I have been staying in Middleton, Wisconsin for a couple of months. After an injury a few years ago and a serious case of pneumonia, I changed my exercise from running to brisk walking.
Wearing a t-shirt and shorts limits the options for concealed carry. Most of my walking in the area starts at about 0500, but on Monday, July 9th, I had stayed up late, coming back from a play at American Player’s Theater in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
I slept in and didn’t get out to exercise until after 0800. That was a mistake.
Instead of a few cars along the route I was walking, it was a minor rush hour there on Lake Mendota. Madison (77 square miles surrounded by reality) and Middleton are deep blue in their politics.
Forty-one minutes and three miles into the walk, I saw the SUV with the flat, narrow light bar slowing down and stopping as it approached me. I was only 100 yards from turning off of the busy roadway, and 300 yards from the end of my walk.
I knew what was going on. The lights came on and the vehicle stopped. As I approached the Dane County Sheriff’s vehicle, the deputy got out.
“Good morning,” I opened. He stretched out his hand. I shook it. He introduced himself. His tone was apologetic. A hand shake is a time honored tradition between armed men. It shows the weapon hand is empty.
“I know you have the right,” he said. “But with all these drivers, we got a call, and I have to check it out.”
I introduced myself. He asked, “Out for a walk?” “Yes,” I said. “Would you like a card?” I was thinking of giving him one of my business cards.
“No,” he said, “it’s open carry, it is a right. You don’t need a card,” misinterpreting the card I was offering as an offer of my ID or a CCW permit.
I sympathized with his position, having been on the other side of the contact equation.
He wasn’t intrusive, essentially apologizing for the stop, and never asked me to disarm or to provide an ID.
It is a serious contrast with what happened to The Culver’s Five, in 2010. They were arrested for disturbing the peace for merely open carrying while eating dinner at a Culver’s restaurant in Madison. That case ended in a cash settlement of $10,000 to the open carriers who had been arrested and falsely charged.
This deputy was polite, professional, and knowledgeable. He didn’t approach the “man with a gun” call with a chip on his shoulder. I’ve been treated with less respect and more fear in stops back in Yuma, Arizona.
The police have always been our potential allies in the culture wars. Most street officers support the Second Amendment. As more people carry — both openly and concealed — beat cops find the people who carry really are the good guys.
Court cases educate them to treat armed citizens with respect. That respect is reinforced with street experience.
I’m wary of volunteering information to strange police officers. But all open carriers are, to some extent, representatives of the gun culture. It’s a balancing act. The officer made clear he wasn’t fishing for information and I didn’t volunteer much, except that I was exercising.
The re-normalization of the gun culture continues.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.