A recent ruling from the U.S. District Court of Michigan declared it’s not a violation of one’s constitutional rights for law enforcement officers to stop individuals openly carrying a firearm.
The decision resulted from a lawsuit filed by Johann Deffert, who claimed he was illegally stopped by police on a cold winter day in Grand Rapids in 2013. Deffert said he was falsely detained simply because he was carrying openly, but Michigan courts said differently.
The argument is age-old and can be easily tied into the right to bear arms. Most Second Amendment advocates read the Constitution as permitting Americans to not only own firearms, but carry them, because, well, that’s exactly what it says.
However, many state laws require open carriers to adhere to certain guidelines, like keeping a dry weapon holstered in plain view.
This difference in law and perspective led Officer William Moe to detain Deffert. The reason for the stop? To determine if he was of mentally sound mind. After being schooled by Deffert on Michigan’s open carry laws, the officer let him go.
Robert Stevenson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. openly denounced open carry in the state, arguing that those who want to exercise their freedoms are only doing so in an attempt to get attention and are “needlessly harming people.”
“It puts the police in a position where we don’t know what their intent is, so they’re going to approach this person, not realizing that the intent is to hurt somebody,” said Stevenson. “It’s a terrible situation what these people are doing, somebody is going to get hurt.”
Of course, if the ridiculously strict “good cause” criteria needed to attain a concealed carry handgun permit was loosened, most of these encounters would be avoided in the first place.
(This article was as submission from freelance writer Brent Rogers)