There Is the Law, and There Is Reality: Blaze Readers Weigh in on Decorated Vet Arrested After Rudely Displaying His Rifle

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A decorated Army veteran and prominent military blogger described how he was arrested during a hike with his son and accused of “rudely displaying” his AR-15 in Texas. Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham said the officer treated him like a “street thug” when he was only trying to protect himself and his son from local wildlife.

The story garnered more than 1,000 reader comments, in addition to an update with the Texas police department’s response.

Here’s what some of you had to say:

Melvin Spittle:
Texas law may allow an officer to investigate display of firearms to the extent of verifying that the suspect legally owns or possesses the firearm and that it is not stolen and is properly registered if applicable. If that is the case, they can only detain you until this is verified. My advice to the suspect is to verbally ask if he is under arrest. If not he must ask if he can then leave. If the officer is complying with a state weapons check law, they must limit the encounter to the check. Make no statements beyond identifying yourself and do not give permission of any searches. Invoke your right to consult with an attorney and state you will be happy to answer questions in your attorney’s presence. The key is to remain calm and let the officer make the mistakes. You do not help your case if you get verbally combative and take a physical posture that can be considered threatening. If you do, they have a right to escalate.

texastommy:
Texas law allows a person to open carry a long gun almost anywhere, as long as the gun is not displayed in a threatening manner. Banks, schools, churches and so forth are restricted and one cannot open, or close carry there for that matter. Oh, business can prevent carry if they post a sign prominently at their public entrances. Few do.

Learn the law, then your comments will actually be intelligent.

My guess is that this guy will be charged with “resisting” or some other garbage so the officers save face, but I doubt he’ll be prosecuted for any gun related crime.

rangerskippy:
There is the law, and there is reality.

If I was that fellow, and cops came up to me, and I was carrying a rifle, I would slowly, and gently lay the rifle down on the ground, and then speak to the officer. I would not make any rapid movement, or put my hands near the rifle or get lippy. By letting the cop know that he was going to lower the rifle to the round via the sling, he could have diffused the situation. I could be wrong, but I think he was trying to put on a show for the kid and the camera.

I broke down once, and had a pistol in my truck, and I was also a CCW holder. While walking home through the rough part of town a cop pulled over to check me out. He did not see the pistol in my belt in the front of me. I slowly put my hands on top of my head, told the officer that there was a loaded Browning High-power in my waist line of my pants, and told him that I had a concealed carry permit in my wallet. He never got excited, thanked me for telling him, had me unload the pistol, and then asked me for my CCW. He then gave me a ride to where I could get a taxi.

Cops put their lives on the line doing a tough job. Many of them are NRA members, and believe in conceal carry. If you treat most of them with respect, they do the same to you. Do not go looking for a fight, because you may find one.

Remember this is Texas, where we have non-legal folks traveling across the state.

Jake in Denver:
Per TexasGunLaws.org – “Long guns (rifles / shotguns) do not have to be concealed, but must be carried in a manner not calculated to cause alarm, and do not require a license.”

Looks like an AR15 may be open carried legally as long as it is done responsibly. The officer was in the wrong.

Kumo:
He then asked me what I’m doing with the rifle, to which I responded in a calm manner, “Does it matter, officer? Am I breaking the law?”

This is exactly where MSG Grisham screwed up. Attitude is everything when you are stopped by Texas law enforcement. A better response would have been, “Just taking my Boy Scouts out on a training mission, I figured it would be safer to bring my rifle along just in case we get threatened by some of the local wildlife.” The cop would have likely noticed his rank on his jungle hat and a conversation would have very likely ensued about his military service along with a polite thank you by cop for his service to our nation. The cop would have probably just told him to sling the weapon over his back and let him go.

“Long guns (rifles / shotguns) do not have to be concealed, but MUST BE CARRIED IN A MANNER NOT CALCULATED TO CAUSE ALARM, and do not require a license.”

His other major mistake was in having the weapon clipped on the front of his Camelback, instead of having it slung over a shoulder and on his back with the muzzle pointed down. If ever in doubt, always go back to basic soldiering skills and weapon safety. Junior enlisted are not above the rules and neither are senior enlisted.

This is a good example of what to do and what not to do when dealing with Texas law enforcement.

rangerskippy:
if cops had seen a dude walking a back country round, escorting a boy and having a rifle slung, and not done anything, and latter found out he had kidnapped and molested the kid, what would folks be saying then?

It is not rocket science, cops often times are dealing with dangerous criminals. They want to go home at night and hug their wives and kids. When they deal with a person holding a firearm, they are not there to play games. Do what they say, when they say, and how they say, and do it with common sense and courtesy, and all comes out well. Flap your jaws and act the fool, and you may just find out a thing or two.

I am betting the fat soldier does not get his rifle back, and I bet he did not impress his kid very much.

TrueBlueAmerican1:
You guys, I get what you’re saying about the cops not acting appropriately. But this idiot could have prevented the whole ordeal by calmly and politely answering the questions of the officers. They would have let him be on his way after asking a few questions and maybe checking on his license, all of which they have a right to do, especially when the guy is carrying an AR on his back. If you’re walking around with an AR on your back, EXPECT to get stopped if you pass a cop. Be prepared to answer politely any questions the officer has. It’s that simple. The whole thing was preventable, and the video actually makes this guy look like a jackass more than it paints the cops in a bad light. This is the type of stuff that gives fuel to the anti-gun crowd, and also gives fuel to those few cops I’ve met who are opposed to open carry and any citizen being able to carry a gun. Some cops are douchebags, sure, but most of them SUPPORT open carry and the 2nd amendment. But their job is to keep the public safe. If somebody is walking around with an AR on their back, they’re going to get stopped. I would hope the cops around my neighborhood would stop this guy if they saw him. I’m telling you, they would have let him be on his way if we wouldn’t have been such a jackass about it.

onkyo95:
I am a veteran, having recently retired from the military with almost 30 years of active military service. I also have 3 guns (legally) so I am not against owning guns. I personally have no problem with these police officers. And the fact that this guy is a veteran is irrelevant. I don’t care if he is a veteran or not. I like to look at the big picture. Cops are called out because a man is walking down the road with a military-style rifle and a child. Cops show up. He is carrying a military-style rifle and most of his face is hidden with a bandana, cap, and sunglasses. Now they don’t know this guy. For all they know, he may be trying to abduct the child. Anyone with half a brain knows that if a cop asks to see your gun then you let them see it. Even in the video, the cop tells him that if his story checks out, he can be on his way. But no. He decides to start ranting at them. All he had to do was place the gun down, present his permit and id to the cop, let them run a check on him and he could have been on his way. But rather than cooperate, he decides to start arguing with them (and if I was a cop this would be a red flag) so now they decide to cuff him. And by the way, just because someone is a veteran doesn’t mean they should be carrying a gun. The VA and military have reported a large amount of vets as having PTSD and other mental disorders. So should they all be carrying guns just because they were in the military at one time?

EgbertThrockmorton:
Having been on BOTH sides of similar issues, as a now retired police officer AND as an Arden 2nd Amendment supporter and enthusiastic voice for exercising one’s rights especially the Second Amendment rights, I can see where BOTH sides made some silly stupid mistakes. BOTH sides in this situation were wrong from the onset of contact.
I do believe the CSM was looking for a confrontation, and I do believe the officers were not going to take any verbal crap from him. So their easiest solution was to affect an arrest for “interfering with a police officer” very flimsy grounds from the video for “contempt of cop”.
Once he threatened a lawsuit, they needed to arrest him to CYA their initiation of contact.
I DO believe this criminal case will “go away” completely if all sides can kiss and make up.
The CSM would do well to pick his battles FIRST, before engagement. I saw nothing procedurally incorrect with the Temple PD officers initial action in securing his weapon for
officer safety protocols. The CSM’s loud mouth escalated the situation and the “larger” officer with the moustache let his own ego get the better of him like the CSM did.
For all the haters out there, like the CSM I am also active LDS-Mormon, retired law enforcement not from Texas, and a military veteran. I would never carry my rifle in public like the CSM did, just not MY preference specifically to avoid situations just like this one.

DaveGinOly:
You inform a cop that you’re carrying concealed because he can’t see it and you don’t want to surprise him. In this instance, the cops could plainly see the man was carrying and they should have asked him to put down or surrender the weapon. The man was doing nothing wrong, there was no reason for him to behave submissively. (We are the masters, they are the servants.) By making a grab for a slung weapon, they acted rashly, startling the man (as they would not want to be startled), possibly intending to induce a reflex to retain the rifle, giving them an excuse for a charge of “resisting.”
Do we not have the right to resist when our rights are threatened? There was a time in this country when it was lawful to resist arrest, with deadly force, if necessary. (Where did I read this? Was it in That Every Man Be Armed?) I guess this was when the dog was still wagging the tail. Surely if an officer unlawfully threatens you with deadly force, you have the right to resist in order to preserve your life. By the same token, as less force if proffered, less force is reasonable in the resistance to an unlawful act, no matter who commits it. Have I not just described the spectrum of force involved in any self-defense scenario? Do you have a right to defend yourself against unlawful acts by police? Obviously yes; if you can defend your life, you can defend all of your rights, they are no less valuable.