Virginia gun owner militia open carry
Courtesy Jeff Hulbert
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A bill under consideration in Washington State would make a group of at least three four people felons if they’re openly carrying a firearm…and someone feels alarmed by it.

The bill, HB 1283, makes it a crime if someone “acting with three or more other persons” … “openly carries, exhibits, displays, or draws any firearm…in a manner…that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.”

You can read the full bill here to see for yourself.

What warrants “alarm for the safety of other persons” isn’t defined in the statute. The subjective nature of the bill’s language leaves whether to charge or convict based upon this law open to a lot of interpretation by police, prosecutors and the courts. Do you think there’s a chance that city dwellers who aren’t used to seeing holstered pistols or slung rifles might feel alarmed by the sight of four or more people walking by with firearms?

“One of the several issues that I have with this bill is it uses subjective standards…” said Rep. Jim Walsh, of the 19th district in a February 10th hearing. He proposed an amendment that would have made the bill more clear and objective, to focus on people who are actually making threats in order to avoid infringing on other people’s rights. His amendment wasn’t adopted.

Instead, the committee adopted an amendment that made the language mirror Washington’s “brandishing statute” including its tests and exceptions, but that isn’t very helpful when you consider that the brandishing statute can only be punished as a misdemeanor. This new bill, while applying only to groups, would make felons of people based on nebulous standards of other people’s feelings that a group couldn’t possibly plan around to avoid violating the law.

Mirroring the brandishing statute is worse when you look at the case law. In 1991, a man was “walking briskly” with a loaded rifle “on his shoulder” at night on a residential street, with his dog. A passerby told police about the man with a rifle, and found him carrying the rifle in “a hostile, assaultive type manner with the weapon ready.” But the case doesn’t make clear how the rifle was actually being held (if at all).

He was ordered to put the rifle down and was detained. The police officer found a pistol and a concealed carry permit on him, so he was obviously someone with a clean background.

He was charged with brandishing, despite not doing anything that actually threatened any specific person. He didn’t point the gun at anyone, threaten to shoot anyone, or even give anyone a dirty look. The original caller said he was looking down and avoiding eye contact with anyone…and that was used against him in court.

Under Washington’s brandishing statute, the man was charged with a misdemeanor, convicted, and appeals courts upheld the conviction, denying that the law is too vague. The court said . . .

This public interest in security, and in having a sense of security, outweighs the individual’s interest in carrying weapons under circumstances that warrant alarm in others.

In other words, if you’re carrying a gun in Washington and a “reasonable person” decides you’re frightening, you could be punished with a misdemeanor. Under HB 1283, if you’re in a small group, you could become a felon — and lose your gun rights — without harming or even threatening anyone, based strictly on someone’s feelings.

The legislation seems to be targeting armed protests. While there aren’t any cases of armed protesters (other than Antifa) getting violent in Washington, Democrats have long criticized the carrying of long guns and sometimes even pistols at protest events. Unless they happen to agree with the protesters.

Washington’s left-leaning lawmakers claim that merely by carrying firearms — which is perfectly legal in the state — protesters are threatening violence, trying to intimidate legislators, or want to instill fear in the public. Words like “terrorism” and “anti-democratic” get tossed around a lot with no real backing for such assertions.

With the gun control industry, the media (BIRM), politicians, and others stirring up the public against gun owners, especially in Democrat-run urban strongholds, it’s almost guaranteed that going armed in any size group would cause some allegedly reasonable person to conclude that you’re alarming. Even if just to sic law enforcement on gun owners.

You wouldn’t have to be a protester or “insurrectionist” to get tangled up by this law. If you were merely coming back from the range with three friends and stopped somewhere for a bite to eat and got too rowdy talking politics at the table, someone could get “scared”… and you’d all become felons.

This bill has no business becoming law. It’s obviously designed to be a de facto ban on open carry and wouldn’t enhance public safety in any way.

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  1. Dunno the politics of the state but these days I wouldn’t be shocked if this kind of thing passed.

    The reasoning behind it is pretty clear. Thumbs on scales and whatnot.

      • “A bill under consideration in Washington State would make a group of at least three four people felons if they’re openly carrying a firearm…and someone feels alarmed by it.“

        Well. Then if someone immediately feels “alarmed” by their presence the solution is to “dispose” of the alarmed person. Problem solved!!

        • What if I am alarmed by the sight of people who are completely defenseless? Will they be forced to gun up?

    • Anti-gun bills have a long history of not making it through the legislature, even though it’s been majority Democratic (albeit a small majority) for most of the past 20+ years. Republicans are a smaller minority recently, and the Democrats are getting more extreme, so it’s not as sure as it once was.

      Washington has a deep and long streak of “live and let live” libertarianism, but it’s been slowly buckling under an influx of urban progtards over the past decade-plus. Seattle and most of the Puget Sound area have gone completely batshit, as the past couple years of headline news illustrates. Meanwhile, east of the Cascades (2/3 of the land area, 1/3 of the population), it’s a lot like Idaho in political outlook and economic makeup; it’s like two different worlds. Which is why the idea of making a new state out of eastern WA polls over 70% on the east side.

      What’s most likely to happen is that this bill goes down to a narrow defeat, and then gets resurrected later as part of some big anti-gun ballot initiative. The Progressive Billionaire’s Club has had great success in getting all of the state’s progbots and gullible idiots to preemptively vote their own and everyone else’s rights away.

    • “I demand Jennifer Sensiba be arrested!

      If you try to ‘take her into custody”, *cough*, be advised, she’s likely armed…;)

  2. “…if someone “acting with three or more other persons” … “openly carries, exhibits, displays, or draws any firearm…in a manner…that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.”..”

    Obviously except for the police and NG/military/or other armed gov types…then it’s ok. Except these groups cause unsafe feelz in a whole lot of the population too.

  3. I must have missed that clause in the constitution where it says no more than one right in the Bill of Rights can be exercised at one time. If you can’t be armed while peaceably assembled, that opens up all kinds of possibilities. Want to search somebody’s home without a warrant? Wait for them to go to church! Want to have an attorney to defend you on court? Then you have to testify against yourself! How fortunate it is, that we should have these brilliant Washington politicians to show us all the way.

  4. When you live behind enemy lines you have 2 choices, Refuse to believe it Can Get That Bad like the Jews and be exterminated or Stand and Fight. Regardless you will fall into 2 basic categories: Complacent Cowardess resulting in continued life albeit Under the Boot Tyranny or Courageous Sacrifice by fighting for something Greater Than Oneself and passing on to your descendants the Freedoms that were passed down to Us from the Sacrifices of those who came before. Freedom has a price and that price is and has always been the Sacrifice and Blood of those who were willing to Act when faced with Tyranny. Keep Your Powder Dry.

  5. It’s long past time to split up many states. Washington, California, Illinois, New York highest on the list. I assume Oregon, Florida (if DeSantis were not around) next. “We” would almost for sure gain the governorship and Senators in all of the non-urban new states. Maybe split up Texas as well – into three “free” states and one called Austin. The history of the US has originally been to split up states and counties when the population got large enough to require smaller more local government. Clearly 100 years overdue in many states.

    • Sad reality is how dependent we, yes all of us, are on goods from not just OTHER states – including “free” states – but also other countries. It would be nothing short of chaos.

      *Lifts glass to make a toast*
      Here is to the strong, may they survive what lies ahead. To the rest: fuck em if they can’t take a joke. Let freedom ring.
      *pours glass out, throws it on the ground and walks away*

    • There’s a fair amount of momentum in Washington state behind a proposal to do just that: The insanity west of the Cascade range will continue no matter what, but the sane eastern half of this fractured polity doesn’t want to be dragged down with it.

  6. This isn’t much different than here in North Carolina. If you are “going to the terror of the people” a private citizen and or police officer can charge you and it’s on to court. I asked a cop in Charlotte who had a badge on his belt and a gun but was in jeans and a t-shirt if it was okay to open carry in Charlotte, NC. He said yes, no problem.

    Yeah right!!!!!!

    • Could you elaborate on what “going to the terror of the people” means?…

  7. This is the problem with laws that are not based on a an actual standard, and allow feelings to to be the standard with which police take actions. Laws should be easy to follow, not subject to the whims or feelings of a person, and also not infringe upon someone rights. Carrying a firearms does not infringe on anyone’s right. The law should also not allow people who are not acting in good faith to be able to bring the state upon others, just because they do not like something someone is doing. Rights should never be dependent on the feeling of others.

    Here is how easy it should be:
    Are they walking while armed? Yes? Then there is no crime.
    Are they in a group while armed? Yes? Then there is no crime.
    Is someone pointing a weapon at you? No? then there is no crime.
    Are they actively threatening you or others? No? Then there is no crime (Again, just being armed is not actively threatening people).
    Are your feelings hurt by the carrying of weapons? Yes? Still not a crime.

  8. This is like an incident that happened to the BF of a crazy niece. He was trying to stop her from cutting herself(she has priors) and the police took him, kept him a couple of weeks and plea bargained him to time served on a felony.
    Firstly, if it is a true felony, it should always come with a minimum of a complete year behind bars – if they are that dangerous, that would be a minimum time to reflect, if not, it is not that serious.
    This is designed to make a second class of people(those marked with a red “F”), that the government can limit their God given rights.
    People get butt hurt over all types of things, from what you drive(say an empty truck or large SUV, or even a dark colored vehicle), to your hair, be it colored, long, different haircut or shaved.
    So, now, if you do not conform to political correctness, you will be branded a second class citizen, just like in any totalarian regime.
    I am too old to matter, even if they do it to me, it won’t mean much. My kids and grandkids follow the program – sadly, I tried to teach them better.
    What is to become of the true dream of freedom? I guess it will be left to the few hardy souls that will brave the wilds of the great white north, or the other places that are too extreme for most people to live.

  9. The protection of civil rights was always at the state level. Historically the federal government really had nothing to do with protecting civil rights. If your rights were violated and you couldn’t get local officials to stop it. You simply moved to a different state. Which is why everyone tells you to “just move to another state”.

    But if you don’t want to move to another state, then you’re going to have to get off your a$$ and start working to protect your civil rights. Attending meetings, registering to vote, using jury nullification, etc etc. If you are proud of not voting like the libertarian Joe Rogan or the anarchist Michael malice, then please stay in California and don’t move to Texas or some other free state. Because all you’re doing is sitting in the “2A wagon” as everyone else is working to keep it moving.

    If you move and don’t work to keep the state free, then you’re just a parasite.

  10. Yes, our governor and altogether too many of those who purport to “represent” us in Washington State are this lefty loony.

  11. “A bill under consideration in Washington State would make a group of at least three four people felons if they’re openly carrying a firearm…and someone feels alarmed by it.”

    Pretty much SOP in our green acres. A person with a carry permit can be arrested for “brandishing” if the firearm becomes visible “in any manner”, and “causes alarm in another person”.

    Once, while wearing cargo pants, had a patron at a fast food outlet stop me and ask if I was carrying concealed because they could see the outline of a “gun barrel” in my pocket. I told the patron I was not armed. The patron stated he could see the rectangular outline of a pocket holster in my cargo pocket, the rectangle covering the barrel of my gun. I took the “rectangle” out of my pocket and showed it was nothing more than a notepad and a ballpoint pen.

    I passed the concealed carry permit course, but have been a bit skittish about buying a concealable pistol because of that incident. Well, that and the fact the Colonel assigned me a $500 annual budget (no rollover) for “gun stuff”.

  12. “There’s a fair amount of momentum in Washington state behind a proposal to do just that:

    The idea of splitting states seems doomed before it can start. If there are not enough votes in a state to change the political nature, where will the votes come from to defeat the ruling class refusal to agree to the split. The issue is singular: thwart any effort to create two new senators (per new state) not subject to the leftist agenda.

    • Thanks, I read the link you posted. I agree with them. I think our nations problem really comes from having states that are just to big population wise. Even the congressional districts are just to big. I think 450,000 (+) people per district. Its just too big. This is a fight between the city way of thinking. And the rural way of thinking.

      Decentralization is the way to go. Breaking the state into two is a wonderful first step. But just looking at the proposed State Seal of the State of Liberty. I can see the Libertarians Liberals and the Left are going to have a problem with it. The three L’s only support “free speech”. As they define it.
      They have never supported the 1st amendment.
      Atheists will not support decentralization on Christian terms. Because when it comes down to it. Atheists are socialist progressive, in their political orientation.

      Are there atheist who actually support Liberty? Very few.

      I like the “State Rifle”!!!

      It seems someone was thinking about the accessories as well.

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