Saturday, June 7, 2008

ignorance of the law is no excuse

Found a neat article about open carry. There are several good issues here, not least of which is the list of inaccuracies shown by the corrections posted with it. Read the whole thing, not just the little tidbit I picked out.

“But there are times when the response is more severe. Deveraux has been stopped several times by police, most memorably in December when he was walking around his neighborhood.

An officer pulled up and pointed his gun at Deveraux, warning he would shoot to kill. In the end, eight officers arrived, cuffed Deveraux and took his gun before Deveraux convinced them they had no legal reason to detain him.”


First let’s state prior to this discussion I applaud the police for responding with alacrity and in this case erring on the side of caution and safety. I’m sure they are doing a difficult job as well as they can.

Second the above incident is not the main subject of the article and as such not many details are provided.

That said I’ll go into some other aspects of the incident. The first issue that leaps to my mind is ignorance of the law.

Detained, threatened at gunpoint, surrounded, cuffed, and his property seized by the police for the crime of walking around his neighborhood. All because the police received a complaint by someone (I don’t for an instant believe the police just ‘happened by’ in a residential neighborhood without someone calling them) and didn’t bother to check out the legalities of the local open carry law. We’ll gloss over the fact that at least 8 officers didn’t already know the local open carry law prior to the incident.

I’m pretty sure I could find a few other articles involving law abiding citizens being accosted at gunpoint and forced to surrender their possessions in disregard for the law. I won’t bother, the Google search would have more results than I care to sort through.

Has anyone ever been stopped by a police officer inquiring as to what you’re doing? Of course you have. Has anyone ever been informed by a police officer of a violation of some facet of the local ‘thou shalt not do that in this town?’ Of course you have. Has anyone ever tried to use the ‘I’m sorry officer, I didn’t know there was a law against that’ defense argument? Of course you have. Did it work? Of course not, and it shouldn’t. We as citizens have a responsibility to know the law. (Ok ok, granted, the law has become so horribly complicated no one can ‘know’ it. That’s another topic for another day.) I don’t think using the ‘sorry sir, we didn’t know that was legal’ argument is any better.

Hmm. Cuffing pedestrians who might be breaking the law and THEN looking up the law. Neat-o. I wonder where that sort of trend will take us. Perhaps the police will be stopping everyone and demanding their papers next. LawDog, David & PawPaw all said it better than I can.

Sad, considering all the citizens who gave their lives in WWII to rescue the world from this sort of behavior.

Quite frankly folks, I don't know how I would react if I were confronted with a situation where the gov'mint or one of its reps, through their own ignorance, was demanding the surrender of my sidearm. Here's a related link if anyone is interested in raising the awareness of the local PD to avoid unnecessary confrontation Open Carry Forum. I was planning to look into it a bit deeper but my blood sugar is high and I'm losing focus so that's all you get for now.

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