The Culver’s Five outcome brought a similar story to mind, and this one happened to me a few years ago. There I was, peacefully minding my own business (as I so often am when these things happen to me), enjoying my day at the mall, watching the play of the waters in the fountain, when a cop stepped in front of me and said, “Put your hands on top of your head.”
Minnesota had recently passed a “shall-issue” carry law to the usual shrill squeals of the enemies of freedom.
“Blood in the streets!…Road rage shootouts!”
The only reason they didn’t add “Mall massacres!” to the litany is because the local malls had all announced they would ban firearms on their premises. The only problem with their plan wass that under the new law, they couldn’t.
Minnesota Statutes section 624.714 subdivision 17(e) states:
“A landlord may not restrict the lawful carry or possession of firearms by tenants or their guests.”
The Mall of America in Bloomington claims to be the largest mall in the country, and they had posted signs at the entrances to the mall saying:
“In Accordance with Minnesota Law, GUNS ARE BANNED ON THESE PREMISES”
The only problem with those signs was that, in order to ban guns, the statute requires an operator to post a sign stating explicitly “(INDICATE IDENTITY OF OPERATOR) BANS GUNS IN THESE PREMISES.” In addition, the requestor or their agent has to personally inform the permit-holder and demand compliance.
So, being the enthusiastic supporter of the Second Amendment that I am, I went to the Mall of America that day (with a couple of friends and a video camera), armed with copies of the pertinent sections of the Minnesota statutes along with wallet-sized copies of US Code Title 18, sections 241 and 242, (conspiracy against rights and deprivation of rights under color of law.)
I was carrying a Baby Eagle 9mm in an Uncle Mike’s Horizontal Shoulder Holster and a Kel-Tec P-11 backup piece in my front pocket. Being 6’4” and 350 pounds means my pants pockets are pretty big. I also had a small tape recorder clipped to my belt.
We wandered around the mall for about 20 minutes with the only outward reaction to our armed presence being one clueless store clerk, who tried to tell me that the law was specifically written so that malls could exclude guns.
Then I noticed a mall security officer coming toward me. I clicked on my tape recorder, looked at him and smiled, prepared to explain to him why he couldn’t ask me to leave. But he wouldn’t look me in the eye and instead veered off. I figured he was waiting for backup, so I wandered around some more, chatted with salespeople and eventually wound up in an open area in front of one of the anchor stores.
I was looking at a fountain commemorating the September 11th terrorist attacks when a police officer stepped in front of me and told me to put my hands on top of my head.
“I have a permit,” I said, but he just repeated, “Put your hands on your head.”
When I did so, the officer behind me handcuffed me and then, before he removed my open pistol, he turned off the tape recorder on my belt. He then removed the Baby Eagle and asked if I had any more weapons. I told him about the P-11 and a folding knife I was carrying.
He then proceeded to ask if I had seen the signs the mall posted. I replied that yes, I had, but that they were improperly posted and incorrectly worded. “Tell it to the court,” he replied. At the same time, one of his comrades was bracing one of my friends, asking what group we were with, who we were working for, etc.
Mind you, at that point not one mall employee had asked me to leave. I was just a peaceful shopper, who had committed no crime. Why? Because even if they could legitimately ban guns at the mall, they would have had to ask me to leave. If I had refused after being instructed to do so, then I would have been committing a crime. That didn’t happen.
Anyway, the cops paraded me in handcuffs through the halls of the mall. Mall security asked if the officers wanted to use the service corridors, out of the public eye, but the cop said, “no,” apparently wanting to ensure everyone saw the scene. I was taken down to the police substation in the basement. Once there, they emptied my pockets, pulled out my permit and driver’s license, and unloaded my magazines.
One of the cops asked, “Aren’t high capacity magazines banned?” I replied, “Those are pre-ban, and they are normal capacity. The new ones are reduced capacity.” I was then instructed to take a seat in an empty room while still handcuffed.
“Am I under arrest?” I asked. “We’ll see” was the reply.
About 10 minutes later the same officer who was interrogating my friend earlier, stepped in and asked me, “What channel is this going to be on?”
“Huh?” said I intelligently.
“What channel are you with? KARE-11? FOX-9? What channel?”
“I’m not with anyone.”
“Come on, what channel is this going to be on tonight?” he repeated.
“Any channel that thinks it’s newsworthy,” was my reply.
“Okay,” he proceeded, “so what group are you with?”
“So why did you come out here today?”
This was the one question I was ready to answer. “Why did Dr. King march in Selma? Because people’s rights are being trampled.”
The cop snorted and left.
A few minutes later another officer came in, asking similar questions. Not happy with my answers he said, “Can we talk man to man here? You’re not recording me are you?”
I assured him my tape recorder had been removed. “It’s people like you who are going to screw this up for everybody,” he continued. “The state has done us a favor by allowing people the privilege of carrying a gun, and guys like you who just want to push things past their limits are going to screw it all up.”
Well, with so many breathtakingly idiotic comments, where does one start?
“First of all,” I replied, “the state did not ‘do us a favor’. It merely finally recognized our rights. And I am not ‘pushing’ anything. The plain language of the law states a landlord may not restrict tenants or their guests from carrying. The plain language of the law states what the signs have to say and where they have to be posted.”
“Well I don’t care about all that” he said. “This is a family place and people’s kids shouldn’t have to see people carrying guns out in the open.” (One of my friends later pointed out that this was the perfect opportunity to ask, “So people should only carry in strip clubs and bars?”)
I replied, “Everyone, especially kids, should see people exercising their inalienable rights.”
“Inalienable, huh?” he snorted. “We’ll see. I’m gonna run your permit through the Ramsey County Sheriff, and then I’ll be back.” Damn, he still didn’t take the handcuffs off!
A few minutes later he was back to take the handcuffs off and inform me that I hadn’t been “arrested.” In a bizarre twist of semantics, I apparently had only been “detained.”
“We did it down here, because with all the people up there… we didn’t want anything to get stolen. I’ll be back in a couple of minutes,” this stellar public servant promised.
When he returned, he brought with him a man who introduced himself as the “Head of Mall Security.” This security chief informed me that he was giving me my verbal warning not to return to the mall armed.
I explained that under the law, landlords couldn’t ban tenants or their guests from carrying.
He replied, “Well that’s all over my head.”
“I understand that.” I said, “I’m just letting you know, so you can pass it on to someone with some authority.”
On that happy note, they returned my guns (in a brown paper bag, with all the magazines unloaded) and escorted me to the parking lot.
And I was so hoping to get arrested! Maybe next time.