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Courts Say LEOs Can Confront Open-carry Advocates

June 11, 2015  | 

When a man armed with a loaded assault pistol strapped to his leg, dressed in camouflage, and singing to himself began walking in front of a Grand Rapids, Mich., church one snowy Sunday morning in March 2014, an alarmed churchgoer called 911. When police arrived, they took the man's gun, and briefly handcuffed him while they questioned him. The man, Johann Deffert, an "open carry" gun advocate, then sued police saying they had violated his constitutional rights, reports the Detroit Free Press.

A federal judge disagreed.

In a decision released last week, U.S. District Judge Janet Neff tossed Deffert's lawsuit, saying the police officer "was justified in following up on the 911 call and using swift action to determine whether plaintiff's behavior gave rise to a need to protect or preserve life ... in the neighborhood."

Neff's decision comes as police agencies around Michigan are grappling with increasingly contentious clashes with gun advocates who are showing up at places like churches, schools and government complexes armed with assault rifles and handguns, part of their campaign to educate residents on gun laws, and desensitize the public to the sight of guns.

Michigan's controversial "open carry" laws allow people with concealed carry permits to take guns into so-called pistol-free zones, such as schools, as long as the weapon is visible. There is no state law regulating open carrying of weapons in other areas as long as the weapon is in plain view, according to Michigan State Police.

Now courts are weighing in, and state lawmakers are reviewing the laws.

Comments (6)

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

David @ 6/11/2015 7:24 PM

Idiots like these open carry "advocates" will cause them to lose the open carry. Open carry of a long gun in public looks scary and police HAVE to check it out. Get a permit and carry concealed. You will be legal and you want scare anyone who does have a right to be scared when they don't who people are with guns. Just common sense. I support right to carry and I am a Police Officer.

Jon Retired LEO @ 6/11/2015 8:02 PM

I realize that there has been a lot of discussion about open carry lately. Myself, I prefer concealed carry for the advantage of surprise should that terrible moment arrive.

jack waddell @ 6/11/2015 8:31 PM

Idiots like this make it hard on everybody.

Samuel A. Grim @ 6/12/2015 11:48 PM

Weird that this case was dismissed since the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled in May (Northrup vs Toledo Police Dept) that OC was not RAS to stop and hold someone.

David B @ 6/16/2015 1:50 PM

What's an "assault pistol?" Why not list make, model and caliber instead of a descriptor that does not have a clear meaning.

OK @ 8/8/2015 7:32 AM

While I am a full supporter of the Second Ammendment, I think if people are going to open carry they should expect to be stopped and questioned.

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