnacchio editor.
July 15, 2009 - Time to go over the ol' picnic checklist.
Potato salad and coleslaw – check.
Hot dogs and hamburgers – check.
Pistol and holster – check.
That last item may sound a bit odd, but not if you're planning to attend the Open Carry Picnic scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2 at Seymour Lake Township Park in Oxford.
Picnic attendees are invited to openly carry their handguns, in holsters, during this event designed to help build public awareness about a little known legal right.
Any Michigan resident who's at least 18 years old and owns a legally registered handgun may openly carry it in a holster, with or without a concealed pistol license, in all places not explicitly exempt by law.
"There's still plenty of people out there that aren't aware of the legality of it," said Oxford resident John Roshek, who's organizing the local picnic. "You don't necessarily have to have a concealed pistol license to be able to protect yourself."
Roshek, 29, is a member of Michigan Open Carry (http://www.miopencarry.org), a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to educate and desensitize the public and law enforcement community about the legality of openly carrying a handgun, and demonstrate to them they have nothing to fear from the lawful carry of a firearm.
"We're a real non-confrontational group," he said. "We're not trying to go out and ruffle any feathers."
Roshek's hoping the picnic will draw all types of people from responsible gun owners to non-gun owners with questions and concerns.
"Everybody's welcome to just show up," he said. "I hope all your readers come out and check it out, whether they're for it or against it. Engage in some conversation to find out a little bit more and educate yourself. All the members are more than willing to answer any questions."
Parks Director Ron Davis said he wasn't aware of the picnic, but has no problem with it being held at a township park.
"Our doors are open to everybody," he said. "I don't have an issue with it."
Davis noted he has his concealed pistol license. "I'm an outdoorsman, a hunter and fisherman, and it's our right to bear arms," he said.
Food and nonalcoholic beverages will be provided, but "anyone that comes is welcome to bring whatever they would like." "If they want to volunteer to bring something, they can," he said.
It should be noted alcoholic beverages are not permitted in Seymour Lake Park.
Roshek stressed that despite the picnic's name, "open carry is not required" for the event.
"You can concealed carry (if you have a permit). You don't even have to carry at all," he said. For Roshek, carrying his Glock 23 pistol is as natural as carrying his wallet or car keys. "I do carry 100 percent of the time," he said. "I open carry I'd say 90 percent of the time. I have my concealed pistol license as well, but mostly I open carry."
Self-defense is Roshek's main motivation to pack a pistol whenever he leaves the house. "I'm not looking to make any political statements, nothing of that sort. I'm not looking to gain attention or cause panic," he explained. "It's really just about being able to protect myself and my family. I don't consider myself a paranoid person. I've just lived long enough to know what the world is like."
He's by no means anxious to use his gun. Personally, he's never had to shoot anyone "and I hope that I never do." "I think most responsible gun owners feel the same way – they wish they never have to use it in defense of themself or someone else," Roshek said. "But if that situation ever arose, I know that I would be willing to do what I had to do to protect myself."
Roshek believes allowing people to carry firearms helps reduce the crime rate. "When you look at statistics and FBI crime reports, crime rates are generally lower in those areas where lawful carry of a handgun is prevalent," he said. "It speaks to the fact that the criminals are looking for the softer targets. They're looking for the people that aren't carrying guns, that aren't able to defend themselves, rather than risk confrontation."
Negative perceptions of guns and gun owners are fueled by a lack of personal experience and misinformation in Roshek's opinion. "I think when a lot of people have objections to guns or carrying guns or seeing guns, it's just based out of fear and conjecture rather than based in fact," he said. "People are generally going to have a fear of guns, whether they weren't raised around them or because of shootings on the news and (reports of) crime rates."
Roshek wants more people to understand that "lawful gun owners aren't out to cause trouble." "We're not generally the type of people that fly off the handle," he explained. "We're not out there waving our guns around. We're just lawful citizens. We're not criminals." Aside of self-defense, Roshek's open carry of a handgun also helps him educate others from time to time.
"Occasionally, I'll be in the store and someone might ask me if I'm a cop. I tell them no (and that) sparks a conversation about open carry. So, it helps to raise awareness." Roshek's never had any negative reactions to his open carry from those he's encountered.
"I've never sent anybody screaming for the hills, running, saying, 'There's a man with a gun!' That's never happened," he said. "Most of the time people are so wrapped up in their own activities, they don't even notice." Roshek's hoping the Aug. 2 picnic will help dispel some of the myths people have about guns and their owners. "One of the things we always like to say is come out to the picnic and see what doesn't happen."
The Oxford Leader: Opinions
Praise the Lord and pass the ammo
CJ Carnacchio, editor.
July 15, 2009 Guns have always been a part of my life.
When I was little, I played with toy guns almost everyday until I graduated to a Daisy BB gun. I never did put my eye out or anyone else's.
Being an avid hunter, my dad always had shotguns, rifles and handguns around the house. They were always locked up and I knew not to touch.
When I was 12 years old, I got my first shotgun, a 20-gauge single shot for hunting pheasant and rabbits. I still have that gun. You never forget your first.
A few years ago, I bought my first rifle as I took up deer hunting – a right of passage every red-blooded Michigan male should try at least once.
I'm thinking about my lifelong love of firearms this week because of the front-page story I wrote about the Open Carry Picnic to be held at Seymour Lake Township Park on Sunday, Aug. 2.
I'm sure some hysterical people out there will panic when they read the article and start calling the parks and recreation department to voice their shock and outrage.
But the bottom line is there's absolutely nothing wrong with a group of law-abiding, responsible gun owners gathering in a public park for a picnic while openly wearing their legally-registered side arms.
I highly doubt they're going to start shooting at the Kids Kingdom play structure like Pancho Villa gone mad.
I was extremely impressed by the picnic's organizer, 29-year-old Oxford resident John Roshek.
During my interview with him, he was eloquent, passionate, rational and sincere about protecting and promoting his legal right to openly carry a handgun.
He was the exact opposite of how liberal anti-gun nuts try to falsely portray the majority of honest firearms owners in this country.
People who hate guns and think no one should own them are by and large an ignorant group of folks.
They judge all firearms and their owners by the bad things that bad people do with guns.
They ignore the fact that every single day millions upon millions of decent, responsible gun owners don't commit any crimes or kill any innocent people.
Instead, they focus on the minority responsible for all the violent acts we see splashed across the TV news.
In most cases, these criminals obtained their guns through a variety of illegal means, ranging from theft to black market sales to dishonest dealers.
The anti-gun lobby's basic premise that guns are evil is preposterous. On their own, guns are neither good nor bad. Guns are simply objects, tools to be used for various tasks and activities.
How a gun is used can be judged good or bad. The person using the gun can be judged good or bad.
But the gun itself is a morally neutral thing.
As a nation founded by gun-owning individuals, we should have more respect for firearms and the important role they've played and still play in our lives.
Let us not forget that it was the gun – combined with the bravery of the man pulling the trigger – that ultimately won us our freedom from Great Britain.
Our Declaration of Independence would have been just flowery words written on a piece of parchment had it not been backed up by the blast of a Minute Man's musket.
Picnic event teaches public about right to carry firearms
by Holly Klaft | Jackson Citizen Patriot
Sunday July 19, 2009, 8:07 PM
Firearms aren't something you would expect to find at family-friendly get-togethers on a Sunday afternoon. Especially not among the water works and playground equipment of one of Jackson's recreational gems.
But about 20 gun owners brought their weapons to a picnic at Sparks Foundation County Park to flex their Second Amendment rights and to educate people about the ability to openly carry guns in Michigan.
With handguns holstered at their hips, attendees gathered around a picnic table near the falls to talk and munch on hot dogs, cookies and potato salad.
"Not everyone that carries a handgun is a bad guy," said Gordon Cannon of Jackson, who is a member of Michigan Open Carry, a nonprofit group that has been holding "open carry" picnics throughout the state.
Cannon said some people may feel nervous when they see the group assembled with firearms at their sides, but they shouldn't think of them as outlaws.
"We're not out there as criminals," said Cannon, who helped organize the event. "People think of the Wild West when they see holstered handguns. They should be thinking it's just a bunch of law-abiding citizens walking around exercising their Second Amendment rights."
Brian Jeffs, president of Michigan Open Carry, said he hoped the social event would create more awareness about Second Amendment rights and the ability to openly carry guns in Michigan. The group also is helping to plan a Second Amendment march on April 19, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
Anyone at least 18 years old who owns a legally registered handgun may carry it visibly holstered in most public places. However, guns cannot be openly carried into churches, courthouses, theaters, sports arenas, day-care centers or establishments that sell alcohol.
Exposed weapons usually will draw the attention of the public and police.
County Sheriff Dan Heyns said his office was aware of the event but wouldn't interfere unless attendees broke the law. "Our approach to this is we're just observing and making sure they're abiding by the law," Heyns said. "They won't get a response from us unless they stretch the statute." He said other "open carry" events have been held in Jackson without incident. An "open carry" lunch also was held at a Bob Evans restaurant this spring.
The group's presence at the park Sunday didn't cause much of a stir but made some nervous. "It's kind of intimidating," said Ashley Simpson, 18, of Summit Township, who was working nearby at the Cascades Ice Cream Co. "It seems like it would lead to more violence if people knew they could openly carry a gun."
Jeffs said people shouldn't feel afraid. "We're trying to educate," Jeffs said. "Citizens have nothing to fear. If they see someone openly carrying, they can be 99.9 percent sure they're lawful. Our people have caused no trouble and have broken no laws."
Michael J. Metts | Jackson Citizen PatriotFrom left, Robin and Walter Whitaker of Vandercook Lake open a package of hot dogs during a Second Amendment "open carry" picnic at Sparks Foundation County park.
Pistol-packing picnic taking place in Oxford
Thursday, July 30, 2009
By KAREN WORKMAN
of The Oakland Press
The Oakland Press/JOSE JUAREZ John Roshek has his firearm secured in a holster as he stands near a picnic pavilion area at Seymour Lake Park in Oxford Township.
People from across the state are expected to gather for a family-friendly picnic at Oxford Township’s Seymour Lake Park on Sunday, Aug. 2.
“It’s a regular family picnic, the only difference is the people there will be armed,” said John Roshek, an Oxford resident who helped organize the picnic. Roshek is a member of Michigan Open Carry, a nonprofit organization that tries to raise awareness of a Michigan law that allows people to openly carry handguns without a special permit.
“You don’t necessarily have to have a concealed pistol license,” Roshek said. “As long as the pistol is legally registered to you and you’re over the age of 18, you can lawfully open carry a pistol in Michigan.” He added: “Some restrictions do apply.”
To open carry a handgun means it has to be in plain sight on the person carrying it. Roshek and others at Sunday’s picnic will have their pistols in holsters attached outside their clothes. Several restrictions, such as places where open carry is not allowed or specific guidelines for traveling with the gun in a vehicle, do apply under the law.
Roshek encourages all people to stop by the picnic, saying it is not limited to the group’s members. “The more, the merrier,” Roshek said. “Everyone is welcome to attend, whether you’re for or against it, whether you openly carry, concealed carry or don’t even carry a gun.”
Since the purpose of the pistol-packing picnic is to raise awareness of the law, the group will have informational packets available for anyone who wants to learn more. “We’re trying to get people to understand what your rights are,” Roshek said. “It’s a little known fact that it is legal to openly carry a handgun without a permit. “Even a lot of municipalities are not aware either.”
Roshek said Oxford Township had an ordinance prohibiting firearms in their parks, but that it is unenforceable because of the state law. “They have since said they are going to change that to comply with Michigan’s law,” Roshek said.
The potluck-style picnic will be held at a picnic area in the township’s park, near children’s attractions like the new K.L.R. Splashpad and Kid’s Kingdom playground. “At some of the past events, some members have brought their children, sometimes they don’t,” said Roshek, who doesn’t have children.
Roshek said the event is entirely safe. Alcohol is not allowed at the park and neither is any shooting. “Nobody even takes their pistol out of their holster,” Roshek said.
About 50 of the 500 members of Michigan Open Carry are expected to attend the picnic, which starts at 1 p.m. An avid supporter of constitutional rights, Roshek said he respects the opinion of people who don’t support gun ownership because he firmly believes in free speech. “But whether you’re for or against it, just come out, find out more about it and see for yourself,” Roshek said.
While he understands why some people may have concerns about the picnic, he says there have never been any problems at any of the group’s events, from picnics to roadside cleanups. “We’re all extremely cautious with the law,” Roshek said. “We’re law-abiding citizens and we’re not out to cause trouble.” Those planning to attend the picnic are encouraged to bring a dish to pass.
Op-Ed: Put stories back into storytelling
By DOUG STANTON
Special to the Record-Eagle
The Traverse City National Writers Series and Book Festival was founded in hopes that people -- you and me and our neighbors -- would become as passionate about literature as we have lately become about politics and breaking news. Sometime in the last decade, during the divisive presidential election of 2000 and today, artists, and in this instance I mean specifically writers (and more importantly storytellers), began to give ground to politicians, pundits and purveyors of "reality," in film, TV, or the Internet.
Our pop culture became more declarative rather than imaginative, more judgmental than empathic, more political than creative. We are poorer for this, socially, artistically. We turned politics into popular entertainment, and we made pundits, activists and politicians our most-listened-to storytellers.
But partisan political arguments are, by definition, oppositional and single-minded. In short, they are not like life at all. A plainly partisan "political" book or movie is to the world of literature what the amoeba is to the orchid.
Imagine if John Steinbeck had set out not to write a novel called "The Grapes of Wrath," but had chronicled in purely argumentative terms the "good guys" and the "bad guys" in that wrenching story of the Great Depression -- we wouldn't be talking about "The Grapes of Wrath today." In Steinbeck's hands, the characters are complex -- there are dashes of humanity in the worst of the people. What Steinbeck created was a vicarious experience as rich and contradictory as life.
On a blog, or on the radio, or in a movie, when we read or hear a rant, a screed, a finger-pointing work whose purpose is to shame and damn, we may get angry, and we may argue at dinner parties, but such work is generally meant to confirm what its audience already suspects.
The system is broken! No, the system is perfect! No one has moved from their positions. A work of storytelling makes the impossible seem possible, it makes us live in realities people may not like. But we survive, and are changed in the process. Arguments can become insights.
In "Slum Dog Millionaire," the movie, there's a scene in which a little boy jumps into an outhouse sewer in order to escape it and rush to meet a movie star who's standing nearby. When the boy bursts to the surface smiling, no other image is needed to convey the power of that boy's belief in a better future, in the idea of upward mobility. No amount of documented arguing about the injustices of life in a slum in India would have as much power. Imagine if Mark Twain had argued only in declarative, political and purely judgmental fashion that slavery was immoral, and that he had not written "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
This is to say that nonfiction, in the hands of people like Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese and Joan Didion, also packs the life-changing power of Steinbeck, Faulkner, or Virginia Woolf. Story is not solely found in fiction. No one has argued and proselytized about life in the 1970s like Joan Didion, but like Wolfe and Talese, she disappears from the story. These people do not appear on their books' covers. They stay out of the way and let it rip. They are storytellers, not debaters trying to prove a point.
I remember when people fought over novels, journalism, movies -- stories about which no easy conclusions might be drawn. This is to say that I remember when people argued not about other people's arguments, but about other people's stories.
I remember in graduate school when two classmates argued about the novelist Upton Sinclair. "I like him," said one guy. "I think he's lousy," said the other. And the fan of Upton Sinclair defended the author's honor by punching the other guy. I saw him fly past the kitchen doorway and heard him land out of sight. I asked someone I was with, "What's that all about?" "Oh, they're just arguing Upton Sinclair."
Really? I haven't seen that kind of brio at dinner parties except when ladled as an attack on talk radio (liberal or conservative); books and writers (liberal or conservative), and politicians. So many of the books these people write, in both camps, are really printed television, their entertainment value residing in the showmanship surrounding their publication. A politician obtains only the power people give him. The artist has no power at all, except what Time might bestow.
I was reminded of this recently when a group of gun owners had a picnic in a park in Traverse City -- while wearing their loaded guns in holsters. Immediately, the finger-wagging machine, on both the left and right, labeled these people as an unfit image of this fair, midwestern city. There was a sense that everyone just wished these people would go away -- or, better yet, that they could be made to go away by some dint of law, or zoning, or super-shaming.
Over time, these protesters in the park had been listening to their storytellers on the radio, in blogs, or in books, who had harped that their government might take away their guns.
No one asked: "Who are they? What do they want?" Which are questions I would guess a journalist like Tom Wolfe would ask, or a filmmaker like Martin Scorcese, or a short-story writer like Annie Proulx. They would approach these people as stories to be told, not arguments to be won.
And this would have made for some interesting stories.
Doug Stanton, a life-long Traverse City resident, is the author of the New York Times best-sellers "In Harm's Way" and "Horse Soldiers." He and Traverse City writer and attorney Grant Parsons recently founded the Traverse City National Writer Series and Book Festival, a yearly festival of writers, story-telling, and books.
By ANN ZANIEWSKI
Of The Oakland Press 8/3/09
The Oakland Press/ANN ZANIEWSKI Garry Lynn of Leonard; Lauren Brundage, 8, of Clarkston; Hallie Vawter, 10, of Oxford; and Emma Vawter, 7, of Oxford; watch a German Shepherd and a puppy play together at the Michigan Open Carry picnic Sunday at Seymour Lake Park in Oxford Township.
OXFORD TWP. – With hamburgers sizzling on the grill and people relaxing in lawn chairs, it was pretty much like any other picnic — except that most attendees had a gun on their hip.
Members and supporters of Michigan Open Carry gathered Sunday in Oxford Township’s Seymour Lake Park to socialize and raise awareness of the ability of adults to lawfully carry holstered handguns in the open without a special permit.
“The Second Amendment is very important to me because it protects all my other rights,” said John Roshek, an Oxford Township resident who helped organize the picnic. “I want everyone to know that you don’t need a concealed weapons permit to protect your family.” Roshek is the southeast regional coordinator for Michigan Open Carry, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate and desensitize people about the open carrying of firearms. With some restrictions, any law-abiding person who is 18 or older can carry a legally registered, holstered firearm in plain sight.
Roshek said the potluck picnic was very well-received. About 150 people dropped by throughout the day, he said. While most attendees brought a gun, shooting wasn’t allowed. Alcohol was also banned.
“We have a little slogan: ‘Come out and see what doesn’t happen,’” Roshek said. “It’s just a lot of regular folks out having a picnic.”
Steve Coon of Farmington Hills flipped burgers and hot dogs at the grill as his son, 7-year-old Lucas, looked on. Coon said he came to the picnic to show his support of self-protection, and with hopes that his son “learns to be more comfortable about firearms.”
Craig Miller of Ortonville said he wanted to be up-to-date on various gun laws. He also wanted to show support for the Second Amendment, which protects the right of people to bear arms. Miller said some people carry the misconception that gun owners “are all crazy,” but they are really just like everyone else. “I volunteer for churches. I’ve got two kids, and I’ve got no criminal record,” Miller said.
A Holly resident named Julia, who didn’t want to give her last name, had a pin on her shirt that said “Gun control is murder.” She wore a Lady Smith & Wesson .38 caliber gun on her hip that she said she has for personal protection. “I think an armed public is safer than an unarmed public,” she said. “If they take away our guns, only criminals will have them.”
Roshek said he wants people to know that if they come across a person openly carrying a holstered firearm, there’s nothing to worry about. “They don’t have anything to fear. We’re non-confrontational. We don’t want to cause any problems,” he said.
Michigan Open Carry will host another potluck picnic at noon Sunday, Aug. 9 at River Woods Park, 202 N. Squirrel Road in Auburn Hills.