Michigan court rules in favor of teen who open carried rifle

In this picture, an Israeli soldier openly carries her rifle as she enjoys the beach

Sean M. Combs is only 18 but he already knows more about civil rights and Michigan gun laws than the officers who arrested him in April for carrying an antique M1 Garand rifle slung over his shoulder.

The two officers, Rebekah Springer and Gina Potts, saw Combs carrying the rifle in Troy Michigan and demanded his ID.  When he refused, noting that he was not violating any laws, he was arrested and charged with Brandishing, Disturbing the Peace, and Obstructing an Officer.

I have written before about the misuse of these “catch-all” charges to chill the rights of citizens and this case appears no different.

The officers based the Disturbing the Peace and Obstructing an Officer charges on the fact that Combs “looked younger than 18” and his refusal to produce ID “attracted a crowd.”  They based the Brandishing charge on the fact that Combs, while having the rifle properly slung and never pointing it, seemed “ostentatious.”

I have to wonder if it wasn’t the officer’s behavior that drew the crowd.  The facts show that Combs and his girlfriend had walked around the business district for some time without drawing a crowd before officers stopped him.  And while we are wondering, do you suppose they think that “ostentatious” means “not doing what I tell him to do?”

In any case, it no longer matters because the seven person jury slapped the wrist of law enforcement today by finding him not guilty of all charges.   They stated that Combs had broken no law and they were simply upholding the law by doing so.  I am proud of the jury for doing the right thing in this case.

Perhaps Michigan law enforcement needs to retrain officers on the legality of long-gun open carry as well as when they can and cannot demand ID from a citizen absent probable cause that a crime is being committed.

Congratulations to Sean for winning his court case and a big “Thank You!” for being willing to stand up for the rights of all Michigan residents.  I wish him all the best as he now turns to his next challenge; starting college next month.

UPDATE:  I have been asked about the relevance of the picture accompanying this article.  It has nothing to do with the Combs case.  I just really like the picture!

About John Pierce

Monachus Lex is written by Virginia attorney John Pierce. John is a life-long gun rights advocate, an NRA certified instructor and co-founder of the nationwide gun rights group OpenCarry.org.

He has an undergraduate degree in Computer Information Systems, an MBA from George Mason University and is a 2012 Honors Graduate of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, MN.

Professionally, John is a member of the American Bar Association Second Amendment Civil Rights Litigation Subcommittee and his writings have been published by the ABA Civil Rights Litigation Committee and the ABA Minority Trial Lawyer Committee.

In addition, his open carry advocacy has been featured on Nightline and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.
This entry was posted in Abuse of Power, Long Guns, Michigan, Open Carry. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Michigan court rules in favor of teen who open carried rifle

  1. Did he get his legal fees reimbursed?

  2. JoeThePimpernel says:

    Now that the charges have been proven bogus the officers ought not be allowed to hide behind their badges.

    Lawyers should wind up owning their houses and cars and bank accounts and pensions and anything else they have of value.

    • Jack says:

      Won’t happen. With Qualified Immunity they don’t have to know the law.

      • Mike says:

        That’s not true….if they knew or reasonably should have known then qualified immunity does not apply…..the problem is getting a Judge to agree with you.

  3. Huet Landry says:

    So, ignorance of the Law is no excuse – unless you are a Law Enforcement Officer.

  4. DonL says:

    A false arrest is actionable under a civil rights violation….What is comes down to is this. How many days did he spend in jail…This will determine whether or not it is worth the effort(lawyers view) to move with a Title 42, Sec 1983 Civil Rights Violation…1 day is not going to cut it…2 weeks plus, equals big money for you and the lawyer.

  5. Pro Gun says:

    The sentence under the photo said…

    “In this picture, an Israeli soldier openly carries her rifle as she enjoys the beach.”

    Rifle..!!..? What rifle? Oh…, you mean THAT rifle. Sorry. It took me a long time to locate it. (Wink)

    Pro Gun…, and proud of it!

  6. ShanLi says:

    The rifle seems to be unloaded. After greatly enlarging the picture and scrutinizing it carefully, I could not locate where she is storing her magazines. There was certainly no “printing” on the bikini.

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