While some anti-gun enthusiasts may find it unpalatable, in many states it is not illegal to openly carry a gun while walking down the street. And when stopped and asked about it, one doesn't have to produce ID to inquiring officials.
So is the case in Michigan. And 18-year-old Sean Combs is educating plenty of people on the issue after a jury sided with him last week following an arrest for carrying his loaded M-1 rifle down Michigan streets and refusing to initially show identification when questioned by police.
It happened on April 13 in Birmingham, Mich. At the time, Combs was stopped by police after having the vintage rifle strapped to his back. He was told to show ID but refused. The Observer and Eccentric has more on what happened next:
Michigan is an open carry state that does not require a person to produce ID when stopped by the police. In this case, however, the three officers involved in the arrest each testified they wanted to see some ID from Combs because he did not appear to be 18, the legal age to openly carry a firearm.
When he refused to produce ID, they arrested him. He was charged with brandishing a firearm in public, disturbing the peace and obstructing a police officer. Judge Marc Barron of the 48th District Court dismissed the third charge on a lack of evidence.
“Michigan law does not require anyone to produce ID on demand,” Combs's attorney, Jim Makowski, told the local CBS affiliate. ‘They were rude and disrespectful to my client from the get-go.
“Nobody called 911, nobody was following him … That was it, he was minding his own business,” he said, and added that the crowd formed because the police were “harassing” Combs.
“I was just exercising my rights,” Combs, a recent high school graduate, testified in the case. “Freedom of expression, freedom of speech.”
And the jury agreed.
"We upheld the law," Rev. Julius DelPino, a jury member, told the local Patch site. "Based on how the law is written, (Combs) was not breaking the law."
But while jurors rejected the city's argument, at least one juror thinks the law should be changed.
“I think there's a hole in the statute,” told the Observer and Eccentric. “To me, I think the legislature needs to couple this open carry law with a requirement that people show ID when they're asked to show it. We have such laws for drinking or for getting a driver's license. I think if you're going to carry a gun around, it seems reasonable that you should have to identify yourself if there's a requirement that you have to be 18.”
As a result of the verdict, Combs is considering a civil suit against the city. Combs's lawyer explained that he requested several times that the case be dismissed, but the city refused.
“We tried to get the city to see reason on over a half-dozen occasions, we asked them to dismiss the case, we said ‘We’ll absorb out attorney fees, just dismiss the case.’ The city chose to go forward anyway,” Makowski said.
“I can tell you one thing, we offered to dismiss this case without any cost to the city of Birmingham on over six occasions, they chose not to," he told the local CBS affiliate. "If there is a civil suit, I think people need to ask ‘Why wasn’t this case dismissed before trial?’”
While many people may not know it, open carry is permitted in numerous states, including Arizona, Montana, and Virginia. Some may be surprised to know open carry is not permitted in historically gun-friendly states such Oklahoma and Texas.