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Thread: Great Editorial: Open Carry Hysteria!

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    Open carry hysteria






    Some in the media and other anti-gun emotionalists are tearing apart Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen for his – somewhat belated, but very correct – advisory opinion on open carry.

    What provoked the open carry hysteria? Van Hollen simply reminded people about a settled fact. He reiterated a point that Jim Doyle and the state Supreme Court once freely recognized. He repeated the state Constitution. That’s controversial?

    It’s not illegal to carry a firearm openly in Wisconsin in and of itself, Van Hollen said. Cops can’t slap someone with a disorderly conduct arrest solely because they are carrying a firearm openly.

    No statute prohibits open carry (there are still limitations on where open carry can occur). The state Constitution grants people the right to bear arms for lawful purpose. Since this state doesn’t allow concealed carry, if people can’t open carry either, how can they exercise their constitutionally protected right? They can’t. It would be a gun ban, which the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled unconstitutional in Washington, D.C.

    Maybe the newspaper columnists and bloggers should take up their complaints with the Constitution, not the attorney general. Some people get upset about supposed constitutional violations when it comes to the interrogation and surveillance of terrorists, but they are perfectly fine with abridging the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

    It’s true that the right to bear arms is not absolute. Most people agree, for example, with regulations barring felons from possessing guns. But when police and prosecutors use their power to prohibit any exercising of the right to bear arms for lawful purpose, they go too far.

    In Milwaukee, police are now planning to put people down on the ground who legally carry a firearm in the open. We live in a state where the Supreme Court has increasingly restricted cops’ ability to stop cars and search drug dealers. The police need to have a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, which the Abrahamson court has increasingly defined restrictively. But now police are saying they’re going to toss people on the ground for doing something the attorney general (and Constitution) says is perfectly legal, and Van Hollen’s the controversy?

    In Racine, the sheriff outlined a more reasonable approach: If dispatchers receive a call about a person with a gun, they will obtain additional information. Is the person agitated? Is an argument going on?

    Gov. Jim Doyle acted apoplectic about Van Hollen’s opinion. But it wasn’t that long ago that Doyle, speaking out in opposition to allowing concealed carry, patted his hip, and said, “If you want to carry a gun in Wisconsin, wear it on your hip.” When Doyle was attorney general, his office argued that concealed carry could be outlawed because open carry was not. A person could walk down State Street with a gun, and not face a problem, the office argued.

    In a legal brief in a concealed carry case, Doyle’s then office argued, according to a state Supreme Court summation, that “ ... a person lawfully in possession of a firearm will always retain the ability to keep the firearm in the open ...”

    Milwaukee police concern about open carry is not patently unreasonable, of course (although putting people down on the ground without suspicion of criminality is). Most homicides in Milwaukee are by (unlawful use of) firearm.

    But Van Hollen didn’t put guns on the streets. Criminals already have guns. He just stated what was already lawful. The overzealous action of other police agencies prompted the opinion.

    In one West Allis case, a man faced disorderly conduct allegations for wearing a firearm in a holster in his own yard while peacefully planting a tree. A municipal judge correctly tossed out the citation. A West Milwaukee man has filed a federal lawsuit because police took his gun after stopping him for carrying it in a holster while shopping at a local Menards. The man was quietly loading his purchases into his vehicle in the parking lot, according to the suit. Another time, the same man was carrying the holstered gun in Walmart, when an officer pointed a gun at him, handcuffed him, searched him and took him to the police station.

    And Van Hollen’s the controversy? Please.

    Van Hollen’s office had initially delayed releasing an opinion, angering pro-Second Amendment advocates, like the Lakeland Times newspaper, which took him to task. And even now, Van Hollen only issued an informal opinion, when a formal one would have had far more impact, such as creating a legal precedent. Why not issue a formal one?

    In his opinion, Van Hollen wrote that open carry could be criminal only if other circumstances came into play, such as if the person was also “barking” at a passerby.

    I understand police wanting to question a person strutting down the street with a firearm (which the opinion says is fine). But I would think there should be evidence of a crime before the person ends up sprawled face down.

    One could argue that Milwaukee’s firearm violence makes open carry more of a necessity there for law-abiding folks. If I was a crook, the last person I’d rob would be the guy with a pistol in a holster.

    (Jessica McBride is a member of the journalism faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a blogger and a Merton resident. Her column runs Saturdays in The Freeman.)

    JESSICA McBRIDE


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    Regular Member Washintonian_For_Liberty's Avatar
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    Nice. Well written.

    Interesting that OC is the only way to carry in Wisconsin. Kind of cool if you ask me. I guess this means that if you come from another State, you'll need to bring you're OC holster rather than your CC holster.

    If it is illegal to conceal carry, do detectives need to OC? Because according to the Constitution, we are supposed to all be treated equally in the eyes of the law.
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    Very good article!

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    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Excellently written article and well reasoned.

    Journalism as its suppose to be.

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    We in WI have to use what we have. If OC is the only means, then so be it. I prefer OC anyways.

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    Regular Member opusd2's Avatar
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    As a member of the pro-carry side, I thought the article was great! Whenever I can read an article that isn't slanted to the "Our police will take care of us, we don't need to worry" side of life, it's a welcome sight (especially when the article comes from a state university faculty member).
    I aim to misbehave

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    opusd2 wrote:
    As a member of the pro-carry side, I thought the article was great! Whenever I can read an article that isn't slanted to the "Our police will take care of us, we don't need to worry" side of life, it's a welcome sight (especially when the article comes from a state university faculty member).
    Folks - remember that this was a commentary (not jopurnalism) - these are usually one sided - news stories are usually more balanced and 2 or 3 sided - stories are stories, not designed to be perfect balanced and factual reports - they are designed to sell newspapers.

    A lot of people get mad at reporters on gun stories - this is the wrong approach as almost all publicity is good for our side because then we can get our letters and commentaries out to explain things.

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    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Mike wrote:
    opusd2 wrote:
    As a member of the pro-carry side, I thought the article was great! Whenever I can read an article that isn't slanted to the "Our police will take care of us, we don't need to worry" side of life, it's a welcome sight (especially when the article comes from a state university faculty member).
    Folks - remember that this was a commentary (not jopurnalism) - these are usually one sided - news stories are usually more balanced and 2 or 3 sided - stories are stories, not designed to be perfect balanced and factual reports - they are designed to sell newspapers.

    A lot of people get mad at reporters on gun stories - this is the wrong approach as almost all publicity is good for our side because then we can get our letters and commentaries out to explain things.
    Journalism is the production of news reports and editorials through media such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television, and the Internet. Journalists—be they writers, editors or photographers; broadcast presenters or producers—serve as the main purveyors of information and opinion in contemporary society. "News is what the consensus of journalists determines it to be."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism

    Sorry Mike, but just because a person isn't "prime time" and famous, doesn't mean they are not a journalist. Unless you want to try and coin a new phrase like....."article-ist"....I think the general definition fits her too. Of course your welcome to disagree, but as the above underlined phrase suggests, its all a matter of the opinion of the day anyway.





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    Regular Member Sonora Rebel's Avatar
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    This could have been phrased differently: "I understand police wanting to question a person strutting down the street with a firearm (which the opinion says is fine"

    If the person is not otherwise behaving normally... why would police want to question anybody? Probable cause is not observing the free exercise of a Right in a responsible manner.

    Why isit always 'strutting'? I've seen this term used a few times relative to carrying a sidearm. Strutting is an attitude of showing off as on parade. Would this same adjective be use to describe a person with a cell phone holster?

    'The 'opinion' is the State and US Constitution. Fine? It is a recognized and protected Right!

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