Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Call your PDs in the morning

Here's a request to McHenry County residents to call your police departments (non-emergency number, please) in the morning and ask the chief to be at, or have his department represented at, Thursday night's meeting of the McHenry County Right To Carry Association (MCR2CA).

This free meeting is open to the public and to MCR2CA members. Chiefs of McHenry County's police departments have been invited, as have the McHenry County State's Attorney and the McHenry County Undersheriff.

MCR2CA has planned this meeting to help inform persons who will begin legally carrying concealed firearms in 2014 about the new law and what to expect during a contact with a law-enforcement officer. For example, if you get stopped for a traffic violation and you are armed, must you inform the officer that you are armed? Or can you wait until he asks if you are armed?

What if you are in the Jewel-Osco or Walgreens or Walmart or (you name it), when a passerby informs an employee or manager that you are armed? What should you do? Stay calm. Listen. Understand.

If you have seen the video of a recent contact that Neenah (Wisc.) Police had with a man who was walking around their town with his shotgun, then you know how a police contact ought to go. In that case, the police handled the contact nearly perfectly.

The police respected the armed person's rights, and they protected themselves. Charles Branstrom believed he was making a statement. He was toting his shotgun because he had the "right" to. He wasn't carrying it for self-defense, as he told the cops. As one of the cops said, out of sight of the dashboard camera but not off-microphone, "There is no law against being stupid."

The cop even explained to Branstrom that he was exposing him to unnecessary risk. If he entered a convenience store with his shotgun, any customer might think he was there to rob the place.

We won't have that problem in Illinois, because we don't have "open" carry here. But someone might notice the "print" of your firearm through your jacket or shirt and sic the cops on you. Stay calm, and hope they stay calm, too.

Will there be some problems? You bet. Just be sure you are staying calm and that you are standing in front of the squad car that has its overhead, emergency lights on. The dashboard camera will be recording. Keep your brain in gear and your mouth shut.

Even if you think you haven't broken any law, remember that you probably don't know all the laws. Also, remember: "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."

The Woodstock VFW is located at 240 N. Throop Street, and the meeting starts at 7:00PM.

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