Apparently it’s difficult for some people, including those in law enforcement, to accept the fact that the open carry of firearms is legal in Michigan. This leads to civil rights suits against police departments, editorial boards looking like they’ve spent the past 3/4 of their life living under a rock, and a citizenry of sheep. Read on…
On 3 March 2013, a woman leaving church called into the Grand Rapids Police Department to report a man walking down the sidewalk with a holstered firearm. The dispatcher explained to the caller that the open carry of a holstered firearm was legal in the State of Michigan. Despite this, the dispatcher called out for a unit to investigate a suspicious person. The call and the dispatch can be heard here.
That man, Johann Deffert, was subsequently the victim of an illegal felony stop. Upon his arrival, Officer Moe immediately exited his vehicle, drew his weapon on Mr. Deffert, and ordered him to the ground. Mr. Deffert was detained for approximately 10-15 minutes before being released without being arrested for a crime. He’s subsequently retained counsel and has filed suit against the GRPD, the Chief of GRPD, and the three officers involved.
Representing Mr. Deffert is Steve Dulan, a board member for the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners, as well as an adjunct professor at Cooley. Mr. Dulan has represented a similar case that arose from a situation in Grand Haven where an open carrier was detained at the Coast Guard Festival.
The Deffert case is being tracked over at the Michigan Open Carry forum. The first post is an updating list of documents and articles concerning the case. I would *highly* advise watching the unedited dash cam footage – it’s quite damming.
In Michigan, it’s legal to openly carry a holstered pistol or a slung long arm. Additionally, local municipalities are prohibited from enacting their own firearms restrictions as a result of MCL 123.1102. In fact, our favorite former governor Jennifer Granholm, issued an opinion when she was the AG stating that open carry is legal. That’s not stopping people from being stupid about it though.
Law enforcement will cost you, the taxpayer, for their negligence on this matter
One of the most shining examples of this is described above: Three GRPD
thugs officers, acting under the color of law, detaining someone for merely openly carrying a firearm.
As a quick refresher, Terry v. Ohio essentially states that an individual can be stopped and frisked by police, but only so long as there is articulable reasonable suspicion (a lower standard than probable cause, but higher than a mere hunch) that a crime has been, is being, or is going to be committed by the individual. Watch the dashcam video and listen to the dispatch recording. There is NOTHING that would meet this requirement for Terry, much less a full on felony stop.
Oh yeah, did I mention you should watch the video? I’ll give you a teaser: You get to see Officer Moe pointing his weapon at the driver of a passing vehicle!
Despite the city attorney’s office backing the stop as legitimate, the evidence looks damming for the defendants. At a minimum, this will probably result in a settlement. Of course, the individuals responsible won’t be the ones paying, either.
Media malcontents really don’t care about the facts or logic
Another example of people having issues comprehending this is the mLive editorial board. While the reporting done by John Agar (see the MOC forum post for links to his articles) seems to have been pretty neutral, the editorial was not (Mr. Agar was not part of the board). Sure, it’s an editorial piece, so it’s expected to have a slant. However, the issue is that they make factually questionable assertions that don’t have logic supporting it.
The mLive editorial in question claims that Mr. Deffert’s advocacy actions were not responsible. Let’s take a look at some quality thoughts from the editorial linked above:
It’s time to pair ‘open carry’ gun rights with responsibility. That was lacking when advocate Johann Deffert challenged police after residents spotted him with a holstered gun near a church (watch video of the encounter above).
Can someone explain to me how calling out to the cops that what they are doing is illegal is irresponsible? Oh, wait, it’s not.
Deffert and other advocates are exploiting a legal gray area, wherein open carry is neither prohibited nor explicitly allowed for in Michigan. State police and others have issued memos noting open carry is legal because no law exists barring the practice.
If law does not prohibit an action, that action is legal. I don’t know how they come up with this “gray area” idea, but it’s wrong. Worse yet, Tom Lambert, one of the board members for Michigan Open Carry (as well as a fellow geek and someone I talk to on damn near a daily basis) even tried explaining that to them, yet no retraction was made. Frilliant.
If there is a point to make about gun rights, open carry advocates need to make it in a way that doesn’t alarm the general public or make police officers’ jobs more difficult.
As is commonly heard around the office here: lulzwut?
So essentially what they’re saying is that open carry advocates need to advocate for open carry…. without open carrying. Clearly, the stupid is strong with these people.
The public jumps in on the stupid train as well
If you look at any of the comment threads for the mLive articles covering this case, you’ll be affronted by a mass amount of people who can’t (or choose not to) understand logic or facts. Even worse are the proclaimed supporters of the 2nd Amendment who claim that Deffert wasn’t acting responsibly – despite the factual and logical counterpoints presented in refute.
“We don’t know what he might do with that gun! He might be in possession illegaly! Better to check him out!” they proclaim. Well, if we follow that logic, maybe I should call the police on every police officer I don’t recognize. After all, who’s to say he’s actually an officer, and not someone that isn’t up to any good? Impersonating cops certainly happens, and it must be prevented!
Getting all bent over a legal activity, one that abrogates the rights of NO ONE, is sad. The fact that rights are being abrogated because of these views is even worse.
Oh yeah, and if people are going to get uppity about one guy openly carrying, just wait til they see a bunch of us openly carrying.