Papers Please: Arrested At Circuit City

My brother sent me a link to The Consumerist which had some interesting articles on individuals being assertive about their liberties. 

I found one story to be especially interesting for a number of reasons such as the customer’s attitude toward an ignorant police force who needlessly harassed him, and the way the media portrayed this upstanding citizen when the ordeal was settled.

On the issue of the police, the customer seemed to take the position that his intent was to create firm legal precedent, but upon learning that they existed, he felt no need to litigate further.  Unfortunately, lawsuits are what should happen when the City infringes on civil liberties and violates such precedents. 

The point of a legal precedent is to provide others with an easier path to a legal victory in a lawsuit and to put aggressors on notice that they will lose, so it seems inconsistent that the customer here elected to back down.  At the very least he should have requested a settlement covering all court fees and his time and trouble for having to deal with the fiasco.

As glad as I was to see someone standing for their rights (in this case, the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches) in such a case, I was troubled by another aspect of the customer’s reasoning.  In his initial blog post he said:

I can reluctantly understand having to show a permit to fish, a permit to drive and a permit to carry a weapon. Having to show a permit to exist is a scary idea which I got a strong taste of today.

I understand that he didn’t say “I must” understand, but I don’t see how it’s any more reasonable to be required to show a permit to fish, drive, or carry a weapon.

Since I’m more familiar with firearms law in Ohio, I’ll use the “permit to carry a weapon” example in the quote.

Under Ohio law and the Ohio constitution, there is no requirement to obtain the permission of the state to purchase firearms.

Moreover, there is no law against walking around with a gun in a holster.

The reality is much the same as the shopper experienced.  The police are ignorant of the law, and creative about which other laws to apply as an excuse to arrest a person and “resolve the situation”.

In the case of one Ohio man, the nonviolent act of buying gas at a gas station with a gun in his holster evoked this response from police (YouTube video).

The result of this case was identical to the our brave customer – case dismissed.

So I suppose my question for the consumer is, considering that he seems to understand and respect his rights enumerated by the 4th Amendment, why does he “reluctantly understand” a non-existent requirement to show a permit to carry a weapon?

The state of Ohio does require a license to carry a firearm concealed at this time, but Alaska and Vermont do not.  Are citizens of those states somehow more trustworthy?

It should also be noted that according to a Feb, 2008 article in The Columbus Dispatch, an estimated 1 in 80 Ohioans are licensed to carry concealed firearms, and anyone else may carry a handgun in a holster unless otherwise prohibited by federal law (for reasons such as being a convicted criminal, being insane, or being under 21 – which is apparently right up there with insanity and criminality in the eyes of the Federal government).

Only two states prohibit carrying concealed firearms outrightWisconsin, and Illinois.

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