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Thread: Was thinking about getting RCW 9.41.270 changed. Who's in?

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    Regular Member joejoejoe's Avatar
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    Was thinking about getting RCW 9.41.270 changed. Who's in?

    Hey gang, I haven't been around for awhile due to a heavy school schedule. I have, however, been thinking a lot about the RCW regarding unlawful carry of weapons capable of producing bodily harm. I have written a letter of recommendation to our State Legislators in regards to the issue. I thought you guys should look it over and give me some peer review. I think it's time we got serious about this, and I am willing to head this up. I am talking petitions, meetings, hearings, whatever it takes. The first step is getting in touch with our State legislative. I wanted to start with this letter. Here it is:

    Dear Legislative Member,

    I am writing you today in regards to the RCW 9.41.270. The history of this code is veiled, and I believe that its language is the cause for many recent open carry arrests. This current code reads;

    (1) It shall be unlawful for any person to carry, exhibit, display, or draw any firearm, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.

    (2) Any person violating the provisions of subsection (1) above shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. If any person is convicted of a violation of subsection (1) of this section, the person shall lose his or her concealed pistol license, if any. The court shall send notice of the revocation to the department of licensing, and the city, town, or county which issued the license.

    Two problems arise in the language of this law. The first problem is in the statement “in a manner… that either manifests an intent to intimidate another OR that warrants alarm for the safety of other person.”

    A quick search with the history of the 1969 Bill HR 123 shows that this law was intended to deter the radical political group known as the Black Panthers. During the 60’s, the Black Panthers were standing outside capitol buildings and voting booths (anywhere from 15-40 men) with rifles and handguns opposing legislation changes in California. California made a quick location ban on public property owned by the state, while Oregon and Washington rushed to protect their states as well. Washington State originally had a “case and carry” law outlawing the open display of firearms, which was repealed in 1997 under SB5326. Under SB5326, the laws repealed were specifically regarding open carry AND licensed open carry. However, the remainder of the obscure language in regards to open carry and political radical groups remained.

    Taken from the Washington State Open Carry site, it states: What is "Warranting alarm", why do people (firearms instructors, police officers, gun shop employees) say that this law makes it illegal to open carry? In 1969, RCW 9.41.270 was passed in light of the intimidating actions of the Black Panther Party in both the State of California and in Seattle. Analysis of the legislative intent behind the bill and final law indicated that the Washington State Legislature never intended this to be a gun control bill, and stripped out in committee provisions of the bill which would have prohibited carry within 500 feet of any "public building" for fear it would ensnare a peaceable open carrier walking nearby, thereby violating a persons rights under Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution. This is not to say that all forms of open carry are lawful. The key word is "peaceable". If your pistol is in a holster, and you're generally not touching it or making gripping movements (except of course, in an actual act of self defense), or opening a coat to expose your pistol to intimidate someone to do something, then the current body of case law (State vs. Casad, State v. Spencer) generally makes such carry lawful.

    You have to ask yourself, “Why even put a 500 ft. rule into the bill if the mere display of a firearm is alarming (thus illegal)?”

    The second problem is with section 2. It states that anyone found violating section 1 will lose their CPL. This language was NOT removed when the licensed open carry law was repealed. This has led many (Officers included) to believe that you either conceal it or lose your license to carry.

    I would like to offer a resolution to these problems that would restrict alarming behavior and clearly allow for the open carry of firearms.
    First, the Black Panthers were restrained by this new law. However, under the State Constitution, it reads:

    Article 1, Section 24
    The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this Section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.

    This Article is all the State needed to refer to at the time to consider arresting the radical political group. The Black Panthers were already restrained prior to RCW 9.41.270. However, the State wanted to push for a gun ban. They used the California opportunity to do that. The Washington State Constitution is already a law in place that restricts warranting alarm of large groups (which is the intent of the RCW).

    Secondly, since the code was clearly not meant to restrict the peaceful carry of firearms, I suggest a repeal to the entire code of RCW 9.41.270 in exchange for a clear RCW regarding open carry that would be attached to RCW 9.41.050 regarding “Carrying Firearms.”

    New RCW 9.41.050:

    (1)(a) Except in the person's place of abode or fixed place of business, a person shall not carry a pistol concealed on his or her person without a license to carry a concealed pistol.

    (b) Every licensee shall have his or her concealed pistol license in his or her immediate possession at all times that he or she is required by this section to have a concealed pistol license and shall display the same upon demand to any police officer or to any other person when and if required by law to do so. Any violation of this subsection (1)(b) shall be a class 1 civil infraction under chapter 7.80 RCW and shall be punished accordingly pursuant to chapter 7.80 RCW and the infraction rules for courts of limited jurisdiction.

    (2)(a) A person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless the person has a license to carry a concealed pistol and: (i) The pistol is on the licensee's person, (ii) the licensee is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or (iii) the licensee is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.

    (b) A violation of this subsection is a misdemeanor.

    (3)(a) A person at least eighteen years of age who is in possession of an unloaded pistol shall not leave the unloaded pistol in a vehicle unless the unloaded pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.

    (b) A violation of this subsection is a misdemeanor.

    (4) Nothing in this section permits the possession of firearms illegal to possess under state or federal law.

    (4) Except in the person's place of abode or fixed place of business, a person shall not carry a pistol on his or her person openly unless it is properly holstered on his or her person.

    (5) Subsection (4) shall not apply to any person who by virtue of his or her office or public employment is vested by law with a duty to preserve public safety, maintain public order, or to make arrests for offenses, while in the performance of such duty.

    Though I do not believe (5) is necessary, it may be added for clarity.

    I believe the restructuring of this law will satisfy both sides of the isle. We already have the right to open carry in Washington State. This law will put a mandate on carries to properly holster their firearm. This will restrict walking around with a gun in your hand or tucking it into your pants, warranting alarm due to cultural stereotypes. This will also allow for the peaceful carry of a firearm, giving citizens the protection of their rights to defend their selves and their property the way they see fit. This is NOT a more lenient law regarding the carry of firearms. This is intended to remove the obscure language left behind from the Black Panther times regarding the carrying of firearms. Furthermore, there is already a law regarding the discharge, the aiming, and the use of deadly force.

    RCW 9.41.270 with regards to all other weapons capable of producing bodily harms can be transferred to RCW 9.41.250 and read as follows.

    (3) It shall be unlawful for any person to exhibit, display, or draw any dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm.

    (4) Subsection (3) with regards to “any other weapon” shall not apply to firearms under RCW 9.41.050

    (5) Any person violating the provisions of subsection (3) above shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

    I would like to get together with you and discuss this issue further. I feel like we can come to a conclusion that would satisfy the concern for non-peaceful carry AND the concern for unlawful detentions of peaceful carriers that cost the State both time and money.

    Thank you for reading this.
    Regards,

    Joe Winton


    (edited typos)
    Last edited by joejoejoe; 05-09-2011 at 05:17 PM.

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    Regular Member Badger Johnson's Avatar
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    Interesting. Who would have thought a law directed to curtail activities by the Black Panthers would end up preventing retirees from defending themselves in some cases.

    Laws with such broad language are dangerous to liberty. A prosecutor could bend this rule to support 2A violations committed by the police, etc.

    Good luck with your quest!

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    Regular Member jt59's Avatar
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    Having worked with a few legislators in Oly, I would offer these comments FWIW as a start.

    This is generally too long....You are defending your position in your letter....I'd suggest you narrow the narrative down to a simpler definition of the issue, and request a meeting to discuss the solutions in more detail for draft language.

    You make a justification of your issue, to the "number" of OC arrests as part of your debate....you need to back this up with actual numbers and make a case for the actual harm done if this is the strength of your argument....and would suggest that it may get more traction if it is not just an "OC" issue....it makes it too small for them to have much interest in unless they are a really engaged enthusiast.

    Question: is this going to be a shotgun approach, where you send this out as a mass mailing to the Senate and House, and see what hits the paper? ..or do you intend to define your target and focus on those legislators that actually care about this issue as you have it scoped within the current law.

    Lastly, it is important to remember that if you get a legislator to be willing to actually draft amendment language to the current RCW, once it is released into the system, all bets are off and that anyone with an axe to grind will have a shot at changes (via amendment) that they want to include to the law via the bill as it works its way through the process....good or bad.

    If you get a sponsor, how do you propose to see this get past the chair of the Senate Judiciary committee given his leanings and general approach to be heard?..maybe starting out on the House side would be better?

    Do you plan on a single bill or a companion bill approach?

    What other "stakeholders" do you have on your list to contact and seek input from outside of this forum?
    Last edited by jt59; 05-09-2011 at 05:48 PM.
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    Regular Member joejoejoe's Avatar
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    JT thanks for the input. I agree it is too long. After rereading over and over, I feel I can definitely leave some parts out (I will repost the revised letter). Also, Jamie Herrera goes to my church. I was thinking of directing it toward, however I am not familiar in regards to State reps vs Congressional Reps. I will definitely send it to a State rep. Also, I may try taking it to the County first (since it wouldn't be a "MORE" strict law). I don't have time to reply to the whole post, but thank you for your input. I am going to need all of it because I wanna see this thing changed.

    Joe~

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    Regular Member HK_dave's Avatar
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    *perhaps i missed it*, but it appears your re-write misses the core issue, "warrants alarm".

    "warrants alarm" needs to be defined. so should it not be in writing something to the effect of: "the mere open carry of a properly holstered firearm is not sufficient grounds to warrant alarm"? (obviously i don't know the proper language to write a law, but that's the gist of it)

    to me, that is the root problem with the law as written.
    US Constitution - void where prohibited by law.

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    I'd haveta say no.
    Here's why: You argue that we can/should get rid of language put in place to restrict Black Panthers from alarming folk.
    But you want to legislate how a firearm is carried by requiring a holster. I don't think a holster should be required. The firearm needs to be stowed, but how that's done is the citizen's responsibility, not the legistature's.
    And pointing to stereotypes of carry methods just takes us all to another place of prejudice, doesn't it? Shall we repeal one prejudice in favor of another?
    I s'pose I should add, I use a holster. It is convenient for me. But I don't see why the legislature should mandate it. It's really none of their business.

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    Regular Member hermannr's Avatar
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    I would use you political connection to ask for an AG opinion specifically of 9.41.270 before I would attempt to change it.

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    "(3) It shall be unlawful for any person to exhibit, display, or draw any dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm."

    Yeah, this doesn't fly, it makes it illegal to use a knife in public for any reason.

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    Regular Member amzbrady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammer View Post
    I'd haveta say no.
    Here's why: You argue that we can/should get rid of language put in place to restrict Black Panthers from alarming folk.
    But you want to legislate how a firearm is carried by requiring a holster. I don't think a holster should be required. The firearm needs to be stowed, but how that's done is the citizen's responsibility, not the legistature's.
    And pointing to stereotypes of carry methods just takes us all to another place of prejudice, doesn't it? Shall we repeal one prejudice in favor of another?
    I s'pose I should add, I use a holster. It is convenient for me. But I don't see why the legislature should mandate it. It's really none of their business.

    I agree, we should not discriminate against those who would prefer to gangsta carry in the pants band of their sweatpants while roaming the isles at Home Depot, or carry a gold plated 380 as bling bling on a gold chain around their neck, or as sum haf sejested duck taiping it 2 yer 4head.
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    Regular Member joejoejoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammer View Post
    I'd haveta say no.
    Here's why: You argue that we can/should get rid of language put in place to restrict Black Panthers from alarming folk.
    But you want to legislate how a firearm is carried by requiring a holster. I don't think a holster should be required. The firearm needs to be stowed, but how that's done is the citizen's responsibility, not the legistature's.
    And pointing to stereotypes of carry methods just takes us all to another place of prejudice, doesn't it? Shall we repeal one prejudice in favor of another?
    I s'pose I should add, I use a holster. It is convenient for me. But I don't see why the legislature should mandate it. It's really none of their business.
    Hey, you're right. I would agree with that. I am trying to word this right, and I sat down for an hour or so yesterday writing this up. I put it on here for that reason. I will try to rewrite this so the method of carry is not regulated. The point is that we already have a law of unholstered firearms regulating the aiming or drawing of a gun. I wanted to make clear that I am not aiming for people to be able to walk around with the gun in their hand. I think that goes against peaceful open carry.

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    Regular Member joejoejoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arentol View Post
    "(3) It shall be unlawful for any person to exhibit, display, or draw any dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm."

    Yeah, this doesn't fly, it makes it illegal to use a knife in public for any reason.
    This I am definitely trying to reword. They won't let it slide to remove this from law. I removed the words "carry" so it would not be illegal to carry, only to "draw, display, or exhibit" it. Any rewriting tips would be VERY appreciative.

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    Regular Member joejoejoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HK_dave View Post
    *perhaps i missed it*, but it appears your re-write misses the core issue, "warrants alarm".

    "warrants alarm" needs to be defined. so should it not be in writing something to the effect of: "the mere open carry of a properly holstered firearm is not sufficient grounds to warrant alarm"? (obviously i don't know the proper language to write a law, but that's the gist of it)

    to me, that is the root problem with the law as written.

    Here is the thing, I am not going for definition. I want the thing removed. I don't wanna raise 3000 dollars to have a lawyer help me argue the definition when I get falsely arrested for carrying my firearm. I also don't want the law to be in the hands of the paranoid anti-gun citizen who calls the police "alarmed."

    I would love to see this state lean more toward Ihado's law where they regulate concealed but not open carry. The history in Washington State shows that there was never an intent to regulate the open carrying of firearms. If you look up the SB bill, you will literally see all the open carry regulations REPEALED. However, the language left behind regarding deadly weapons did not change, and no we are left with a vague description of "warranting alarm." The whole CODE needs to go. Parts of it still apply, I.E. the drawing of a weapon without cause.

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    Quote Originally Posted by amzbrady View Post
    I agree, we should not discriminate against those who would prefer to gangsta carry in the pants band of their sweatpants while roaming the isles at Home Depot, or carry a gold plated 380 as bling bling on a gold chain around their neck, or as sum haf sejested duck taiping it 2 yer 4head.

    Orrrrrrr people with butt guns. You know....small .32s or 380s (or .25 too!) with a clip on the side installed by a gangsta with JB weld!


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    Regular Member joejoejoe's Avatar
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    The input is great guys. Keep it coming. My main goal is to remove ANY law regarding open carry. However, there are laws WITHIN these laws the pertain to other weapons. I am trying to find a way to repeal the warrants alarm without damaging the integrity of the other laws. Should we remove 270 entirely, there would be no law regulating the drawing of a sword, club, knife, etc... which, again, goes against "peaceful" carry. This isn't an overnight thing, and I will be revises this letter AND a follow up repeal/rewrite of the law as I use your input to help implement corrections.

    Joe~

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    Quote Originally Posted by amzbrady View Post
    I agree, we should not discriminate against those who would prefer to gangsta carry in the pants band of their sweatpants while roaming the isles at Home Depot, or carry a gold plated 380 as bling bling on a gold chain around their neck, or as sum haf sejested duck taiping it 2 yer 4head.
    I've seen small .22 revolvers made to mount on a belt buckle and I have a 2mm revolver that mounts to a tie pin (I think thats what they are called). I doubt either of those would be considered holstered, but they are far from being considered dangerously carried like home depot genius.

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    Regular Member Lammo's Avatar
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    " . . . then the current body of case law (State vs. Casad, State v. Spencer) generally makes such carry lawful."

    You can refer to Spencer but Casad is an unpublished decision. As such it has no precedential value, which is too bad because the language in it is very favorable to the cause.
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    Why not take away the provision requiring a CPL for loaded vehicle carry? If it is going to be sent off to the legislators you might as well remove that requirement as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejoejoe View Post
    Hey, you're right. I would agree with that. I am trying to word this right, and I sat down for an hour or so yesterday writing this up. I put it on here for that reason. I will try to rewrite this so the method of carry is not regulated. The point is that we already have a law of unholstered firearms regulating the aiming or drawing of a gun. I wanted to make clear that I am not aiming for people to be able to walk around with the gun in their hand. I think that goes against peaceful open carry.
    Excellent. I think for the most part you did good. The best laws written have the minimum requirement of the citizen to accomplish what is needed. Thus, a holster need not be mentioned. A handgun might need to be "secured" "stowed" or "at rest" or maybe reversing the definition "not in hand" but no more needs be said of it.
    Perhaps we need a reverse law "it shall be a misdemeanor to call 911 to report a firearm legally carried" Then the 911 dispatcher can ask the caller "do you really want to pursue this?" It wouldn't take much of that in the news to fill the shrink's offices with hoplophobes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joejoejoe View Post
    This I am definitely trying to reword. They won't let it slide to remove this from law. I removed the words "carry" so it would not be illegal to carry, only to "draw, display, or exhibit" it. Any rewriting tips would be VERY appreciative.
    Well, there really isn't much point to being able to carry something you can never legally use in any way whatsoever.

    "(3) It shall be unlawful for any person to exhibit, display, or draw any dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, with intent or apparent intent to intimidate or harm another."

    Best I can come up with off the top of my head.

    Also, preemption should be changed to include this law. The law in Seattle regarding knives is draconian.

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    Regular Member Dave_pro2a's Avatar
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    AFAIK, the main guy behind changing the silencer law is starting in on the SBR prohibition. He hangs out on another forum. He seems to have a methodical approach / plan to gain back a few of our freedoms one inch at a time.

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Perhaps all that's needed is some definitions

    Rather than change the Statute I think that all we need is some clear definitions added as to what actually 'warrants' alarm. A definition that states the mere carry of a firearm in a non-threatening manner does not do so. For the sake of clarity for police officers trying to make an issue of open carry perhaps some manners of carry will need to be addressed. If not, then the interpretation will still be up to the officer's creative mind. If he doesn't like "Mexican Carry" then guess what? Ditto for any "tactical holsters". Sometimes it's necessary to limit the options of the officers and prosecutors.

    IMHO the big issue with 9.41.270 is its lack of definitions, not its intent or wording.
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    Regular Member joejoejoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arentol View Post
    Well, there really isn't much point to being able to carry something you can never legally use in any way whatsoever.

    "(3) It shall be unlawful for any person to exhibit, display, or draw any dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, with intent or apparent intent to intimidate or harm another."

    Best I can come up with off the top of my head.

    Also, preemption should be changed to include this law. The law in Seattle regarding knives is draconian.
    I want to avoid words like "intent" or "intimidate" or any other wording that is up to the "victim's" interpretation. Is there a way we can add these weapons into the "use of deadly force" or "aiming and drawing a firearm" code that also states you cannot display any of these weapons unless your life, your property or someone else's life is at risk? That would be preferable, but again I am working on the wording.

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    Regular Member joejoejoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_pro2a View Post
    AFAIK, the main guy behind changing the silencer law is starting in on the SBR prohibition. He hangs out on another forum. He seems to have a methodical approach / plan to gain back a few of our freedoms one inch at a time.
    If you can get me his name or somehow a contact method for me, that would help me get one step closer. I could work with him on this.

  24. #24
    Regular Member joejoejoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    Rather than change the Statute I think that all we need is some clear definitions added as to what actually 'warrants' alarm. A definition that states the mere carry of a firearm in a non-threatening manner does not do so. For the sake of clarity for police officers trying to make an issue of open carry perhaps some manners of carry will need to be addressed. If not, then the interpretation will still be up to the officer's creative mind. If he doesn't like "Mexican Carry" then guess what? Ditto for any "tactical holsters". Sometimes it's necessary to limit the options of the officers and prosecutors.

    IMHO the big issue with 9.41.270 is its lack of definitions, not its intent or wording.
    Again, I want to make it clear that NO .270 is better than a defined law. Questions they ask in court are specifically "were you ALARMED?" This is unnecessary in my opinion. Like you said "then the interpretation will still be up to the officer's creative mind." I want to fight to see this law repealed so there is no ifs, ands, or buts.

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejoejoe View Post
    Again, I want to make it clear that NO .270 is better than a defined law. Questions they ask in court are specifically "were you ALARMED?" This is unnecessary in my opinion. Like you said "then the interpretation will still be up to the officer's creative mind." I want to fight to see this law repealed so there is no ifs, ands, or buts.
    It's my belief that this won't be repealed, period. Definitions of what is considered and warrants alarm will eliminate any weight this question has in court. They may say that they were alarmed, even terrified, but if the firearm was carried in a manner excluded from those that legitimately warrant alarm then "Tough Stuff".

    Discuss this with a few Legislators and I think you'll find that they aren't interested in repealing this. Ditto for prosecutors who do carry some political weight. If you can't win by eliminating the law, then fence in those that want to abuse it.
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