I know it's not July 8th, but is this the story you're referring to?
It’s a right some want to protect
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
(Updated 3:05 am)
By Dioni L. Wise
[Image accompanying article]
Jerry Wolford (News & Record)
Photo Caption: John "Jay Jay" Eldridge Jr., 21, enjoys a plate of BBQ with his sister Jennifer Eldridge at Stamey's BBQ in Greensboro.
Want to go?
What: Restore the Constitution Rally
When: 1-4 p.m. Aug. 14
Where: Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, 2332 New Garden Road, Greensboro
More online: http://muster814rtc.word press.com
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Read other visitors' comments and post your own.
It’s nothing for 21-year-old Jay Jay Eldridge to strap his .40-caliber handgun to his right hip, whether it’s to go eat a barbecue plate at Stamey’s or just stroll down the street.
But a resident in his High Point neighborhood didn’t know that and recently called the police on him.
“You know, when the cops get a call that there’s a guy walking around with a gun, a few of them show up,” Eldridge said. “So, three cops show up. They just asked me questions — 'Are you 21?’ and stuff like that.
“The first thing the cop said to me was, 'I know you’re not doing anything wrong. I got a call, so I got to check you out.’ ”
Eldridge isn’t out to hurt anyone. He openly carries a gun for his own protection and because, well, it’s lawful.
In North Carolina, state law does not prohibit carrying firearms in the open.
Dozens of “open carriers” like Eldridge are expected next month at the Restore the Constitution Rally at the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park to make people more aware of such gun laws.
Minding the adage of “use it or lose it,” participants at the Aug. 14 event will display their loaded pistols and unloaded rifles to exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
'Read the Constitution’
Randy Dye, a co-organizer of the rally and author of the conservative blog “Randy’s Right,” said he has owned guns nearly all his 58 years. He has openly carried for three years.
Dye, a retired trauma nurse living in Pittsboro, advocates for gun rights and opposes what he considers the federal government’s encroachment of state and individual rights, citing the bank bailout and health care reform as recent examples. The rally’s purpose is to remind people of their right to have guns for self-defense and “to preserve individual freedom.”
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last week that the right to bear arms cannot be violated by state and local governments was “excellent,” Dye said.
“My whole thought is it shows how easily we can lose our constitutional rights,” he said. “That should have never made it to the Supreme Court. The Second Amendment said that right shall never be infringed on.”
When people see Dye with his gun and ask if he’s a police officer, he tells them that he is an armed civilian and that he carries a gun for his protection. He also suggests they read the Constitution.
“The Constitution was specifically written to protect us from the government,” he said. “They foresaw a lot of what’s going on today.”
“Again, the whole idea is to make them more aware and to make this a more open-carry friendly country.”
Dye considers North Carolina one of the more “friendly” states for open-carry advocates. No permits or licenses are required for people in North Carolina to carry a holstered handgun in plain sight.
Most state firearm laws refer to carrying concealed guns. The highly regulated process of getting a concealed-carry permit can take up to 90 days. It requires applicants to meet with their sheriff’s office, undergo a background check, complete a safety training course and pay a $90 fee.
State law does not permit anyone to carry a weapon — concealed or in the open — in bars or restaurants that serve alcohol.
It doesn’t allow guns, rifles or pistols in schools, law enforcement agencies, correctional facilities or state and federal offices, or at parades, funerals or demonstrations.
Maj. Tom Sheppard of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office said deputies don’t bother open carriers unless they are “going armed to the terror of the people.”
That means people can’t arm themselves with any unusual or dangerous weapon for the purpose of terrifying others.
For the most part, open-carry is not prevalent in the county or Greensboro, he said.
“You have a few that walk down the street like they’re in Tombstone, Ariz., in 1880, but not that many,” he said.
Charles Cranfield, superintendent of the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, said a federal law that went into effect Feb. 22 allows people who can legally possess firearms to carry guns in the park.
That’s the main reason organizers chose the park.
Rally organizers have imposed strict rules on participants about how they should carry firearms because of the novelty of the event and the attention it could receive from law enforcement and the media.
Participants can carry concealed weapons if they have a valid permit.
If they carry openly, then the rules state: “Pistol loaded, openly carried. Rifle unloaded, slung to rear.”
Organizers warn participants that the rally could shape future events.
Protecting the rally
The park issued Dye and partner Tom Green a First Amendment permit that allows them to express their views while not interfering with normal park operations.
A roster of mostly conservative speakers will discuss the First and Second amendments in any manner of their choosing. Between 200 and 3,000 people might attend.
The rally will be peaceful, but anti-gun protesters could show up to voice opposition, he said.
Cranfield said four Guilford County park rangers will provide security, along with up to four others requested from the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The park will notify the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and the Greensboro Police Department about the event, Cranfield said.
“We will be contacting them just to let them know we expect that there could be an issue or something that happens,” Cranfield said. “There probably will be citizens concerned about people carrying guns around, and 911 will be called several times that day, so they need to be aware of it.”
“We expect it to be a peaceful rally. I don’t want more police than protesters or ralliers.”
Some adults — with eyes and mouths gaped — express shock when they see Eldridge’s gun.
But they shouldn’t be afraid, he said, because the bad guys aren’t likely to carry openly.
He’s not confrontational and fears the day that something bad happens, he said.
“A lot of people are like, 'I bet you can’t wait to use that thing,’ ” Eldridge said, referring to his gun.
“That’s another misconception. That’s the last thing I want to do.
“I will exhaust all other resources before I even think about using the gun with force. It’s kind of scary.”
Contact Dioni L. Wise at 373-7090 or email@example.com