A Germantown, Wisconsin man was accosted by police for exercising his rights on Saturday. William Polster was carrying a holstered pistol and a shotgun (with a pistol grip!) on a sling on his back. He says that he carries the firearms to educate the public about their rights and for personal protection. As 620wtmj.com reports, police received “frantic” calls from upset residents about the gun-toter. This is certainly possible, but in a number of other cases, such as with the Culver five in Madison and an open carrier in Michigan, calls received turned out to be mostly asking the police whether open carry was legal, something that actually furthers the education effort that Mr. Polster said he’s trying to accomplish.

From 620wtmj.com:

 Police realized Polster was exercising his right to open carry. Since he wasn’t breaking any laws, they let him go.

The education effort appears to be working, at least with the police. The Germantown cops apparently did not pull their guns on Mr. Polster, knocked him to the ground, or handcuff him as has been done with a number of other open carriers. Several settlements of thousands of dollars have been paid by cities to open carriers who have been victimized in this way.

It is clear that in this case, the police understood that this was simply a citizen exercising his rights, not a criminal or crazy person. Hint for those who have not considered this: Mr. Polster was not shooting or pointing his firearms at anyone. He wasn’t even holding them in his hands.

There are those who believe that the police are trying to discourage the exercise of a constitutional right. Meanwhile, Mr. Polster says that he is going to keep carrying firearms openly, and exercising his rights.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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90 Responses to Open Carrier Educates Germantown, WI

  1. Germantown cops apparently did not pull their guns on Mr. Polster, knocked him to the ground, or handcuff him

    Well, it must have required a nearly superhuman effort by the local constabulary to peacefully allow open carry in a state famous for open carry.

    I guess it’s true — when man bites dog etc. etc.

  2. I’m fine with open carrying wherever it’s legal. Heck, I would open carry if it were legal for me.

    But toting a long gun for education? Sorry, that’s just stupid. Even the cops don’t haul out the big guns unless something dangerous is already happening, which is part of why the hoplophobes wet their britches when they see it.

    This is not education. This just makes the gun-grabbers more likely to call their State Reps and Senators to “do something about this.”

      • He’s using “education” as a rationalization to be the center of attention. Lookatmelookatme!!!! If everyone in the state realizes it’s legal (the police already do) he’d either keep claiming education or he’d come up with another excuse so he can feel like The Man.

        • Or maybe… and I’m just thinking out loud here… but MAYBE the shotgun was what convinced people to call the cops, because a holstered pistol isn’t all that uncommon, which is what allowed all of them to be told “No, he isn’t breaking the law, and we aren’t going to stop him.” That would be the education part of it, because now all those people that called in understand that just carrying a gun in a non threatening manner is not a crime.

        • “He’s using “education” as a rationalization to be the center of attention. Lookatmelookatme!!!!”

          Sounds an awful lot like “You don’t NEED more than 10 rounds in a magazine.” You are trying to say he has to justify his exercise of 2A in a perfectly legal manner and that justification has to be approved by you.

          in other words…who cares WHY he doing it. Maybe he IS an attention whore. It’s not illegal to be an attention whore. It’s not illegal to be stupid. It’s not illegal to carry a shotgun down the street where he did.

        • You’re way off. It’s not a stunt. He and others like him are making a sacrifice on behalf of all of us, and it’s paying off, slowly but surely, town by town.

        • He’s using “education” as a rationalization to be the center of attention. Lookatmelookatme!!!!

          As you use this blog.

        • Even a drunken frat-boy raises the awareness on alcohol abuse. As a result sometimes there are more drunken frat-boys, but more often than not, people continue to drink as they always have, but perhaps a bit more responsibly as a result.

    • Here is the problem with trying to limit open carry to exclude long arms.

      When people are unaccustomed to seeing something, it is sometimes startling. If I’m going to the range, and I move my long guns from the garage to the car, and some person who is unfamiliar with firearms (because they haven’t been around them) notices this, the police might be called because the person has the mistaken assumption (such as you have in this case) that the use of the firearm at that time is improper.

      I wouldn’t walk into a Church with a long gun, because I wouldn’t walk into a Church with a fishing pole, but if people can’t carry around long guns unmolested, then the potential for the police being called when some hunter or person going to the range loads the vehicle is greatly increased.

    • As late as the 1950’s, there are accounts of people openly carrying long guns in New York City, on public transportation (not even slung, in their hands) and nobody calling police about it or acting as though it were a big deal.

      This is a cultural set that has been pushed on us by “progressive” demonization of guns. We got here over the last 50 years. We can reverse this, and have already started to do so. Switzerland and Israel both show that there is nothing incompatible with civilized societies and the open carry of arms.

    • Something tells me those “frantic callers” will be less frantic the next time they call… if they even bother to call now that they know that what he was doing was perfectly legal and within his rights.

      • even the Zionsville, IN police told Shannon to get her panties out of the bunch she twisted them and get over it

    • Whereas you think he should do… what, exactly? Go door-to-door with informational flyers? Send in another letter to the editor? Pray that the courts understand the Constitution sometime before he dies (a good luck with that one)?

    • I have a right to die my skin purple and wear a bikini in January.
      I’m not questioning the guy’s rights. I’m questioning his intelligence.

      • So, I guess we need an intelligence test associated with any of the Bill of Rights?

        I mean, not having to get a warrant because it’s stupid to store money from last week’s bank robbery in your home would make things a lot easier to catch the bad guys, right?

        You don’t have to LIKE it to recognize that people doing things you disagree with are part of the core freedoms that define “inalienable.”

        • You are absolutely right, JR. I don’t have to like it.

          There’s a part of me that hopes this guy, or maybe others so inclined, can be convinced that if we want to win over the hearts and minds of those who don’t yet understand what 2A is all about, well, there are better ways to go about it.

        • “…if we want to win over the hearts and minds of those who don’t yet understand what 2A is all about, well, there are better ways to go about it.”

          And if you feel you have a better way, please, pursue it and more power to you, but you do not have the right to dictate what methods others use.

          IMO, we are not required to, nor should it be our default position, to “win the hearts and minds of those who don’t yet understand…” Our goal is and always must be to support and defend the Constitution and especially the natural, civil and Constitutionally protected rights in the Bill of Rights. Whether or not we win the hearts and minds of those who do not understand or agree with those rights, they are our rights and contrary opinions are irrelevant.

          And those rights in their turn become irrelevant if no one bothers to exercise them in the face of official approbation or panicky response from an ignorant public.

        • @MothaLova:
          We can open carry handguns in holsters (where it’s legal). Cops do it, security guards do it, Brinks truck drivers do it. People are accustomed to seeing it. The trigger is covered and it’s perceived as less of a threat. People are less likely to call the cops but occasionally someone might ask why we’re carrying and then we have the chance to educate.

          We can do lots of other things like teaching firearms safety to various youth organizations, taking friends to the range, any opportunity to use education to turn their irrational fears into healthy respect.

          @ Cliff H:
          Hey, no one is dictating. We’re discussing. I understand the other points of view. It’s all good.

        • Thanks, Curtis. Am I right that you favor open carrying but in a holster with the trigger covered, which you argue is educational, as opposed to slung over the back and fully out in the open, which you argue is inflammatory?

          The other activities you mention are good, of course, but they are not public and therefore can never have the same impact on habituating people as simply carrying out and about during one’s daily routine.

    • You have the right to burn an American flag, it doesn’t immunize you from being called a jackass by other citizens.

      • Well, six members of the Supreme Court think you have that right, anyway. But your analogy is off. Burning the flag is an act of violence that communicates contempt for this country’s principles, customs, and traditions. Carrying a gun is not an act of violence and is an affirmation of those principles, customs, and traditions.

  3. I’ll bet that more than one of these “frantic callers” were educated when the cops didnt arrest this man, or disarm him for their “safety” or do anything but talk to him.

  4. If I want to open carry, I should not ‘have’ to notify the local Barney ahead of time. The 911 dispatcher should already know the law and educate the caller accordingly.

  5. I agree with the chief in the video, this kind of thing just puts up walls for people. It is like those ladies who walk around NYC with their breasts out, because they can. People going about their daily business don’t necessarily understand what they are seeing, just that there is something profoundly unusual.

    If he hadn’t carried that shotgun on his back, there would have been no calls at all. Slinging a long gun when you are not intending to use it is provocative and his excuse for doing so is poorly reasoned.

    • “People going about their daily business don’t necessarily understand what they are seeing, just that there is something profoundly unusual. ”

      Which is EXACTLY why guys like this do it.

      It’s legal. He’s exercising his right.

      20 years ago, or thereabouts, none of us could carry concealed. It took some gutsy actions and a willingness to rock the boat a little bit to get THAT changed.

      Laws are changing (cf Utah and court cases in TX) that are showing OC activism *IS* having at least some positive effect on toning down the amygdala response to firearms some people have.

    • That open carrier is no more “provocative” to neighbors than a stunningly attractive woman is “provocative” to a rapist.

      The man who proceeds to rape a “provocative” (stunningly attractive) woman is a lowlife scumbag and 110% responsible for his actions. A person who proceeds to demonize a “provocative” (visibly armed) person is a lowlife scumbag and 110% responsible for their actions.

  6. Those who believe that law enforcement is discouraging open carry would be correct, here in California, the law enforcement unions took the lead in persuading the legislature that open carry is terrible for their safety and that of the public. Open carry is gone , they’re still with us.

    • I have my passport and waiting to get airport/hotel information for my sudden mental health “trip”

  7. I find it interesting how similar the basic argument against open carry is to the cries for civil disarmament:

    “I don’t like it, so no one should do it.”

    There is absolutely and precisely zero objective evidence (that I’ve ever seen) that it hurts the cause of 2A rights. In fact, the article above seems to suggest that it is working in some areas at least.

    So, anti-OC-ers…I ask you put up or stop whining about it. Do you have any hard data that shows OC (for activist or any other reason) puts off more people than those that convert to “oh, it’s legal and he’s not hurting anyone? Okay.”

    If you don’t have objective data, to me you sound just like Shannon Watts’ twitter feed. Sorry.

    • Great point. Those who are criticizing here are just reacting emotionally. I have yet to see a serious piece of criticism based on objective data.

      • I’m in favor of open carry, so don’t take this the wrong way, but… Wouldn’t California’s criminalization of open carry (at least partly prompted by OC protests and demonstrations) count as objective data that shows that OC, if not used strategically, can in fact provoke a backlash?

        • What is the reason for thinking that open carry in California is the cause of any backlash? Isn’t rather that the anti-gun propaganda after Newtown, Aurora, and Tucson caused an increasingly Progressive population to react in predictable fashion?

        • I’m not a Californian, so someone can correct me if I have the sequence of events wrong, but my understanding is that a few years ago, groups started forming to agitate to change the state’s stupid “unloaded open carry” law (which dated to the late ’60s, and was enacted partly in response to open carry by “militant” groups like the Black Panthers) back to regular open carry. So they held demonstrations where everybody showed up, compliant with unloaded guns openly carried, and the legislature’s response was, somewhat predictably, to eliminate open carry entirely (in 2011, if I recall correctly – before Newtown and Aurora). That seems like a direct cause-and-effect to me – had the activists not drawn attention to it, the legislature would likely not have taken up the issue.

          That said, unloaded open carry is pointless, so Californians really lost OC back in ’67, but again, that too was in response to open carry “activists”, though they were OC’ing in pursuit of other political agendas, not specifically 2nd Amendment rights.

        • No problem. I do think there’s a place for open carry in the fight to reclaim our 2A rights, but it needs to be used carefully and strategically to advance the cause (as in Texas, where open carry of rifles is used to illustrate how arbitrary and idiotic the state’s ban on handgun OC is), not just as a stunt to get attention or to post a video on YouTube.

        • “not just as a stunt to get attention or to post a video”

          There’s that qualification again, though. WHY someone is exercising a right does not matter.

          Or, it shouldn’t.

          If you are imposing limits on someone else’s behavior, it’s not a “right.” And yes, calling it stupid, or a stunt, is peer pressure and thus a limit. You may not have the force of law, but it’s still a limit.

          At some point we have to step back from ourselves and see what “freedom” really is. Freedom is not about doing what *I* want; freedom is having the strength and courage to accept what the other guy is doing, as well.

          That’s part of the “responsibility” thing when we say “With freedom comes responsibility.”

          These are not words with small meanings.

        • I’m not saying people can’t behave in whatever way they want, for whatever reason. I’m saying that my support for any particular OC rally/demonstration/individual is dependent on whether or not it advances our collective push to get our rights back. Once we get rid of all the 2A-infringing laws around this country, then I don’t give a fig why, when, or how someone carries a gun, as long as they’re doing so safely.

          But we’re not there yet. We are all in a protracted, ugly fight to reclaim our rights at the moment, and our opponents are organized, powerful, and wealthy. We’re only just starting to turn the tide and gain momentum after decades of being beaten down. We, as a group, can’t afford to make very many mistakes here.

    • Along the lines of “Any publicity id good publicity,” the reporting or replaying of this and other similar encounters anywhere is n educational event and increases the awareness of anyone who watches or reads as to the legal matter at hand. Following that, whether they want to take a s for, against, or remain neutral, is personal, but at least that have been informed as to the legality of exercising our Second Amendment rights.

      Every worthwhile cause tends to be opposed by powerful authorities and may require martyrs before it is accepted, else where would Christianity be? You may not wish to be a martyr, nor approve of their methods, but they are often a necessary part of the process.

  8. While I agree with open carry, I don’t practice it because I prefer not to be a billboard. As far as dispatchers “educating” callers not gonna happen. They have no idea if the guy is just “educating”the public, or about to go postal. As a firefighter and emt we still respond to a car accident even when people tell dispatch we are not injured…..to many lawyers in this country to take people’s wird unfortunatley

    • And then, after they’ve had their fun getting exciting and calling the police, they might think a little more about it and realize that NO ONE can tell if someone is about to start a shooting spree – not until the person starts the spree – and that it makes as much sense to think that a man with a gun is about to shoot people as it does to think that a man in a car is about to do a hit-and-run.

  9. You know, I used to think OC of long guns was a bad idea and was against it. But then its most vile, power-worshiping opponents here, as well as the illegal actions of Texas cops, convinced me that I was on the wrong side.

  10. A point apparently lost on some, obviously by choice, or perhaps lack of reading comprehension…

    One can be FOR open carry and AGAINST jackass behavior to try to “make a point.”

    Slinging a PGO shotgun across your back and a pistol on your hip and going for a “casual walk” around the community is nothing more than a ploy for attention and a stupid stunt.

    If some of you honestly think we are going to “convince” people how wonderful open carry is by pulling stunts like this then I definitely want you to be in my investment group for some great ocean front property in Nebraska.

    • What is lost on you is that WHO CARES WHY HE IS DOING IT.

      Do you ask every person refusing consent to search their private home or automobile WHY they are doing it?

      Do you ask every person refusing to confess to a crime why they are exercising their 5th Amendment right?

      If some of you honestly think we are going to “convince” people how wonderful open carry is by pulling stunts like this

      You are the one making the assertion that it is NOT a good idea, so put up some evidence that it does not help.

      Your emotional distaste of legal OC (for any reason) does not interest me at all. I want facts from you. Show me data that more people are turned off by it than are educated that it is harmless AND legal.

      Because I’ve got to say…at this point I don’t think you have facts on your side. If you do…let me see them.

      • I wouldn’t bother. Paul is anti-open carry.

        This says it all:
        One can be FOR open carry and AGAINST jackass behavior to try to “make a point.”

        To Paul:
        Carrying a holstered pistol on your hip – acceptable open carry.
        Carrying a holstered AR15 pistol on your hip – unacceptable jackass behavior
        Carrying a AR15 on your back – unacceptable jackass behavior

        He says that he is for open carry but cannot reconcile the limits with those of true open-carry supporters. Jackass behavior is relative. A right is not. Paul doesn’t seem to be able to distinguish the two, – that or he is simply not a supporter of open carry rights.

    • Wearing a mini-skirt used to be considered a stunt. Now it’s normal (for better or worse).

      Getting people used to any kind of behavior can’t happen unless you engage in the behavior in front of them (peaceably).

      • True. Once long ago everyone open carried and didn’t think twice about it. Over time fewer and fewer open carried until it became unacceptable behavior to most.

  11. Its strange to come to TTAG and listen to all these anti-open carry people….here… at TTAG.

    Is it right or is it not a right? If you feel it is a right – what are you complaining about??? Here we have a guy open carrying and people here think he is a moron, scaring the public. It is obvious to me those people don’t want the right or don’t want to see people exercising the right (same as don’t want the right). Now, people back in the day open carried all the time. They didn’t carry concealed. If they did – people thought they were up to no good. I’m not afraid of guns, or the act of people carrying them. If more people carried openly it would have a desensitizing effect on people scared of guns and people carrying them (including those in this blog – you know who you are).

    If you are uncomfortable seeing people openly carry, regardless of their intent – such as educating the public, etc, then you are clearly against open carry rights. In other words, you are a compromiser. That is what you are doing. It says keep and bear… it doesn’t say bear concealed or bear openly. Honestly, I think scaring a few people is worth it. Maybe someday they too will open carry. The bottom line is it’s about fear – and if you believe that a guy shouldn’t be arrested for open carrying, but then feel that he is out of line for doing so in a manner you think is “un-polite” then you should probably readjust your compass, reconcile the two, and figure out what side your on.

  12. Apparently things have changed for the ‘much better’ in the land of the cheeseheads. I did 10 years up there (and glad to be back down south where I belong) left in ’08, but back then you were just as likely to be treated like a steaming pile, ticketed or imprisoned for public nuisance (the DA’s twist in things), shot or any combination of the previous for OC of a sidearm in most any part of the state.

    As for this fella’s protest/educational methods or whatever you choose to title it… so be it! 5 years ago he’d have been put under the jail. So whatever it going on up there needs to continue.

  13. From all the places I’ve been, and all the places I have yet to go, this is what I have to say. We are extremely blessed to live in the US. Yes, weren’t not perfect, and we don’t see eye to eye most of the time, but that’s what makes our nation what it is. The gentle man above who came here from a third world country makes me smile, hopefully it reminds all of us that despite Americas shortcomings, there are still those who come to make a better life for themselves. And we out it to our children, and our children’s children, and yes, to those who immigrate here to stand for those unalienable rights, among of which are life, liberty, and the e pursuit of hapiness.

  14. My Wisconsin open carry story is this, I have told it before here.
    At a grocery store in Eau Claire early evening weekday not too busy. Open carrying a 686 and I’m in the cereal aisle and a 40 something mom with a young daughter passes me with a look of disgust. Think nothing of it continue on, about 2 minutes later manager comes up to me and says this lady is frightened and has asked me to call police and he thought he’d just warn me, I said OK. Continued on and when I got to checkout I saw two police officers talking with her and the manager, they glanced over at me a few times but I finished checkout and continued to the side door which is the liquor store door which is the parking lot where I parked. I walked by the group casually just a few feet from them and nothing, got near the door and the manager came up and apologized to me. He told me the police were explaining to her that open carry is legal and that they had asked him if they should stop and check me and he had told them no as I was a regular and had caused no disturbance. I went on my way and later that year I talked with the manager again and the lady was so distraught the police were concerned for her and called her husband to come pick her and her daughter up. I found that even more concerning than the police responding to such a call. So I imagine if I would of had a jerk manager(anti-gun) and/or a anti-gun jerk cop things might of played out a little different but my one experience with open carry situation was a positive one for the most part. The thing that sticks with me is the lady being so distraught, I just don’t get it. These are the people voting these anti-gun politicians in. Over nothing, over a misplaced or outright silly fear. What criminal or bad guy open carries? The incident just verified my belief that there are some real stupid and scared people out there.
    Now here in MN now it’s a totally different story. Night and day. Even with a carry permit, something WI does not require someone to have to open carry, I got harassed immediately on my own lawn just 2 weeks after moving in. Two police cars, three officers, all but one with their hand at ready on their weapon, after a nosey neighbor not even on my block, she is across a busy my cross street a few house down, called me in. The police “suggested” I no longer open carry as I will be stopped every time. I guess I shouldn’t have moved back home.

  15. William Polster is a narcissistic troll…on several occasions, I have seen where he has tried to force a confrontation with people over what he perceives is the right thing to do, then goes back to his personal FB page to brag about it…further checking show that he is trolling the web to find article about himself and reposting them on his personal FB page…this person doesn’t do anybody any good, and like so many others, he actually does more harm than good…William Polster would make better use of his time looking for a job, rather than looking for a “payday”…

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