Our county is anticipating an "Open Carry" demonstration, where the demonstrators show up carrying hunting rifles, assault rifles, etc.
As far as I know, these are always peaceful rallies that aim (no pun intended) to raise awareness to the fact that openly carrying rifles is generally legal and hope to parlay that into support for open carry of all firearms.
Does anyone have any experience with these rallies in your county? Just wondering how anyone else has dealt with any legal issues that arose, if anyone ended up filing any cases resulting from the carrying of the rifles and why, how you communicated with the demonstrators and police to make sure everyone was in compliance with the law, etc.
Any insights or experiences?
Sadly we had one- a small one- in my county and it did not go well. It turned into a YouTube clip and the officers from that city were quite embarrassed.
The demonstrators refused to identify themselves to officers and one officer threatened to charge them with Failure to Identify.
The biggest problem was that citizens driving by called in because they were concerned about why there were people with rifles on the side of the road.
The officers wanted to know what they could do about it to prevent these demonstrators from scaring people. I can't recall what we decided. Some charge that totally depended on having an identified caller that stated they were in fear of their life.
We've discussed this in our office, and the only thing that I can come up with is Disorderly Conduct: 42.01(a)(8) - A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm.
It seems to me the whole point of these demonstrations is that the participants know that it's likely to cause alarm. You might even say that they've calculated it.
Otherwise, make sure that your officers immediately convey to the business owners their right to refuse service and request a criminal trespass warning.
Apparently, people have been allowed around the capital during these peaceful carry demonstrations. I am a bit hesitant to say "calculated to alarm", if they are doing what god fearing Texans are allowed to do. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea, but I liken it to the people who shout obscenities during demonstrations, and these are allowed as "political speech", another constitutionally protected activity.
The fact of the matter is that the NRA and other gun owners' groups have whipped up fear in the "gun owning community" (I own guns, but don't get the whole community aspect)that the evil forces of socialism and/or fascism are going to raid their homes and remove all weapons. No matter how much you tell them it's a paranoid delusion, they won't listen. SO they demonstrate to fight for the rights they have, and which rights are not threatened.
I think some of these people believe the earth is flat, too, but I digress.........
I agree 100% about the land/premise owners telling these yokels to "get off my lawn"!
Thanks for the feedback. Did any of you or your offices have any contact with any of your police forces or sherrifs prior to the demonstration? Or any contact with the group themselves? Apparently they try to keep the confrontations to a minimum by contacting law enforcement in advance so no one gets edgy. Just wondering what kind of strategies different counties have used to keep things running smoothly.
We did not have contact with the group or with the police agency- my contact with the police agency was after and mostly so the officers knew what they could do the next time to make it hold up in court.
The group also did not contact police to let them know about it. They actually had hidden cameras so they could put out their YouTube video showing how police are trying to take away the right of citizens to open carry.
I think the group in my situation sought confrontation with police, not trying to avoid it.
My DPS Troops asked me about it, as, apparently, they have been given a few heads up about possible demonstrations on the border. I advised them on the criminal trespass (and told them about my hesitation about, but not veto of, the disorderly conduct angle). I also told them to freely engage these "patriots" in a friendly manner, and see if they could reason with them about the alarm they may "inadvertently" cause. They all were well aware that these groups are videotaping (is that even the right word anymore?)the interaction with LE.
Now I have to look at the YouTube vids. Anyone have a link?
Charmaine, I saw that video. It was posted on OpenCarryTexas.org's Facebook page. That one did seem like someone who was just asking for trouble. Felt bad for the officers who seemed like they were doing their best with a bad situation. But to the group's credit, when they have positive LE encounters, they post those as well.
Mark, if you go to OpenCarryTexas.org's Facebook page, you can see the YouTube videos (positive and negative) on their site.
I really appreciate the feedback.
I watched a couple of videos. The one where SGT Simeroth (Temple PD) appears is called "Police Harrass....etc.".
Here is the deal - I have a constitutional right to yell f*ck you at a politician. I have a constitutional right to use racial and/or ethnic slurs against people, or to openly criticize their religious practices. And people have a right to carry long guns in Texas.
Simeroth is right. These "patriots" are not. I would imagine not one of them has ever been threatened with the loss of a weapon they own. They intentionally stir up the populace who only knows of Columbine, and of James Holmes, and of Sandy Hook, etc. And if they offense people? Alarm them? Well - in their world, their "rights" trample anyone else's concerns. They have no common sense and no sense of propriety.
Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD. Respect for others is a basic value. Why don't they try promoting that?
I thought Simeroth (whom I have known for years) did a great job trying to reason with them. Sometimes, though, you talk to walls.
Jon, thanks for the site. I felt like I was reading PrisonPlanet.com for awhile.......
I talked with a felony prosecutor in our office, who informed me that we now have a Tuesday early AM training with law enforcement about how to handle similar situations.
we had a situation where someone in a vehicle was stopped at the checkpoint. They had M4's and masks. They refused to give their names but were generally peaceful, if argumentative. USBP (for some reason) didn't want to deal with this and gave it to the DPS. I told my DPS guys 1. that they could detain the person for a reasonable amount of time to determine if he/she was engaged in criminal behavior, based on experience that someone wearing a mask and carrying a gun (and it's not snowing outside) is generally involved in criminal behavior. 2. Remember they were on video tape. 3. Try to keep everyone calm. These guys are trying to provoke a response. 4.If threatened, normal rules apply.
if you have a copy of your presentation, I would love to get it.... If not, lessons learned are always valuable.
Good response, John. I know a lot of people are hesitant to have law enforcement engage these guys at all. Fact is, you laid out a perfect scenario for reasonable suspicion. Once the suspicion is passed, you let 'em go. Of course, these yokels ARE trying to provoke something, because they need to get people whipped into a frenzy about gun rights. Telling LE to go ahead and check them out in a calm, cool manner, and explaining the apprehension these "patriots" cause the public and LE is a good thing. It is not harrassment - it is common sense often lost on some people.
We had one on our courthouse lawn several weeks ago, on a Saturday. It was a nothing event. The internet has turned fringe dwellers of all stripes into puffer fish: They can appear much larger than they really are.
Unfortunately, the latest wrinkle I've heard about these groups is that they will walk into Wal-Mart with their long guns on their shoulders. I recently had a conversation with a police chief about how to handle that event if it occurs. Neither of us are interested in giving provocateurs the attention they crave. He has instructed his officers to advise those people that their conduct meets the elements of disorderly conduct, then give them the option to leave voluntarily. Gee. I wonder which option they will choose?
Ben Moore is who you want to contact for it. I'm a lowly misdemeanor prosecutor and I was just told about the presentation, I've never gone to one or participated in it.
If you need his contact info just email me.
I heard a rumor that the open carry folks are planning a rally at the Capitol soon. THAT should be interesting, especially if they try to take long guns into the building. That's verboten.
As long as it's not tampons, they'll probably be okay. Couldn't help myself!
Shannon, according to their website they've done the demonstration outside the Capitol a few times now... just not inside. But they've got pics of them all lined up on the Capitol steps with their ARs strapped on their back (and pointed at the ground, because they've been told case law supports the idea that if the gun is on your back and pointed to the ground, it cannot be said that it is "calculated to cause alarm.")
|Powered by Social Strata|
© TDCAA, 2001. All Rights Reserved.