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Police harassment over open carry in VT

Discussion in 'Legal' started by AntiqueCollector, Jun 3, 2008.

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  1. AntiqueCollector

    AntiqueCollector Member

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    I wrote about my little encounter today with the Rutland City police in my new blog:

    http://arctichomesteader.blogspot.com/

    Pertinent part: "Well, my first post. Okay, so why did I finally start a blog after thinking about it in the past but never getting around to it? Today's experience. See, I plan on "homesteading" in Alaska, but for several reasons, haven't moved yet to my 20 acres. So I'm stuck in Vermont currently.

    Vermont has some of the best (most free) gun laws in the U.S. (Alaska is perhaps better). Open carry, concealed carry, it's all legal, no license needed. The police aren't supposed to hassle anyone for doing so, either. But some cities insist on bothering people. Burlington, Rutland...but today I'll talk about my experience open carrying in Rutland City today.

    It's far from my first time open carrying, but today, I was stopped by the police for doing so. Apparently someone supposedly called in a complaint about a "man with a gun" (perhaps it never happened but was an excuse, or perhaps it was some flatlander from NJ or MA or such who forgets this is VT) so these two city police officers stop me while I was walking to my garden (several blocks away from home) and begin questioning me on why I'm carrying it, am I a felon, etc.

    At some point another officer pulled up. They demanded I hand it over so they could run the serial number to see if it was stolen. So before they leave, realizing they could legally do nothing to me, this one officer decides to lecture me against carrying my gun visibly--claiming I must be after attention or something (which I'm not, it's merely pointless to try to conceal a decent sized revolver while wearing light clothing, and I'm not carrying a mouse gun or wearing heavier clothing all summer to suit some anti). He also tried to scare me, by saying if I even step foot on school grounds, I'd go to jail (which I have no intention of doing, but clearly, he wanted to make me uncomfortable).

    He said there used to be a city ordinance against carrying, to which I responded that yes, the courts threw it out as being illegal. Furthermore, and the worst statement, he said if I continued carrying I'll be getting stopped frequently, to which I responded harassment will result in a lawsuit. He said, "is it worth it?"

    Rutland seems to have a history of this harassment of those who wish to exercise their rights. In 1903, the VT Supreme Court threw out a city ordinance forbidding the carrying of weapons without getting "permission" and in the mid 1990's, the city again had such an ordinance, which was removed to avoid a lawsuit. I will not be intimidated into giving up my rights, however."



    So, Rutland City is at it again against lawful carrying of firearms...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2008
  2. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Here in Southern California I believe the official police policy is to shoot anyone openly carrying.

    And I'm not entirely joking.

    So while I can appreciate your plight on a cerebral level, I still can't work up a whole lot of sympathy for you. ;)
     
  3. Grandpa Shooter

    Grandpa Shooter Member

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    My family is from the NY and Vermont borders in the Rutland area. I live out west and have since 1981. I went back there in February of 2007 and could not believe what the political climate was.

    Sure glad I live out in the Wild West.
     
  4. AntiqueCollector

    AntiqueCollector Member

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    Rutland is VT's sewer, IMHO, when it comes to politics (and crime too). I can't wait till I'm in Alaska for good, but I won't let them step on my rights for the next year or less I'm here...
     
  5. Wheeler44

    Wheeler44 Member

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    Ya better check into that "homesteading" plan a little more
     
  6. AntiqueCollector

    AntiqueCollector Member

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    What do you mean?
     
  7. armedandsafe

    armedandsafe Member

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    This is probably what he is referring to:

    I suspect you are referring to this:

    Pops
     
  8. bensdad

    bensdad Member

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    I wonder if they stopped the next guy on the street to see if his watch was stolen. I wonder if they pulled over a few cars just to see if they were stolen.
     
  9. AntiqueCollector

    AntiqueCollector Member

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    Maybe. I meant the more popular meaning now--growing one's own food/being self-sufficient as much as possible, etc. I did buy my land from the state DNR, but it's not the same as the old homesteading program (they have that option still but aren't offering anything for homesteading currently and probably won't again), it's just buying land like anywhere else except you get a nice looking land patent for it instead of a more common deed when it's all paid off...and I didn't need to worry about a loan for financing...

    But not to stray off topic on my own thread. It's interesting, and disturbing, that despite multiple court decisions against infringing on this right, state laws against cities/towns restricting in any way the carrying of firearms, and a pretty clear state constitution, certain cities insist on causing trouble...repeatedly.
     
  10. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    Everyone that carries a firearm, open or concealed, needs to KNOW the rules of a Terry stop.
     
  11. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    I'd say that so-called "law enforcement agency" needs a law suit to bring its nose out of the air.
     
  12. willbrink

    willbrink Member

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    "So, Rutland City is at it again against lawful carrying of firearms..."

    I would write the chief and complain, and perhaps the local paper. You want paper trail if they decide to target you for harassment. The LEO you spoke to seems to have admitted the potential of such with his comment about it being "worth it." At least that's how I would have taken it. As more people from places like MA, NY, etc move to VT, they bring with them their fear of guns, and their belief their views should alter VT laws and culture. Good luck.
     
  13. AntiqueCollector

    AntiqueCollector Member

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    The way I interpreted that comment was that he was trying to intimidate me into not carrying, perhaps thinking I wouldn't want to deal with the hassle of a lawsuit. Already sent a brief letter to the paper, not sure though if it'll be published...

    May or may not be worth writing to the chief, his wife is on the city board, and in december proposed that an ordinance be passed forbidding guns on city property and in city buildings (which of course is entirely illegal for them to do). I haven't heard anything more on that one, but they are anti's...
     
  14. XD_fan

    XD_fan Member

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    I think your better off filing a complaint with Attorney General's office. Make sure you include date/time, officers involved, etc. I'd still complain to the local police chief, especially the threat to harass you, and maybe even include you letter in your AG complaint. Writing the local paper is probably a giant waste of time.

    Its also not out of line to ask the officer if your free to go or are you being detained. Feel free to interrupt his lecture to do so. Your not under any obligation to stand around and waste your time if some cop feels a need to express his opinions and BS to you.
     
  15. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm member

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    Well said.
     
  16. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    Don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar as well.
    ;)
     
  17. torpid

    torpid Member

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    Was the lecturing officer openly carrying a firearm as well?
     
  18. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    Mainsail, might be a good idea to list the facts of a Terry stop, or what lin to follow for good info.
     
  19. AntiqueCollector

    AntiqueCollector Member

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    Yep.

    I can look into it, but our AG (Sorrell) is an anti and has defended some pretty bad police actions in other situations (not all of them firearms related though), such as the person shot in a church by police...

    That is precisely what I'm doing from now on. "Am I free to leave or am I being arrested or detained?" Based on the answer, I'll either leave, or I'll be calling up an attorney ASAP and not saying another word...
     
  20. XD_fan

    XD_fan Member

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    I see the spelling and grammar nazis have arrived at THR now.

    Your is a possessive pronoun where as you're is a contraction of you are. Likewise for It's being a contraction for It is. The use of extra adverbs and adjectives, while frowned upon by nitpickers and newspaper editors, is not improper grammar.

    Can we just stick to the discussions and not nitpick irrelavant items not central to the discussion.
     
  21. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm member

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    It's part of the uniform. He doesn't have much choice.
     
  22. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    If the desire to disprove the media’s and the general public’s opinion that firearms owners are a bunch of illiterate hillbillies makes one a Nazi, then I’m very disappointed you feel that way. Like it or not, you will be judged by the person reading your letter. If it reads like you’re an uneducated buffoon, your efforts will be wasted and you will further damage the reputation of all firearms owners. The reader will notice the improper use of your, you’re, there, their, and they’re as well as misspelled words and run-on sentences. Do you even know what a Nazi is?
     
  23. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    From Wiki:
    What this means is that a police officer must be able to articulate (verbalize) a specific crime, for which he has specific facts, that he or she suspects you of committing. It cannot be merely because you look suspicious or because the officer is suspicious of something you’re doing; it has to be suspicion that a crime is afoot. The key word here is crime, not suspicion. For example, if you’re walking in front of an open grocery store dressed in dark clothing the officer could not detain you to determine what you are doing. If, however, you were dressed in dark clothing and walking around in the shadows behind the grocery store, the officer could reasonably suspect you were going to steal something and could detain you. Now, there is no firearms exception to the rules of Terry [Florida v JL], so open carry by itself is insufficient grounds to detain a citizen. They can certainly stop and chat with you, as any other person could, but you have the right to terminate the conversation at any point or not have it at all.

    This is why I endorse the following when approached by an officer while openly carrying:
    “Am I being detained?” If he actually suspects you of a crime, like holding up the 7-11, you need to find that out right away so you can cooperate.
    If no- move along. You cannot win a debate with a police officer or educate him on the benefits of open carry while standing on the street.
    If Yes- "For suspicion of what crime are you detaining me?” This is not only grammatically correct (which will likely confuse the officer) but keys his training that he needs to be able to articulate a crime that he suspects you of being involved with. If he answers, “Because you’re carrying a gun” then you need to immediately request a supervisor. Remind the officer politely that carrying a gun is not a crime and that you do not consent to being detained in violation of your rights under Article 1 Section 7 of the WA State Constitution (or whatever your state’s constitution says about privacy rights or your US Constitution 4th Amendment rights). After that, I would suggest not saying anything. Additionally, you are under no obligation to provide identification or even to identify yourself unless he arrests you. Hopefully his Sergeant will know enough about the law to release you. You can follow up with a complaint or a lawsuit if you were detained illegally. If open carry is somewhat new or unique where you live, I suggest working with the department to facilitate further training for the officers before you jump right to a lawsuit.
     
  24. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    I'm pretty sure Terry does not apply to open-carry. The gun is clearly visible, so what is the point of the frisk?
     
  25. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    I was only opining on the ‘stop’ portion of a Terry stop and frisk. The frisk would be somewhat silly since your firearm is plainly visible. The police may only frisk you if they suspect you’re armed and presently dangerous. Anyway, if the officer is frisking you for your openly carried firearm, it should clue you that he’s just trying to intimidate you.
     
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