What are your legal rights during a police stop? – Video analysis

Posted: June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the above video so I thought i’d take the time (at 1:00AM) to offer a quick analysis.

The video begins with the officer disarming the gun owner (we’ll call him “Jeff”) and verifying that the gun is unloaded (also it appears the officer inadvertently points the gun at Jeff…oops). I’ll highlight and discuss some of the more important portions of the video below:

Jeff: “I do not consent to any searches or seizures”

  • The 4th Amendment protects persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures (more on what unreasonable means in a minute). Jeff says he doesn’t consent to “searches” or “seizures“, so what’s the difference? A “seizure” occurs whenever a police officer accosts an individual and restrains his freedom to walk away, and a “search” occurs when an officer makes careful exploration of the outer surfaces of a person’s clothing in an attempt to find weapons or drugs.
    Like most other privacy rights, your right to be free from searches and seizures can be waived. What Jeff is doing by verbalizing that he does not consent to a search is making it absolutely clear he is NOT waiving his 4th Amendment right. This is good. Note as well that he is not physically resisting the search, don’t ever do that.

Jeff: “What crime do you suspect me of committing?”

  • As you can likely tell, Jeff is not under arrest. At this point he has only been stopped by the officer. A stop is different from an arrest. An arrest is a lengthy process in which the suspect is taken to the police station and booked, whereas a stop involves only a temporary interference with a person’s liberty. As they involve different levels of interference with liberty (Stop < Arrest) they require different levels of suspicion by the police. In order to perform a temporary stop (which is what is going on in this video) the officer needs “reasonable suspicion … that his safety or that of others was in danger”. (see Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 27 (1968).) An arrest, on the other hand, requires probable cause (a higher level of suspicion) that a crime has been committed. When Jeff asks, “What crime do you suspect me of committing?” he is essentially asking, what is your constitutional basis for stopping me? Once again, this is a proper question to ask.

Jeff: “Can you get your supervisor here?”

  • Always better to have more witnesses when you feel your rights are being violated.

Officer: “It’s a public safety issue”

  • Here the officer tries to justify the stop by saying that people have called 911 reporting a guy walking around with a gun and thus it is a “public safety issue”. Under Maine state law, this person is not breaking any laws by open carrying that gun (I assume he has a permit). Thus, the officer’s argument is essentially the same as if they had received 911 calls about someone driving a car, drinking a soda, or mowing a lawn. None of those activities are inherently illegal, (though all of them could result in harm if misused), and thus none of them justify a police stop. Imagine every vehicle getting pulled over simply to make sure the driver had a drivers license, or every person drinking a soda getting stopped just to make sure they hadn’t stolen it.

Officer: “I need to get your ID

  • No you don’t. Unless the reasonable suspicion requirement (above) has been met, a police officer does not “need” your ID.

Officer: “I need to make sure you’re not a felon”

  • Please…. This is the same as pulling over every car simply to make sure the driver has a license, it doesn’t fly. Once again, without reasonable suspicion none of these questions or demands are justified. If, however, the officer recognized Jeff as a felon he had previously arrested, or if Jeff was acting in a way that made the officer feel he was a threat to public safety, then these questions would be justified. This is why Jeff keeps asking if he is suspected of committing a crime. He is trying to get the officer to admit that he has no constitutional basis for stopping him (which the officer does admit towards the end of the video).

Jeff: “Terry v. Ohio, Delaware v. Prouse, Brown v. Texas, U.S. v. DeBerry.” This is where Jeff’s countless hours of memorizing case names pays off. Below is a basic summary of the cases he cites.

  • Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968): In justifying a particular search or seizure, a police officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts which…reasonably warrant the search. This could be a reasonable suspicion … that his safety or that of others was in danger, or that a specific crime was being committed.
  • Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648 (1979): Mainly applies to vehicles, but says that except in those situations in which there is at least articulable and reasonable suspicion that a motorist is unlicensed or that an automobile is not registered, or that either the vehicle or an occupant has otherwise violated the law, stopping an automobile and detaining the driver in order to check his driver’s license and the registration of the automobile are unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Meaning, you can’t stop and search someone just to find out if they might be a criminal. You have to have a reason to think they are a criminal before you stop them.
  • Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47, 52 (1979): When a police officer stops and demands identification from an individual without any specific basis for believing he is involved in criminal activity (reasonable suspicion) it is a violation of that person’s 4th Amendment rights and can’t be allowed. In sum, you’re not required to give your ID to a police officer unless he has an articulable reason to suspect you of committing a crime.
  • U.S. v. DeBerry, 76 F.3d 884, 885 (7th Cir. 1996): This is not a supreme court case, but it essentially says that police are allowed to ask you any questions they want (just like any stranger on the street can ask you any questions they want), the police CAN’T, however, seize someone unless they have “a reasonable belief and not a mere hunch that the person carrying the gun was violating the law.”
Officer: “Can I get your first name so I can speak to you on a person to person basis?”
  • Police are smart. They will often play on your feelings to get information from you (“Help me help you“). While working as a prosecutor I was amazed at what defendants would be willing to tell police voluntarily. At this point Jeff is no more required to give this officer his name than he would be to give any stranger on the street his name.
Officer: “This is a common practice”. Jeff: “Yep, it’s an illegal common practice”.
  • Jeff is right. How “common” the practice is doesn’t matter. Police may commonly punch people in the face, that wouldn’t make it any more justifiable.
OTHER NOTES:
  • The total stop was 3 minutes. This would constitute a seizure, but not one that is going to give rise to any major legal remedies. There are other instances where permit holders have been held for over an hour. Still, 3 minutes or 1 hour, it is still a violation of your rights.
  • As a general rule, whenever an officer asks permission to do something (may I look around in your vehicle?) you should simply say no. Common courtesy is one thing, but it’s not a courtesy to let a stranger look through your stuff or pat you down (you wouldn’t let me do that to you, would you??). If an officer is asking permission for something then that means he doesn’t have the justification he needs to do it without your permission. He’s asking you to waive your rights. Trust me, if they had a reason to search you, they wouldn’t ask permission.
  • This happened in Maine. Other state (Nebraska, Ohio, Texas, North Carolina, etc) have duty to inform laws that require any permit holder to immediately provide their permit and photo ID whenever they have an “official encounter” with a law enforcement officer. The condition precedent there is that the officer have reasonable suspicion to stop you in the first place. Still, if I lived in one of those states I wouldn’t be so bold to refuse to give my ID.
FINAL THOUGHTS:
  • I respect law enforcement. I have worked as a prosecutor and have many law enforcement friends. Having said that, I think Jeff did exactly what he should have done in this circumstance. He was respectful, unthreatening, articulate, and unwavering in asserting his rights. I would have done the exact same thing if I was stopped and think this is a good lesson to keep officers on their toes.
Let me know your thoughts and feel free to share this with others.
While you’re at it, check out Legal Heat’s other resources:

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Comments
  1. Ray says:

    Pushing the point of exposed carry of an unloaded guns is counterproductive. While I agree we are losing our rights and the public at large are suspicious of what once was commonplace. Let us fight our fights in the arena of common sense. LEO use all the tactics here and with great success. Knowing your rights when contacted is supreme. The case of the CCW holder printing and being man handled and beaten bears a closer look and each of us must know our rights and responses when the heavy hand of a testosterone junky LEO gets in our face. Know these rights and make them known loudly upon contact.

  2. Larry says:

    post 911 brought many changes, as a career firefighter for 23 years I experienced them. A safe and free country, for, by and of the people by all means, our civil servants (police,fire,ems) are now trained to a heightened level of awareness, to be alert to anything that doesn’t seem “normal”. Although totally legal in this case, a person openly carrying a gun may not be normal (even unloaded). I absolutly protect my 4th amendment rights. But if a friend or god forbid a family member were shot by someone openly carrying a gun, I would want to know why that person was not stopped by the police. I totally agree with exercising our rights and freedoms, but do it with common sense.

    • OngoingFreedom says:

      @Larry, I’m afraid part of your post doesn’t make sense to me. Criminals hide their guns. Many people carry legally concealed firearms. The police open carry on duty, conceal when off. You didn’t mention any of these.

      Cars go down the street next to pedestrians all the time but police don’t conduct random searches of these cars to confirm identification, licensing, or intent (so why are you driving a car?). I feel that would be the legal equivalent to hassling an open carrier.

      People who are carrying legally, who aren’t acting suspiciously, should be able the same freedoms as those who don’t. Rights that aren’t asserted are lost.

      I both open and conceal carry in Tennessee, as well as many other of our fine states and commonwealths.

      • Will says:

        Why would criminals hide their guns if it is perfectly legal for them to open carry? You stated above that open carrying a firearm does not constitute reasonable suspicion for an officer to stop you and since you don’t have to give your name or identification, who’s to say that the state of Maine doesn’t have tons of felons walking around. In an open carry state like Maine, I’d say there is plenty of reasonable suspicion to stop this kid and ask for his ID if citizens were concerned enough with his behavior to call in the first place.

      • @Will,

        “Why would criminals hide their guns if it is perfectly legal for them to open carry?”

        I can’t believe you really wrote that question, but I’ll respond to it.

        1. It is ILLEGAL for criminals to own guns
        2. Since it illegal for criminals to own guns it is illegal for criminals to carry guns
        3. Since it is illegal for criminals to carry guns they do not draw attention to themselves by openly carrying. They don’t. Criminals are stupid but they ain’t that stupid.

        YOU think that the act of open carry in places where it is legal encourages criminals to do it themselves, but you obviously do not understand criminals. If they illegally carry a gun they don’t draw attention to it. They hide it, and in hiding it they rarely, RARELY use a proper holster. Also, there is no history to support your concern. The only people that police (improperly) arrest are lawful citizens.

        “In an open carry state like Maine, I’d say there is plenty of reasonable suspicion to stop this kid and ask for his ID if citizens were concerned enough with his behavior to call in the first place.”

        Will, the courts have determined that OC, in states where it is legal, does not rise to the level of reasonable suspicion.

      • Jared says:

        @ OngoingFreedom …..Right on Brother. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • Tim says:

      I can see where you’re coming from, but say a person open carrying who has no criminal history does shoot your family member. If they had been stopped before hand do you think it would make any difference? They would have been stopped and let go on their way. I for one would not admit I’m carrying with the intent of shooting someone in particular, or in general. People who open carry aren’t typically your neighborhood gang banger looking for anything to pop. Change the situation: someone runs a stop sign and hits your family member crossing the street. Maybe they were drunk, maybe their significant other was back seat driving and distracting them, or they just sneezed at the wrong time and didn’t see the sign. Should they have been stopped by police because they were driving to make sure they were in a condition to be operating a guided 3000+ pound missile? Accidents happen. Someone 100% capable of driving a vehicle can make a mistake and kill someone in less than a second. Someone carrying a firearm for self defense can miss their attacker and hit a bystander. If they’re intentionally going to harm someone, they will do it one way or another with what ever tools are available. Personally, if I was going to intentionally shoot someone I wouldn’t be openly carrying (advertizing that I’m carrying a gun) before intentionally using it (which your hypothetical scenario implies). Would you have a different opinion if someone carrying concealed shot a friend or family member? Sometimes we need to use some common sense. Why stop just anyone who is carrying openly? Who are the people who engaging is said activity? Do your average criminals go buy a holster and show the world they have a gun, or are they your average law abiding citizen that wants to defend them selves and wears the gun in the open to also be a deterrent (and/or is the only LEGAL way they can do it.) If you have a criminal record or are actively engaging in criminal activity are you going to openly carry a gun that you know will draw attention and will likely draw the attention of the police. No, I didn’t think so either.

    • jake says:

      cops are goverment gang they do murder.harras etc.we are scared of them the do carry guns to murder.ask your friend why he got shot mmmm yeah hes death now find out why he got shot.there is no difference between conceal and open carry still go a use it read cops are fags and criminals

  3. Joel says:

    Is there a list of the states that require me to notify a police officer that I’m carrying a gun if I’m stopped? This is an important difference in state laws that I need to know about when I’m traveling. It totally changes what you say if you’re ever stopped.

  4. Paul says:

    I cannot understand people who snipe at others for exercising their rights. We retain our rights by exercising them, not by begging the ruling class for them and then being afraid to appear out of the norm by exercising them. Where’s the common sense in that? No doubt what happened following this encounter, is that every cop got a lecture from the DA that you can’t stop people without a reasonable suspicion, and to do otherwise threatens the department and city with lawsuits, and the perpetrator with the subsequent loss of a job on the police force. I can’t see how that is a bad outcome.

    I wish the post had a link to the list of states having a “duty to inform” laws, and to states where an id must be given when the cop asks for one. I’m having trouble finding these with google.

  5. Yishmeray says:

    Here’s one ‘duty to inform’ map, in re: Paul’s post and request.
    http://smith-wessonforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=49536&d=1311093292

  6. Peter Ruzich says:

    Excellent post and I’m in total agreement when it comes to exercising one’s rights. Before I knew better I had my own weapons pointed at me, center mass, on two occasions and since then have respectfully declined handing them over. However, even though VA is not a state where you must inform, I still do so as a courtesy, but I won’t surrender my weapon. When pulled over, the officer will know I have a permit when he runs my license, anyway, and not mentioning that I’m armed will only make him/her suspicious. Also, being courteous and professional when it comes to concealed carry has actually gotten me out of a number of tickets which the officers had every right to give me, and on two occasions, they actually thanked me for my professionalism, telling me that they appreciated the fact that I did everything I could to make them feel more at ease, i.e. lowering all windows, turning on dome light, turning off the ignition, keeping my hands on the steering wheel and informing them that I’m armed, where the weapon is, and giving them my CCW along with my license. These things are not legally necessary, but we should always keep in mind the level of stress our actions will cause a LEO. Their job is tough enough…and besides, arguing your right to NOT tell him you’re armed will only make him exercise his right to give you a ticket, provided you were pulled over for a reason.

  7. VinnyTheBlade says:

    I guess I don’t really get why anyone would want to carry open in the first place. I myslef carry concealed here in WA about 80% of the time I go out. it would seem to me if you were ever out somewhere….say in line at a convenience store, and a bad guy is there to rob it…you the “open carry” guy will be the first one shot. If you are just doing it to make a point, well I guess thats fine and is certainly your right…but it may get you killed.

    • ongoingfreedom says:

      Interestingly, although this is a common feeling among many (including the police) it is rare for open carriers to be noticed, and even more rare-almost unheard of-for them to be targeted by criminals. In fact, anecdotal evidence reveals the contrary. Several individuals on gun forums who OC report having witnessed individuals or teams acting very suspiciously, spy their weapons, and beat feet outta there.

      By all means do what you feel comfortable and prepare for. I do them both.

    • Jessica says:

      My thoughts exactly!!! I’m a CCDW holder and would never go around carrying a gun and expect to be considered just a part of the landscape. I would hope that people would find it suspicious if I was choosing to walk down the street carrying a gun.

      • Edward says:

        You hope that people would find suspicion in someone exercising their open carry rights? It was already established that criminals don’t open carry while not commiting a crime. If you see a slung or holstered firearm you’re far more likely safer then usual. No evidence exists that has shown that criminals chose to begin their crime knowing that people in the area are armed. Of coarse both an armed citizen or police force becomes the priority target if they arive or are found to be armed after the crime starts. Still, it has been shown that criminals target gun free zones if killing people is their goal. They are not brave, nor stupid. They go where they feel they can rack up a large body count without opposition. Bacically legally open carrying deters crime and concealed carry is also useful but only at responding to crime in progress.

  8. […] con los demás. Mientras estás en ello, echa un vistazo a otros recursos calor Legal: Original here: Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  9. Jim says:

    I am always doing open carry education wherever I go. Have yet to be “stopped”, I’m looking forward to it actually.

    Rights, unexercised, quickly become “optional”, and “optional” rights ultimately turn into “privileges” and those can be withheld by our masters.

    there is nothing inherently “stupid” or “lacking in common sense” about exercising your rights – if “common sense” were the standard for exercising ones rights, then women wouldn’t have the right to vote and black americans would still be “separate but equal”.

  10. Greg says:

    The gun in this video is a complete duche all he had to do was give the cop his name let him get checked out and he will be on his way. He acted like the cop wanted to be there he was just doing his job based on a call he got.

    • ongoingfreedom says:

      Greg, where you see douchery some of us see preservation of freedoms. The actor in the video was not trying to be a douche but was doing his part to push back against encroachment of the reduction of freedoms to satisfy the increasing demands of unwanted security.

      He made a choice, and I salute his courage.

    • Tim says:

      So Greg, If I call the police because I don’t like the vehicle you drive and I think it is suspicious, does that mean they should pull you over and make you wait for 10 minutes while they run your ID to make sure there aren’t any warrants out for your arrest? You aren’t doing anything illegal by driving a car I don’t like, and that’s not a reason for the police to pull you over. Stopping someone who is LEGALLY carrying a gun without any suspicion of a crime the same thing. Only difference is the car is replaced with a gun.

  11. TigerLily says:

    This is the best vid with explanations and case law sourcing I have ever seen! Great job. Here is my encounter when I went an extra step to videotape a cop doing his ‘so-called’ work. I later discovered that what these school cops were doing to the ‘suspect’ was unlawful, therefore, it was not my firearm that was of concern, it was my cam. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt70pnWkx7w

  12. TigerLily says:

    my correct blog is reposted.

  13. Nic says:

    Seriously awesome post, thanks so much for posting this. I am learning so much from this blog, I’m loving it. Thanks for all your hard work!

  14. Jon says:

    Question. Hiibel v Nevada. The SCOTUS ruled in favor of the SC of Nevada that Hiibel had to disclose his name. Other states like New York have laws where police “may demand” identifying information. Seven states (Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Vermont) explicitly impose a criminal penalty for noncompliance with the obligation to identify oneself.

    So when you stated above, “At this point Jeff is no more required to give this officer his name than he would be to give any stranger on the street his name,” that is because Jeff is in a state where self identification is not specifically required.

    I’m not an attorney, but am I wrong?

    • JohnJay says:

      Hiibel v. Sixth held that statutes requiring suspects to disclose their names during police investigations did not violate the Fourth Amendment if the statute first required reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal involvement. (wikipedia)

    • Sorry to raise a thread from the dead but in rereading I see you are unsatisfied with @JohnJay’s response. I believe you missed a key point he was trying to make.

      “if the statute first required reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal involvement”

      I believe what JohnJay was trying to say is that the above point was lacking in this encounter. I.e. the LEO was investigating a complaint called in by a third party. Neither did the complainant nor did the LEO observe “Jeff” making any criminally suspicious behavior, therefore the detainment was illegal. The officer never elucidated what crime “Jeff” was suspected of committing. The mere presence of a visible gun borne safely is not a crime in and of itself.

      No reasonable articulable suspicion therefore no name is required to be surrendered.

  15. Matt says:

    Just to be clear… A police officer is allowed to approach you on the street and ask whatever they want. The guy in the video could have calmly walked away at any point, but didn’t.

    The police didn’t do anything illegal. And I’d argue it’s not a “seizure” purely because the guy asked to SEE his supervisor – he indicated he wanted to be there.

    There is no “winner” or “loser” here – both parties were totally within their rights.

    Really though, the gun owner is the “loser” – total douchebag.

  16. OngoingFreedom says:

    Matt,

    Just so I understand what you were saying, you are saying you would have felt comfortable walking away after the officer pulled his car over, stopped you, and removed your firearm? That just doesn’t sound like a consensual discussion to me.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It seems as though “Jeff” staged the incident with the express purpose of having someone call the police on him. If “people”, according to the officer, are calling 911 they must have a reason to do so. In other words, “Jeff” is likely doing something to draw attention to the fact that he’s got a gun. If that is the case, and there is an increased risk of an accident or he is brandishing it, even in such a manner that he’s not directly threatening anyone, is that not a good enough reason to stop and identify the individual and be sure that the weapon is not being carried illegally?

    I get that there are laws that protect “Jeff’s” right to carry the weapon, but is it not the right of the individuals calling 911 to feel safe? Not that the cop handled the situation perfectly from a by the book legal standpoint, but the fact that he is there at the request of another citizen seems to be probable cause enough to at least identify and verify the individual.

    And the “driving a car” comparison is silly. Guns are designed, built and owned for the purpose of killing. Cars are built for transportation. If you’ve got a gun, even for self protection, you’ve made the statement thet you’re prepared to attempt to kill someone or something.

    • OngoingFreedom says:

      @anonymous,

      Do you own, or even carry a gun?

      No, there is no right to “feel safe” – neither legally nor ethically. But while this is true Jeff does not strike me as someone who is trying to intimidate others. Educate maybe, but not intimidate.

      While there may be some who troll the cops to elicit a response I think most people like Jeff just want to be left alone. People like Jeff have educated themselves on the law and carry recording equipment BECAUSE the police occasionally overreach their authority.

      I don’t think you really understand the term ‘brandishing’, or even the purpose of carrying a gun. John Lott says guns are used to prevent crime up to 2.5 million times annually, overwhelmingly without firing a shot. Were those defective uses of firearms because they didn’t kill?

      Finally, vehicles cause more deaths than firearms and many more injuries each year. Why is the comparison silly? Heck, driving is a privilege while carrying something for self-defense is a God-given, gov’t recognized right.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think there is more going on in this stop than comes out in the recording, such as the nature of what “jeff” was doing in order to draw enough attention to himself that someone would call 911 and indeed the nature of the 911 call itself. If people don’t have the right to feel safe, then lets change that and say the person calling 911 felt threatened by the manner in which “jeff” was carrying the weapon. Wouldn’t that be reasonable enough cause to check the firearm or the individual to make sure that the individual is carrying within the law? If an individual feels as though there is the risk of an impending crime shouldn’t they notify the police? A suspicious person or person behaving suspiciously etc?

        For the sake of full disclosure, I don’t own or carry a gun but I do hunt and have operated firearms dozens of times. And when I have used a firearm, even though I’m properly trained on the safety features and it’s use, there is no escaping that I am holding a weapon capable of killing someone/thing. I consider that a huge responsibility. While it might be my right to own a firearm, whether for protection, sport or whatever, I’ll always consider it my responsibility to operate/store/own the weapon in a responsible manner.

        As for the “guns are used to prevent crimes”, statement, I believe there is some falsehood in there. In many, probably the majority, of the cases the presence of the gun is the deterrent for the crime rather than the operator actually discharging it. For me, and probably many criminals, anyone that shows me a gun is prepared to use it in some manner to injure or kill me. For instance, if you see someone stealing a car and draw a gun on them and they run away, you haven’t used the gun to stop a crime, you’ve threatened someone with deadly force and they decided the car wasn’t worth possibly dying over.

      • @Anonymous,

        First of all thank you for your civility and your interest in exchanging ideas. These discussions so easily devolve into silly shouting matches.

        We who carry respect our firearms but do not have an irrational fear of them, for we know how to handle them responsibly. That includes on-body carry whether in public or private locations. Guns are carried safely and responsibly every day.

        People who are responsible enough to carry firearms are extremely interested in doing so legally, especially if we open carry. We have no interest in intimidating others; in fact we tend to lose respect for those who are. We carry openly because, a) it is legal where we are, b) it is a symbol of freedom, c) it is a symbol of patriotism, d) it is to educate others, e) it is to desensitize others to the presence of guns, f) it is a statement that we understand that we, and not the police, are responsible for our own safety, g) it is a warning to someone who would do us harm that we are a hard target (think bright colors on a bee), and h) it is for defense of self, family, and perhaps others. Some or all of these points will be true from person to person. We take the pains to educate ourselves where we may do this legally because we know that some people act like frightened sheep at seeing a gun on someone’s hip who is not in a uniform. They report MWAG to 911, regardless of the person’s behavior. Most law enforcement officers understand this, but there are a few (some departments are just ignorant) who illegally but temporarily detain an OC’r. Against this possibility many who OC also carry recording equipment for posterity, and you can see many such encounters on YouTube.

        OC’rs don’t brandish, don’t threaten, aren’t thuggish and are usually VERY polite yet still may have the occasional police encounter. Those who carry illegally do not carry their firearm in a holster in the open. They hide it because they ARE carrying illegally. You ask isn’t it reasonable enough to have the person and/or firearm checked. No sir, it is not. The open carriage of a firearm IS NOT ILLEGAL in the state this occurred in (and also in most states). Carrying a handgun in the holster is not considered threatening behavior, neither legally nor morally.

        It sounds like you are equating the mere presence of a firearm with threat, and this simply isn’t true. When you see a law enforcement officer with a gun in their holster do you feel threatened? I’ll bet you do not. Why does the idea of a normal citizen with a visibly holstered handgun make you feel like they are going to use it on you? That kind of thinking simply is not rational, although maybe it is understandable if you do not live in an area where a citizen may carry a firearm for self defense.

        Lastly, please note that this person was released with his firearm after only three minutes, even after not producing any ID. Some such encounters are extremely brief (I myself experienced a very brief detainment with no seizure of my handgun) and some last many minutes, but what is important here was the police released him because HE DID NOTHING WRONG.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m sorry if I mis-stated anything with regard to my feelings on OC or CC. I don’t think the mere presence of a gun is a threat but the issue I most often think of goes back to how responsible is the person actually. In the specific case of the video we don’t know if “Jeff” was baiting the situation and trying to film it or whether the 911 caller observed something specific that led them to place the call. It would seem that even properly trained and responsible gun owners can be the victim of accidents as well. The problem is that, at their core, guns are meant to hurt/injure/threaten/kill, and used properly or improperly they are capable of all those things. Even the video where “Jeff” points out that the cop pointed the gun at his leg while inspecting it is an illustration of this fact.

        Responsible owners whether OC, CC or just recreational users certainly take the most care and interest in preventing the accidents with guns but the accidents can still happen. Something any gun owner can probably appreciate is being responsible and trusting for one’s self. I feel the same way about myself. And I can’t verify or necessarily trust the training or level of responsibility that someone has with a gun that they own. While you, “Jeff” and many others in this country may fit the bill of a responsible gun owner it’s difficult to make the statement as anything more than a generalization since your definitions of safe may differ from someone else. One person might have a gun safe while someone else thinks it’s safe to keep it on the top shelf of their closet etc.
        Indeed, I can’t ever see myself calling the police if I were to see an OC walking down the street because I would assume it was legal and the person was trained to use it. And I don’t have some unhealthy fear of guns or the feeling that they should be taken away from anyone, but I do feel as though the right to own guns has been abused many times over by people in our country. And I think that an important part of the of the ongoing gun debate in our country is to have responsible gun owners being a part of the conversation with ideas about how to move forward responsibly rather than turn blue trying to convince people that guns aren’t dangerous or that we need to arm more people. The fact that “gun owners” and “responsible gun owners” are even two groups of people is somewhat alarming because most of the time nobody can tell the difference until it’s too late. I’m always open to different opinions and trying to understand others’ POV in a civil manner so I appreciate the responses as well.

      • Anonymous says:

        The other point I wanted to address specifically was to mention that if the officer has been given cause to be called to a scene, don’t they then have the obligation to check the firearm and whether it’s legal for the person to be carrying. I’m posing this outside of the situation in the video. Say an individual was pointing the gun at passing cars or any other manner of irresponsible behavior. Would the officer then have the ability to detain/search/verify the individual even though technically no crime has been committed? I know that wouldn’t be the mark of a responsible OC or gun owner, but I’m just curious whether that type of situation or any type of situation warrants an inspection by the police if a round hasn’t been discharged or a direct threat hasn’t been made.

    • Tim says:

      @ Anonymous

      You’re exactly correct about having a lot of responsibility carrying a gun, and that is something most people who carry take VERY seriously. Most people hope they NEVER have to use it, but have it in the chance they do, myself included. Kind of like fire insurance on your house, you don’t want to use it but you have it just in case. In your statement about pulling a gun and chasing off a would-be car thief, you would in fact be USING the gun. You don’t have to discharge it to use it. Just like if you pistol whip someone you use the gun even though you don’t shoot them. In your hypothetical scenario, you chased off a would-be thief with the GUN; you didn’t pull out your nail clippers and chase them off. Yes, the gun is a deterrent, one you would not have if you did not carry the gun.

    • To answer your question, no where in the constitution does it grant the right to “feel safe”. Good Lord, if that was the case how many things would we outlaw?!

  18. Greg says:

    Just a quick point. Maine does not require a permit to openly carry a firearm.

  19. Eddie says:

    What if when you ask them (officer) do you suspect me of commiting a crime and they say yes what do I say then..?

  20. CJ Grisham says:

    I was recently walking in the country with my son with a lawful, open-carried firearm when we were also approached and detained by an officer after a call of our legal activity. The officer walked right up to me and attempted to take my firearm without any warning or indication he would put his hands on my gun.

    When I reached up and put my hand on the buttstock of the rifle while asking him what he was doing, he immediately drew his pistol on me and slammed me into the hood of his car. I then turned on my camera and recorded the encounter (look up “veteran illegally disarmed and arrested” on YouTube).

    I asked the officer numerous times what crime I was suspected and he gave no articulable infraction other than “we got a call.” In the end I did go jail for resisting arrest charges but no other initial charge and I’m fighting the case right now.

    • Nah says:

      If you put your hand on your gun, for ANY reason, I’d detain you in a heartbeat. I would ensure your weapon was properly handled and then we’d talk. If he reached for your gun, that was his mistake… But I’m sorry, you walk around with a riffle? Grow a dick dude.

      As a law enforcement officer this site is very interesting to me. I have never gone out on my job and thought, whose rights can I take away today? My main goal is to maintain public (and my own) safety. If a caller was to call 911 and say they saw someone varying a gun I’d hope the dispatcher would have enough sense to ask if they were using it in a threatening manor. Police are given quite a lot of information before a stop is made. Also, in many places filming a cop is illegal so I’d check your states for those laws as well.

      The car and gun analogy makes me laugh. It is a great analogy for those PROPONENTS of gun control (which I believe in control NOT bans!). “Guns don’t kill people people kill people”. Cars are the same way. Yet you must register and insure your car. You must take courses, apply, and prove you can pass a licensure test. In most states you also must submit to an eye exam every few years. So same restrictions on guns and I’m happy! Try and prevent it from happening as much as possible.

      I CC off duty a lot. I do not open carry because I’m not a wanker who needs to tell everyone about my gun. If a person wants gun info they can google it. Otherwise why don’t you stand with a sandwich board on the side of the road offering free gun advice. At least that way people know up front that you are “that guy” and can avoid you like the plague. Guns are not patriotic. They’re guns. Just as my Jeep is not patriotic… It’s an object.

      Give LEOs a break. We have to do some crazy shit and fear for our lives every time. Knives being pulled, guns, aggressions, they’re apart of our daily life… We do as much as we can to protect ourselves and the community. There are some “bad eggs” for cops but this type of video is ridiculous.

      And also, who the hell wears suspenders???

      • OngoingFreedom says:

        Nah said, “Also, in many places filming a cop is illegal”

        That would be a total of two states. In ten others it is the duty of the recorder to inform all parties that recording is occurring.

        You obviously have a narrow view of open carry. Such is your choice. Please understand that while your view may be true of some it is not true for all.

        Many are the reasons I open carry, and none of them are for the reason you opine.

      • Pig Hater says:

        It is legal to film a cop, PIG

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  24. KC says:

    when he asked the officer “what crime do you suspect me of committing?” does the LEO have to answer this? i’m guessing the LEO would never say “nothing” or something similar. what if the LEO said “jaywalking”. at this point would Jeff be under arrest and then have to prove in court that he was not jaywalking. on the other hand, can’t a LEO stop someone if say there was an APB out for a 5’8 white guy in a blue shirt, brown hair, black sneakers, etc. and this Jeff guy happened to look exactly like the description. the LEO would have to stop and check no? i guess though the real criminal in the APB wouldn’t be walking nonchalantly down the street then. very interesting video and discussion. thank you.

  25. RetSquid says:

    You do not have to provide an ID to an officer in Texas until after you have been legally arrested.

    • Texas Man says:

      Untrue. Texas has a duty to inform clause, meaning that if you are questioned by an officer while carrying, you are legally obligated to provide proof of permit to conceal.

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  27. Frank says:

    IMAGINE DEALING WITH PEOPLE LIKE THAT EVERYDAY FOR 8 HOURS MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY AND FOR EVERY CALL. NO WONDER COPS ARE BURNT OUT. IF THEY RECEIVED A CALL OF A GUY WAVING A GUN ON THE STREET, THAT’S ENOUGH PROBABLE CAUSE FOR ME.

    • ongoingfreedom says:

      Frank, I’m curious how you made the jump from “walking around with a gun” to “waving a gun on the street.” Can you help me out?

  28. kenlinkins says:

    In the age of video Police can no longer just do what they want and write it up later to fit the requirements needed. This has caused them to try and fool you into giving up your rights. Rule One: Never say anything to a police officer that is not required under the law. Rule Two: Know what is required. Rule Three: Always video any interaction with the Police. Rule Four: Never fight back if attacked.

  29. markinidaho says:

    The author would benefit from doing the background research before writing. Requiring permits to possess a firearm are rare. Permits to openly and/or concealed carry vary widely.
    Maine is an open carry state. Only loaded carry in a vehicle requires a permit. These articles just perpetuate falsehoods that are obvious as the comments are read.
    We have a long way to go to educate the public if we are going to slow the erosion of our rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

    • Legal Heat says:

      Hi Mark, thanks for your comment. The “author” has personally certified more people to obtain concealed carry permits than any other living human being (around 55,000 so far). He (I) have written books on concealed carry laws and the routinely asked to speak at conferences on gun laws all across America. I’m also a gun law attorney. I am well aware of when a permit is not required. I get what you’re saying, but I think you can say it without trying to insult the author, I don’t think I’m as ignorant as you might have me be.