Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In The Wild, Wild West (Allis)

There's been a story from West Allis that has been followed very closely by all the gun nuts in the entire country. The story, in a nutshell is this guy, Brad Krause, wanted to plant a tree in his yard. While doing so, he thought it would be a great idea to openly carry a gun. Apparently, a neighbor or passerby was alarmed enough to call the police to report a guy walking around with a gun. The police respond and cite the man for disorderly conduct. Today, a municipal judge in West Allis ruled that the guy's behavior did not rise to the level of disorderly conduct and found him not guilty.

The usual local gun nuts celebrate.

I beg to differ.

This is a suburban area, and not out in the middle of the boonies somewhere. The people living in this neighborhood have a right to certain expectations. They are in their social, if not necessarily technically legal, right to expect not to have to worry about neighbors playing music too loud, running around naked, or have to worry about some guy playing wild, wild west.

In other words, they have a right to expect their neighbors to act in an orderly manner, just as their neighbors can expect the same from them.

There are only a few reasons that I can think of for why this guy would have to carry a weapon while planting a tree:
  • He was traumatized by an earth worm when he was little,
  • There have been some really, really big termites spotted in the neighborhood,
  • The chipmunks have formed a street gang,
  • He was looking for his fifteen minutes of fame, or
  • He was looking to make a case to challenge the gun rules.
If any of the first three reasons, the man is certifiably insane and should not be allowed to own a firearm. If it was either of the latter two reasons, surely he could have found a better way of going about it.

Either way, in my opinion, it was foolishness on his part.

The thing that burns me up though is the attitude by Mr. Krause and many of his supporters:
"The reason people are upset about this is it's not about guns. It's about civil liberties. And we obviously have a property issue. There was no warrant issued, no exigent circumstances, no permission to enter the property, yet the police stormed in with guns drawn and put my life at risk," Krause said. Asked why he was carrying a gun to plant a tree, Krause said, "There's no requirement to justify why you're able to exercise constitutional rights. I and everyone else are able to go to church, they're able to vote, they're able to speak their mind. Even though the city might not like it, we have that right."
Toting a firearm around unnecessarily is not the same as going to church, voting or shooting off one's mouth. No one has ever felt intimidated by someone else going to church. Voting does not endanger anyone else's safety, no matter how much you might disagree with the candidate.

And the cops had every right to respond as they did. In fact, that is how they are trained to respond. They don't know who this guy is or what he's doing. They only know that there was a report of someone walking around with a gun. In those circumstances, you do show up in force to make a presence, which helps to deter people from doing something foolish or dangerous. And given that someone was alarmed enough to call the police, that is all they reason they need to come on his property and confront him. Judging from his comments in the article, I would not be surprised to learn that he was lipping off to the cops as well. That would fit in with someone trying to make a point or get some attention.

Furthermore, the only person that put his life at risk, as he claims, is himself. If he didn't think far enough ahead to realize that someone might feel threatened by a guy with a gun, or that the police would respond accordingly, that's too bad for him.

On a slightly different track, my good friend Illy-T agrees with the premise that disorderly conduct is an overly general, catch-all kind of crime. There is some logic to his position, but I disagree that it is a bad law, or that it did not apply to this case.

When I worked at group homes or psychiatric hospitals, or even at the House of Correction, there was always a catch all kind of rule like this. The reason being is that someone would inevitably do something stupid and/or dangerous, then try to rationalize their poor behavior by claiming that there was no rule specifying whether they could or could not do whatever it was they did. This catch all phrase would then apply.

I readily admit that it can be abused by some law enforcement officers, and there are stories that prove it, but this is not one of those cases.

I think the judge made the wrong call on this case. While open carry is not necessarily illegal, it doesn't make it the right thing to do. Mr. Krause behaved in a way that was disorderly for a quiet, suburban neighborhood, whatever his motivation might have been, and should be held responsible for those behaviors.


  1. I am far from a gun nut, as I really don't like guns, but I disagree. If the guy is just minding his business and his gun strapped on and not bothering anyone, I just don't see this qualifies as disorderly conduct. Was he looking for his 15 minutes of fame, maybe, but that is not a crime, just look at you tube.
    But, how did he act dangerously? Just having a gun doesn't make it dangerous.

  2. Huh? Wisconin is just like most states - state constitution guarantees the right to bear arms and open carry is legal and requires no permit.

    Open Carry is becoming popular all over the country and is frankly normal vehavior - what do you want peiople to do, hide their guns?

    Sorry, gun carry's comin' out of the closet. See more at http://www.OpenCarry.org

  3. What does anyone have to benefit from a law that permits "open carry"?

    That is just scary..

  4. We all know the feeling. When we were five, six or seven when we got a new six gun and holster for Christmas, we wanted to wear it everywhere, even to bed. Many of us, however, did grow out of that.

  5. I know you all are not into gun porno as the righties, but am I incorrect in assuming that the imbecile could accidentally drop the gun, it could go off, it could injure and kill someone?

  6. The WAPD was right in issuing the D/C ticket.

    The WA Municipal judge was right in dismissing the D/C ticket.

    Hats off to Mr. Krause. He is right, too.

  7. To krshorewood:

    Yes, you are incorrect.

    The gun was in a positive retention holster...a holster that is commonly used by the police. This means that not only is it not going to just "fall out" or jump out on its own, it is difficult for anyone but the owner to withdraw it.

    Some old guns (Nothing I'm aware of newer than 30 years) might have a risk of discharge in a fall, but I'd feel pretty comfortable stating that you could drop more recent designs from 30 feet onto concrete and be confident that it is not going to discharge.

  8. How nice. I am so assured.

    Now he can play cowboy with only our sensibilities at risk.

  9. "They don't know who this guy is or what he's doing." Wasn't the call from his neighbor? Don't you suppose they identified him as the neighbor? Sure, the police get to decide just how they react, and I'm sure a gun makes them edgy. This whole story smacks of neighbor v. neighbor feuding.

  10. If you don't like the fact that he's open carrying, you might like to know that concealed carry bills have nearly passed but were vetoed repeatedly by Governor Doyle and could not make override due to the flip flopping of certain representatives in the state House of Representatives.

    Doyle was also the one who argued in front of the State Supreme Court (as AG) that the ban on concealed carry, even in one's own home or business, was constitutional because one could open carry. When he vetoed concealed carry, Doyle said "if you want to carry a gun, wear it on your hip".

    If your state's governor says you must open carry, how could it be disorderly conduct?

  11. Well lets see what benefit having a firearm with you can be. wether it be openly carried or concealed.

    1st ... The police have no legal liablility to protect you or your family or friends.

    2nd...The police hardly ever arrive on the scene to STOP a crime. They usually arrive to investigate the crime and pick up the bodies.

    3rd... When police do arrive on a scene, they usually spend the next 10 to 15 minutes ...THINKING about what they are going to do. By that time your probably already dead.

    Also if any of you anti gun people would ever do even the smallest amount of research you would find this out...

    The Cowboys of the Wild Wild West are all in Hollywood Ca.

    The violent crime rate of the Old West was alot lower then it is today.

    Wake up and smell what your slinging...


    Why would anyone be so stupid to put your trust into people who..

    Have no legal liability.
    Hardley ever arrive in time to stop a crime.

    It makes no sense.

  12. No one ever has felt threatened by someone going to church?

    How about the white supremacists who harassed and prosecuted black people all over the south for decades because they felt black people "getting religion" might give them the "silly idea" that they may be equal in the eyes of God, and therefor equal on this earth!

    They were threatened because they were ignorant and selfish and wanted to define for others what was proper and socially correct regardless of how it violated individual liberties or law.

    Three rights are specific to this case that the author of this article would like to selfishly decide for others when or if they should exercise. The basic human right to self defense. The Constitutional right to keep AND bear arms. The fundamental right for each free person to decide for THEMSELVES how and when to exercise their rights under the direction of law, and to peaceably change that law and how it is applied when it conflicts with individual liberties.

    Sounds like the author may be a supremacist of another kind.

    Seattle, Wa.

  13. you could drop more recent designs from 30 feet onto concrete and be confident that it is not going to discharge

    In fact, guns designed and manufactured in the US and Western Europe are specifically "drop-tested"

  14. To your larger point, Cap, you could have just cut-and-pasted my post on the issue.

  15. So many comments, so little time, so I will just hit the highlights...

    Dan, his behavior was outside of social norm. Who knows what he was thinking.

    Mike, Welcome! But c'mon, "coming out of the closet?" Is that a sexual orientation thing now?

    Anony 10:33, If CCW was so popular, why did the Repubs block it from going on a referendum? Plus, the Gov did not say one must open carry, but that there were no laws against it.

    Anon 10:42, Paranoia is an ugly thing. What was he protecting himself from? Crabgrass?

    FMCDH-Your analogy is a non sequitur. The poor black people didn't hurt anyone by going to church, unless you consider the fear- and hate-mongering idiots. Now who is doing that in this thread? And why would the gun nuts rights be more important than the rights of everyone else in the neighborhood? Looks like you are being the supremacist, sir.

    Dad, You were close to being rationale. Keep working on it. You may get there yet.

  16. Sorry to hear that there are so many bed-wetters in Wisconsin alarmed by an inanimate object. By open carrying a firearm in a holster on his hip, Mr. Krause was showing anyone and everyone intending harm on him and his that he was fully prepared to defend such. Perhaps this is a frightening concept to the sheep trained to believe that the government will protect them?

    Guess what? Crime happens everywhere, even in West Allis, and all the police can and will do is show up after the fact.

  17. Sarge,

    Not everyone is afraid of their own shadow. They also know how to take care of themselves without putting others at risk.

  18. I honestly do not understand why people are freaked out about a person carrying a tool on their belt. A gun is a tool , the same as cell phone, but used less often.

    Man is dangerous and uses tools to inflcit damage. The blame is not for the tool, but the man. A man can kill with a hammer or nailgun, but the intent has to be there.

    A man on his own property has the rights to be undisturbed generally and not expect police to invade and pull guns on him. Why are the police scared of a man with a holstered gun? We are not scared of police with a holstered gun.

    The neighbor called the police to ask a question, but the police did not know the law allowing open carry in Wisconsin.
    I am beginning to think the police are jeolously protecting their percieved monopoly to carry a gun.

    Planting a tree is not disordely conduct no matter what the man had on his belt.

  19. Wake up and smell the coffee folks, O.C. is legal in Wisconsin. In every case and in every place armed citizens decrease crime dramatically.

  20. Look at it this way.

    The guy was in his own yard, bothering no one, committing no crime. A nosy do gooder type neighbour calls the cops on him.

    How is this disorderly conduct?

    Would it be disorderly conduct to put up an Obama for president sign in your yard if your neighbour did not approve?

  21. No one was ever killed with a cell phone or a yard sign.

    And FLR72, no statistical proof to back your claim up until they come out with the names of the licensed gun carriers. While their IDs are secret, there is no way to prove or disprove that statement.

    What can be proven is that there is a more murders in the average American city than in all of Europe, which don't have the same gun love.

  22. In Europe you are more likely to be clubbed to death or stabbed, you pick.

    If you are equating lawful gun use, such as open carry, with un-lawful use, such as using one to commit murder, then you have totally lost your argument.

    Open Carry is legal! It is also a right.

    On the other hand, you have no right to FEEL comfortable thus your feelings of being uncomfortable around guns is irrational. Especially irrational is your fear of LAW-ABIDING citizens that Open Carry.

  23. This is getting so tedious...I will have to just start cutting and pasting to save time.

    But for the gazillionth time:

    Just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean it is the right thing to do.

    And even law abiding citizens have bad days. Why take the chance for someone else's insecurity.

  24. A woman was shot in her own driveway taking out her trash just a few months ago in Milwaukee.More than 99% of the gun crimes in the USA are committed by exconvicts,gang bangers, or illegal aliens usually with illegal guns who dont care about ANY laws. As far as Europe goes Englands gun crimes are higher right now than they have ever been.Over 60% of their burglaries happen while the occupants are home(USA is 12%).By the way the British are fighting to get their gun rights back since obviously gun laws dont keep guns out of criminals hands.They have had marches thousands strong through London trying to get their gun rights back.

  25. And an 11 year old boy shot his dad's girlfriend in the back of the head with his junior sized shotgun, killing her and her unborn baby.

    The vast majority of Europe, including London, are against guns.

  26. You say no one has ever been killed by a phone. Maybe not directly but I can assure you that the rate of people being killed or injured by people while on their cell phone is pretty high. I came through the scene of an accident in Orlando, FL where a woman was talking on her cell phone, ran a red light and run over a mom and her two children. The key to any tool is proper and safe usage.

  27. The key to any tool is proper and safe usage

    And common sense.

  28. Capper Wrote on February 19, 2009:
    No one was ever killed with a cell phone or a yard sign.

    And FLR72, no statistical proof to back your claim up until they come out with the names of the licensed gun carriers. While their IDs are secret, there is no way to prove or disprove that statement.

    What can be proven is that there is a more murders in the average American city than in all of Europe, which don't have the same gun love.

    Specifically Mr. Capper:

    There was a 2002 paper published on the columbia international affairs online. The paper addressed you comment about europe directly. To quote from the article; "Last year, London saw more serious assaults, armed robberies, and car thefts than New York; 2002 could see London's murder rate exceed the Big Apple's."

    "In a 2001 study, the British Home Office (the equivalent of the U.S. Department of Justice) found violent and property crime increased in the late 1990s in every wealthy country except the United States."

    Therefore I believe your comment to be FALSE!

  29. Mr. Capper:

    As someone who just happened onto you blog, I would like to state for the record that I agree with your “labels” 100% (Guns, Mental Health, Society in Crisis) count not be more true. Society is in crisis as it relates to the mental health of those who possess fear of firearms and bigotry towards those who own/carry firearms

    I would like to address you last statement first and point out that although you are correct, I fail to understand how an individual carrying a firearm for any legal purpose infringes on your rights. If you could explain that in further detail, I would be glad to read it.

    As to you second point, you are again correct, just because you have the RIGHT to do something, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Just look at the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The African American individuals like Dr. King who stood up and demanded acknowledgement of fundamental rights, or Ms. Rosa Parks, she had a RIGHT to sit where she chose but it doesn’t mean she should have. I am certain that many Caucasian people felt fear, and felt they were in some physical danger of being harmed by having to sit next to an African American or drink from the same fountain as an African American. Just because the African Americans have the RIGHT to do these things, doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do. Additionally, you do have the right to state your opinion here, but that doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do.

    We could use a more recent example of the Evangelical Christians in California. There was that young lady, Christine Cloud, who went to a public park and sang Amazing Grace. She was subsequently attacked and assaulted by some pro gay rights people. She too had the RIGHT to sing the song; it just wasn't the right thing to do.

    Protesting government actions, like the war is ones RIGHT, but that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

    Protesting in favor or against abortion is ones RIGHT, but that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

    One could make the argument that exercising the RIGHT to protest (pro/con) the war endangers lives. People DID make the argument that the African Americans were endangering the health and welfare of the Caucasians. It certainly endangered lives, look at home many people were killed during the civil rights movement of the 1960's. One could make the argument that exercising the RIGHT to protest abortion (pro/con) endangers lives. One could make the argument (pro/con) that the young woman exercising her right to sing Amazing Grace endangered lives. In addition, one could make the argument that exercising ones RIGHT to possess a firearm endangers lives, which you did.

    I would submit that ALL these actions have the potential to endanger lives. The issue here is WHO (you, me, the government) decides/dictates what is the right thing to do? That is why we have the constitutions. The constitutions are documents that tell us no ONE individual, set of individuals or even government can dictate/decide what is the right thing to do, when it comes to our RIGHTS, each individual has the ability to decide for themselves.

    I will also point out, Wisconsin citizens have had the right to "open carry" firearms since before Wisconsin was a state. Your fear, that exercising that right somehow endangers you, is unfounded. I cannot find a single instance in Wisconsin, where a firearm, peaceably carried in a holster, has discharged endangering or injuring another individual, not one instance in over 100 years.

  30. Anony 7:45

    You proved yourself wrong by comparing apples and oranges. As you pointed out, I said deaths, your rebuttal deals with other stats, and not deaths.

    Anony 8:30

    Don't you think that may because most people don't go around with open carry? Besides, I never argued it was the gun, it was the person with the gun. As the NRA nuts are fond of pointing out, guns don't kill, people do.

  31. "2002 could see London's murder rate exceed the Big Apple's."

    I guess I always equated murder with death, you don't?

    And you are arguing the RIGHT should NOT be exercised. I asked what other rights shouldn't be exercised and who should decide, you avoided the answer.

    Lastly, you insults do little to aid your argument, rather they diminish it.

  32. I'm not anonymous, just not registering...

    "Apparently, a neighbor or passerby was alarmed enough to call the police to report a guy walking around with a gun."
    No, a neighbor called police to ask if it was legal for Brad to be wearing a gun in his own yard. This same neighbor testified FOR Brad, saying he wasn't alarmed and had nothing against Brad.

    "This is a suburban area"
    Crime doesn't happen in suburban areas near you? It sure does here in the Milwaukee area.

    "The thing that burns me up though is the attitude: 'It's about civil liberties'."
    So which other civil liberties are you against? Which ones would you be OK with your local cop deciding whether or not you can exercise them? If I were an officer and decided I didn't like you writing a blog, would you stop or would you protest that your rights were being violated?
    There is no difference between that & what happened to Brad. The Wisconsin & Federal Constitutions clearly say that the _people_ have the _right_ to keep & _bear_ arms.

    "They only know that there was a report of someone walking around with a gun."
    OMG! That person over there is associating with friends! And that one is telling others her opinion! And _that_ one has a sticker that says he voted!! Investigate them! Hold them at gunpoint until you decide it's OK for them to exercise their rights!
    The first one could be a group of felons or terrorists, the second one could be inciting to riot, and the third might have voted for the candidate you hate.

    "the only person that put his life at risk... is himself."
    You think my pointing a loaded gun at you, with my finger on the trigger, wouldn't put your life at risk? What if I'd just stormed onto your property and started shouting at you while pointing the gun at you? Since the officers were acting illegally, they have no more legal protection than the average citizen who does the same thing.

    "Mr. Krause behaved in a way that was disorderly for a quiet, suburban neighborhood"
    His behaviour was NOTHING like what is listed in the DC statute. Nobody else was alarmed, even the neighbor who called to ask legal advice from the police (bad move - they obviously don't know the laws).
    In fact, in APR09 the Wisconsin Attorney General issued a statement saying that the mere carrying of a handgun in a holster, absent anything else, is NOT DC. Police have to have "reasonable & articulable suspicion" of a crime to detain someone, let alone arrest him & confiscate his property.