Packing Heat


{TEX}Hawaii((

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After I read this article, I filled out my online application to GCO!

Metro Spirit: Richmond County - Packing heat

Packing heat

If you have a license, it’s not against the law to carry a gun. Even if you’re accompanied by a man wearing a sombrero.

BY ERIC JOHNSON


AUGUSTA, GA - In a settlement filed in District Court on Dec. 4, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office admitted violating an Augusta man’s Fourth Amendment rights by seizing and holding his firearm.

The settlement brings closure to a bizarre case that is equal parts highbrow constitutional philosophy and lowbrow absurdity.

According to information contained in the consent order, a Richmond County Sheriff’s deputy was making a routine patrol of the Kroger parking lot on Washington Road when he was waved down by a customer who indicated a man carrying a firearm was inside the store acting in a bizarre and obnoxious manner.

This is where things go from “Perry Mason” to “Pee-Wee Herman.” Quoting from the report: “[the deputy] was informed that this individual was accompanied by another man wearing a sombrero and carrying a guitar.”

Zach Mead, the man with the gun, vehemently denies the allegation.

“It was a banjo,” he insists.

That’s the thing about this case. It’s not normal.

Zach Mead is not, in the strictest sense, normal. He’s military, yes, but he’s also a liberally tattooed free spirit who has friends who wear sombreros and play banjos in checkout aisles.

He also openly carries a Beretta 92 Steel-I in a holster on his hip.

Which is legal, by the way.

Maybe it’s a matter of perception, or maybe it matters whether or not you’re the one wearing the holster, but Mead has a different take on the Kroger incident than the report.

“I can understand why people might think we were kind of strange,” he says, “but it’s not against the law to be different.”

He’s right, after all. It’s not a crime to be different, and if you’re a licensed gun owner, it’s not a crime to openly carry your gun in public, either.

“Simply put, a police officer needs reasonable suspicion of a crime before he can detain someone, and merely possessing a handgun is not reasonable suspicion of a crime,” says Ed Stone, president of the gun rights group georgiacarry.org and co-counsel for Mead. “In this case, the encounter went beyond merely detaining Zachary Mead for having a handgun; the deputy in this case actually seized the handgun and took it with him.”

Because most people, including some gun owners, are unaware that a Georgia firearms license (GFL) grants you the right to openly carry a firearm, a perception exists that the gun laws are ambiguous. Stone disagrees.

“I don’t think it’s ambiguous at all,” he says. “You can carry a firearm openly or concealed in the State of Georgia with a firearms license. That’s very clear, and I think 99 percent of officers are perfectly clear on the subject.”

Though now an attorney specializing in construction law, Stone himself was a police officer for 12 years.

“We are experiencing a small problem with a small minority of officers around the State of Georgia,” he says. “Hopefully, these lawsuits will get the word out and clear that up for whatever officers may remain unclear on that.”

Stone and georgiacarry.org made a name for themselves earlier this year when they took on Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s threat to arrest Georgia firearms license holders for lawfully carrying firearms in non-secure areas of the airport.

“In this case, the most aggravating factor in our eyes was the fact that the gun was confiscated and kept for a long period of time, even when the plaintiff tried to get it back,” Stone says. “And that was after the officer knew that Zachary Mead had a firearms license and after the officer knew that Zachary Mead was a member of the United States military.”

In Georgia, having a military ID gives you the same exceptions as a police officer, so Stone contends seizing Mead’s firearm is no different than seizing a firearm from a police officer.

James Ellison, who handled the case for the sheriff’s office, sees it a little differently. Though he admits the deputy may have overstepped his authority, he thinks it was for good reason.

Ellison maintains the officer thought he smelled alcohol on Mead’s breath. That, combined with reports of his odd behavior and the fact that he was purchasing alcohol, caused him to err on the side of caution and seize the gun.

“I think the officer technically should not have done that, but I don’t think you can be too hard on the officer,” he says. “He’s thinking of the safety of the person carrying the gun and those about town.”

To Mead, Stone and georgiacarry.org, however, this case is a Second Amendment issue wrapped up in a Fourth Amendment wrapper.

The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right against unreasonable search and seizure.

“If police officers can forcibly detain people any time they see them with a firearm, then the Second Amendment would cease to exist,” Stone says. “How can you bear arms if every police officer who sees you can stop you and detain you?”

By settling out of court, Ellison saves the county the embarrassment of a trial and, potentially, quite a lot of money.

“We agreed to settle it because, technically, we felt the officer made the wrong call,” he says, pointing out that had Mead won even a token judgment from a jury, the county would have had to foot Mead’s attorney fees, which would have been considerable.

Though the settlement awarded Mead $1,000 in damages and over $3,000 in attorney fees, Mead’s frustration with the way the situation was handled remains high, and he disputes the allegations that he’d been drinking.

“That part about me drinking was totally untrue,” he says. “He [the deputy] made that up after the fact to try to cover his ass. Over the course of the whole thing, he never said anything about me smelling like alcohol, nor did he ask me if I’d been drinking. He never asked me.”
 

Onlinedad

New member
How is this guy a jackass? or giving anyone a bad name? He was lawfully carrying. End of story. Who cares if they were acting silly, by playing dress up and playing a banjo. We've all done things that someone else has thought of as strange.
This is just a story of another uniformed cop, letting his power go to his head.
 

tattedupboy

Thank God I'm alive!
How is this guy a jackass? or giving anyone a bad name? He was lawfully carrying. End of story. Who cares if they were acting silly, by playing dress up and playing a banjo. We've all done things that someone else has thought of as strange.
This is just a story of another uniformed cop, letting his power go to his head.

As a law abiding gun owner and CCW permit holder, I care, and you should too.
 

Onlinedad

New member
As a law abiding gun owner and CCW permit holder, I care, and you should too.

So, are you trying to say that everyone that carries should basically be a robot? Straight faced at all times? What about at halloween? I dress up then and I still carry. I have even been known to tell a joke and laugh while I'm carrying. What if I want to dress up like Elvis and sing Karoke? I shouldn't be alowed to carry then?

I was under the impression, that by proving that you are a responsible law abiding citizen, then you are given a permit to carry. (Although I think that it should be the other way around, but thats a different conversation). So, as long as you are not breaking any laws, then do whatever the hell makes you happy. From hiding in a hole in the ground, to going to a local convienience store and playing music. It may be different but hardly giving a bad name or reputation to anyone.
 

Split26

New member
The Military is held in a different light. And with the events of today, most don't look at the military in good way. So drawing unwanted attention is not the way to go. Is it his right to carry? Yes by all means! I always carry(G29 ) to be exact,and I have fun in the things I do , but I don't go around drawing attention, and giving the anti-gun members more reason to bitch and complain! Take the words with a grain of salt and go about your business.
 
The Military is held in a different light. And with the events of today, most don't look at the military in good way. So drawing unwanted attention is not the way to go. Is it his right to carry? Yes by all means! I always carry(G29 ) to be exact,and I have fun in the things I do , but I don't go around drawing attention, and giving the anti-gun members more reason to bitch and complain! Take the words with a grain of salt and go about your business.

I disagree that military members today are looked upon in a bad way. The majority of Americans, while they may not agree with Iraq, respect those fighting there. That being said, I'm sure the individual was "briefed" by his commander on the responsibility to show professionalism at all times. Service members, like police, are looked at differently and should realize that if they decide to carry. There's times when you can act the fool and then there's times when you need to set an example. Just because you're exempt from certain laws doesn't mean you rub it in peoples faces.
 

tattedupboy

Thank God I'm alive!
So, are you trying to say that everyone that carries should basically be a robot? Straight faced at all times? What about at halloween? I dress up then and I still carry. I have even been known to tell a joke and laugh while I'm carrying. What if I want to dress up like Elvis and sing Karoke? I shouldn't be alowed to carry then?

I was under the impression, that by proving that you are a responsible law abiding citizen, then you are given a permit to carry. (Although I think that it should be the other way around, but thats a different conversation). So, as long as you are not breaking any laws, then do whatever the hell makes you happy. From hiding in a hole in the ground, to going to a local convienience store and playing music. It may be different but hardly giving a bad name or reputation to anyone.

What I'm saying is that this guy, whether he's carrying or not, is an embarrassment. It's bad enough that gun owners are demonized by the media, and then this weirdo comes along and makes us look even worse. If you don't feel embarrassed by him, you're certainly entitled not to, but I do, and for good reason.
 

Split26

New member
PHP:
I disagree that military members today are looked upon in a bad way. The majority of Americans, while they may not agree with Iraq, respect those fighting there. That being said, I'm sure the individual was "briefed" by his commander on the responsibility to show professionalism at all times. Service members, like police, are looked at differently and should realize that if they decide to carry. There's times when you can act the fool and then there's times when you need to set an example. Just because you're exempt from certain laws doesn't mean you rub it in peoples faces.

First off the Military and Police are NOT exempt from any law. Second off 50 percent of the time the Military is looked down upon!
 
PHP:
First off  the [B]Military[/B] and[B] Police[/B] are NOT exempt from any law. Second off 50 percent of the time the Military is looked down upon![/quote]

In Georgia active duty military members are exempt from many of the firearms laws.  Here is the law:

a) Code Sections 16-11-126 through 16-11-128 shall not apply to or affect any of the following persons if such persons are employed in the offices listed below or when authorized by federal or state law, regulations, or order:

   (1) Peace officers, as such term is defined in paragraph (11) of Code Section 16-1-3, and retired peace officers so long as they remain certified whether employed by the state or a political subdivision of the state or another state or a political subdivision of another state but only if such other state provides a similar privilege for the peace officers of this state;

   (2) Wardens, superintendents, and keepers of correctional institutions, jails, or other institutions for the detention of persons accused or convicted of an offense;

   (3) Persons in the military service of the state or of the United States;

Law enforcement officers, including retired, are exempt nationwide from any states gun laws banning the carrying of weapons.  True they can't carry where it is otherwise restricted by federal law.

When it comes to military members being looked down upon, I don't know where you live but I don't see that.  The majority of everyone I talk to thinks very highly of them.  I travel from Georgia to Arizona on a regular basis and that's the case.
 
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Travellerz71

New member
Not sure about the Georgia permits for everyone

Panthers carry guns, but protest is peaceful
By Johnny Edwards| Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pumping fists and chanting "no justice, no peace," about 200 people marched through Cherry Tree Crossing housing development Monday in a demonstration against police brutality, led by shotgun-toting members of the New Black Panthers Party's Augusta chapter.







The march went off peacefully, but when it ended at the site where 23-year-old Justin "Jed" Elmore's SUV crashed after he was shot by deputies last week, officers in riot gear were waiting by a package store across 15th Street. Sheriff Ronnie Strength said Cherry Tree residents called the department complaining about Panthers members carrying guns.

"This created a major problem there, but it was not caused by folks living there," the sheriff said. "We were not going to let anyone be over there with weapons."

The march followed Mr. Elmore's funeral Monday morning at Macedonia Baptist Church on Wrightsboro Road. Uniformed members of the New Black Panthers -- a militant black supremacist organization founded in Dallas in 1989 and not affiliated with the Black Panther Party that became well-known in the 1960s -- were on hand for that, too.

Augusta chapter Chairman Bobby Price said he wanted to give neighborhood residents a nonviolent outlet to vent against Mr. Elmore's Dec. 14 killing, which sparked civil unrest with residents hurling rocks, bottles and invectives at deputies.

Not wanting to spark another confrontation when police arrived, Mr. Price had his members put their guns away and, after an interview with a local television reporter, wrapped up the demonstration and left.

"I didn't want to create a situation that could escalate and get someone hurt," Mr. Price said.

One deputy on hand was filming the scene. Sheriff Strength said his office will try to identify the Panthers' members, and charges might be filed for disorderly conduct. The group didn't notify the sheriff's office of the demonstration beforehand or obtain permits, and the Augusta Housing Authority didn't want them on its property, he said.

"Somebody could have been hurt, whether they were legal over there or not," Sheriff Strength said.

Mr. Price said all seven of his members who were present have permits to carry guns. The New Black Panthers is a militant, self-defense group exercising its right to bear arms, he said.

"We didn't do anything that I'm aware of that was against the law," Mr. Price said.

Yusuf Shalid, a family friend of Mr. Elmore who'd spoken at his funeral earlier, watched the march disapprovingly. When it ended, he tried to talk members of the crowd into going home.

He told them the Panthers shouldn't be carrying guns through a neighborhood where children live, nor should marchers be walking around with cups of beer and drinking from bottles in paper bags.

"It's about dealing with things intelligently," Mr. Shalid implored the group, then, gesturing to the deputies across the street, "These folks here will gun you down."

At the funeral, the Rev. Al Sharpton, in town for the annual James Brown Christmas toy giveaway, said he stood by ministers' and politicians' calls for calm.

"But there must be an equal call for justice," he told more than 600 people packed into the church. "To call for peace without justice is just a call for quiet. We need real peace."

The Rev. Sharpton said outside the church that the shooting troubles him because the officers didn't appear to have been in life-threatening circumstances, and Mr. Elmore wasn't a violent criminal.

Deputies Michael Hodge and Jose Rivera Ortiz had stopped Mr. Elmore at Cherry Tree Crossing on a tip he had drugs and weapons in his SUV, and said Mr. Elmore tried to run them over after they'd boxed him in. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the case and has refused to release police car videos.

The Rev. Sharpton said the incident has similarities to the killing of Sean Bell, who in 2006 was shot on his wedding day in Queens, N.Y., by plainclothes and undercover New York City Police Department Officers.

"Don't expect us to sit quietly while they take target practice with our children," the Rev. Sharpton said at the funeral.

Macedonia Baptist Pastor Gregory M. Fuller's eulogy called for young blacks to use Mr. Elmore's death as an impetus to return to school, obtain GED certificates and "get rid of the welfare mentality.

"This really ain't no funeral," the Rev. Fuller said, standing over Mr. Elmore's silver-colored coffin surrounded by poinsettias, peace lilies and roses. "Maybe what this really is is the conception of something that's going to be birthed, something that's going to change the world."

Mr. Shalid alluded during the funeral to the big-hearted image of Mr. Elmore that has emerged since his death.

"I've seen Jed see young brothers on the street. The first thing he asked them was, 'Did you go to school today?' " Mr. Shalid said.

Then he would reach into his pocket to "make it better for them," he said.

"He touched so many people that it's amazing how society can attempt to define someone by something they have no knowledge of," Mr. Shalid said. "No man can be truly defined by one characteristic. The Bible says that a righteous man falls down several times. We all have been something else before we became who we are today."

Staff writers Adam Folk and LaTina Emerson contributed to this article.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

BACKGROUND:

On Dec. 14, Justin Leonard Elmore, a 23-year-old with an extensive criminal background who was on probation for drug convictions, was shot by Richmond County sheriff's deputies. The two deputies said Mr. Elmore tried to run one of them over when they had him penned in at the Cherry Tree Crossing public housing complex. As news of the shooting spread, rocks and bottles were thrown at deputies, fires were set in trash bins, and extra deputies were called in for security. The deputies involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.

DEVELOPMENTS:

- On Dec. 15, Sheriff Ronnie Strength said the deputies appeared to be justified in the shooting, and the case was being investigated by the GBI.

- On Dec. 16, Mr. Elmore was taken off life support and died. Cherry Tree Crossing residents responded to the news by holding a candlelight vigil at the complex. A few people at the event threw rocks and bottles at deputies, and four were arrested. The same night, the GBI said it had video of the shooting but would not release it until the investigation is complete.

- On Thursday, city leaders met at Good Shepherd Baptist Church on Olive Road and called for calm. The GBI asked the FBI for assistance in its investigation.

- On Friday, the GBI said the SUV driven by Mr. Elmore was not stolen, as had been reported earlier.
 

jjohn7077

New member
I guess there is wisdom in the New York State Law that clearly states that all handguns are to be carried CONCEALED. Why would anyone need or want to carry a handgun openly displayed? To do so causes the uninformed and untrained public to react in a fearful and negative fashion. The whole concept of concealed carry is that no one knows what you have. To do otherwise is displaying a counter-productive bravado that has no place in what we are all about.
 
I guess there is wisdom in the New York State Law that clearly states that all handguns are to be carried CONCEALED. Why would anyone need or want to carry a handgun openly displayed? To do so causes the uninformed and untrained public to react in a fearful and negative fashion. The whole concept of concealed carry is that no one knows what you have. To do otherwise is displaying a counter-productive bravado that has no place in what we are all about.

While I also prefer concealed carry, I am originally from New Mexico (during a time when OC was the only legal way of carrying) and on many occasions OC'd myself. There was no fearful cry of man with a gun. This individual, by acting in an unusual manner, drew attention to himself. Being in the military was a double hit because he also brought attention to his service. I'm retired military and know that my commander would have been all over me about conduct and military image. As I stated before there's times to act the fool and times where professionalism is the way. This guy just picked the wrong time to act a fool.
 

Hamster

Hamster
The march followed Mr. Elmore's funeral Monday morning at Macedonia Baptist Church on Wrightsboro Road. Uniformed members of the New Black Panthers -- a militant black supremacist organization founded in Dallas in 1989 and not affiliated with the Black Panther Party that became well-known in the 1960s -- were on hand for that, too.


I have a question. Wouldn't a march/demostration of this type be a public gaithering and therefore it would be against the law to have firearms at it, concealed or otherwise?
 

Madpegtod

New member
Yes it is. However, they carried their guns and noone was shot, injured or maimed. Futher proof that Georgia's archaic public gathering laws need to go in the dumpster. I don't necessarily agree with the New Black Panthers' agenda, but I respect their 2nd Amendment rights. Even though they had guns, they were peacefully demonstrating. We can't pick and choose who should or shouldn't share our rights.
 

Madpegtod

New member
I guess there is wisdom in the New York State Law that clearly states that all handguns are to be carried CONCEALED. Why would anyone need or want to carry a handgun openly displayed? To do so causes the uninformed and untrained public to react in a fearful and negative fashion. The whole concept of concealed carry is that no one knows what you have. To do otherwise is displaying a counter-productive bravado that has no place in what we are all about.

There is no wisdom in that New York State Law. I used to only carry concealead. Now I carry openly or lazily concealed. I do it so that I can show people that not all guns are bad. Only guns in the hands of bad people are. Why is the public uninformed and untrained? It is because noone has taken the time to help inform them. If all they see and hear is what the liberal press tells them, they will continue to be scared sheep. So far I haven't induced any riots or caused public mayhem.

A right with restrictions is not a right at all, it is merely a privilege.
 

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