One of the changes that we are working on in the legislature is a clarification of Texas Penal Code 42.01(a)(8).
Sec. 42.01. DISORDERLY CONDUCT. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly:
(1) uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;
(2) makes an offensive gesture or display in a public place, and the gesture or display tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;
(3) creates, by chemical means, a noxious and unreasonable odor in a public place;
(4) abuses or threatens a person in a public place in an obviously offensive manner;
(5) makes unreasonable noise in a public place other than a sport shooting range, as defined by Section 250.001, Local Government Code, or in or near a private residence that he has no right to occupy;
(6) fights with another in a public place;
(7) discharges a firearm in a public place other than a public road or a sport shooting range, as defined by Section 250.001, Local Government Code;
(8) displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm
While intelligent people understand what paragraph (8) means, our law enforcement personnel seem to think it’s up to interpretation. The code does NOT say “displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place and it alarms people.” It says that such such display must be “calculated to cause alarm.” Our mission statement is very clear on our purpose and intent for engaging in these open carry events: to educate and raise awareness. Just because some is “alarmed” doesn’t mean that something was actually alarming. It’s no different that someone claiming to be offended when the action wasn’t necessarily offended.
However, Fort Worth Police Department has taken on the stance that if just ONE person calls in and complains or says that they were “alarmed” members of our group could be arrested for Disorderly Conduct. In other words, FWPD thinks what the individual bias on ONE individual trumps the rights of the entire state population. Their belief is that gun owners are expected to know the thoughts of every single person in society and whether or not they are afraid of guns.
In a recent exchange with FWPD Sergeant Keith McGuire – who is NOT a spokesperson for the department – he tells Open Carry Texas that “as long as you are not pointing the rifle in anyone’s direction (which is almost impossible in a public street) you are not really supposed to be arrested.”
Whatever happened to the rule of law in the State of Texas? We have held nearly 100 open carry walks across the state in areas both crowded and sparse, small towns and large cities. Police officers do not write the law, they enforce it. There is serious abuse of authority issue when a senior law enforcement officer like Sergeant McGuire can spout things like, “It is not illegal to walk around with a loaded 30-30 rifle. If however someone is alarmed by someone doing so, the police may take action under Disorderly Conduct laws in Texas.” Then to go on and say, “The right to bear arms is important to all of us, but to walk around in a crowded commercial area just because you can is unwise and could get folks in trouble.”
Why is that? Why is it that police officers can walk round with openly carried firearms and people don’t freak out, but when a private citizen – the masters of every police officer – does the same thing, it’s up to interpretation on whether it’s “wise” or not?
The following image does not come with citations, so it’s not shared as any sort of factual smoking gun on the issue. For good reason I’m sure, there really isn’t a tracking mechanism or reporting requirement that I’m aware of in the United States that tracks the number of police shootings that injure or kill innocent people and bystanders. However, a look through the Bureau of Justice Statistics site reveals a wealth of information that seems to at least support the contention of this graphic.
ABC News recently did a story on the alarming rise in shootings at the hands of police officers that focused on whether they are even properly trained. We give police officers wide latitude in their jobs and they are typically untouchable in court. When it comes down to a citizen’s word against an officer’s word in court, the citizen doesn’t stand a chance. Sir Robert Peel, credited with being the father of the modern police force, created nine principles of policing.
1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.
3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.
7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
It would seem to me that the Fort Worth Police Department has forgotten many of these principles, if not, completely turned their back on them.
If, in the eyes of the Ft. Worth Police Department, a mere statement is all that is needed to meet the letter of the law in PC 42.01, then I submit a statement to the contrary that our actions are not “calculated to cause alarm.” Since I know my intent better than someone else does, my statement should trump theirs.
OCT was founded to educate the public that the presence of a firearm is NOT something to be feared. We want to teach people they should feel safe seeing an armed populace. They don’t freak out when a gaggle of police officer walks by with loaded pistols on their belts, they shouldn’t fear their fellow citizen either.
The fact is that mass shootings over the past 60 years have NOT increased as the media, politicians and the Ft. Worth Police Department would have you believe. The only thing that’s changed is the incessant focus on these isolated events in the media. Then the federal and state gun grabbers work feverishly to use these incidents to push their agendas. They stigmatize guns to the point that you can even eat a PopTart a certain way without getting into trouble. There is an epidemic of police violence in this country and, yet, legal gun owners are the ones being castigated. Texas ranks 4th in the number of police-involved shootings with only Florida, Illinois and California having more such shootings.
And yet, we only have a firearm murder rate of 2.91 per 100,000.
All these facts tend to support the graphic above and also blow a major hole in the narrative being dictated by the FWPD.
Texans need to speak up and put our law enforcement officers that disobey their oaths and violate state laws when they say things like this: “A common sense person would not want to walk around in a public place with a rifle or shot gun as the Police will be called I am sure. The only charge someone could be arrested for just walking around with the rifle is a Disorderly Conduct violation listed below.”
Sergeant McGuire doesn’t think that people that exercise their rights according to Texas law have any common sense based on this statement. Who knew that in the land of the free you could be arrested and charged for just walking around with a rifle, which is perfectly legal? Maybe I need to remind Sergeant Keith McGuire and the rest of the Fort Worth Police Department about another section of the law, PC 39.03:
Sec. 39.03. OFFICIAL OPPRESSION. (a) A public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he:
(1) intentionally subjects another to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment, or lien that he knows is unlawful;
(2) intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, knowing his conduct is unlawful; or
(3) intentionally subjects another to sexual harassment.
(b) For purposes of this section, a public servant acts under color of his office or employment if he acts or purports to act in an official capacity or takes advantage of such actual or purported capacity.
(c) In this section, “sexual harassment” means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, submission to which is made a term or condition of a person’s exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, either explicitly or implicitly.
(d) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
OCT will not hesitate to file both state criminal charges and federal civil rights charges if they violate their oaths and the law by acting in a manner in which Sergeant McGuire advocates in his communications with us.
I have left numerous emails and phone call messages with Chief Jeffrey W. Halstead and have not received a single response. Please check out our Facebook page for our open carry event happening in Fort Worth this Saturday. We hope to see you there.