Well, it’s been almost a month since I started my blog and posted Another Open Carry semi-incident, so I decided to write to the fair committee again. This time I included everyone that is listed as an “Officer”, “Director” or “Executive Director”, and I also CC’d it to the local paper. I will retract the email addresses and last names of everyone for now, because I don’t want to escalate to that level just yet. I wasn’t necessarily going to even post an update until I got some progress, but the only response I have received so far pissed me off. Here is the text of the first email I sent this morning:
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 9:37:12 AM
Subject: Fair Ground Rules
I originally sent the email below to fair@***** while the fair was still going on. I have not received an answer to my question, so I am now sending this to all of you listed as “Officers”, “Directors” or “Executive Directors” as I would like this question formally answered. I have also CC’d the New Age Examiner as I feel the public needs to know what the official policy is as well, in order to prevent future problems.
Please read the email below and respond to me as soon as possible.
—————————- Original Message —————————-
Subject: Fair Ground Rules
Date: Sat, September 3, 2011 2:45 pm
I am writing to you because according to the fairs website you are the president of the fair committee, and I have not received a satisfactory answer to my inquiry at any of the numbers I have called.
I would like the “Fair’s” policy on firearms on the fairgrounds.
I am requesting that this policy be provided to me in writing with a majority of the voting members signatures in assent (either for or against weapons on fair property).
I am asking for this because Open Carry is legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and I Open Carry everywhere I go [with the exclusion of work (because it’s prohibited by the owner) and when I am on the ambulance (because that is currently the law, although I am working on that one)].
Having said that, I have been open carrying for a couple of years now, including at the fair in previous years, and have never been approached and told it was not permitted until last night. Last night I was at the fair with my wife and kids and was looking for the “kid-safe” place (the one that does the fingerprints and pictures, etc) and couldn’t find it.
We happened to be near where several “officers” were hanging out (by the Meshoppen Fire Company building), so I asked them where it was. They saw the weapon on my hip and asked me if I “was working”. It was pretty obvious I was not as I was in no semblance of a uniform (jeans and a t-shirt that said “Don’t Tread On Me”) and pushing a baby in a stroller.
They said nothing else about the firearm at that time (and they also had no idea where the booth that I was looking for was… if the “officers” know where anything is, shouldn’t they know where the child safety booth is?) We walked away to continue our search and found the booth (about 30 yards from where they were sitting, in line-of-sight). Then they came over and asked to speak with me “over here” (I was already out of the main pathway). They told me that they just radioed up and were told weapons were not permitted (they also spoke over me every time I tried to ask a question). They told me that I should consider concealed carry (does that mean that concealed carry is allowed on fairgrounds but open carry isn’t?)
They said that my gun “made people nervous”. When I told them that I had carried on the fairgrounds before and no one had never said anything to me, they said “you shouldn’t have gotten away with it”. These comments from them bring up several questions in my mind:
1) If my gun makes people nervous, has anyone ever filed a complaint about it? I had never been approached before, and I’m pretty sure that if someone went to one of the “officers” about a “man with a gun”, and it is not permitted, they would have been all over me, especially since I have never hidden the fact that I was carrying one.
2) Why did they have to radio up to the office to see if it was allowed? If it is the fairs policy that firearms are not permitted, shouldn’t the people working “security” be informed of this policy? Shouldn’t this policy be posted at the gates and shouldn’t everyone working at the gates be aware of this policy so they could let people know before they entered? (I know damn well the people at the gates saw it when I entered)
3) Why did he suggest I carry concealed? If only “officers” are allowed to have firearms on the fairgrounds, then that wouldn’t be “allowed” either, it would just be invisible… so the “officer” suggested I break the law so I wouldn’t scare people? Does that make sense?
A little more info. Before we went to their station, we had been walking around the fair for several hours already, and I very clearly remember walking past the same 2 “officers” that confronted me several times (along with several others) prior to them confronting me about the weapon. Obviously they didn’t notice it. If they didn’t notice me open carrying, they are obviously not paying attention to detail and definitely would not notice if I was carrying concealed.
Secondly, as we were on our way out of the fair, a fist fight broke out after a yelling match not far from us. The fight broke out not 2 minutes after one of the “orange shirts” walked by the kids (they looked 18-21ish) that were already in confrontational poses (yes, I know what that looks like as I probably have more training than most of the “officers” in Wyoming County) and with raised voices. No “orange shirts” arrived at the fight before a girl broke them up (a couple minutes into it, it appeared to be a girlfriend). How am I more of a threat than these kids? I know they were loud enough for the one that had just walked by to have heard them (I could still see him on the far side of the fight from me, walking away), why didn’t he come back?
I tried calling the office today, and the man that I spoke to gave me 3 different answers to the same question. His first answer was “I don’t think it’s permitted”, his second answer was “it’s not permitted” and his third answer was “to the best of my knowledge it’s not permitted”. You can see how that is unsatisfactory to me when we are talking about the fair refusing my right to self defense. If you can’t give me a solid yes or no to something this important, then you obviously don’t know and I therefore will not believe whatever answer you give me next.
Again, I would like the “Fair’s” policy on firearms on the fairgrounds, in writing, with a majority of the voting members signatures to clear this up
for me. Anything less than a majority of signatures is simply personal preference at this point because I have not gotten consistent answers from anyone I’ve questioned.
I would appreciate a response as soon as possible because neither I nor my wife and children will be returning to the fair until I have my answer.
And, to be honest, if the fair’s policy is that I must be unarmed, then my family will not be returning to the fair again, this year or in the future, until this policy is changed.
Also, since the “Fair” has not made this policy publicly available, I can promise that I will, be it in my favor or against it.
I can be reached at this email address or at my cell (***)-***-****. Since there will be no more US postal service before the fair ends, call me and I can come pick up the document (at the gate if necessary). If you can’t or won’t answer before the fair ends, contact me for my mailing address.
Thank you for your prompt reply,
And this is the sole response I have gotten so far… see what you think after reading it:
Approx 50000 people attend the fair, one person open carried and sent a long letter for explaination about this. ???
Im sure it will be delt with, thank you.
While that response was sent only to me, unless he sent it to everyone else BCC, I thought enough of it to reply to everyone from my original distribution:
So, George, either you weren’t paying attention when you hit send, or you are indifferent. I am the one who was open carrying and was told by the “officers” at the fair that it wasn’t permitted (after they had to check with the front office and probably talked to the same person that I did that didn’t actually have a clue what the official policy is). I am the one demanding an answer. Your answer of “Im sure it will be delt with, thank you.” is a rather piss poor way to handle public relations. I may be only one person, but I am a citizen. I am responsible for my own safety, and as such I am prepared to defend myself wherever I am. Since I am also a disabled veteran and unable to physically defend myself any longer, I carry a firearm.
I am the one that was told to break the law by your hired “security”. He told me point blank to consider carrying concealed. That has only two explanations: 1) firearms are permitted, but they don’t want to see them or 2) firearms are not permitted, but if you carry concealed we won’t see it so we won’t say anything to you (unless we recognize you and decide to harass you because we know you’re armed).
I wrote the big long explanation so that you would all know the background. I wrote my demand for your policy because I have no desire to break the law, and if I (and the public) know that your policy is to not allow firearms, I won’t carry there (if I show up). I do not believe those orange shirted thugs because I have dealt with them before (yes, those two specifically) and I know for a fact, from personal experience, that they lie when it suits their needs.
So, I say again, your answer of “Im sure it will be delt with, thank you.” is unacceptable.
On the other hand, I am trying to “deal with it” by getting an answer based on fact and supported by documentation, not someone’s opinion because they like to be the “only ones” with a gun.
I am currently extremely pissed off at George. I do not know him currently, but I will know who he is soon (gotta love a small town for that).
I’ll keep you all posted, but I had to vent.
After I sent the last email, I got this response:
The fair has always had a policy regarding guns on fair property just as every other venue in the country does. The fair is a family event that attracts tens of thousands of people, particularly children. We do not wish to expose them to handguns and firearms. As a pro gun person myself, I understand your frustration, however, the fairgrounds is private property and we reserve the right to set the groundrules. In fact, as a result of your letter, the fair is in the process rewriting and revising the rules regarding prohibited items on fair property to make it even more restrictive. The new rules will be posted at each gate as you have suggested. When the new / revised rules are adopted, I will be happy tp provide you with a copy. Ultimately, the important thing to remember is that the fairgrounds is clearly defined private property. Additionally, nobody suggested you break the law. The fair had previously allowed for concealed carry provided it was in accordance with state and federal statutes. We do not have the authority to permit concealed carry without the proper permit(s). The whole idea is to not upset and scare fairgoers by having folks walking around with guns on their belts. You, being a veteran, should understand public sentiment and paranoia that surrounds the open carry of firearms, particularly post 9-11 and Columbine etc. The comfort and safety of our guests must be our number one priority. I would suggest that you apply for a concealed carry permit with the Sheriff in an effort to avoid any future hard feelings or misunderstandings. Thank you for taking the time to write.
He sent that to me and two other people. Why can’t people reply all? If you have something to say on this subject, everyone needs to hear it. Anyway, after that I sent the following to everyone on my initial distribution today:
If I had received this answer in the first place, I would not have bothered to send out an email to everyone. But since no one was able to give an an answer, except for the derogatory answer from George, well, I got pissed off.
I know that the fairgrounds are private property and I know the laws regarding property owners rights. That was never the question, and I was never disputing that fact. My problem was that this supposed policy was not posted anywhere, either online nor on site prior to, or immediately after, my incident. And your “employees” obviously don’t know it. It is your right to restrict possession of firearms, and it is my right to decide not to do business with you because of that decision. If that is your policy, I will do my best to inform the public that self-defense is not permitted on the fairgrounds and I will not attend the fair. It is that simple.
I would like a copy of this policy when it is completed.
Now, for my additional comments to your response:
First, that orange shirt did, in fact, suggest that I break the law. He did not ask me if I had a LTCF, nor did he suggest that I try to get one (I have had one for more than 10 years). I also never told him that I had one because it was not relevant to the conversation. You can pretend to put words in his mouth, but unless you were actually standing there, you do not know what was said and in what context. He also did not say that the fair had a policy of allowing concealed weapons, he simply said they weren’t allowed, then he told me to consider carrying concealed.
Second, judging by your response, you are not a pro-gun person, you are merely a hunter. You are probably a member of the NRA. The same organization with a history of selling out the second amendment. You think that the “Right to Bear Arms” means that you can have them at home and in the woods, but nothing more. That is not the meaning. The Second Amendment was added to give the People the ability to restore liberty when the government gets too powerful. Here’s a quote for you: “Let your gun be your constant companion on your walks” – Thomas Jefferson. He wasn’t talking about walks in the woods.
Third, no, I do not understand the public sentiment and paranoia that surrounds the open carry of firearms. A firearm is a tool, nothing more. I have never seen, nor heard of, a pistol jumping off a table and going on a shooting spree. But I have heard several stories of murderers grabbing a hammer or a baseball bat and going on a killing spree. Will you be prohibiting hammers and baseball bats from the fair as well? How about forks and spoons? They’ve been used to murder before as well.
Fourth, 911 and Columbine have absolutely nothing to do with the open carry of firearms. In fact, if planes weren’t government mandated gun-free zones, there would have been armed citizens on the planes able to deter to terrorists. So, by increasing the amount of prohibited items on the fairgrounds, you are in fact making it so much easier for a murderer to kill large quantities of innocent victims because the murderer will know that they are easy prey. And if you think your 2 dozen on and off duty “officers” are adequate to protect your thousands of people, that’s what they thought at Virginia Tech too. How many people died there before he was finally taken down? How many deaths are acceptable to you?
Thank you for taking the time to answer my initial question. Please provide me with a copy of your new rules when they are available.
In the meantime, I will spread the word that the fair is a gun-free zone and neither I, nor my immediate family, will be attending the fair again.
Well, at least I finally got an answer, now what do I do about it?