Friday, April 24, 2009

More on open carry in Wisconsin

More reaction to the Wisconsin Attorney General's open carry advisory memo (see my posts here and here), and Milwaukee police chief Ed "We'll put them on the ground" Flynn:

CCRKBA calls Flynn's remarks "outrageous":
BELLEVUE, WA – The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today criticized Milwaukee, WI Police Chief Ed Flynn for his open defiance of the State Attorney General’s office in a controversy over open carry of firearms.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has stated that it is legal in Wisconsin for citizens to carry guns openly in a peaceful manner. However, Chief Flynn is ordering his officers to “take down” citizens, “put them on the ground” and disarm them, and “then decide whether you have a right to carry it.”

The situation should alarm all Wisconsin citizens, whether they own guns or not, said CCRKBA Legislative Director Joe Waldron, because it places police officers and private citizens in a deliberately confrontational position. Also, he added, Flynn’s approach raises serious constitutional questions because of the state’s clearly defined “right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose” under Article I, Section 25 of the state constitution.

“Because Wisconsin does not allow concealed carry,” Waldron said, “the only way for citizens to exercise their constitutional right to keep and bear arms is to carry handguns openly. Chief Flynn should not assume he or his officers have the authority to decide who can and cannot exercise that right. His attitude is outrageous. ...

Milwaukee chief to officers: Ignore attorney general:
Milwaukee’s police chief said Tuesday he’ll go on telling his officers to take down anyone with a firearm despite Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s finding that people can carry guns openly if they do it peacefully.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said he’ll continue to tell officers they can’t assume people are carrying guns legally in a city that has seen nearly 200 homicides in the past two years.

"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," Flynn said. "Maybe I’ll end up with a protest of cowboys. In the meantime, I’ve got serious offenders with access to handguns. It’s irresponsible to send a message to them that if they just carry it openly no one can bother them."
"The idea of people ... openly carrying guns strikes me as somewhere between bonkers and totally ridiculous and stupid," said state Rep. Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee.

Van Hollen, a Republican, issued a memo Monday explaining how disorderly conduct overlaps with the constitutional right to bear arms. Van Hollen concluded citizens have a constitutional right to openly carry firearms, and disorderly conduct charges depend on the circumstances., a gun advocacy Web site, issued a statement saying the finding was "spot on." The Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association said the memo clearly finds people can bear arms in an orderly manner.
Flynn, Milwaukee’s police chief, said the opinion was clearly drafted in the safety of the Justice Department’s offices, not on Milwaukee’s streets.

"From an officer’s safety point of view and a public point of view," he said, "we’re not going to start with the assumption that someone displaying a handgun is doing it lawfully." [emphasis added]

Comment: Read the article for more anti-gun hand-wringing. Note that the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association came out in support of open carry by law-abiding citizens.

Police confront man carrying openly while he was being interviewed about open carry:
As WISN 12 News was interviewing a West Allis man about his past arrest for carrying a gun in the open, police confronted him again Tuesday night -- one day after the state's attorney general ruled it's legal.

"Somebody called the police that somebody was walking around with a gun on their hip," a West Allis police officer said.

"I would fit that description," Krause said.

"That would be you," a West Allis police officer said.

Police arrived up to investigate Krause while 12 News was interviewing him about his previous arrest for carrying a holstered gun on his hip outside his home. One officer saw Krause's gun and asked what agency he's affiliated with.

"I'm the same guy I was when you arrested me the last time," Krause said.

The officers asked for his name and called dispatch.

"The reason I'm checking is because felons can't have guns in Wisconsin," West Allis police said.

Krause is not a felon. He's a certified firearms instructor.
Milwaukee's police chief said he'll go on telling his officers to take down anyone with a firearm despite Van Hollen's finding that people can carry guns openly if they do it peacefully. [emphasis added]

Chief Ed Flynn said officers can't assume people are carrying guns legally in a city that has seen nearly 200 homicides in the past two years.

He said that means officers seeing anybody carrying a gun will put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide if the person has a right to carry it. ...

Columnist compares Wisconsin situation to that of Ohio before Ohio's concealed carry law passed:
Yesterday, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued a memo stating "that openly wearing a holstered gun is not grounds for a disorderly conduct charge." The result of this ruling is that open carry is confirmed to be legal in Wisconsin, while concealed carry remains prohibited.

This is similar to the path Ohio took before our concealed carry law was passed in 2004. Instead of an attorney general ruling, here it was the Ohio Supreme Court case Klein v Leis that set the precedent.

In the Klein case, Chuck Klein filed suit against the State of Ohio alleging that the then ban on concealed carry was unconstitutional. Ohio's Constitution guarantees that “The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security” (Article I, Section 4).

The OSC ruled that the total ban on carrying concealed firearms was not unconstitutional because there was another option for exercising the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. The minority opinion clarified that this confirmed that open carry is legal in Ohio.

Soon after, grassroots activists in Ohio held a series of Open Carry Self-Defense Walks to demonstrate in favor of concealed carry reform, culminating in Walks held at the Ohio Statehouse and in front of the Governor's mansion. These Walks were widely credited with playing a significant role in ending Ohio's 145 year ban on carrying concealed firearms. [emphasis added]
Also like Ohio, Wisconsin law enforcement has to make adjustments. They can no longer consider everyone a bad guy just because they're carrying a firearm.
Racine County Sheriff Bob Carlson said from now on, if a caller reports someone with a gun, dispatchers will be instructed to ask other questions such as: Is the person agitated, quarreling, or in a place posted against guns? And so on.

“I want to avoid any kind of visceral leap toward making an arrest purely on the basis of carrying a firearm,” Carlson said. [emphasis added]

Comment: Will Wisconsin gun owners follow Ohio's example of using open carry walks to lobby for concealed carry? Note also that Wisconsin Sheriff Bob Carlson has a much more rational and reasonable approach to "man with a gun" calls than Milwaukee police chief Ed "We'll put them on the ground" Flynn.

1 comment:

New World Observer said...

Earth to Chief Flynn: See you in court, and bring your wallet - the words that came from your BIG mouth will come back to haunt you!