Expect more confrontations like this one last month in Kalamazoo, Michigan between police and open carry advocates exercising their Second Amendment rights all over the place.
Police reports and recordings of a sometimes tense 40-minute encounter with a belligerent, rifle-toting man offers insight into how officers tried to diffuse a volatile situation without infringing on his right to openly the gun on a city street.
On May 4, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officers responded to multiple reports of a man, possibly intoxicated, carrying a rifle along East Cork Street in the city's Milwood neighborhood. Joseph Houseman, 63, was eventually persuaded to hand over the gun, which was returned to him the next day. Police considered but ultimately decided against seeking a misdemeanor charge of brandishing a firearm.
It is legal to openly carry a gun in Michigan but illegal to brandish one, which KDPS Assistant Chief Donald Webster described as essentially “waving or displaying the firearm in a threatening manner.”
Police reports and recordings from dash-mounted cameras in patrol cars and body microphones on officers, obtained by the Kalamazoo Gazette through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, reveal how officers deliberated over how to enforce the law and protect public safety while respecting the man’s right to bear arms.
So police spent 40 minutes arguing open carry laws with a guy with a rifle walking down the street, which thanks to the NRA it's okay to do. Still had three people call he cops on him, and he decided to screw with the cops. The fellow with the rifle, Joe Houseman, makes a nuisance of himself long enough for a police lieutenant, Stacey Geik, to get involved:
Geik tells Houseman he can have his gun back if he submits to a breathalyzer test. He declines. Geik says his hostile behavior and 911 calls suggest he may be intoxicated, and therefore may not be legally allowed to carry a firearm.
In Michigan, a person openly carrying a firearm can be charged with being in possession of a firearm while intoxicated if found to have a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more or if they appear to be visibly impaired. A person licensed to carry a concealed weapon can have a weapon confiscated and potentially lose their license if they have a BAC of .02 or higher.
Geik later notes in his report that Houseman was found to be a CCW license holder, but that didn't factor in to this encounter.
Geik offers to allow Houseman to walk home and retrieve his rifle the following day, or to drive him home and continue the discussion there. Houseman declines both offers.
The conversation included this:
Geik: But you're not stable mentally, which now takes you away from that rifle.
Houseman: I'm not stable mentally? How do you decide that?
Geik: You're damn right. How did this happen with open carry? What are you supposed to do when you contact law enforcement? Do you say, 'I hate you mother(expletive), (expletive) you? I hate you, there's a revolution coming.' Do you say that? Is that what you're taught?
Houseman: It was wrong of me.
So eventually Geik talks the guy down and Houseman gets his rifle back the next day. But you can imagine why cops must loathe these open carry displays. Here we have a guy, possibly drunk, stomping around with a rifle near a public business, being a jackass. The law says he can do it, but would you want this guy around you? Is that even remotely safe?
Oh, last thing, Houseman is a white guy. Can you imagine a black man or a brown guy in a turban with a rifle walking around screaming how he hated cops and that there was a revolution coming? They wouldn't be able to put bullets in him fast enough.
And the best part is we all get to look forward to this more and more.