“Jeremy Pinnow, 28, of Cascade in Sheboygan County, was doing remodeling work in a large apartment building near N. 14th and Locust streets the evening of April 12 when he and two co-workers were robbed at gunpoint by two men who hogtied the victims, pressed a gun to the back of Pinnow’s head, and took his wallet, phone, money and Chrysler Neon,” Wisconsin’s jsonline.com reports. “As they left, they told Pinnow that when he got untied, he could find the car near in the alleys near N. 25th and Capital.” INSERT CHRYSLER NEON JOKE HERE. But what happened next was not so funny . . .
The victims reported the robbery to police, who later saw men matching the suspects’ descriptions on foot, gave chase, and recovered items, including Pinnow’s car keys. The suspects got away.
Two nights later, Pinnow was parked at a gas station near N. 26th and W. Capital Dr. He was looking for his stolen car. A police officer approached and asked if he had guns, drugs, knives or bombs. Pinnow said he had a gun. The police found his chrome Cobra .38, which he purchased legally at a Washington County gun show prior to being robbed, in a closed plastic case under the driver’s seat. A magazine with five rounds was in a center console. Pinnow was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor.
The rest of the story chronicles the legal wrangling surrounding the arrest, which has implications for concealed carry laws in the Eat Cheese or Die state. Suffice it to say, an activist judge named J.D. Watts ruled that Pinnow was within his state-protected right to armed self-defense, and threw out the charge.
According to Watts’ order, released Friday, no evidence at hearing suggested Pinnow had the gun for any unlawful purpose . . .
Watts found that Pinnow . . . had just been robbed, was searching for his stolen car in a high-crime area, and had tried to comply with another state law about the transportation of firearms by keeping his gun unloaded, and in a case.
“He was exercising his right to bear arms in a reasonable and prudent manner,” Watts wrote . . . Requiring Pinnow to put the encased unloaded firearm out of reach would effectively deny him his right to bear arms.”
Hmmm. How is searching for your stolen car in a high crime neighborhood a reasonable and prudent thing to do? NEVER MIND that it’s a Chrysler Neon. And do we know for sure that Pinnow had the gun for self-defense rather than, say, retribution? In any case (so to speak), Mr. Pinnow violated one of the rabbi’s rules of order: avoid stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places.
In this case (so to speak), it’s the case misegos that’s drawn my ire. Locked or unlocked, loaded or unloaded, in reach or out of reach, the casework qualifies Mr. Pinnow for our IGOTD nod. Here’s my thinking . . .
Guns are dangerous. They have to be to be effective. Extraction is the most dangerous part of armed self-defense. Draw your gun badly and you could shoot yourself or an innocent bystander. Draw your gun too slowly and you could put yourself and other friendlies in more danger than you would have had you used the time to counter the threat using another strategy.
In other words, I believe that gun owners have a responsibility to do no harm—except the harm that they need and are allowed to do. If you’re going to introduce a firearm into a potentially lethal confrontation, a responsible gun owner knows how to do it well. I do not support regulations that mandate concealed carry classes. But I reckon gun owners have a moral obligation to know how to draw and fire their weapon as safely as possible.
Mr. Pinnow’s “solution” to his security needs while hunting for his stolen car was dangerously half-assed. It could have gotten him killed. It could have resulted in the death of an innocent bystander. Pinnow should have either left the gun at home or packed it properly, loaded, on his person. If that put him on the other side of the law, well, that would have been his decision. A responsible gun owner has the courage of their convictions, and the means to defend them.