Instances of authorities across America challenging the rights of bikers to legally posses and carry weapons is on the increase. In Milwaukee, naval authorities and county park officials have asked Rolling Thunder, a national nonprofit dedicated to Veterans advocacy, to promote an event celebrating the commissioning of a naval ship at Harbor Park. They have also asked Rolling Thunder to request participants refrain from exercising their 2nd Amendment right to carry concealed at the event. The Department of the Navy and Milwaukee County Parks can only request because Harbor Park is a public park where the right to carry is legal. So more troubling may be the fact that event promoters willingly encouraged motorcyclists to honor the request to relinquish these basic liberties. And even more troubling than that? The fact that so many motorcyclists are willing to comply with the request to relinquish basic rights that so many have fought and sacrificed to protect.
THE STORY IN MILWAUKEE
Tony Pan Sanfelipo, a true freedom fighter and active motorcycle rights advocate from Milwaukee, contacted and informed the MPP that the local Rolling Thunder chapter recently sent out an alert inviting the biker community to an event at a Harbor Park welcoming a naval ship being commissioned into service.
November 9th- USS Milwaukee will be coming into the harbor on Friday Nov.13th (changed to Sunday 15th)
NOTE: Absolutely NO WEAPONS allowed. Please leave at home or you will just need to stay home. THANKS!
Here is the info for Friday 13 Nov. KMC/Abate members to meet at 11:30 AM
Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 is in charge of the coordination of the bikes lined up to greet the ship when it comes in to the harbor…will have the bikers coming in at 11:30 AM. to meet in front of the War Memorial Center on Mason St. Bridge
Kickstands up at noon. Move to the harbor staging area, park and wait for the ship to come in. Flag on bikes if they have them.
Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 Event Coordinator
Chairman of the Board
Rolling Thunder Chapter 2
This alert says, in bold type, NO WEAPONS. It is a clear mandate, not a request. The alert further states that if an individual feels the need to carry concealed they “just need to stay home.”
Upon being confronted by Sanfelipo in an email, the director responded by placing the blame on the County Parks System and forwarding the following communication.
Nov. 10, 2015
Tim- I tried to get your number to call you but no one is calling back to give it to me. So here it is…..I was asked that there be NO CONCEAL CARRY at the park. I told them that we would abide to their wish. So the rule is No CC. Can’t be without the weapon please stay home. Sorry but rules are rules. If you have someone that wishes to talk about it here is my number
The next day Rolling Thunder sends out an email placing all blame for the rule on Milwaukee County Parks and the Department of the Navy.
Nov. 11, 2015– NOTE: Absolutely NO WEAPONS allowed. Please leave at home or you will just need to stay home. THANKS!
This is a directive from the US NAVY and Milwaukee County Parks. They are not making us pull a permit for the park because of our reputation. (Yes, Rolling Thunder people do carry. RT is not against CC it is a directive from the US NAVY and Milw. county park system)
But, as noted by Sanfelipo:
“it was Rolling Thunder who turned this request into a mandate by bolding the edict at the top of their email. There was a lot of back-peddling and excuses by the RT [Rolling Thunder] chairman, but bottom line, no request, no rule, no order can supersede a constitutional right. We’re not entering a naval base, this event is in a public, county park (harbor park). There is no legal authority to restrict concealed carry there.”
According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice it appears Sanfilipo is absolutely correct. Regardless of which party is imposing the rule, Wisconsin law prohibits any restrictions on concealed carry in a County Park. Imposing a NO WEAPONS or concealed carry rule is illegal. The Wisconsin DOJ’s “CARRYING CONCEALED WEAPON LAW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS” issued JUNE 1, 2013 makes it clear that concealed carry is permitted in County parks.
Can government prohibit the carrying of a concealed weapon in parks or other public lands?
No. “The restrictions only apply to government buildings. Persons with a CCW license may carry concealed on public lands. Wis. Stat. § 943.13(1m)(c)2 and § 943.13(1e)(cm).
The state’s publicly sponsored special events prohibition does not apply to outdoor parks that don’t charge an admission or have entrances that are locked when the event is closed. The law clearly allows concealed carry at the Harbor Park event.
What about publicly sponsored music or sporting events?
Special Events (e.g. sporting events, concerts, etc):
It is unlawful for any person to enter or remain at a special event if the organizers of the special event have notified the actor not to remain at the special event while carrying a firearm or with that type of firearm. The provision does not apply if the firearm is in a vehicle driven or parked in the parking facility, to any part of the special event grounds or building that is used as a parking facility. The law defines special event as an event that is open to the public, is for a duration of not more than three weeks, and either has designated entrances to and from the event that are locked when the event is closed or requires an admission. Wis. Stat. § 943.13(1m)(c)3.
NEVER GIVE UP YOUR RIGHTS
Never willingly give up your rights. This principle seems logical and apparent. For example, any attorney will tell you that you don’t willingly consent to a search. If authorities are asking, then they do not have legal grounds unless you give up your rights.
The same is true in this instance. If the legal right to prohibit legal concealed carry at this event existed, then there would be no request. Fundamental liberties should never willingly be relinquished and the 2nd Amendment is no exception.
According to their website, Rolling Thunder is a national organization that advocates for “troops, veterans, and POW/MIAs.” The regional director, as previously stated, has also recognized many in their own organization carry concealed. It just makes no sense that they would encourage motorcyclists to relinquish a fundamental liberty that veterans have fought so hard to protect. Veterans are a huge contingent of the motorcycling community and 2nd Amendment movement. Even more puzzling is that some motorcyclists are willing to so easily comply.
Sanfelipo sums up why all of this is so disconcerting.
“Further troubling is most bikers are willing to surrender their right to carry, just so they can show up, wave their flags, and act patriotic. The chairman from RT just didn’t get it. He thought it was trivial and wondered why I was making such a big deal about it. It’s not trivial, it’s the epidemic of apathy among the public that doesn’t see a problem with giving up rights because of an illegal rule or mandate. Agreeing to this request at the same time bikers and club members are being profiled around the country, told they should not be allowed to possess guns, and veterans being scrutinized about gun ownership? Unless we (especially bikers, since I would expect them to understand this more) absolutely refuse to allow our rights to be taken away like this, we won’t have any rights left at all. Today the 2nd Amendment, tomorrow the 1st, then the 4th, 5th, 9th and 14th and so on.”
Profiling and discrimination underlie these attempts based on the idea that bikers are more dangerous than other people, even those with no criminal record and legally obtained carry permits. It is critical that elements of the motorcycle rights movement do not become de-facto agents of the state that encourage individuals to give up fundamental liberties based on stereotype. This turns the community against itself resulting in individuals surrendering rights that the state has been unsuccessful taking on their own. The slippery slope is real and will gain momentum unless motorcyclists unify around the uncompromising principle of Liberty.