Open carry outrage in Wisconsin

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Don Buckbee, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. Don Buckbee

    Don Buckbee New Member

    May 25, 2004
    Grayling, MI
    'Open-carry' becoming central gun-rights issue ^ | 1/20/2009 | Richard Moore

    Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 7:28:52 PM by Ladysmith

    For most of this decade, the most contentious gun issue in Wisconsin has been that of concealed carry, or the legal sanction to carry a firearm in public in a hidden manner, either on the body or in close proximity.

    But this year that affair may take a backseat to a rapidly intensifying debate about the legality of open carry, or the act of publicly carrying a firearm in plain view.

    Ostensibly, Wisconsin is an open-carry state, meaning there is no law against a law-abiding citizen openly carrying a legal firearm. Theoretically, at least, one could strap on a holster and pistol and go buy groceries, or plant trees in one's own yard, whether or not such an action might be wise.

    Indeed, Wisconsin remains one of only two states in the nation not to allow some form of concealed carry, and one of the most-repeated arguments used by concealed-carry opponents is that it is not necessary because citizens can openly carry their guns.

    Then attorney general Jim Doyle used that precise argument before the state Supreme Court in Wisconsin v Hamdan, in which the state carved out a concealed weapon exemption for small business owners.

    As governor, Doyle reportedly reiterated his belief at a Lake Delton press conference, in which The Wisconsin Dells Events quoted him as saying, "If you want to carry a gun in Wisconsin, wear it on your hip."

    Then again, maybe not, if the attitudes of other state officials, not to mention more than a few police actions, are any indication.

    Doyle's proclamation notwithstanding, others in his administration take a wary view of wearing a gun openly on the hip, and their message is, if you do it, you're inviting trouble.

    For example, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hunter education administrator Timothy Lawhern wrote last year that openly carrying a gun would likely provoke an unsympathetic and severe response from law enforcement officers.

    "Note that the officer on the street doesn't expect to see firearms openly exposed," Lawhern wrote in the April 2008 issue of the Wisconsin Hunter Education newsletter. "In most cases when they do see a firearm, they draw theirs and tell the person 'Let me see your hands! Don't move!' In some cases they yell, 'Put the gun down,' or 'Drop the gun!'"

    Him or them?

    So whom should the public believe, the governor or his underlings?

    Those who are inclined to place faith in the governor's words and legal contentions might want to consider the case of West Allis resident Brad Krause, whose experience last summer while wearing his legal firearm on his own property eerily recalled Lawhern's stern admonition.

    According to multiple reports, on Aug 22, 2008, Krause was at home planting trees - with a holstered firearm on his side. That prompted a neighbor to call the police to ask if that was legal.

    It wasn't, at least to the West Allis police. The department dispatched two squad cars to his residence and, after approaching him with their weapons drawn, ultimately arrested him for disorderly conduct, says Gene German, a gun-rights advocate who has followed the case closely.

    "The police had him standing in handcuffs on his own property for 45 minutes with squad cars parked in front of his residence while they tried to figure out a way to arrest him," says German, who is the state director of the American Association of Certified Firearms Instructors and one of the founders of Wisconsin Patriots, a grassroots organization whose declared mission is to "encourage our fellow citizens to restore, exercise and preserve their individual rights, including the right to be safe."

    "They shortly discovered Brad had no criminal record and was lawfully openly carrying on his own property, but instead of releasing him and returning his weapon, they tried to figure out how to arrest him. A call to the supervising lieutenant provided the answer: claim his action of carrying a weapon is disorderly conduct, and haul him down to the station. His firearm was taken away from him without a receipt, and it has not been returned. The police have effectively banned his exercise of his right by disarming him."

    Log onto for rest of this story.
  2. The Rifleman

    The Rifleman Former Guest

    Feb 1, 2007
    There has to be a reason for all this madness.

    I smell a lawsuit. If the guy has any money, then he can sue the law enforcement department and get a bunch of money for false arrest. Then he can move out into the suburbs and carry his gun how ever he wants.

    Most local courts side with the law enforcement and when you get to the Supreme Court level, most people either drop the case or they settle out of court.

    I would say that if the neighbor has a problem with the other neighbor, that was why he felt that he had to wear a firearm while he planted a tree. Probably the other neighbor didn't want it there.

    Gun activists goes out of their way to find cases like this one to go against the government to make a federal case out of anything that law enforcement does that does not jive with their beliefs or feelings about your rights to own a bear arms.

  3. armedandsafe

    armedandsafe Guest

    Judge acquited him.

    I'd contribute to him for a lawsuit.

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 19, 2009
  4. noslolo

    noslolo New Member

    Oct 15, 2004
    Johnstown PA
    If I had any money...I mean if I had any extra money.... aw dam there is no money to send.
  5. GojuBrian

    GojuBrian Former Guest

    Jan 29, 2009
    I wonder if they gave him his gun back?
  6. ampaterry

    ampaterry *TFF Admin Staff Chaplain* Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2008
    West Tennessee
    This is truly outrageous.
    Having a gun in a holster, on his hip, while on his own property is absolutely his right, regardless of what the neighbor thinks, or how the police react.

    All the way, make the police pay, and the taxpayer outrage will cause a change in local government to prevent it happening again.
  7. Lammie

    Lammie New Member

    Jan 29, 2009
    Judge finds Krause not guilty in open carry tangle
    Constitution ‘trumps’ state law, municipal ordinances
    February 20, 2009

    Lakeland Times

    Richard Moore
    Investigative Reporter

    A municipal judge has found West Allis resident Brad Krause not guilty of disorderly conduct for openly carring a holstered firearm while planting trees in his yard, saying state law does not prohibit open carry and that state and local ordinances cannot trump the U.S. Constitution.

    Judge Paul Murphy also used his oral decision to chastise the state Legislature for not clarifying the legality of open carry - the carrying of legal firearms in plain public view - and he chided the state's attorney general for refusing to take a stand.

    West Allis police stormed Krause's property with their weapons drawn last August after a neighbor had called police and inquired about the legality of Krause's visible firearm. Officers subsequently charged him with disorderly conduct and confiscated the pistol.

    Police have still not returned the firearm.

    Speaking to reporters on the courthouse steps after the verdict, Krause said he was simply exercising his constitutional rights - an exercise he did not need to justify.

    "The state constitution applies border to border, so whether I'm in my yard or walking down the street, as long as it's not a place where it is prohibited by law to possess a weapon and I'm not a felon who is not allowed to possess a weapon, this is an infringement on human rights," Krause said. "The freedom of rights is one of the things that sets America apart from other countries and that is something we hold very dear to us."

    The issue isn't solely an open-carry dispute, Krause said.

    "The reason people are upset is because this is not just about guns, but about civil liberties," he said, acknowledging the almost 50 people who appeared at the courthouse to support him. "The police had no permission to enter my property. There were no exigent circumstances. But they entered my property and put my life at risk. My wife was worried she was going to be a widow because I was planting a tree."

    Gun rights advocates hailed the verdict but said the question of open carry was far from settled.

    "I actually hope the city will appeal because we need clarity on the issue," said Gene German, a founder of Wisconsin Patriots, a grassroots organization that promotes individual rights. "The question is, if Brad straps a gun on his hip tomorrow, what will the police do? Will we be here all over again?"

    There was no immediate word whether the city of West Allis planned an appeal.

    Tipping point

    Echoing German, Murphy underscored the limited reach of his decision - on that day in August, he concluded, Krause's conduct was not disorderly - but he nonetheless recognized the constitutional underpinnings of the case, and engaged in a broad discussion of their inherent complexities.

    "The constitution is an important matter in this case," Murphy said at the outset, citing the Second Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year upholding an individual's right to keep and bear arms.

    The gist of the case, he said, revolved around that latter right, and he quickly tipped his hand about the direction in which he was heading.

    "The Bill of Rights exists to protect people from government, and does not exist to sanction government to do certain things to people," he said.

    Within that constitutional framework, the judge began to dissect whether Krause's conduct was disorderly.

    In so doing, he observed that the neighbor had called to inquire about the legality of Krause's gun-carrying and that the police had responded to an incident involving a "proverbial man with a gun."

    "The neighbor testified (at an earlier hearing) that he was concerned about the gun going off," Murphy recounted. "But [the neighbor] said [Krause] was not causing a disturbance. [The neighbor] was concerned about the defendant's safety and about the legality. There were no children present. The court concluded that the neighbor wanted the police department to have a talk with the defendant and didn't think he would be arrested."

    Murphy also cited police testimony from the earlier hearing, in which officers conceded that Krause was not agitated.

    "Again, he was not doing anything but gardening on his property," the judge said. "He was a planting a tree, as I recall."

    The judge referred implicitly to the statutory and case-law standards for proving disorderly conduct. That conduct is defined as behavior that is violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly, and the state must prove that the defendant's conduct occurred under circumstances where such conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance.

    Clearly, Murphy said, Krause was not violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, or unreasonably loud.

    "So the issue is, was he 'otherwise disorderly,' under circumstances that would tend to cause a disruption?" Murphy said.

    Gun laws inadequate?

    To answer the question, the judge focused on the state's gun laws, noting there is no open-carry statute, only a prohibition on concealed carry. The state also has created specific exceptions to carrying firearms, such as in public buildings, he said.

    Interestingly, he observed, the statutes also prohibit the carrying of a handgun where alcoholic beverages may be sold or consumed.

    "It doesn't say anything about concealed or unconcealed, and other guns are apparently permitted," Murphy said. "It says 'handguns.' Presumably you could carry a shotgun or a rifle."

    Murphy characterized some restrictions as 'preposterous,' such as requiring licensed private security guards or private detectives to openly carry firearms in a state such as Wisconsin, where, he said, "people wear coats and jackets."

    Beyond statutory restrictions, Murphy pointed to various occasions on which people carry firearms openly and are not arrested or hampered by police.

    "Open carry is allowed in many places," he said. "In West Allis, for years, there was a parade (where people carried openly), and I don't recall anyone being arrested. On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, there are gun salutes fired by proud veterans who served us honorably. They have open weapons on public land. That's allowed and it should be."

    In addition, Murphy pointed to Civil War re-enactments by the West Allis Historical Society, events during which guns are carried and discharged.

    Murphy then cited state of Wisconsin v. Hamdan, in which the state Supreme Court carved out an exception allowing private employers to carry concealed weapons.

    Given actual practices and the lack of statutory clarity, Murphy suggested it might be time for the Legislature to act, and he cited the Hamdan decision, in which justice David Prosser encouraged the Legislature to do just that.

    "The approval of a state constitutional right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation, and any other lawful purpose will present a continuing dilemma for law enforcement until the legislature acts to clarify the law," Prosser wrote for the majority. "We urge the legislature to thoughtfully examine [the concealed carry statute] in the wake of the amendment and to consider the possibility of a licensing or permit system for persons who have a good reason to carry a concealed weapon. We happily concede that the legislature is better able than this court to determine public policy on firearms and other weapons."

    That decision was filed July 15, 2003, Murphy pointed out, and he said the Legislature had ignored the admonition.

    "From 2003 until now, to this court's knowledge, the Legislature has done nothing," the judge said. (In fact, the state Legislature has twice passed concealed carry legislation since 2003; Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed both versions).

    One easy solution, Murphy said, would be for the Legislature to simply add "unconcealed carry" to the concealed carry prohibition, and let the courts deal with its constitutionality.

    The judge also took a swipe at attorney general J.B. Van Hollen for not offering his own opinion on the legality of open carry.

    "The attorney general declined to weigh in, I read in the newspaper," Murphy said. "The attorney general could have taken a great step to clarify the issue, but, for reasons known only to him, he did not."

    The judge said the refusal of political officials to tackle the matter had put police departments in jeopardy.

    "The troubling aspect of this is, what impact does all this have on the police department and what are they supposed to do?" Murphy stated. "I don't know. The inaction of the Legislature has put the police department at risk no matter what they do because the Legislature has refused to clarify [this issue] despite the strident warning of justice Prosser."

    And so, the judge said, with no law dealing with open carry, or legal clarity on the question, "that is why we are here today."

    Comfort levels

    The lack of a statutory prohibition on open carry and existing open carry practices notwithstanding, the judge did consider one other way Krause might have been disorderly: Did his conduct rise to such an offensive level that it would likely lead to a disturbance?

    "In his testimony, [the neighbor] testified that he was concerned and disturbed," Murphy said. "He didn't like the idea of a gun in a holster across the street."

    Murphy said his court had held lengthy discussions before about offensive behavior, including the display of a Nazi flag.

    "To me that is one of the most abhorrent symbols of all, but in and of itself it is constitutionally protected," he said

    Murphy cited the U.S. Supreme Court's famous decision allowing a uniformed Nazi march in Skokie, Ill.

    "The march never did take place, but the Supreme Court allowed it, even though they found it was likely to provoke a disturbance," the judge said. "The conclusion is, the constitution has to trump over state law. You cannot restrict a constitutional right by virtue of an ordinance."

    Given the clear and direct facts of the case, Murphy concluded, the court "finds that the defendant's conduct was not 'otherwise disorderly' and finds the defendant not guilty."

    Despite the outcome, things are a long way from over.

    For one thing, Krause has filed a notice of claim against the city of West Allis, a necessary precursor to a potential civil suit. For another, the city itself might appeal.

    Even if they don't, the police still have Krause's gun, and Krause said after the verdict he thought they planned on keeping it for some time.

    "My understanding is, they will not be returning my gun," he said. "My only option is a civil suit, to sue them to get my property back."

    Indeed, Murphy said his court lacked the jurisdiction to order the gun's return, no matter the verdict. If the police don't voluntarily return the firearm, Krause must seek relief in circuit court.

    In other remarks, Krause said he had hoped things would never reach the point they did.

    "I had hoped that we could come to some agreement before we got to this stage," he said. "But that was not the city's position. They were going to take it as far as they could."

    He also echoed the judge's comments about Van Hollen.

    "This is a prime opportunity for the attorney general to clarify the issue, whether open carry is legal or it isn't, so other people are not put in the same position I was put in," he said.

    German said the case had focused attention on police competence.

    "This is first and foremost a training issue," he said. "The Department of Justice has guidelines on the use of lethal force and the police should follow them. We give these guys badges and stars and guns, but there's no adequate training."
  8. artabr

    artabr New Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    New Iberia, Louisiana
    Thanks for the update and welcome to the forum. :)

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