Friday, August 21, 2009

Madison cops target open carrier

From the ultra-liberal (in the modern and pejorative sense of that word) city of Madison, Wisconsin, on the harassment of an open-carrier (formatting omitted below):
... The Madison Wisconsin Police Department appears to be one such agency that just doesn’t “get it.” On Saturday, August 8th, Madison police received a call from a “concerned citizen” who reported a “man walking … with a holstered gun on his hip.”

Police responded to find 28 year-old UW-Madison graduate student Travis F. Yates legally and peacefully wearing a properly holstered sidearm. After Yates stated that he was wearing the sidearm as a political statement in support of the open carry and self defense rights recently documented in an advisory opinion by Wisconsin Attorney General Van Hollen, Yates was informed that he was being cited for disorderly conduct because “his actions disturbed other citizens.”

Never mind the fact that this is EXACTLY the type of open carry that Attorney General Van Hollen stated was constitutionally protected and NOT grounds for a disorderly conduct charge.

In his advisory opinion, he stated "The state constitutional right to bear arms extends to openly carrying a handgun for lawful purposes [and t]he Wisconsin Department of Justice believes that the mere open carrying of a firearm by a person, absent additional facts and circumstances, should not result in a disorderly conduct charge from a prosecutor."

Attorney General Van Hollen went on to provide strong guidance to law enforcement as to what additional facts and circumstances would need to be present to justify a disorderly conduct charge against an open carrier. He stated that the totality of the circumstance would need to be such that the actions of the open carrier were "likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest."

Attorney General Van Hollen has done an excellent job of summarizing just how disruptive a person’s behavior needs to be before the public good outweighs the significant interest of a constitutional right. Applied to this incident, the test shows that the Madison Police Department clearly over-stepped their bounds. In fact, given the recent release and significant media coverage of the Van Hollen opinion, this arrest seems to be a willful act of defiance. I expect that should Mr Yates choose to pursue a federal civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, this will be an argument raised by his counsel. ...

Article and more details here. Given that Wisconsin is one of the only two states that prohibit any form of lawful concealed carry, the man was merely using his only legal option for exercising his right to bear arms in the Badger State. Let's hope a lawsuit, punitive damages and a permanent injunction against the Madison Police Department will alleviate this sort of jackbooted behavior.

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