Regular readers will know that I’m something of an open carry advocate. While I wouldn’t want to surrender the tactical advantage of concealed carry, I “get” the political statement. There’s no better way to “normalize” guns than the put one on your hip in plain view; that’s the best way to make personal defense weapons an acceptable part of America’s open society. You know; if that’s something you want to do. I also understand how open carry could ward off evil. But there’s a downside to the open carry movement (indeed to any movement): it attracts zealots. People who are confrontational, and forget to dot their i’s and cross their t’s. Here’s a perfect example . . .
Brookfield police said Thursday they were called to the church at 13001 W. North Ave. about 10:30 a.m. by a church staffer who said a woman was wearing a handgun in a hip holster. By the time three squad cars arrived, Sutterfield was driving away. She was stopped, and police found the loaded 9mm gun in a zipped case on the passenger seat.
Oops! Wisconsin law 941.23 re: carrying a concealed weapon: “Any person except a peace officer who goes armed with a concealed and dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.”
Now you CAN transport a legal gun in Wisconsin as long as it’s unloaded in a case designed for a firearm. If it’s in reach and it can’t be seen, it’s considered a concealed weapon. If it’s in a firearms case, out of reach, hidden and unloaded (e.g. under a blanket in the back seat), you’re good to go. Go figure.
So, while Ms. Sutterfield may want to be a poster girl for open carry, she ended-up as a candidate for TTAG’s Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day. Lucky for her, that slot was taken first thing this morning.
She was handcuffed, taken to the police station, processed and ticketed for having the loaded gun in her car – a state forfeiture citation, not a criminal offense. Sutterfield was then released.
She was not ticketed for openly carrying the weapon into the church, which did not have signs prohibiting firearms.
“We’ve referred the case to the district attorney,” Police Capt. Phil Horter said.
Sutterfield, 41, of Milwaukee, referred questions Thursday to her attorney, Rebecca Coffee, who said she couldn’t comment on her client’s intentions or actions Sunday.
This jsonline.com story includes a link to an interview with Mrs. Sutterfield: an open carry advocate who doesn’t want to reveal her face. Who left the site of her protest. Who acted alone. Who wouldn’t say anything about her cause after she’s arrested. See how that doesn’t work? But wait! There’s less!
Ms. Sutterfield isn’t even a member of the Unitarian Universalist church in question. Are we surprised when they were surprised to see a woman with a gun enter their spiritual (if not ballistic) sanctuary?
“I didn’t feel comfortable asking her why she was wearing the gun,” [Congregation president Caryl] Sewell said. “Truthfully, we found it very intimidating,” especially in light of the 2005 shootings at a church service at a Brookfield hotel that left eight people dead, and a 2008 shooting at a Unitarian church in Tennessee that killed two people.
Hmm. One wonders if reporter Bruce Vielmetti added that last bit. Funny he should mention it, though. That’s the same incident cited by Wisconsin Carry Inc.’s Prez when dismissing the suggestion that Ms. Butterfield screwed the pooch by openly carrying her Glock at an unfamiliar church.
“Churches are supposed to welcome everyone,” Nik Clark told TTAG. “We’ve had some tragedies in churches . . . The only crime that this woman committed was forgetting to unload her weapon. The cops had no reasonable suspicion to take her out of her car at gunpoint. We’re strongly considering taking legal action in this case.”