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i know someone has already posted this within another thread, but this one deserves it's own headline. it's a great article very thoughtful and accurate!
PUBLISHED: Sunday, August 17, 2008
Picnickers pack heat
Gun enthusiasts meet peacefully at Warren park to prove point
By Christy Strawser
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
They came, they saw, they carried - and they didn't cause any problems.
Members of OpenCarry.org peacefully set up shop Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Warren to prove a point about the Second Amendment and Michigan's gun laws.
About 75 gun enthusiasts strolled through the park throughout the afternoon with sidearms strapped to their belts in plain view.
The goal was to underscore that Michigan is among 44 states where it's legal to carry a gun in public without a permit, as long as it was legally purchased and registered. Concealed weapons permits are necessary for a hidden weapon.
At Veterans Park, the guns were all out there for the world to see, but everyone followed the law and kept them holstered.
Men, and a few women, chatted at picnic tables in shorts and T-shirts, some grilled bratwurst and hot dogs while kids played on the Playscape, and a couple of teens rode skateboards.
"We're just having a picnic," organizer Ron Gibson said. "It's no different from any other day. The only difference is that we're carrying weapons."
The quiet afternoon had only a single glitch, when one of the armed enthusiasts tried to walk to the park from his home in Warren.
Police received a 911 call from a panicked woman about a man walking around with a gun. About 12 officers responded, but immediately sent the man on his way when he proved the gun was legally registered.
Police Commissioner William Dwyer said they "would have been remiss" not to stop the man and question him.
The incident upset some members of the club, who said educating police about gun laws was one of their themes for the day.
"It's about being educational without being confrontational," Gibson said.
He had plenty of officers to discuss the incident with because Warren police were out in force. Police set up a mobile command station at the park, two officers in uniform walked the grounds, an undercover officer watched the crowd with binoculars from the parking lot, and Dwyer made a personal appearance to chat with participants.
The cops kept things friendly, explaining to club members they were there to protect them from "undesirables" who might try to show up with non-permitted weapons.
"We were nervous initially about who would show up," Capt. Scott Pavlik said. "We're just being careful, but it's been very orderly."
Mostly, the participants discussed how weapons save lives and deter crime by frightening criminals.
"I can't carry at work, but if I'm going to the store or the coffee shop on weekends, I'll carry," said Brian Jeffs, a club member and senior geologist for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Similar demonstrations already played out in several states, and at least three Michigan cities - Flint, Grand Rapids and Hastings.
The message was well received in Warren, where about 20 people showed up just to learn more about the group and the law.
Mike Miller of St. Clair Shores said he never thought about carrying his gun in public until he heard about OpenCarry.org, so he stopped by to get more information.
"I think this (picnic) is a great idea," Miller said. "It shows that people are aware of what's happening with the law."
Carl Noechel lives down the street from the park, and he showed up to figure out why so many people were there with guns displayed.
"It's different, but it doesn't bother me," he said.
Club members were sure they garnered some new members for OpenCarry.org, which was founded in 2004 by Virginia residents Mike Stollenwerk and John Pierce.
The Web site has more than 8,500 registered members and gets 600,000 hits a month.
"The Michigan group has really taken hold," Jeffs said. "We get a couple of hundred hits a day."
"If it ain't loaded and cocked it don't shoot." - Rooster Cogburn
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That's quite a police "escort" for a peaceable, law abiding picnic.
Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."