Son James lives in Bellevue. From the sidewalk in front of my office in Redmond I could throw a rock across the street into Bellevue. So how the police deal with guns is an important issue to me. I just ran across this training memo for Bellevue Police on open carry. An excerpt:
It has recently come to our attention that a group calling itself, “Pacific Northwest Open Carry” and with a spokesman named Lonnie Wilson, has an agenda that deals with the peaceable open carrying of a handgun in a holster. He says that while doing his research to write an informational bulletin for the public and for law enforcement, he asked a number of BPD officers if it was legal to carry a handgun in public, in the open, in a holster. He says he received a variety of answers, ranging from, it is legal, to, it is a felony, to, you will be stopped and arrested for brandishing.
As a refresher, the Corporals will go over the following:
1. Washington is an “open carry” state for firearms. This means a person may carry a firearm in an exposed holster unless there is something that makes it specifically illegal. For example, carrying a weapon onto school grounds or other prohibited places or carrying a weapon by most convicted felons or anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime.
2. Unlawful carrying or display. RCW 9.41.270 occurs when the person carries or displays a weapon in a manner under circumstances at a time and place that manifests alarm for the safety of persons or with an intent to intimidate. This is something more than just walking around with an exposed firearm. If there is a dispute for example and one person, while angry, displays the weapon to scare the other person.
3. Carrying without a Concealed Weapons Permit, RCW 9.41.050, occurs when a person carries a CONCEALED pistol on his person and does not have a CWP. A person with a CWP can carry a firearm in a vehicle without having the weapon on his person.
I knew it was legal in Washington but not all the cops are aware and certainly a lot of the general public is going to see open carry as cause for alarm. I don’t like confrontations and being hassled by cops even if I’m in the right is something I avoid. But there have been times when I have left work, gone to James’ place, had dinner with him, put my gun on (IWB holster) and without a coat to cover the gun walked to back my car. I would mostly cover the gun with my arm as I walked, it was usually dark, with virtually no one in the parking lot but I still worried a little bit about alarming someone and getting some police attention.
This memo eases my mind considerably. I’ll start opening carrying more in James’ parking lot and maybe discreetly when in a restaurant booth where it’s inconvenient to conceal it.