By Marci Laehr Tenuta
Tuesday, May 5, 2009 9:08 PM CDT
RACINE — Four teens knocked a 42-year-old Racine man from his bike Friday night. He thought they were going to rob him.
The man pulled a Smith and Wesson revolver from his side holster, pointed it at the sky and yelled, “Gun!”
The four suspects ran, and the man flagged down a Racine police officer.
The incident will perhaps mark the first time a new opinion allowing open carry of firearms is put to the test here, as it conflicts with another state statute that makes it illegal to possess a gun within 1,000 feet of a school, if not on private property.
The Racine man involved, who asked not to be named and declined to comment on the alleged robbery attempt when contacted by The Journal Times, was assaulted in the 1100 block of Grand Avenue, which is within 1,000 feet of Walden School, 1012 Center St.
Police did not arrest the man. After he was treated for head and wrist injuries at the scene by Racine rescue, officers escorted the man home and returned his gun to him.
But that doesn’t mean charges won’t be filed against the man, and police are questioning how such situations should be handled in the future.
“It’s difficult with the way the laws are written to carry (a gun) and not get into trouble,” said police spokesman Lt. Jim Dobbs.
He said the new open carry ruling will probably prompt more and more people to wear firearms, but in many places in the city, even stepping off their front porch would mean they are breaking the law.
“People will break the law inadvertently,” Dobbs said. “We want clarification from the state on what we should be doing.”
Last month, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen sent out a memo saying openly wearing a holstered gun is not illegal. While Wisconsin law states a person cannot legally carry a concealed weapon, it does not address carrying a firearm in plain sight.
The opinion has created many questions, now including the apparent conflict between the existing statute over possessing a firearm near a school.
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