Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Open Carry Laws present challenges

We went to the local Verizon store this past weekend, a chance to upgrade my cell phone and take advantage of Father’s Day specials.  Lucy already had a Verizon account so by dropping my T-Mobile service and switching I’d get a new phone and save money to boot.  The store was fairly busy and we had to wait for a salesperson. 

I’d barely learned to use my old phone; what was I thinking as I tried to figure out the new technology, technology my kids and grandkids know all about. 

There was a uniformed Houston Police Officer working security so I introduced myself as a retired cop and exchanged pleasantries while waiting.  I asked him if there had been any special training for officers to deal with the new Open Carry Law which goes into effect at the first of the year and was a bit surprised when he said there had not.

The officer was a two year veteran; in other words he could still be considered a rookie… that coming from an old guy who retired from the department about the time this kid was born.  He wore the new dark blue uniform which I’m not a fan of it makes officers look less approachable, more militaristic; but that’s just my opinion. 

I mentioned my concern that the Department hadn’t provided additional training for street officers in dealing with the general public as the Open Carry Law went into effect.  The mindset of a street officer upon seeing a weapon has to be prepared for the worst while treating the situation with Kid gloves.   I can hardly wait, sarcasm button engaged, as future stories hit the Houston Chronicle, “Officer Shoots Citizen For No Reason Other Than He Saw A Legally Permitted Pistol”, or some such headline.

Here’s a movie clip from, Lethal Weapon, with Danny Glover playing the part of Roger Murtaugh, an ‘old head’ cop being assigned a new partner, Martin Riggs, a ‘burn out’ with possible mental issues played by Mel Gibson.  Their first meeting didn’t exactly go off well.  Riggs, waiting to meet his new partner, was sitting on the edge of a desk and took his pistol out to wipe it off, not really thinking that drawing a gun in a police station might cause unintended results.

Murtaugh, who’d been half way paying attention to the unknown suspicious looking individual, alerted those around him, “Gun!” 

Everyone in the office went into high alert mode as Murtaugh focused on the potential threat, went to take Riggs down; but Riggs being more efficient in take down methods had Murtaugh on the floor in a heartbeat.

“Hey Murtaugh, meet your new partner.”

Cops are in for a tough time as they have to re-train their minds and methods as pertain to a public which now will have Open Carry.   

Any police department that doesn’t have a plan, a policy with basic guidelines dealing with individuals walking about with weapons that are perfectly legal…that department is in deep doo-doo. 

There’s a story out of Gulf Port, Mississippi, which highlights one of the challenges; individuals who take Open Carry to extremes just to show they can.  Apparently these two…trying to decide what to call them; Bozos, Clowns, Ass Clowns (getting closer)…mind numbed jerks (getting warmer), future Darwin Award participants (Bingo!).

“According to authorities, the two men walked into the Walmart on Highway 49 around 8 p.m.  Witnesses said the man holding the shotgun was actively loading and racking the firearm.”


“Cox (police chief in Philadelphia, MS) said the new law does not allow someone to walk down the street with a gun in hand.  This is considered brandishing a weapon, which is still a crime, he said.”

Police officers are going to run up against all manner of folks who are legally carrying firearms; wouldn’t it be a good idea to offer training for both officers and the public on the best way to keep from starting a remake of Gunfight at the O.K. Corral?

What about the public’s perception of how police officers are going to treat average law abiding citizens who take advantage of their right to Open Carry?  This is all new territory and there’s plenty of room for miscommunication by citizens and/or police, trampling of perceived God given rights in the name of  making the public safer; the list is endless and full of opportunities to get someone killed.

One thing is sure; the courts will have plenty of happy lawyers filling their bank accounts while we’re sorting out the details one by one.

Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for everyone.  Open Carry was signed into law to protect an individual’s God given right to own and bear arms; it’s not a permit to act like a fool and scare your fellow citizens half to death.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

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