These days, it doesn’t really matter what the law says, if people are scared of you, they’ll call the police, and the police will harass you as if you’re a dangerous criminal.
Open gun-carriers are prime examples. In Texas, you can open carry a rifle. But when people see others open carrying a gun, the first thing many of them do is call the police…just in case. (If you see something, say something.) I don’t really have any problem with the police following up on these calls, but most of them take it way too far, and they overreact in the name of “public safety.” They think that because someone called in who was concerned, that must mean they have to respond with violence and arrest the guy for “disturbing the peace” or for some other made-up charge. They can easily come to the scene, and after seeing that there is no threat, respond to any future “concerned citizens” that there is no criminal activity occurring and that as such, any stop, questioning, detaining of the individual would be an unreasonable, warrantless and therefore unconstitutional action. But they decide that it’s easier to break the law instead.
Police are usually afraid to let those individuals go free, because if something did happen after the officer had found nothing wrong and let him go, the public would be outraged at the police for not doing something when the “concerned citizen” called in the first place. I understand their predicament, but the law is the law. It’s not OK to harass innocent people just because others have uncontrolled fears.
Unless someone is committing a crime; or there is probable cause which leads the authorities to believe that someone has committed a crime or is about to commit a crime, and a warrant is obtained, there is no legal justification for police to detain anyone for anything. This is the essence of the 4th Amendment. And since police officers are “law enforcement,” they should keep the 4th Amendment in mind as they’re patrolling.
A San Antonio man was reportedly arrested while openly carrying his rifle while on a walk near his home on Monday. The incident, which was video recorded by the gun owner, started out as a calm and reasonable conversation but ended dramatically with cops tasing the man before they put him in handcuffs.
While it is perfectly legal to openly carry a rifle in Texas, police reportedly arrested Henry Vichique, 19, under a local ordinance that apparently prohibits residents from carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun within city limits.
In a video posted on YouTube Monday, Vichique is seen being approached by officers and immediately ordered to put his rifle on the ground.
“I’m not doing anything wrong, sir,” Vichique replies to the command.
One of the officers then claimed they received complaints that he was “pointing” his rifle at people. Vichique denied pointing his gun at anyone and informed officers that his rifle was loaded.
After several minutes of chatting between Vichique and a reasonable-sounding officer, it seemed as if the situation would be diffused and the gun owner would be sent on his way.
“You are not under arrest. You are free to go,” the cop says in the video. “You’re just going to happen to walk home, and I’m just going to happen to make sure you get home safely — and as soon as you get home safely, you will never see us again.”
Then the situation took an unexpected turn.
A short time later, another officer inserted himself into the situation and took a more aggressive approach. A few minutes before the more assertive officer arrived, another officer can be heard confirming that the “sarg” was on his way.
“We are going to take that gun off your shoulder, do you understand that?” the officer is heard saying. “Do you understand that?”
The other officer then asks Vichique if he is going to “fight” if they grab his gun, to which he replies, “I’m not going to grab it, sir. I have not been arrested and the law says unless I’ve been arrested, you can’t take it from me.”
Though he had already confirmed several times that his rifle was loaded, the officers asked him again.
“It’s chambered,” Vichique replies, claiming again that he’s not breaking any laws.
Then, suddenly, an officer pulls out his taser, uses it on Vichique, who mumbles that he is being unlawfully arrested and that he doesn’t consent to any searches or seizures.
Watch the full exchange below:
In a Tuesday press release provided to TheBlaze, Open Carry Texas argued the ordinance under which Vichique was arrested “directly violates state pre-emption laws pertaining to firearms as contained in Local Government Code 229.001(a)(1), which states: “a municipality may not adopt regulations relating to…the transfer, private ownership, keeping, transportation, licensing, or registration of firearms, air guns, ammunition, or firearm.”
San Antonio Ordinance Section 21-16 states: “It shall be unlawful for any person, other than duly authorized peace officers, to carry a loaded rifle or shotgun on any public street within the city or in a motor vehicle while the same is being operated on any public street within the city.”
The pro-gun group also accused the San Antonio Police Department of lacking the “proper training, experience and common sense” on guns and Texas law.
Should the guy have simply complied to avoid all this irrational fear drama from police? Probably. But that doesn’t at all justify their overreaction to a guy doing nothing unlawful. And what is it that police love to tell civilians when the civilian “didn’t know they were breaking the law?” They say that ignorance is no excuse. This city ordinance is preempted by state law, which allows exactly what this guy was doing. So, to the police, ignorance is no excuse to break the law. This was a false arrest, and this man was unjustifiably assaulted and battered.
I imagine that some will comment like this:
I support the 2nd Amendment and all, but this kid was just pulling a stunt, and so he got what he deserved. I mean, why else would he record the whole thing?
If this were all just a stunt, then the best thing the police could do is not give him what he wants. What a prankster like this would want is drama.
But whether this was a stunt or not is completely irrelevant. He was not in any way breaking the law. For the record, I don’t have any reason to believe this was any kind of stunt. The kid was calm and collected, and he respectfully held his ground. A prankster would be more likely to provoke the cop to do something he’d regret.
Vichique had mentioned in the video that he’d been detained before. That’s probably why he records everything now. For his own protection. And this recording just might be what he needs to show that he was doing nothing wrong, and that the police completely overreacted, which unfortunately is their wont.