Your Legal Rights

Editor's Shot with Gun Digest Editor Kevin Michalowski

Here are a few words strung together that might mean something to gun owners: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Most of us will immediately recognize that at the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These might be the most hotly debated 27 words in the United States.
But our system of checks and balances allows that the legislative branch makes the laws, the executive branch enforces the laws and the judicial branch interprets the laws. Welcome to 7th Grade civics.

So, what judges say has great power. It is the judiciary that defines our rights.

Recently, in Wisconsin, a U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman handed down a ruling in a lawsuit filed by man arrested twice for practicing open carry in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is, as you know, one of only two states that forbids concealed carry and does not issue permits. So much for the state motto: Forward.

The law suit claimed a civil rights violation and challenged the common practice of police arresting people who openly carry holstered guns in public. The plaintiff was arrested on disorderly conduct charges in West Milwaukee in 2008 and in Chilton in April 2009. The prosecutor declined to bring charges in both cases.

Yes, it is true the man was later charged in the shooting death of one man and the wounding of another. But that isn’t the point here. The point is this. In dismissing the man’s civil right law suit, Adelman wrote the following:

 No reasonable person would dispute that walking into a retail store openly carrying a firearm is highly disruptive conduct which is virtually certain to create a disturbance.

This is so because when employees and shoppers in retail stores see a person carrying a lethal weapon, they are likely to be frightened and possibly even panicky.

Many employees and shoppers are likely to think that the person with the gun is either deranged or about to commit a felony or both.

Further, it is almost certain that someone will call the police. And when police respond to a ‘man with a gun’ call, they have no idea what the armed individual’s intentions are. The volatility inherent in such a situation could easily lead to someone being seriously injured or killed.

In effect Adelman says that merely exercising your Second Amendment rights is enough to cause panic.

I am a reasonable person and I dispute that the mere presence of a holstered firearm should make anyone fearful. If the man is not brandishing the gun, acting in an agitated manner or making verbal threats, people should not be afraid of the gun! End of story.

But then he goes on to say gun owners are deranged.

A U.S. District Court Judge says if you exercise your Constitutional right to walk about smiling and happy carrying a gun, it is okay for reasonable people to think you are deranged.

I am not deranged for wanting to protect myself from those who would prey on me and my family!

Should we call the cops everytime we see a man walking to his car with a 12-pack of beer? THAT guy is certainly ready to commit a crime.
Vote only for pro-gun candidates. We must stop this madness.

Good Shooting,

This editorial appeared in the July 5, 2010 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.