Gun owners claim deputy violated their rights

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by TRICIA MANNING-SMITH / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 2, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 2 at 6:42 PM

SPANAWAY , Wash. - A group of gun owners claims local deputies violated their civil rights. They openly displayed a lot of firepower this morning at the Spanaway Starbucks to make a point.

"I have a 'Combat Commander.'  Its a .45," said Lynn (who did not want to give her last name), who openly wears her firearm on her hip.

Eric Sandoval has a holstered Springfield Armory XD.40.  The former military man says he grew up around guns.

Lynn and Eric were at the Starbucks on Saturday with about 35 others openly wearing guns. They were all there in support of Tom Brewster, who openly wears a Glock 19.   

"I carry (a gun) in the open because I have nothing to hide," said Brewster.

Brewster walked into a Spanaway Starbucks, his gun fully visible, he says, earlier this week.  A Pierce County Deputy approached.  Brewster recorded his conversation with the deputy:

Officer: Look guy, just show some ID and that just proves who you are.

Brewster: Open carry is legal in Washington.

Officer: We don't know if you're a felon. We don't know if you're a felon.

Brewster: I'm not a felon ... Unless you have reasonable articulable suspicion to detain me, you don't need to request ID.

In the end, Brewster showed his ID.  Deputies did not detain him.

But as a result of that encounter, a group of about 35 "open carry" gun advocates --  those who are legally licensed to carry their guns in full view-- gathered to support Brewster and to assert their rights.  They feel the deputy went too far.

"I understand why they were concerned, but that does not give them the right to violate another citizen's civil rights," said Lynn.

However, one can't escape the fact that officers approached Brewster at a Spanaway coffee shop, which is located mere miles away from another coffee shop:  Forza coffee in Parkland, where four police officers were killed less than a year ago.  Many people in this community have very strong feelings about guns.

"I don't dispute the legality of it, its just that my comfort level would not be there," said Forza customer Marilee Titus.

Laura Stewart, another Forza customer said, "I don't have a problem with someone carrying a gun in a public place, but if it was me and I saw someone with a weapon, I might alert the officer there, just  out of concern for public safety."

Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer responded to this incident by saying, "Guns make people nervous and when people have them, we're going to follow up and ask questions. ...We understand the law, we understand their rights, but if they're carrying guns around, there's a strong possibility that somebody is going to come talk to them."

Meanwhile, Starbucks has said it does not want to be put in the middle of a larger gun-control debate.

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