Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Open Carry?

Seems like today's theme will be 'civil liberties' whether national or local.

This article refers to a West Allis case of 'open carry.' You might think "Who CARES? West Allis? Open Carry? Bump on a log."

Except it might go through the Wisconsin court system and into the Federal Courts.

In brief:

According to multiple reports, on Aug 22, 2008, Krause was at home planting trees - with a holstered firearm on his side. That prompted a neighbor to call the police to ask if that was legal.

It wasn't, at least to the West Allis police. The department dispatched two squad cars to his residence and, after approaching him with their weapons drawn, ultimately arrested him for disorderly conduct, says Gene German, a gun-rights advocate who has followed the case closely.

Personally, I wouldn't perambulate through the yard with a 9mm strapped on, but hey...

The D.O. charge is typically applied in urban Wisconsin, if there IS a charge in the first place. So happens that under Wisconsin law, "open carry" is perfectly legal. But it is un-nerving, not only to neighbors, but to the Local Authorities. No surprise there.

According to Gene German, no matter who "wins" in W.A. MuniCourt, it will be appealed.

But there's more. This case could move to a 4th Amendment basis, and in that case, the West Allis city attorney may be on thin ice.

A while back, I mentioned the Georgia/Mead case.

In a case involving Zachary Nelson Mead, the court adopted a settlement in a case similar to Krause's, declaring that seizing a firearm for no reason except that it was openly carried violated the Fourth Amendment's protection again unreasonable search and seizure.

Mead filed a federal civil rights action after a Richmond County sheriff's deputy, Tadum Townsend, stopped him outside a Kroger grocery store as Mead was returning to his car from shopping, according to federal court records. Mead was carrying an exposed handgun in a holster on his belt.

You all know the drill on the 4th Amendment, right?

..As the [Federal] court noted in summarizing Mead's arguments, federal case law allows officers to conduct investigatory stops without a warrant only if "the officer has a reasonable, articulable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot." To make a showing that he or she in fact had reasonable suspicion, the court continued, "[t]he officer must be able to articulate more than an 'inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or hunch of criminal activity.'"

It is a stretch, to say the least, that 'a reasonable, articulable, suspcion of criminal activity is afoot' in applying D.O. ordinances to open-carry in one's own yard. It is less a stretch to think about using the D.O. ordinance for open-carry in a shopping center; on the other hand, lacking any "articulable suspicion" of criminal activity, (other than "he's a pain in the ass,") it would seem that Wisconsin law (and the Georgia precedent) will give the West Allis city attorney fits.

This could be fun to watch.

HT: FoxPolitics

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