There was a recent case in Prosser that brought to question a person's right to bear arms under the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Washington constitutional laws regarding the right to "open carry."
Under federal and state law a person has the right to openly carry a gun.
The right to bear arms has been a debate over the recent years because of violent crimes committed nationwide.
Many gun rights activists agree with some gun regulations, such as making it illegal to possess an automatic weapon. Activists agree there is a level of responsibility when one owns a gun and, therefore, an individual should only own a weapon after having undergone proper background checks and purchasing said weapons according to the law.
What is controversial in the Prosser case had more to do with whether or not a person should be able to openly carry their weapon. Could those around the individual perceive the person as a threat? Or, is that person merely exercising his or her rights under the constitution?
The man in question is an older gentleman. He is well beyond the age of 21, which is the age specified by law one must be to openly carry a weapon.
I don't know the truth behind the story, but it is purported the man is active in promoting the education of gun owners and their right to openly carry a gun.
He reportedly carries with him pamphlets to educate the public.
The story I read provides an account of the man making a remark to a restaurant manager that seems uncharacteristic of someone with his background and age.
The man is older than 65, and I don't know any person of that age range to use vulgar slang, especially by those who want to help others understand.
I also find fault with the fact that the man had already eaten at the facility and was on his way out. There is nothing in the reports I have read that indicate he was acting in a threatening manner toward employees or customers at the restaurant during his meal or prior.
The manager still decided he was a threat and someone called the police, who apprehended the man at gunpoint, in spite of the fact that he was sitting in his car waiting for them in a what was describe as a calm manner.
I can understand the need for a rifle to be pointed at him if the man had been acting out with irrational or threatening behavior.
There are individuals in the Lower Valley who do pose a threat. Using judgment calls is required by law enforcement in order to perceive which individuals may be a threat to others. I just feel the judgment calls made by both officials and the restaurant management was extreme in the Prosser case.
I think establishments that prohibit weapons should also display signs that tell those entering that guns are not allowed. This particular restaurant did not.
It makes me wonder if a college student walking along one of the boundary streets with a gun on his or her way to a nearby farm for hunting purposes would become a target of suspicion.
My husband recalls the days when weapons in the open were commonplace in the Lower Valley because of hunting in the orchards.
Granted, the man arrested in Prosser was carrying a pistol. If that pistol was in a holster and he had been walking down the street, would residents perceive him to be a danger?
Have we, as a society, become hyper-sensitive to guns even though it is our right to own and carry them?
Personally, I think we need to exercise good personal judgment and show respect for those who do exercise their right to bear arms. I think we need to assess the situation...taking into account age and mannerisms first and foremost.