In our current tense political atmosphere, our constitutional rights are discussed daily on social media, in the news and in the halls of government. The right to bear arms continues to be a hot topic subject to much debate.
While Utah remains a traditional open carry state where permit holders may wear their personal weapon on their person in plain view, there are times when the opportunity to exercise your open carry rights may need to take a back seat to common sense.
Public fears can fuel a situation
Recently in Michigan, a pair of men entered a police station wearing body armor, face masks and bearing a rifle. The officers on duty immediately reacted by telling the men to put their weapons on the floor. Guns were pointed. Other visitors to the station fled in terror, suspecting the worst.
However, the two men weren't there to wreak terror on law enforcement officers. As it turns out, they were filming the situation live on Facebook in order to make a political point. They wanted to show on live public video how police react when citizens exercise their open carry rights. As a result, the two men are now facing misdemeanor charges. Plus, $4,000 worth of their gear was confiscated. On the face of their actions, they may not have been breaking any laws. But was it a smart choice?
Being politically active doesn't mean breaking the law
While participating in the democratic process includes the opportunity to gather with like-minded individuals to protest laws and practices that seem unfair, it doesn't provide a blank check for what might be viewed as reckless and illegal actions in the name of change.
For example: if you are considering joining your friends for a protest march, you will be expected to act responsibly and with respect to the property and persons of others at the event. Should the protest turn more violent, even if you didn't personally do something wrong, it is possible you can be swept up with those who broke the law and end up facing a judge.
Common sense rules the day
Ultimately, it is your responsibility to respect that we live in tense political times. With mass shootings and legal abuses making headlines on a daily basis, it will only benefit you to consider how others will perceive your actions when you decide to demonstrate your rights. If your intent is to enter a public place and elicit a violent response to your actions, it's a good chance that local law enforcement will arrest you, possibly for your own protection, even if you perhaps didn't technically do anything illegal.
If you've been charged while exercising your legal rights, it's a good time to contact an attorney experienced in defending criminal cases so that they can help protect your rights.