Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hari Kari Over The Right To Carry

I'm not sure where I come down on this one. Mark Fiorino is a 25 year old gun owner in suburban Philadelphia, who was recently stopped by city police officers after they noticed Fiorino wearing his gun, a 40-caliber Glock, in plain view as he was leaving an auto parts store. Pennsylvania is an open-carry state, and Philly police officers incorrectly asserted that the city does not allow open carry of a hand gun (it does - a gun owner with a valid concealed permit may also open carry in the city). What follows is an audio recording of the altercation between Fiorino and the Philadelphia police officers who responded (warning: strong language).

Who's in the right here? I'm not sure either side clearly is. Granted, as a licensed owner with a concealed permit, Fiorino has the right to open carry his gun. But he would have elicited more sympathy from me to his cause had he simply done what the officer asked him to do when first confronted - that is, drop to his knees and put his hands behind his head. But he doesn't. Instead, he offers alternatives to an agitated cop with a drawn gun.

And although I tend to cut law enforcement huge breaks when it comes to doing their job, my impression of the audio tape is that it does not do Philly cops any favors either. They come off as arrogant, short-fused pricks.

But I guess what bothers me most about this whole incident was that it was taped - as though Fiorino was hoping he'd be stopped. There's evidence for this. In a Philadelphia Daily News article about the confrontation, the story mentions that this recent incident was not the first encounter:

"He also had encounters with Philadelphia cops last year. Both times they told me what I was doing was illegal...they patted me down and said 'we don't care what you consent to'. The second time, they did an official confiscation, and it took me five months to get back my gun."

Like I said, I'm having a hard time with this. So, what's the call?


"The Hammer" said...

At this point in time, in America, I'm always going to obey the cop and sort things out later. Now if I were in Lagos I'd just go OK corral on the bastard.

NavyAustin said...

I am generally a back the Blue, law and order kind of person. I would probably have a) not had a sidearm on my hip at the auto parts store, and b) complied.

But... if there is a legal right to carry (there is) and you are obeying the law, cops can't pull a gun on you and demand you drop to your knees.

This is a variation of the people who exercise their rights to legally photograph and videotape public places.

The story and tactics are usually the same - they do something LEGAL, and they don't provoke - but the hair-trigger thug cops they encounter get stuck on stupid.

You can't detain someone without a reason. You can't ask for ID without cause.

Bottom line: Was it intended to provoke exactly the response he got? Yes. But if people aren't exercising their rights, cops and the state will increasingly act as if they didn't exist.

NavyAustin said...

Better example - rights not exercised are rights lost.

Sort of like freedom of navigation on the high seas - would you have put your cruiser at all stop, power down your radars and weapons systems, mustered the crew topside and allowed a Russian/ Chinese/ Iranian/ North Korean crew to board and inspect?

Did the Soviet "cops" think we were jerks? Yess. But at least they knew the rules of engagement. These cops didn't.

BigFred said...

Well, pretty soon you won't have to carry in public to get stopped, the Man will be able to enter your house, wiping asses with the 4th Amendment, and harass you for carrying in your own house. Yes this guy in Philly was trying to get stopped to prove a point. Probably originally from New Jersey.

Anonymous said...

Totally unfair characterization of Fiorino as a provocateur. Most open carry practitioners will at some point be at least threatened with, if not actually hit with trumped up charges, so they have taken to carrying recording devices as a defensive measure. Similar to a dashcam for law enforcement, it helps keep everyone honest. Philly government's attitude toward guns needs to change, and this is a perfect example of why.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that I understand your consternation CW. Fiorino was licensed to carry and was treated like a criminal throughout the ordeal. More disturbingly, the policemen have no idea what the law is. You would think that law enforcement would know what the law is concerning who can carry a gun. Anyway, Fiorino and actually the policeman both identified themselves (good on both parties) and then the police lost their minds instead of thinking this through. Is carrying a gun hostile intent even if Fiorino was not licensed? Did it warrant a guns drawn "get on your knees!" I think they lost their cool. Is that what the police are supposed to do in a non threatening situation?

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