View Full Version : Warren MI. Open Carry Picnick In The News

08-19-2008, 6:20 PM

PUBLISHED: Sunday, August 17, 2008
Picnickers pack heat

Gun enthusiasts meet peacefully at Warren park to prove point

By Christy Strawser
Macomb Daily Staff Writer

They came, they saw, they carried - and they didn't cause any problems.

Members of OpenCarry.org peacefully set up shop Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Warren to prove a point about the Second Amendment and Michigan's gun laws.

About 75 gun enthusiasts strolled through the park throughout the afternoon with sidearms strapped to their belts in plain view.

The goal was to underscore that Michigan is among 44 states where it's legal to carry a gun in public without a permit, as long as it was legally purchased and registered. Concealed weapons permits are necessary for a hidden weapon.

At Veterans Park, the guns were all out there for the world to see, but everyone followed the law and kept them holstered.

Men, and a few women, chatted at picnic tables in shorts and T-shirts, some grilled bratwurst and hot dogs while kids played on the Playscape, and a couple of teens rode skateboards.

"We're just having a picnic," organizer Ron Gibson said. "It's no different from any other day. The only difference is that we're carrying weapons."

The quiet afternoon had only a single glitch, when one of the armed enthusiasts tried to walk to the park from his home in Warren.

Police received a 911 call from a panicked woman about a man walking around with a gun. About 12 officers responded, but immediately sent the man on his way when he proved the gun was legally registered.

Police Commissioner William Dwyer said they "would have been remiss" not to stop the man and question him.

The incident upset some members of the club, who said educating police about gun laws was one of their themes for the day.

"It's about being educational without being confrontational," Gibson said.

He had plenty of officers to discuss the incident with because Warren police were out in force. Police set up a mobile command station at the park, two officers in uniform walked the grounds, an undercover officer watched the crowd with binoculars from the parking lot, and Dwyer made a personal appearance to chat with participants.

The cops kept things friendly, explaining to club members they were there to protect them from "undesirables" who might try to show up with non-permitted weapons.

"We were nervous initially about who would show up," Capt. Scott Pavlik said. "We're just being careful, but it's been very orderly."

Mostly, the participants discussed how weapons save lives and deter crime by frightening criminals.

"I can't carry at work, but if I'm going to the store or the coffee shop on weekends, I'll carry," said Brian Jeffs, a club member and senior geologist for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Similar demonstrations already played out in several states, and at least three Michigan cities - Flint, Grand Rapids and Hastings.

The message was well received in Warren, where about 20 people showed up just to learn more about the group and the law.

Mike Miller of St. Clair Shores said he never thought about carrying his gun in public until he heard about OpenCarry.org, so he stopped by to get more information.

"I think this (picnic) is a great idea," Miller said. "It shows that people are aware of what's happening with the law."

Carl Noechel lives down the street from the park, and he showed up to figure out why so many people were there with guns displayed.

"It's different, but it doesn't bother me," he said.

Club members were sure they garnered some new members for OpenCarry.org, which was founded in 2004 by Virginia residents Mike Stollenwerk and John Pierce.

The Web site has more than 8,500 registered members and gets 600,000 hits a month.

"The Michigan group has really taken hold," Jeffs said. "We get a couple of hundred hits a day."

08-19-2008, 6:29 PM
So proud of my home state! :D

08-19-2008, 6:30 PM

'Open carry' group to gather

Guns on hips, advocates to meet in Warren

By Norb Franz
Macomb Daily Staff Writer

Ron Gibson carries a semi-automatic pistol on his hip for anyone to see, and insists he's not out to intimidate.
When he goes to bed, the .45 caliber firearm is nearby and loaded.

"Just because I'm carrying a gun, I shouldn't be viewed as a threat. I don't bring any attention to it whatsoever," he said.

Gibson is among about three dozen members of a gun rights group who will "pack" a picnic with their families Saturday afternoon in Warren.

They are part of a growing movement of advocates promoting the Second Amendment and the open carrying of handguns.

The group, members of OpenCarry.org, invites the public to stop by at Veterans Memorial Park, on Campbell at Martin Road, and ask questions or pick up a pamphlet.

But don't look for them to fire shots into the sky - or even take their weapons out of the holster.

It's the first public event in Macomb County for the gun proponents, following other gatherings around Michigan - the most recent in Hastings. None of the events has caused much of a stir, but still raised a few eyebrows.

"Our goal is to be educational without being confrontational," said Gibson, 38, of Washington Township.

Pat Glide, salesman at Michi-Gun in St. Clair Shores, said most customers are knowledgeable about Michigan's right-to-carry gun laws.

"We get asked questions on a daily basis," he said.

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer said Wednesday his department is aware of Saturday's picnic.

"We don't believe there are going to be any problems. We feel they certainly have a right to do what they're doing," he said.

Still, Warren police plan to monitor it. Dispatchers have been advised about the picnic and how to handle any 911 calls. Dwyer refused to divulge details of an operational order he has issued for officers Saturday.

"Hopefully it will be a peaceful picnic," he added.

With Macomb County leading the way, Michigan's concealed weapons law was changed six years ago to require county gun boards - which previously could deny permits for virtually any reason - to issue a permit to any adult who passed a safety course and did not have a criminal record or mental illness.

Gun-owning motorists must remove the holster and store the firearm unloaded in the trunk or other place far from reach when behind the wheel.

Michigan is among 44 states where it's legal to carry a weapon in public with a permit. If the guns are holstered, they must be in plain view at all times, and legally purchased. Anyone purchasing a pistol must be at least 18 years old and register it with their local police department.

Gibson said open-carry is not a form of machismo. He said some in law enforcement aren't knowledgeable about gun laws in their own respective states, occasionally leading to disputes with local officials. Members who are detained are usually released after police check with their municipal attorney.

"Here in my neighborhood, I open carry almost every day," said Gibson, who said he's been threatened with arrest.

Across the nation, gun rights advocates have gained new confidence from a landmark Supreme Court ruling in June that clarified that individuals have the right to keep guns in their homes for personal protection. The 5-4 decision overturned a 32-year-old handgun ban in Washington, D.C.

In a society where many people keep cellular phones and Blackberry units on their belt, the handgun on Gibson's hip usually doesn't stand out. Still, someone in a store occasionally will inquire if he's a cop. When he replies that he's "just an ordinary citizen," some will question why he feels the need to pack a pistol. His answer: to protect his family and practice his constitutional rights.

"A right unexercised is a right lost," the married father said. "I hope and pray I never have to fire that thing at anything but the paper target at the (gun) range. But if I feel my life is threatened or my family's life is threatened, then yeah."

Gibson, a deer hunter who said he owns "several" rifles and shotguns, recalls firing a 12-gauge shotgun at age 4 with his father's guidance. The owner of a computer business, Gibson said he doesn't open carry when meeting with customers because he considers it inappropriate to display his advocacy to customers.

OpenCarry.org members acknowledge that it might be unnerving for some in public to see a group openly toting handguns. With that, members try to combat what they describe as a stigma that gun owners are lawbreakers.

Founded in 2004 by Virginia residents Mike Stollenwerk and John Pierce, OpenCarry.org's Web site boasts more than 8,500 registered members and records 600,000 hits a month.

08-19-2008, 6:58 PM
Some of the information there is misleading, unless you understand it's all talking about open carry WITHOUT a CCW permit, a lot of what is stated isn't fact if you do have a permit.. and they do issue them here.