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William Polster on a Open Carry Walk

On May 17, I attended a gun turn-in event in urban Milwaukee. That particular neighborhood is known for its high crime rate. One of the first things that I noticed was a person openly carrying a holstered handgun, who marched with those calling for an end to unjustified shootings. But that was a special occasion, and one focused on guns. A few days later, though, on Memorial day I took a picture of a young man openly carrying at a busy McDonald’s in Hayward, Wisconsin . . .

A commenter, on, “Secret Agent Man,” mentioned that:

…a solo open carry guy in downtown milwaukee wold not get the same treatment. he’d be taken down and cuffed. and flynn’s said so.

Secret Agent Man is referring to the infamous statement of Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, back in 2009. It shows how far-reaching a police chief’s statements can be in chilling the exercise of Constitutional rights. In 2009, before the passage of the shall-issue law in Wisconsin, Chief Flynn, as recorded on, said,

“My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.”

I do not know of any incidents where Chief Flynn’s “troops” carried out his threat; even a Milwaukee Police Chief seems to know when to back down. The legislature changed the law in 2011, and it appears that police are mostly abiding by it, although some monetary settlements to open carriers may have helped.

William Polster openly followed the law this last weekend in Milwaukee in a neighborhood that was the scene of tragedy only a week before, when a gunfight between suspected gang members resulted in a stray bullet hitting a 10-year-old in the head.

He walked for two hours within two blocks of the shooting, openly carrying his GLOCK 21 and handing out pocket Constitutions. Most people were willing to take a Constitution from a stranger with a gun. He handed out about 30 Constitutions and talked with about as many people.

Blurry Video screen shot shows resident welcoming open carrier

Only one person suggested that there was a potential problem with the Constitutional right to bear arms. They were concerned with the possibility of mentally unstable people having access to firearms. No one asked Mr. Polster to leave, no one was hostile.  While police drove by in squad cars three times, no one stopped or questioned his right to openly carry in Milwaukee. Mr. Polster has posted his two hours of open carry to YouTube, if you wish to watch for yourself.

The unjustified homicide problem in the United States has been greatly reduced in the last 20 years.  As most of the country has embraced the “Shall issue” model of concealed carry, the unjustified homicide rate has been cut in half. Many other factors may be involved, but the rise of carry permits coinciding with the drop in unjustified homicides is a startling fact most people are unaware of.

The vast majority of unjustified homicides are concentrated in specific urban areas, in a small subset of the population. From the research of David Kennedy, a renowned criminal justice professor and former Harvard researcher:

 “We now know that homicide and gun violence are overwhelmingly concentrated among serious offenders operating in groups: gangs, drug crews, and the like representing under half of one percent of a city’s population who commit half to three-quarters of all murders.”

The problem with inner city urban areas is that the people there have become acculturated to not trusting the justice system. If you look around the globe, you see that lack of trust as the common factor in high homicide rates.  If people don’t trust the system to be effective and dispense fairly reliable justice, the homicide rate soars.

How do you restore trust in the justice system? Perhaps one way to do it is to hand out copies of the Constitution while clearly demonstrating that the police have to respect the limitations that it places on the government.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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  1. The ads that block large portions of the article from being read are most annoying. If they persist I will stop following TTAG. They are that annoying.

    I enjoy you’re blog but the ads over the articles must go.

  2. Why does everyone open-carrying with a picture on the Internet have to look like part of ZZ Top? Is there a secret dress code I don’t know about?

    • You must have missed the meeting. I swear I sent everyone an e-mail detailing the change in “look” but somehow I managed to miss yours. I do humbly and most sincerly apologize for this mistake and will endeavor, in the future, to not allow such a thing to occur again. Grow a beard. That is all.

      • You will know I am seriously about to operate when I shave my head and grow a beard. Until then, rest easy.

  3. OC is just not okay in Milwaukee, it’s the defacto method in the state of WI, and sine WI got CC, OC has become more commonplace as the “catch all” laws were effectively neutered…

    BTW, William Polster is an ass of the worst kind, he makes OCTCT look like saints…

    • I’m interested in learning about WI’s open carry experience, particularly the path toward obtaining it. Other than the anti’s simply thinking that guns are icky and they don’t want to be reminded of their existence, what have been the major arguments you’ve heard against open carry during the legislative deliberations?

      I’d expect the real reasons include the simple authoritarian bent toward limiting freedom and the ethic of personal responsibility and self-reliance it fosters; but what did they actually say out loud in opposition?

      • Its not something we obtained, its been legal long before open carry. Some towns would issue disorderly conduct fines at open carriers, but the current attorney general ended that practice around 2009-2010.

        • Kinda. Attorney General Van Hollen was forced into his decision by pressure from open carry activism. People who openly carried in urban areas were being arrested on disorderly conduct charges.

          Wisconsin’s Constitutional amendment protecting the right to keep and bear arms was passed in 1998 with 73 percent of the vote.

          Van Hollen simply followed the law, under lots of pressure from Second Amendment supporters.

  4. A few weeks ago I ran into an OCer in West Allis (Milwaukee Metro) carrying a Ruger GP100 – I didn’t care, and it didn’t seem to bother anyone else at all either. My wife was like…”Oooh… look at that revolver. Nice.”

    I use times like this to educate my wife about handguns I’ll be adding to my collection so that when it shows up she is not surprised.

  5. For the half percent of a city’s population, who are engaged in the illicit drug trade or other illegal enterprises and committing half to three-fourths of all homicides, how much trust and reliable relief from the justice system could they possibly expect? Property rights do not exist for contraband, nor are contracts legally enforceable for illegal acts.

    Never mind other countries for the moment and let’s focus on the U.S. Is the problem really that our justice system is ineffective and untrustworthy? Or is it that these people elect to operate outside of the law, in enterprises which cannot work within the law?

    If not, then why does this allegedly universal ineffectiveness and untrustworthiness fall disproportionately on one half of one percent of the population, such that they then go commit half to three quarters of homicides?

    • It is not the half of a percent you have to convince that the justice system works, but the others in the neighborhoods who will not testify because they do not trust the police. Who do not think the government will let them protect themselves; who think that the police are just waiting for an excuse to throw them in jail.

      Change their attitudes, and the homicide rate drops precipitously.

  6. Folks strutting around with a visible firearm in a high crime area are absolutely delusional in their belief that open carry is an effective crime deterrent or viable self defense technique . The reason concealed carry has proved to be an effective crime reduction factor in many areas of the U.S. is that it tilts the advantage away from the criminal predator who can never be sure if their intended victim is armed or not. While open carry might have minimal deterrent value in certain areas with a low density of criminal predators, it totally negates any possible tactical advantage in self defense armed encounters, high crime area or not.

    • Then why do speeders slow down as soon as they see a marked police car?

      • Apples and oranges Jonathan, and you have some really disturbing issues if you believe openly carrying a firearm has the same deterrent effect on a criminal predator as a uniformed police officer in a marked patrol vehicle. Do you actually believe that wearing a uniform affords a police officer some type of magical bubble of safety against an armed predator in high crime war zone anywhere in the U.S. (5th Ward in Houston?), it doesn’t. Openly displaying a firearm simultaneously identifies the carrier as a threat AND A TARGET! Strutting around displaying a firearm doesn’t guarantee some criminal turd fears you, but it does guarantee that the turd and everyone else knows that you are armed.

        Equating open carry to law enforcement is yet another one of many delusional assumptions by those obsessed with open carry which progressive liberals desperate to subvert the 2nd amendment will use against responsible folks that exercise common sense when carrying a firearm.

        • Jesus H. Christ! Can’t anybody in here ask friggin’ question without somebody getting offended and questioning people’s sanity, stability, intelligence, allegiance, or anything else? What a lovely ass joy so many of these TTAG readers must be in real life. I can name off the top of my head about ten regulars whom I would readily welcome to the range and to have a few beers afterward, were they travelling to Houston. For every one of them, unfortunately, there’s freaking score or more like you.

          Every opposing view, or even inquiry, constitutes a “delusion”, “obsession” or “disturbing issue” with people like you. You toss out these insults and some ridiculously weak arguments and think you’ve added to the conversation? Seriously? Ever consider that you might be the unstable one, for rejecting out of hand any serious questions that don’t comport with your tidy, unchallenged worldview?

          The fact is that most officers killed in the line of duty are so by way of accidents and not because they’re murdered by some felon lying in ambush. Your semi-plausible, but unproven, “shoot me first” theory of open carry in unconvincing. Beyond that, your “magic bubble” straw man is pathetic. Nobody’s arguing that, except you, who then dismisses your own fabrication. Weak sauce, pal. Look at bank robberies, too. Very few result in deaths of innocents at all, most of those injured in bank robberies are the robbers themselves, and most of the injuries are sustained away from the bank during the getaway. According to your ill-considered view, the majority of armed bank robbers would show up and shoot the armed guards immediately. Yet, that doesn’t happen. So much for your anti-OC hysteria fantasy.

          But since you mention it, yes, the aura of authority projected by police apparel does indeed offer some protection by way of intimidation into submission. Nobody’s claiming it affords invincibility, again, except you; but it certainly does instill fear during interactions and thereby forestalls some lower level resistance to their authority. Why on Earth do tactical teams flit about in black tac gear and camouflage, for crying out loud? It sure as Hell isn’t to blend in with the scenery.

          As for the Bloody Nickel, yup, I know all about it. Better than you. Don’t think for a SECOND that just because the bangers are concealing, that every last person around them doesn’t ALREADY know that they’re tooled up. At best, concealed vs. open carry is moot.

        • Without realizing it Jonathan, you raise an issue that confirms the validity of real world concealed carry facts. Yes, there are few armed security guards murdered in bank robberies (no so true for armored car guards), and the reason for that is that uniformed bank security guards can immediately and easily be identified and located by the bank robber who has a huge advantage to get the drop on, then disarm and restrain the guard. Bank security guards have only moderate deterrent value and are there primarily to make the bank employees and customers feel better, if they were a real deterrent to a committed bank robber, robberies would never occur at banks with uniformed armed security guards.

        • Dear Ted, I live in WI and I openly carry a sidearm when quite honestly I’m too lazy to cover it. Get over it, your tears are delicious.

        • Dear Peally, got it, I understand completely, it’s not at all difficult for me to understand that lack of common sense and laziness often go hand in hand.

        • Ted, everything I wrote was intentional and the implications considered. While you are correct that bank security guards are there primarily as window dressing to make the customers feel safe, it is not true that the guards, by virtue of being armed and uniformed are inherently susceptible to robbers “getting the drop on them”. Bank robbery is a very well documented and studied area of criminal justice and one of the most conveniently amenable to statistical inference and prediction. If they wanted to defend against them seriously, they would.

          The dirty little secret is that profiling works, and the banks know what behaviors and appearances identify robbers. Occasionally a guard will engage a robber, but it’s very rare because there’s so much civil liability exposure on the bank’s part. Bank policies are to let them go, get as good a description as you can passively, then turn the evidence over to the FBI and local P.D. The money’s insured, anyway. The security guard is so trivial, that the top two reasons financial institutions give for not employing them at all are cost and civil liability. It’s well understood by everyone, LE, the banks, the robbers, but not the customers, that the guard is a dog and pony show. That’s why they’re taken down easily and without injury, where they’re even on duty. They’re not, by policy, a serious threat and there’s no need to draw a capital murder rap. (Murder in the commission of a felony is capital murder, and gets you the death penalty in Texas.)

          Now, armored cars are different. That money’s insured, too, but there’s a much more direct relationship between robbery losses and the insurance premiums the private company pays. Moreover, there’s much more money involved than with a bank robbery. These factors seriously ratchet up the stakes for both the security companies and the robbers, resulting in a much more aggressive posture and willingness to spill blood on each party’s part.

          Bank of America gets robbed, some reports get filed and they re-open the doors by lunch time. Joe Blow Armored Delivery gets robbed, and Joe’s business could go bankrupt during the lengthy investigation and claims process.

        • My oh my Jonathan, lame as it may be, you’re quite adept at just making up shit as you go. FYI, if any of the proposed open carry bills actually become law during the 84th session of the Texas Legislature next year, rest assured that I will support and defend the right for your dumb ass to openly carry a handgun in the Lone Star State.

        • Ted your distress over other people’s very common everyday choices (sorry, here in WI it’s not that uncommon) is very telling. I appreciate your misguided desire to help but please, do it from afar. My hometown doesn’t need your childish grinding of teeth over me walking by in the supermarket.

    • I have long held the belief that if you were to go into a high crime area, hand out a handgun to every resident, and let them open carry them crime will drop if not to a vanishing rate then at least dramatically. Then if you actually give them bullets for free it’ll drop even more! 🙂

    • Because we know that the same guys who play the “knockout” game with women and old men are just itching to take on someone who might actually be prepared to defend themselves. And the pros who are in it for the money want to take as many chances as they can of provoking a shootout. Seriously, in the 70s some cities experimented with outfitting their cops in a “civilian” style uniform, with the firearm concealed under what looked like a sports jacket. The experiments didn’t go to far, everyone soon recognized the deterrent value of a uniform and an openly-carried gun.

      • Too funny! When you squirrels encounter irrefutable facts, you resort to manufacturing arguments like “in the 70s some cities experimented with outfitting their cops in a “civilian” style uniform”. The only parcel of truth in this babble from Another Robert is that, primarily for officer safety reasons, many law enforcement agencies, especially agencies in high crime war zones, require their plain clothes officers to cover their weapon with a coat, shirt, or vest, and this concealment requirement applies to off duty officers as well. Even in jurisdictions that allows non uniformed officers to openly carry their firearm, no off duty officer with a lick of sense would expose themselves to the foolish and unnecessary risk of displaying a firearm in a high crime area.

        • So what do the med officers do for officer safety? wear plain clothes and conceal their weapons? Talk about babble, how about re-labeling your opinion as to the deterrent value of openly vs concealed carried weapons as ‘irrefutable facts’? Or did I somehow miss the plethora of statistics and studies and anecdotal support in your post?

        • “Uniformed”–you couldn’t figure that out I guess. Keyboard malfunction.

        • Oh I see Robert, UNIFORMED Med Officers, that makes all the difference in the world. Do you mean a UNIFORM as in scrubs like physicians and nurses wear or a UNIFORM like Paramedics or Fire Dept EMS wear? What about UNIFORMED bus drivers? Do any of those occupations openly carry firearms where you come from? Should they? Too funny! Babble on Robert, babble on!

    • You couldn’t be more wrong. Conceal carry gives the advantage to the carrier which is a good thing of course, you don’t make yourself a target for police and criminals, but open carry especially when done by many displays the obvious, that citizens are well armed. Open carry deters crime much more than conceal.

    • Show cases where a criminal predator (not a deranged manic bent only on homicide, but a working criminal out for profit) has attacked an obviously armed citizen on the street, then think about how exceedingly rare that is. Then look at all the attacks on apparently unarmed citizens. I can’t validate it because those numbers don’t exist, but I believe we’ll find that per capita, OC’ers are very rarely attacked compared to those who do not appear to be armed.

      What I’m relying on is the DOJ study that found 57% of currently incarcerated felons fear armed citizens more than police. Assuming that most felons fear police (the low rate of death by homicide in the line of duty would suggest this is so), then it follows that most felons fear armed citizens.

      It’s not even a counter intuitive argument but rather the most plainly obvious thing that could be. Most people are not visibly armed, thus it’s safer and easier to bypass those who are and wait for or locate someone who isn’t to victimize.

      I’m not into open carry personally, but to say it’s an ineffective deterrent to criminal victimization is the sort of extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary proofs.

      • Nothing but more manufactured babble, you idiots live in your own little delusional world where you exercise the right to your own opinion based on your own facts, the truth be damned.

        • Hmm, I’m going to call this one. Rebuttal to well reasoned factual argument is name calling and empty aspersions. Yup, it’s a troll.

        • Empty aspersions? There’s nothing slanderous or defamatory about common sense facts. You don’t have to be very smart to figure out that the chances of effectively responding to and surviving a life threatening encounter with a bad guy are greatly reduced if the bad guy knows you are armed before you perceive him as a threat.

      • I agree, Ardent. If the best way to win a gun fight, is not to get in one, then avoiding open carriers is a good start. Even with some element of surprise, they’d still be taking on someone whom they know is armed, and maybe a little cocky, too, as they are open carrying, after all. I’m not even so sure there’s that much element of surprise, either, since carriers (open or concealed) in general practice pretty good situational awareness and self-select themselves out of many potentially bad situations.

        • Thank you Jonathan, but I’d still like to see Ted provide a single, solitary, as in just one fact to reinforce his assertions. I was pretty sure I’d finished him with my last statement, but then again, trolls like attention.

        • Replying here to Ted above since direct reply is impossible in this format.

          Ted, the ability to respond to a threat that never manifests because of deterrence is difficult to measure, but the need is none. I offered facts that indicate the majority of criminals would avoid a citizen they knew to be armed, you’ve done nothing to refute this.

          Also, you should investigate the meaning of ‘aspersions’. I’ll help:

          noun: an attack on the reputation or integrity of someone or something.

          Note it includes nothing about slander or defamation.

          You don’t have to be very smart to know the meaning of words and you don’t have to be very smart to avoid armed conflict. You do have to be pretty smart to debate effectively here. You aren’t and you aren’t.

          As for surviving armed threats from people who know you’re armed, ask police officers, they routinely carry openly but somehow they are 742% more likely to kill someone than to be killed (source: latest statistics, FBI: 393 killings by police versus 53 deaths according to the officer down memorial page.).

          Ted, I’ll offer you something, a bit of wisdom. You know you’re just wrong when your assertions can be debunked by a random guy with access to Google and a few minutes of spare time. You’re just so wrong that I know without looking that you will not, cannot and never will find any facts to offer that would support your position. Your position is illogical, irrational, counter intuitive and in denial of all available evidence. If you have something, scratch that, anything factual to support what you’re suggesting you’d have presented us with it way back up the thread. What you have is a purely emotional, fact devoid, absurd and demonstrably wrong position that you’re entirely incapable of backing up. Your rhetoric just isn’t that good, no ones could be though. We, the AI and the POTG demand facts. Real facts mind you, you can’t just make them up, we’ll look, read, research and simply demonstrate more thoroughly what a liar and fool you are if you try it. What’s more, we’ll enjoy it. Now, if you don’t mind that, persist, I like the easy targets sometimes, I can’t miss them. But if you have dignity, or even without that, concern for your cause, just back down before it becomes even more obvious how flawed, irrational and devoid of fact your arguments are.

      • Nice try dumbass

        [uh-spur-zhuh n, -shuh n]
        1. a damaging or derogatory remark or criticism; slander: casting aspersions on a campaign rival.
        2. the act of slandering; vilification; defamation; calumniation; derogation: Such vehement aspersions cannot be ignored.
        3. the act of sprinkling, as in baptism.
        4. Archaic. a shower or spray.

    • P.S. I don’t strut. I generally amble, stride or march.

      You, apparently, merely indulge in invented stereotypes and caricatures.

  7. We definitely need more of these sovereign citizen-looking thugs advocating for our rights.

    • You got that right Hkfan. I have been somewhat ambivalent about proposed open carry legislation in Texas, but some of the idiocy expressed in this forum has caused me to re-evaluate the merits of OC since it will provide those of us responsibly carrying a firearm the means to immediately identify armed dumbasses when we encounter them in a public venue.

      • You should be glad for their presence. based on your argument, if some bad guy starts shooting they will go first. based on the opposing arguments, bad guys will be less likely to start shooting. either way, you win, right?

        • That’s quite a compelling argument Robert, hell, you’ve won, I’m convinced, it’s all so clear to me now.

      • Please show me, in any dictionary, where ‘concealed’=’responsible’.

        We’ll wait….

    • Please explain how the lawful, peaceful exercise of a Constitutional Right makes him a “thug”.

      Feel free to consult a dictionary.

  8. Open carry is legal everywhere in WI. You need no permit or permission to do so. I carried for 2 years there with only one non-police issue. If you are harassed in WI by police for open carry the state supreme court will be on your side when and if you take that police officer and dept into civil court.

    • Between his firearms stance, taking on the unions, and winning his recall election, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s star is on the rise. I’m not fond of his embrace of Obamacare, but he definitely does have some successes to recommend him.

  9. I love people exercising their 1st Amendment right, it let’s me see who hates the freedoms we have. Just look at “WI Patriot” hardly a Patriot. It’s very simple, if you do not support someone right to carry the weapon of their choice in a safe manner you clearly are not pro 2nd Amendment.

  10. What have any of you bitching done to help the people in these crime ridden areas? Sit in your mommies basement being a keyboard commando?

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