Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA), a grassroots political action committee (PAC) dedicated to defending and advancing the right of Ohio citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, raised over $7,500 in matching funds to support the legal defense of gun owners in Wisconsin who were wrongfully arrested while openly carrying firearms in a public place. The first $2,500 was donated by the Ft. St. Clair gun club in Eaton, Ohio.
“Open Carry” is legal in Wisconsin. In fact, “open carry”—where a gun is carried in plain sight—is the only legal form of firearm carry in Wisconsin. So why should anyone in the Buckeye State care about civil rights abuses in Wisconsin?
“First, this case of the ‘Wisconsin 5’ has clear federal lawsuit implications—the precedent from Wisconsin could directly affect Ohioans who choose to open carry,” says Ken Hanson, Legislative Chair of Buckeye Firearms Foundation. “Currently, over 200,000 Ohio residents hold licenses that allow them to carry concealed weapons for self-defense and other lawful purposes.”
“Secondly,” says Hanson, “Wisconsin is one of two States without a concealed carry license. The only way to exercise Second Amendment rights in Wisconsin is open carry. If Wisconsin residents cannot openly carry guns, nor carry them concealed, then the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is effectively null and void in the State of Wisconsin.”
The incident occurred on September 20th, when five members of Wisconsin Carry, Inc., a firearms rights group, met for dinner at a restaurant in Madison. As they do every day, the Wisconsin residents were lawfully carrying their weapons, in full view of other patrons of the restaurant. After an uneventful dinner, the five Madison residents were outside the restaurant preparing to leave, when eight Madison police officers arrived and demanded that the five produce identification. Officers told the restaurant patrons that they would be arrested if they did not produce ID.
“This is a violation of the Wisconsin Five’s rights,” says Hanson. “In Wisconsin, a person who has not committed a crime is not required to produce identification on demand. In fact, Wisconsin law specifically forbids law enforcement to arrest an individual who has done nothing wrong for merely refusing to show ID.”
Acting within their rights under the U.S. Constitution and Wisconsin law, two of the five restaurant patrons refused to produce identification, and were arrested for “obstruction.”
The five Wisconsin residents later learned that another patron of the restaurant—a 62-year-old woman—had called 911 merely to ask if it was legal for people to carry weapons in plain view. The caller did not report a disturbance—as a recording of the 911 call indicates. “The dispatcher actually tells the caller that ‘it is legal,'” says Hanson. “But regardless of the fact that there was no threat, no disturbance, no panic, and no violation of the law, the 911 dispatcher sent eight officers to harass five law-abiding Wisconsin taxpayers who were minding their own business and had not committed any crime.”
Madison Police did eventually recognize their error and rescinded the tickets for obstruction that were issued to the two members of Wisconsin Carry, Inc. But the police then issued Disorderly Conduct citations to all five of the people they stopped outside the restaurant, “although a 2009 memo from Wisconsin’s Attorney General explicitly states that open-carry IS NOT disorderly conduct,” says Hanson.
“Madison Police and the City of Madison then continued their disregard for Wisconsin residents’ constitutional rights by issuing a statement indicating that Madison police will approach anyone who is open-carrying using ‘the proper tactical response’—in other words, by treating law-abiding Wisconsin residents who openly carry their firearms as criminals,” says Hanson.
“The City of Madison’s news release states that individuals like the “Wisconsin 5″ should be ‘contacted, controlled, and frisked for weapons if appropriate. Officers should separate the suspect from any weapons in his/her possession during the encounter.’ This is an outrageous abuse of power on the part of the City of Madison,” Hanson says. “And Wisconsin Carry, Inc., is planning a vigorous legal defense and lawsuit against the City of Wisconsin for violating the Constitutional rights of these five law-abiding Wisconsin residents. They have our full support. In fact, Buckeye Firearms Foundation has already raised over $7,500 in donations from our members and supporters, and funds continue to pour in from concerned Ohioans and other Second Amendment supporters.”
Supporters of the “Wisconsin 5” and firearms rights can donate at BuckeyeFirearmsFoundation.org. All funds donated on behalf of the Wisconsin Five will be transferred directly to Wisconsin Carry, Inc. for their legal defense fund. Donations not earmarked for the Wisconsin 5 will be held in the Buckeye Firearms Foundation’s general fund for future civil rights actions. Donations to Buckeye Firearms Association, a 501 (c)(3) non-profilt organization, are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.
About Buckeye Firearms Association
Buckeye Firearms Association seeks to maximize Ohioans’ gun rights by endorsing and electing pro-gun candidates on the city, county, and state level, including mayors, sheriffs, legislators, and governor. We also work to defeat anti-gun legislation, pass pro-gun bills, and reform existing laws to benefit all Ohio citizens. Visit the Buckeye Firearms Association online at www.buckeyefirearms.org.
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