The City of MadisonÂ apparently aren’t backing down on Disorderly Conduct charges on five open carriers, though they are dropping the obstruction charges on the two who refused to turn over identification. In order to conduct a Terry Stop, the officer has to have reasonable, articulable suspicion that a crime has taken place. Open carry is lawful in Wisconsin. It is the only form of carry that is lawful. In addition, the Attorney General of Wisconsin’s opinion is that open carry alone does not amount to disorderly conduct. So what was the suspicion that a crime was taking place? If there was none, their Fourth Amendment rights have been violated, along with their Second. The only disturbance being caused was apparently from a woman who becomes unhinged at the sight of firearms.
That said, I don’t get the obsession with refusing identification. I know you’re right dammit, but I think here is a place to consider what the goals of the movement are. The best example for the hysterical 911 caller would have been for the police to show up, do their thing, and send the gun carrying folks on their way with a, “Have a nice day,” and for said hysterical woman to hear, “Sorry ma’am, they aren’t breaking any laws.” In addition to her, it matters for other witnesses as well. If you want open carry to be normal an accepted, and given that’s the only choice in Wisconsin, I would think that’s a worthwhile goal, then part of that is going to be people calling the police and being told “Well, are they doing something illegal? Because carrying a gun isn’t a crime” Seeing the gun carriers cuffed, hauled off to jail, or cited only reinforces the wrong message: that carrying a firearm is wrong and criminal. To me the primary goal should be getting the police to go away quietly, and if that involves some damage to your pride, so be it. If the police are stopping you, your rights are already being violated.
The only thing refusing to show identification accomplishes is creating an incident where one doesn’t need to exist, and getting that self-satisfied feeling that you’re right dammit. Turning over identification, even if the order is unlawful, doesn’t hurt your subsequent lawsuit any. As soon as you’re not free to leave, you’re technically under arrest, and into Fourth Amendment territory. You’re also getting your Second Amendment rights violated, in a context that would be favorable for asserting a right to carry. I do favor civil rights lawsuits.