Back in April, The Daily Show lampooned Open Carry. The idea that the pro-gun movement was analogous to the gay rights movement was seen as comic fodder. And yet, six months later, we’re here and we’re queer. Personally, I’ve yet to come out of the gun locker. Talk to me again if and when the City of Providence grants my application for a $250 concealed carry license. Bloggerlificaly, I’m seeing more and more Open Carry events across the country. The cases where the cause’s proponents are hassled or arrested by the police continue to energize the base. The Madison Five look set for vindication. Spanaway Washington is the locus of another outbreak of Cry the Beloved .45 . . .
[Tom] Brewster walked into a Spanaway Starbucks, his gun fully visible, he says, earlier this week. A Pierce County Deputy approached. Brewster recorded his conversation with the deputy:
Officer: Look guy, just show some ID and that just proves who you are.
Brewster: Open carry is legal in Washington.
Officer: We don’t know if you’re a felon. We don’t know if you’re a felon.
Brewster: I’m not a felon … Unless you have reasonable articulable suspicion to detain me, you don’t need to request ID.
In the end, Brewster showed his ID. Deputies did not detain him.
But as a result of that encounter, a group of about 35 “open carry” gun advocates — those who are legally licensed to carry their guns in full view– gathered to support Brewster and to assert their rights. They feel the deputy went too far.
“I understand why they were concerned, but that does not give them the right to violate another citizen’s civil rights,” said [no last name] Lynn.
This case [via king5.com] represents an interesting conjunction of concerns: the right to armed self-defense and the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The Open Carry movement could well draw strength from a general antipathy towards government in general, and police in particular.
As far as that “understanding the police’s concern” thing goes . . .
One can’t escape the fact that officers approached Brewster at a Spanaway coffee shop, which is located mere miles away from another coffee shop: Forza coffee in Parkland, where four police officers were killed less than a year ago. Many people in this community have very strong feelings about guns.
It’s not everyday that reporters reveal their bias in such a blatant way. Just most days. In this case, Tricia Manning-Smith felt so strongly that the Open Carry folks were defiling sacred ground that she (or her producer) decided to interview customers at the ill-fated Forza coffee shop, rather than patrons of the Starbucks where the Open Carry movement had appeared. Even then, Ms. Manning-Smith couldn’t find the level of outrage she sought.
“I don’t dispute the legality of it, its just that my comfort level would not be there,” said Forza customer Marilee Titus.
Laura Stewart, another Forza customer said, “I don’t have a problem with someone carrying a gun in a public place, but if it was me and I saw someone with a weapon, I might alert the officer there, just out of concern for public safety.”
This seems to be the fallback position: the cops should feel free to “interview” an Open Carry proponent in the street, ’cause they’ve got guns dammit! (The citizens I mean.) Just as long as it’s done politely.
Not true, of course. Open Carry adherents have the right to exercise their rights without police interrogation. And despite the sop to 2A rights, the cops in question clearly aren’t comfortable with the idea of an armed populace. That’s their privilege. You can hear the alpha dog growling in this quote.
Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ed Troyer responded to this incident by saying, “Guns make people nervous and when people have them, we’re going to follow up and ask questions. …We understand the law, we understand their rights, but if they’re carrying guns around, there’s a strong possibility that somebody is going to come talk to them.”
Is that a threat or a promise? Either way, it’s illegal.