Skip to comments.NH: Seized by the Manchester Police for Open Carry (vanity)
Posted on 03/29/2004 7:22:52 PM PST by mvpel
Michael V. Pelletier, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, (xxx)xxx-xxxx
Capt. xxxxxxxx, Public Integrity & Professional Standards, Manchester Police Department
March 29, 2004
Dear Captain xxxxxxxx,
I am writing to you in your capacity as head of Public Integrity and Professional Standards to lodge a complaint against your department and certain of your officers stemming from an incident that took place on Saturday, March 27 at about 9:00pm.
My wife and I had just finished our 11th anniversary dinner at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse on Second Street, and had stopped in to the Barnes & Noble bookstore on South Willow Street for a cup of latte and a few books and DVDs. I was dressed neatly in slacks and a purple oxford shirt, and was clean-shaven.
Due to the pleasant evening air, I left my coat in the car. Since I had neglected to tuck my shirt over it, my holstered Glock 30 sidearm was thus visible in the small of my back in a Workman IWB holster.
For about 10-15 minutes, I chatted with my wife about choosing a sweater from a selection of knitting books she was reviewing, browsed the history and political sections near the restroom, and then made my way over to the Science Fiction aisle.
I was idly leafing through an interesting book, minding my own business, when suddenly I found myself seized by the right shoulder and my holster, pushed towards the corner of the bookcase, by either Officer xxxxxxx or Officer xxxxxxx, Im not absolutely certain which of them.
I exclaimed, raised my hands up to prevent myself from going face first into the bookshelf. I dropped the book, and upon glancing over my right shoulder, saw another uniformed officer at my right flank. The officer holding me requested that I relax and place my hands on my head. I immediately complied.
I was then disarmed, the holster being unsnapped and removed from my waistband. I informed the detective to whom the firearm was handed that it had a round in the chamber upon his inquiry. I believe the individual who unloaded it was one of the detectives, either xxxxxxx or xxxxxxx.
I was then asked to go outside the store with them, and I agreed. I was released and walked to the doorway, handing over my drivers license and New Hampshire pistol license on the way out.
Once my record came back clear, naturally, I was subjected to a condescending lecture about the carrying of arms, quizzed repeatedly as to why I carry a firearm.
I replied to protect myself and my family, which yielded a number of derisive comments about the effectiveness of firearms in self-defense and defense of others hmm, why do cops carry them, I wonder? We have to, one of the detectives whined. They also lectured on liability issues, terrorism, and other such topics.
I informed them that I am trained, having completed the Lethal Force Institutes Judicious Use of Deadly Force course, as well as handgun licensing requirements in California and for a Utah Concealed Carry license.
Given the crowd of talkative uniformed officers and detectives around me, and having been somewhat rattled by the ambush, I had difficulty finishing a sentence, and in hindsight I should probably have told them it was none of their damn business why I carry a firearm or whether I was trained.
After about 5-10 minutes of my polite endurance of various disrespectful and arrogant statements and questions by the officers and detectives, my firearm was returned to me, and I reloaded it and placed it back on my belt, this time tucked under my shirt. Upon completing a contact card with one of the officers, at his vehicle, I retrieved my coat, and returned to the store to find my wife.
We purchased about $200 worth of books and DVDs, and then went home.
Points of Complaint
Simple Assault RSA 631:2-a-I(a)
At no time until, during, or after the officer laid his hands on me, was there any legal cause for his touching or restraining me.
The irrational alarm induced by the sight of my holstered handgun among those who called 911 aside, I was conducting myself in a calm and reasonable manner, merely browsing the books and minding my own business, occasionally chatting with my wife, not posing any threat or menace to anyone else in the store.
RSA 631:4, Criminal Threatening, does not apply as I was not engaging in any manner of physical conduct that purposely placed or attempted to place another in fear of imminent bodily injury or physical contact.
RSA 644:2, Disorderly Conduct, does not apply as I was not engaging in violent, tumultuous, or threatening behavior, either knowingly or purposefully. The open carrying of a firearm is not inherently threatening behavior, even when it makes someone from Massachusetts pee their pants and hyperventilate.
Unlike Illinois, New York, or Washington, DC, where an openly carried firearm is prima facie evidence of a violation of the law, there is no New Hampshire statutory provision against open carry. In fact, it is a right guaranteed explicitly in the Constitution of the State.
Your officers should have enough experience and common sense to evaluate the totality of the circumstances my attire, my demeanor, the fact that most armed criminals dont carry openly, etc. and take action on that basis, rather than on the basis of a paranoid fear of armed citizens which they evidently share with those who called upon them.
Public Duty RSA 627:2
Given the fact that there was no violation of the law taking place or reasonably suspected when I was seized, the officers use of physical force was not authorized by law, and thus does not fall under the exemptions offered to public servants by this section of New Hampshire law.
The irrational concern expressed by others at the mere sight of a well-dressed individual openly carrying a firearm near the childrens section has no legal standing, and does not afford any credible justification. Anothers belief in evil gun radiation has no bearing on law or reality.
Physical Force in Law Enforcement RSA 627:5
This statute provides that [a] law enforcement officer is justified in using non-deadly force upon another person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to effect an arrest or detention or to prevent the escape from custody of an arrested or detained person, unless he knows that the arrest or detention is illegal
Again, the officer should have known, and can reasonably be expected by a court and a jury to know, that there was no legal justification for seizing and detaining me under the laws of New Hampshire, and his detention of me was therefore illegal and unjustified.
My Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure was violated, as there was no reasonable basis to believe, given the totality of circumstances and New Hampshire law, that a violation of the law was underway or planned before I was grabbed by the officer.
Defamation of Character
The seizure of my person under false and illegal pretenses, being ordered to place my hands on my head, and my being escorted from the store by a crowd of police officers had a clear and unmistakable tendency to expose me to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule by all the patrons of the store who witnessed the incident, and by anyone who might read about the incident in the newspaper were it to be reported in the medias usual breathless and inflammatory style.
I understand that your officers often face difficult, dangerous, and demanding situations, and that they must conduct themselves in such a way as to minimize the risk they face while carrying out their duties.
However, this necessity to minimize risk does not override the fundamental right guaranteed to all citizens of this State and Nation to be free from arbitrary exercise of the police power while lawfully going about their business.
If they had approached me, I would have greeted them politely. If they had requested that I tuck my shirt over my firearm due to the irrational concern expressed by other patrons of the store, I would have politely complied.
Even if they felt the need to have one officer sneak up behind me, ready to tackle me, while another officer engaged me in conversation, that would have been fine too.
But to have their first interaction with me be an ambush, to find myself grabbed and restrained for no justifiable reason while peaceably going about my business, is far beyond the pale. And to then be subjected to a condescending interrogation about my choice to exercise my fundamental human right to carry a firearm for the defense of myself and my family was even more irritating, in light of the fact that Ive undergone about half a dozen federal background checks and fingerprinting in the process of obtaining my CCW cards.
Whether or not your officers and detectives realize it, and whether or not you even like it, the armed citizen in New Hampshire is your ally and friend in the endless struggle against dangerous criminals. We are part of the reason that the violent crime rate in New Hampshire (175.4 per thousand) and Vermont (113.5 per thousand) is a fraction of that of Massachusetts (476.1 per thousand), a state where women living in a town with an at-large serial rapist must go begging to the police for pepper spray. Thomas Paine expressed this principle eloquently, saying:
...arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. ... Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them; ...the weak will become a prey to the strong.
There are far too many instances as Im sure you are well aware where the weak, deprived by law of effective tools for self-defense, have fallen prey to the strong, such as the Manchester high school girls who were brutally raped in recent weeks.
Just have a look at page A8 of the March 29 Union Leader, and every month, for crimes prevented or ameliorated by armed citizens.
Reflecting on the incident the following morning, I realized that I had forgotten Massad Ayoobs point that sheep cant tell the difference between the sheep-dog and the wolves, even though the sheep-dog would risk his life to save the sheep from hungry wolves.
I realize that some of the patrons of Barnes & Noble thought of me as a wolf, rather than a sheep-dog, and reacted accordingly by calling in the authorities. Needless to say, I will be careful to carry my firearm more discreetly in the future to avoid spooking the sheep.
However, I expect better discernment from fellow sheep-dogs.
I have not yet decided whether or not to file a lawsuit on the basis of the aforementioned violation of my rights and New Hampshire law. If I do, I will copy you on the service as a courtesy.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, Captain xxxxxxx. If you wish to discuss this matter further in a meeting, please feel free to contact me at the phone number indicated on the first page, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can arrange something.
Sincerely, Michael Pelletier.
 New Hampshire Constitution, Article 2-a
 720 ICLS 5(a)(10), unlawful use of weapons.
 RSA 644:11, Criminal Defamation
 Federal Crime Statistics, 2000 - http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/macrime.htm http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/nhcrime.htm
 Thoughts On Defensive War, (1775) in 1 Writings of Thomas Paine, at 56, M. Conway ed
And remember, July 4 is New Hampshire Open Carry Day.
If it were me, I'd be tempted to bring federal charges based on them violating your civil Rights.
This is you??
Oh man, I'm sorry!
I just sent them an e-mail saying that thousands of us were your faithful followers and we would storm the city with heavy arms in open revolt.
I hope that won't impact your case. Sorry 'bout that.
I would be tempted to do it, if for no other reason than to prevent a bad situtation from occuring the next time these bozos put their hand on the holster or gun of a peaceable citizen.
Anyone who has had weapon retention training is going to respond very assertively to someone who attempts to seize his weapon...
Isn't Vermont the 'Live Free or Die' state? Or used to be?
A community needs good, sane and sound policing - not paranoid responses. The Officers seem like they themselves are victims; not of guns; just 'gun PC'.
They need a re-education program on the value of guns and gun ownership. And so do the rest of the citizenry; and not just in New Hampshire.
So there's no open carry, and CCW is by permission only? Gee, I guess there's no right to defend one's life in Texas - only a government-dispensed privilege.
I think you presume to much in thinking that they are fellow sheep-dogs. They are just as likely to be merely a different pack of wolves than you are used to dealing with.
Just one question...Why is your sidearm opern-carried in the small of your back? I understand the practical implications of it when covered by either your shirt or coat(as mentioned), but unconcealed, doesn't it make a nice holster for anyone behind you? I really am trying to learn this stuff before getting and practicing with a sidearm, so I don't mean to be sound like a wise-ass. Now I could never thing of holstering towards my crotch, the consequences are unthinkable!
Experiences like yours make me wonder what's so great about "open carry" (besides, of course, the fact that it's a citizen's Right) when even in a state that HAS it, its exercise will get you rousted in a heartbeat.
I've spent a great deal of time in NH (love Portsmouth, BTW) and some in VT, and despite the freedom repected there, I've never seen ANYONE carrying in public, probably because they fear what happened to you, or WORSE if the cop is a bit nervous.
I guess that's New England...it's so polluted with Leftists, especially Massachusetts ones, that even in a "good" state, you really DON'T have the rights you THINK you do.
Hell, even Maine, the land of hunters and Bushmaster, is thinking of banning semiauto rifles that look mean.
Poetic, to the point, *and* appropriately insulting to those who deserve it. Bravo.
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