Our law firm serves clients in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and throughout southwest Michigan.

40-minute firearm incident raises rights debate in Michigan

What are our rights? On the surface, that question is easily answered. Just look at the Bill of Rights for guidance. We have the right to free speech, to practice the religion of our choosing, to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, to avoid self-incrimination, to due process and to bear arms, amongst others of course.

Many of these rights were written to protect us in the criminal justice system. Although they are easy to say in a few short words, in practice those rights aren’t always quite that simple. A recent incident in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is a clear example of just how unclear those rights can be at times — and exactly why having a criminal defense attorney devoted to your case is such an immeasurable benefit.

The incident lasting 40 minutes involved a man carrying a gun in public. We have a right to bear arms…right? Anyone who has ever purchased a gun knows that the right is not unlimited. Not only do some weapons require a permit, but they cannot even be carried a certain way in public in Michigan.

In this case, the man was carrying the gun on a public street without a sling. A point of contention involved answering the question of whether or not the way in which he was holding the unloaded weapon could be considered “brandishing,” which would be considered a misdemeanor charge.

Another question raised in the incident was whether or not the man was intoxicated. Executing another privilege, the man refused a Breathalyzer test, but officers claim that his actions made him appear intoxicated. Although this incident ended prior to any blood alcohol tests being taken, another incident may have gone that far. A .02 BAC could mean the loss of a gun license and confiscation of the weapon. A .08 BAC could lead to a count of possession of a firearm while intoxicated.

Another right at issue throughout the verbal exchange in this incident was the bounds of free speech. The man claimed that he was there to raise awareness about the erosion of rights, and he was using some strong expletives to get his point across. The man said he had the right to use the language he chose, but the officers said that he couldn’t. The man said that “a revolution was coming” and the officers said that this constituted a “war threat.”

These weren’t the only issues that the two different parties debated throughout the incident. This confrontation was eventually resolved, but it acts as an example of just how murky the waters can get in a short amount of time. Again, we remind individuals of the value of presenting a strong defense.

Source: mlive, “Tense encounter between open-carry advocate and Kalamazoo police detailed in recordings, report,” Alex Mitchell, June 16, 2014 

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