"Unconcealed gun causes stir in Prosser restaurant"

This is a discussion on "Unconcealed gun causes stir in Prosser restaurant" within the Open Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; By Kristin M. Kraemer / The Tri-City Herald. Posted: Sunday, February 21, 2010 12:19 pm COVINGTON, WA — Duncan Dohmen wants people to notice the ...

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Thread: "Unconcealed gun causes stir in Prosser restaurant"

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    "Unconcealed gun causes stir in Prosser restaurant"

    By Kristin M. Kraemer / The Tri-City Herald.
    Posted: Sunday, February 21, 2010 12:19 pm



    COVINGTON, WA — Duncan Dohmen wants people to notice the pistol he carries.

    He isn't a police officer and tells people that when he's asked. He likes these chances to educate people about a right afforded them 219 years ago — a right he fears could be stripped.

    "Rights not exercised are rights lost," said the 68-year-old resident of Covington in King County. "... I was walking around for 18 years with a pistol secretly concealed and it alarmed nobody. Then I realized that (openly) carrying a pistol might cause questions."

    So for the past two years Dohmen has openly worn his Smith & Wesson 1911 model .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol. He's an active member of the Open Carry movement and takes any chance he gets to talk about the right to bear arms under both the U.S. and Washington constitutions.

    Dohmen said he's found most people willing to listen — until last June, when a restroom break at a Prosser restaurant ended up in a criminal charge.

    According to police reports, the McDonald's manager said that when she asked Dohmen to leave because of his gun, he tapped the holstered pistol and told her, "Bring it *****."

    Dohmen denies that.

    He says he told her it wasn't illegal and offered her a brochure about gun rights.

    He was eventually charged in Benton County District Court with a gross misdemeanor for the unlawful carrying or displaying of a firearm "in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons."

    He was scheduled to go to trial Monday, but earlier this month he agreed to a six-month continuance. If in the meantime he commits no other crime, including traffic infractions, the charge may be dropped.

    Dohmen, who has carried a gun for 20 years, says he's never shot anyone nor felt the need to do so.

    A graduate of Rutgers University in New Jersey with a degree in economics, he originally moved to Washington state because he'd heard the skiing was good.

    He was working for Boeing when he realized that if he could get a security clearance there, he should be able to get a permit to carry a gun. He obtained a concealed weapons permit.

    "It was more safety than anything else," he said of his initial desire to be armed at all times.

    He'd been in a couple of road rage incidents, though nothing came of them. But he figured, "How long does it go on before somebody goes completely around the bend?"

    For 18 years, Dohmen said, he thought carrying a concealed pistol was the "tactically superior way to go." Then he decided it was time to "do something proactive to retain our gun rights" and joined the Open Carry movement.

    Unlike carrying a concealed gun, people who openly carry don't need a permit because it's a right under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the state Constitution, Article I, Section 24.

    "While everybody has the right to carry a pistol, they don't because they don't know they have the right or they think they'll get in trouble ...," said Kennewick lawyer Jim Egan, who is representing Dohmen in the Benton County case.

    "Mr. Dohmen believes if more people carried handguns for self protection, that would make the world a more safer place instead of a dangerous place."

    Washington is considered an Open Carry-friendly state. However, gun owners must be 21 to open carry, and must possess a concealed pistol license to carry a loaded handgun in a car.

    People are prohibited from carrying weapons into certain places like schools and buildings connected to courtrooms and judge's chambers, bars or lounges that are off-limits to people under 21, the restricted areas of a jail or law enforcement facility, a commercial airport or public mental health facility. Businesses also may prohibit guns.

    The Web site opencarry.org says Open Carry is "A pro-gun Internet community focused on the right to openly carry properly holstered handguns in daily American life." The organization was founded in 2004 by two Virginia gun rights activists.

    An e-mail request from the Herald for an interview with one of the founders was not returned.

    The Web site serves as not only a legal resource for gun owners, but also a social network to share stories and name businesses that are either gun-friendly or anti-gun.

    Starbucks has drawn praise from Open Carry for allowing customers to carry guns into its coffee shops.

    But the national Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has launched a petition drive urging Starbucks to change that stance. A letter to the company's chief executive officer said "the open display of firearms in public places is inherently threatening and intimidating, and poses risks to those nearby, to law enforcement and to the community."

    Dohmen disagrees that he's being intimidating. "I never carry it to be a wise guy, to say, 'Look at me, I got a gun,' " he said.

    He does, however, attract attention. He said people often approach to ask questions, a few to tell him they object.

    "Most are curious and want to know, 'Can you do that?' And then I explain," he said. "I think some think I'm a cop and just don't say anything. I make sure to tell them no because I don't want to impersonate."

    That's just what Dohmen was initially asked on June 18 at the Prosser McDonald's, where he and his wife, Gail, had stopped on a trip home from Denver.

    Dohmen said he was leaving the restroom through the lobby when manager Brenda Aldridge approached and asked if he was a police officer. His pistol had apparently attracted the attention of a customer who reported it to management.

    Upon learning Dohmen was not a cop, Aldridge told him to leave because he couldn't have a gun in the restaurant.

    Dohmen says he replied that the law allows it, but that he also respects private property rights. He says he was preparing to get a brochure from his car to "further her understanding" when Aldridge told him she was calling 911. He waited for police in his car.

    McDonald's has a nationwide policy that forbids employees from carrying weapons at work, but it's unclear if it has a policy regarding customers' guns. Corporate officials did not respond to an inquiry. The Prosser restaurant reportedly did not have a sign posted saying guns were banned.

    In her written statement to police, Aldridge said employees can refuse service to anyone. "I did feel like he was going to do something ... ," she said. "He didn't point the gun at me but by putting his hand on it I felt for my crew and customer safety."

    In his report, Prosser Officer Antonio Martinez said he approached Dohmen's car carrying his patrol rifle and ordered Gail Dohmen out of the car. When Officer Nickalas Letourneau arrived, Martinez took Dohmen's pistol and ordered him out of the Audi. Letourneau then handcuffed Dohmen. Martinez wrote that Dohmen "was extremely verbal and was very upset I was taking the firearm from him."

    "I said, 'You do not have my permission to do that,' " Dohmen said of the officer taking his legally carried, loaded gun.

    Gail Dohmen, 63, said she was upset as she watched what was happening to her husband. She said she tried to grab Open Carry brochures from the car to give the officers but was told to move away or face arrest.

    She said she later met a truck driver in the parking lot who said he never saw Dohmen do anything threatening. That man was willing to testify if the case went to trial, Egan said.

    Eventually, Gail Dohmen was able to get the brochures and gave them to the officers. The pistol and cartridges were returned to Dohmen, who was released and told a report would be sent to prosecutors for review.

    Two months later, Dohmen received notice he'd been charged and needed to appear in District Court. Prosser City Attorney Howard Saxton III did not return a call seeking comment on the case.

    Dohmen hired Egan, who recommended the stipulated order of continuance, which Dohmen reluctantly agreed to sign earlier this month.

    Dohmen, a retired concrete inspector, said he doesn't know how to feel about the incident.

    "A stranger has me quoted saying things I never said," he said. "... I have no idea what they think my purpose was given what I do. What would I have to gain from this?"

    Pointing out his mane of gray hair, he said he's well past adolescence and is aware his open carry advocacy could offend others so he avoids arguing.

    "I feel no different open carrying than I did before. ... The only difference now is people can see it and they approach me," he said. "I don't feel particularly empowered by it, though I know that I am."
    "Anybody who deserves to be shot, deserves to be shot alot." - Clint Smith

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    VIP Member Array peckman28's Avatar
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    Wow that McDonald's manager sounds like a real piece of work.

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    Guilty, until proven innocent or six months of keeping your nose clean, whichever comes first.
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    ... when she asked Dohmen to leave because of his gun, he tapped the holstered pistol and told her, "Bring it *****."

    Dohmen denies that.

    He says he told her it wasn't illegal and offered her a brochure about gun rights.
    Depending on the statutes ...

    If he refused to leave, he's guilty of trespass.

    If he said "bring it on" or some such, he's guilty of intent to intimidate or menace, or whatever the related charge would be.


    He was eventually charged in Benton County District Court with a gross misdemeanor for the unlawful carrying or displaying of a firearm "in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons."
    The only apparent alarm or manifestation is claimed by one person. And that's denied by the defendant.

    She said she later met a truck driver in the parking lot who said he never saw Dohmen do anything threatening. That man was willing to testify if the case went to trial, Egan said.
    There's a long history of no such intimidation, as evidenced by non-existence of similar such claims or arrests. And yet, they're taking the fear and the claim as manifest intent to intimidate, in spite of one or more witnesses supporting his claim he threatened nobody.

    I wonder whether extreme fear could explain a warping of reality for the person making the claim. We know how situations that people take as traumatic do things to the memory, perception of time, etc.

    No lessons yet. At this point, it's simply he-said, she-said. One would think there would need to be more-concrete proof than merely someone's unsubstantiated word. Though it shows how easy it can be for claims to become real, whether they're real or not.
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    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    Dohmen has his wife and a couple of patrons saying he did nothing threatening, the Micky D's manager has several upstanding burger flippers saying he did (not reported, but I am sure that is how the DA stated it).

    Still comes down to He said - She said, and in courts, the food chain in these matters of who to believe when there is not a LEO involved in the dispute, goes to the female (not being sexist here, fact).

    Same as in domestic disputes. She say's "he hit me" and there are no marks or witnesses, her word is good enough.

    I suspect that is why the continuance got signed. It actually sounds more like a deferrance. Guilty plea, 6 months of keeping out of trouble and the record gets wiped.

    This whole thing is the dicey risk with open carry, especially in Colorado. All a person has to do is be frightened by the sight of a OC gun, and it is a criminal act by the wearer. More substance if the grass eater has any interaction with the wearer, I.E. any sort of conversation.

    Under the right conditions, all person who wanted to screw an OCer would have to do is walk up, quietly say hello, then yell out "Don't you threaten me! Someone call 911!". Now the wearer has the burden of proof that they did nothing wrong, did not threaten anybody.

    Don't get me wrong, I am all for it (OC), but it is just not a wise plan in moderate to heavy populated areas. Nasty little catch 22. Getting the heard used to seeing guns in the hands of law abiding citizens without wetting themselves.
    Sticks

    Grasseater // Grass~eat~er noun, often attributive \ˈgras-ē-tər\
    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

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    Ex Member Array NavyLT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    No lessons yet. At this point, it's simply he-said, she-said. One would think there would need to be more-concrete proof than merely someone's unsubstantiated word. Though it shows how easy it can be for claims to become real, whether they're real or not.
    Sounds like my divorce trial that just happened last week. During which, I found out for the first time, she sold a 13 gun collection and gun safe for $4,000 to someone, she "couldn't remember who".

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    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NavyLT View Post
    Sounds like my divorce trial that just happened last week. During which, I found out for the first time, she sold a 13 gun collection and gun safe for $4,000 to someone, she "couldn't remember who".
    Could be legit. Craigslist ad for "Gun vault and contents" would get many a call, and would not be in violation of their firearm rules.
    Sticks

    Grasseater // Grass~eat~er noun, often attributive \ˈgras-ē-tər\
    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

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    Senior Member Array Adkjoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sticks View Post
    Dohmen has his wife and a couple of patrons saying he did nothing threatening, the Micky D's manager has several upstanding burger flippers saying he did (not reported, but I am sure that is how the DA stated it).

    Still comes down to He said - She said, and in courts, the food chain in these matters of who to believe when there is not a LEO involved in the dispute, goes to the female (not being sexist here, fact).

    Same as in domestic disputes. She say's "he hit me" and there are no marks or witnesses, her word is good enough.

    I suspect that is why the continuance got signed. It actually sounds more like a deferrance. Guilty plea, 6 months of keeping out of trouble and the record gets wiped.

    This whole thing is the dicey risk with open carry, especially in Colorado. All a person has to do is be frightened by the sight of a OC gun, and it is a criminal act by the wearer. More substance if the grass eater has any interaction with the wearer, I.E. any sort of conversation.

    Under the right conditions, all person who wanted to screw an OCer would have to do is walk up, quietly say hello, then yell out "Don't you threaten me! Someone call 911!". Now the wearer has the burden of proof that they did nothing wrong, did not threaten anybody.

    Don't get me wrong, I am all for it (OC), but it is just not a wise plan in moderate to heavy populated areas. Nasty little catch 22. Getting the heard used to seeing guns in the hands of law abiding citizens without wetting themselves.
    Well said, I agree 100%

    This is why I do not OC. It's a right and I'm all for it and I'm glad people do but for me it's just to much unwanted attention and possibly an unwanted situation.
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    If he refused to leave, he's guilty of trespass.

    If he said "bring it on" or some such, he's guilty of intent to intimidate or menace, or whatever the related charge would be.


    I agree with ccw9mm here, and I also find it a stretch, that the manager made up the "bring it on" comment...just doesn't sound like something that a would come up with.OMO
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    Distinguished Member Array Spec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpwing View Post
    Guilty, until proven innocent or six months of keeping your nose clean, whichever comes first.
    Quote Originally Posted by peckman28 View Post
    Wow that McDonald's manager sounds like a real piece of work.
    enough said... will be
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    Distinguished Member Array JerryM's Avatar
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    I wonder how much he accomplished in demonstrating our rights, and getting the folks to acknowledge them?

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    come on folks...we should be rather upset about this!!! whether you OC or not, believe in it or not. These are our rights, and this gentleman did nothing wrong here...did you think an advocate for open carry that hands out flyers told the McDonalds manager to 'bring it on'??? really???
    This is another case of our rights being taken, and only a few standing up for them. I commend him, and hope he fights the accusations, and I hope the patrons in that area protest that establishment, and the manager gets canned.
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    I find it hard to believe that he said what the manager stated that he said - just from reading the article. I would certainly hope that our OC educators know better, and that a 68 year old man would have a calmer demeanor than a McDonalds manager.

    Not sure what the continuance means in legal terms in that part of the country -up here it just means that the trial is being postponed.

    I am not familiar with the officers in question, or the situation that they actually walked into - but it sounds to me like they might have been a touch heavy handed -------AGAIN I wasn't there and may be totally off base with that remark.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowdoctor View Post
    did you think an advocate for open carry that hands out flyers told the McDonalds manager to 'bring it on'??? really???
    It's a case of claimed intimidation/menacing. He's apparently being monitored over 6mos, after which the charges may be dropped if he's committed nothing further in that time. (Strange "sentence," if it can be called that.)

    Yes, I suppose it is about right to carry. But then, it's really just a garden-variety type case about intimidation. Someone claimed things were said. Someone claimed things were not. A manager was making the accusations, not a staffer. And yet, the man has no history of roiling the waters. So. He-said, she-said. Who's right? Who's lying, or exaggerating?

    I'm all for a person maintaining the right to carry. I believe that a he-said / she-said type deal isn't sufficient for taking that away, particularly when nobody was harmed beyond (if it actually occurred) feathers being ruffled and someone being a bit afraid. It would be far different if we were speaking of an assault.


    Quote Originally Posted by snowdoctor View Post
    This is another case of our rights being taken, and only a few standing up for them.
    I stand up for RKBA. I carry. I occasionally OC. I applaud those who carry as well, including those who attempt to legitimate educate and inform others of how non-threatening it all is, in the hands of an upstanding citizen.

    The mere fact folks can have little cause for knowing the secret answer in this case hardly means folks aren't supportive of RKBA or OC. What I won't do is blindly support anyone who is accused in such cases, simply because that person's ability to carry is threated by the possibility the claims are true. But I also won't condemn such a person either. It's called being fair and balanced, realizing I have nothing more to go on than what's being reported.

    Like you, I don't think a person with such a track record is going to blow a gasket as claimed by the shop manager and be intimidating in the claimed manner. To me, it doesn't make much sense. But I have no information beyond what the police investigators have.

    Seems to me that the authorities are doing about the best they can, as well, being unable to drop the case and yet being unwilling to really harm the guy given that there was really no harm done to staff at the shop. And so, the charge may be dropped in 6mos, if no further incidents. Seems a reasonable compromise for what appears to be an upstanding person with a strong track record of not doing this sort of thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by JerryM View Post
    I wonder how much he accomplished in demonstrating our rights, and getting the folks to acknowledge them?
    He's apparently got an extremely high "success rate," in that regard. In this one situation, a he-said / she-said claim simply couldn't be dropped and ignored by the police, though the charge seems to be about as lightweight as can be made (to the point of being dropped in 6mos).

    Wouldn't surprise me that his opinion of the affair is that 100:1 successes to this occasional sort of thing is probably well worth the stink, particularly since it's highly likely in future that his engagements are witnessed by many, and such he-said / she-said type claims will continue to be extremely hard to make stick.

    I'm of that opinion, that is worth every bit of the effort, 100x over.

    Only very rarely do we hear of situations where OC'ers seem to be more of the in-your-face, volatile variety. You know, the type that strap an AR-15 over their shoulders for public political events, legal though that might be. While I'm all for the legality of it, I do believe there's a time and place for that sort of thing.

    The exceedingly vast majority of people, though, simply do their gatherings, do their normal daily activities, and go about their lives. They are not threatening, do NOT put the fear into people, do NOT intimidate or menace anyone. The result is all to the good. It can't help but be exactly that.

    People have little fear of seeing green-painted Ford cars. Why? Because the hundreds a person has seen have all contributed to helping a person see them as benign, normal things that are not to be feared. The same thing is true with upstanding people and firearms on their hips. The more frequently people see us, and see us in non-threating situations, not intimidating anyone, and simply going about our normal lives with those firearms being little more burdensome than our shoes, then the more that people will see there is nothing to be feared except their own irrational, knee-jerk fears and the related pompous propaganda that seeks to instill unwarranted fears in everyone.

    Worth it? Absolutely. Because if everyone hid in the sand until the political winds worked themselves out, we'd all wake up to a psycho-ward wasteland where straight jackets were the norm, no liberties existed, and firearms were a thing of the distant past. Personally, I'd prefer a few sheep felt scared now and then, irrational and unwarranted though that may be, if for no other reason than to continue showing rational people that there is little to fear from upstanding citizens at all.
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    Distinguished Member Array snowdoctor's Avatar
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    ccw9mm....i agree with you....and you make good points...but for this man to say 'bring it on' does not fit into this story at all, and I would think he would have filed a counter suit. Like you, I do not know this person, or have I ever been to the McD's in question...but the he said, she said is not the way our justice system is set to work, nor is a six month wait period....these situations aggravate me, as I like to OC, and know this type of thing could happen to me.
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