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Federal judge: Police cannot detain citizen for openly carrying a gun

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by Little-Acorn, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. Little-Acorn

    Little-Acorn Well-Known Member

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    Little by little, common sense (and even obedience to the Constitution) are slowly creeping back into the area of American citizens' right to keep and bear arms.

    -----------------------------------------------

    http://www.examiner.com/x-2782-DC-G...arrying-guns?cid=exrss-DC-Gun-Rights-Examiner

    Federal judge rules police cannot detain people for openly carrying guns

    September 9, 10:16
    PMDC Gun Rights Examiner
    Mike Stollenwerk

    On September 8, 2009, United States District Judge Bruce D. Black of the United States District Court for New Mexico entered summary judgment in a civil case for damages against Alamogordo, NM police officers. The Judge's straight shootin' message to police: Leave open carriers alone unless you have "reason to believe that a crime [is] afoot."

    The facts of the case are pretty simple. Matthew St. John entered an Alamogordo movie theater as a paying customer and sat down to enjoy the movie. He was openly carrying a holstered handgun, conduct which is legal in 42 states, and requires no license in New Mexico and twenty-five other states. Learn more here.

    In response to a call from theater manager Robert Zigmond, the police entered the movie theater, physically seized Mr. St. John from his seat, took him outside, disarmed him, searched him, obtained personally identifiable information from his wallet, and only allowed him to re-enter the theater after St. John agreed to secure his gun in his vehicle. Mr. St. John was never suspected of any crime nor issued a summons for violating any law.

    Importantly, no theater employee ever ordered Mr. St. John to leave. The police apparently simply decided to act as agents of the movie theater to enforce a private rule of conduct and not to enforce any rule of law.

    On these facts, Judge Black concluded as a matter of law that the police violated Matthew St. John's constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment because they seized and disarmed him even though there was not "any reason to believe that a crime was afoot." Judge Black's opinion is consistent with numerous high state and federal appellate courts, e.g., the United States Supreme Court in Florida v. J.L. (2000) (detaining man on mere report that he has a gun violates the Fourth Amendment) and the Washington Appeals Court in State v. Casad (2004) (detaining man observed by police as openly carrying rifles on a public street violates the Fourth Amendment).

    Mr. St. John's attorney, Miguel Garcia, of Alamogordo, NM was pleased with the ruling and look forward to the next phase of the litigation which is a jury trial to establish the amount of damages, and possibly punitive damages. Garcia said that

    "t was great to see the Court carefully consider the issues presented by both sides and conclude that the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from detaining and searching individuals solely for exercising their rights to possess a firearm as guaranteed by our state and federal constitutions."

    Notably, Judge Black denied the police officers' requested "qualified immunity," a judicially created doctrine allowing government officials acting in good faith to avoid liability for violating the law where the law was not "clearly established." In this case, Judge Black concluded that

    "[r]elying on well-defined Supreme Court precedent, the Tenth Circuit and its sister courts have consistently held that officers may not seize or search an individual without a specific, legitimate reason. . . . The applicable law was equally clear in this case. Nothing in New Mexico law prohibited Mr. St. John from openly carrying a firearm in the Theater. Accordingly, Mr. St. John's motion for summary judgment is granted with regard to his Fourth Amendment and New Mexico constitutional claims. Defendants' motion for summary judgment is denied with regard to the same and with regard to qualified immunity."

    Judge Black's opinion and order is welcome news for the growing number of open carriers across the United States. Though police harassment of open carriers is rare, it's not yet as rare as it should be - over the last several years open carriers detained without cause by police have sued and obtained cash settlements in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Virginia (see additional settlement here), and Georgia. More cases are still pending in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

    Judge Black's opinion and order can be read here: http://opencarry.mywowbb.com/attachment.php?id=7856 .
     
  2. Mr. Shaman

    Mr. Shaman New Member

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    Ah, yes.....the "conservative-utopia"!!!!

    [​IMG]
     
  3. dahermit

    dahermit New Member

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  4. pocketfullofshells

    pocketfullofshells Well-Known Member

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    correct ruling, and the guy is still a retard...do you realy need a gun on you in the open to watch a movie? YOu know the car was a good place to keep it in the first place....unless there is some massive movie theater violant crime wave I missed....its not needed.

    you cant say you can have guns, but ban conealed guns....and ones in the open...
     
  5. dahermit

    dahermit New Member

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    Correct ruling indeed. If it is not against the law, than a person should not be confronted about it by the police. At best, the guy was just trying to make the point that it is not against the law where he is to open carry. At worst, the guy likes having people notice him. Nevertheless, whether or not a person "needs" a gun in a movie theater is a moot point.

    I do have a CCW permit and do always carry. However, I would not feel comfortable with open carry inasmuch as it announces that you are armed and that gives away an advantage if there would be a life threating situation.
     
  6. Little-Acorn

    Little-Acorn Well-Known Member

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    Sham-man is the board's token fly-in-the-face. He pops out strange posts when he sees something he doesn't like but can't refute, with little or no relevance to the thread subject, but nearly always denigrating to either Republicans or Conservatives.

    Ignore him and he'll go away.

    Please.
     
  7. Little-Acorn

    Little-Acorn Well-Known Member

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    Of course.

    The constant litany of "But people don't NEED a gun during this activity or that event" is just part of the leftists' constant attempt to push the idea that someone other than the gun owner, should decide for him when he is allowed to carry.
     
  8. dahermit

    dahermit New Member

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    Just be aware that all "leftists" (I am one), Liberals, and Democrats are not anti-gun. For instance, John Dingel Rep (D) Michigan is one. However, they are few and far between.
     
  9. Andy

    Andy Well-Known Member

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    Doesn't matter. The right of the people to carry protection deters crime. And around here, we do have crime problems at theaters.
     
  10. pocketfullofshells

    pocketfullofshells Well-Known Member

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    what do you want? I said I agreed with the ruling...not enough I think he has the right, I have to think it was a smart idea as well?
     
  11. samsara15

    samsara15 Member

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    I am awaiting the reactions to the first shootouts that occur.
     
  12. Little-Acorn

    Little-Acorn Well-Known Member

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    Gun-rights-haters have been waiting for those "shootouts" between law-abiding gun owners for decades now. They still haven't occurred.

    That doesn't keep the haters from predicting imminent bloodbaths anyway.
     
  13. AgainstTheMachine

    AgainstTheMachine Member

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    in the state of North Carolina I went threw a police check point with a Glock 21 (.45 cal) on the passenger seat ... and they never said a word.
    Only one county in this state prohibits open carry of fire arms

    They can't stop carry with a CCP though ... but if you are a legal law abiding citizen here you can LEGALLY walk the streets with a pistol on your belt!
     
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