Open carrying a firearm is protected by the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and despite efforts to limit that right, it is perfectly legal to do so in most places in Colorado. A second case of someone being improperly detained and arrested for exercising those rights has come to light.
Two weeks ago City of Thornton Police arrested a man when he open carried his firearm into the Cinebarre movie theatre. The city prosecutor was forced to drop the charges as no violation of law occurred and Thornton is expected to face a civil lawsuit over the unlawful detention.
A second, similar case in Colorado Springs came to light in recent days.
James Sorensen was leaving the city’s Pridefest in Acadia Park last month with his 40-caliber handgun strapped to his belt. Officers detained him for 15 minutes before placing him under arrest. This, again, is despite the fact that no law was broken.
Sorensen’s partner recorded much of the event (video below) which largely features Sorensen repeatedly asking why he was being detained. Three Colorado Springs police officers, two of whom were sergeants, appeared to be unable to answer his question.
Finally, a third sergeant appears, and arrests Sorensen. Charges were later dropped, just like in the Thornton case.
Colorado Springs police say that a ‘cheat sheet’ used by officers said firearms were forbidden in city parks. The sheet was woefully outdated as the law (wrongfully) limiting a citizen’s right to carry a firearm was changed 10 years ago.
Certainly the vast majority of police officers know the law and uphold it to the best of their ability. One can’t help but wonder though how not one of these officers didn’t know the legality of what could be a serious offense were it illegal.
As I wrote in the case of James Mapes, open carrying a firearm is not a particularly smart thing to do, particularly in light of recent tragedies in Colorado and other states. It unduly invites attention and is sure to result in at least being questioned by the police.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Mapes and Sorensen simply did this to draw attention to themselves and put police in a ‘gotcha’ situation. That is unfair to the police and it certainly does nothing to further gun rights and in fact does more harm than good to the cause.
However, police need to be more aware of local laws governing the carrying and display of firearms. Improperly detaining a citizen in direct violation of their constitutional rights is wrong and there is no real excuse for it.