Two things collided in Chattanooga TN this week. One is a new law from the Governor that allows permit holding gun owners to carry in parks. The other is the Riverbend Festival. The collision led to a plan by the Chattanooga Police Department to harass law-abiding gun owners who exercise their legal rights and have done absolutely nothing wrong.
Their crime will simply be following state law.
As people come into the festival, as the usual for any large gathering or concert, bags will be checked. So far, they’re not officially patting anyone down, but that’s probably either on its way or happening unofficially. Per state law, anyone legally carrying a concealed weapon must be able to produce a carry permit to a police officer if requested, or as the Chattanooga Times Free Press (CTFP) stated, officers may “be alerted by volunteers”.
I have a problem with this. First off, if a person is carrying a concealed weapon, no one should know. Secondly, if festival staff find out through questioning or a search, then that would seem to be going too far. Now we’re getting into ‘stop and frisk’ territory and using volunteer non-LE staff to do it.
The article in the CTFP went on to quote a great deal from Chattanooga police Sgt. Austin Garrett, who has worked the festival for almost two decades. He went on to state how safe the festival and the area are. I’m not sure where he got this information, but as a police sergeant, I would hope he has access to better intel, like the rest of us. Chattanooga is well known at this point as a city overtaken by gang violence and the frequent site of shootouts in public places. It’s happened at grocery stores, fast food restaurants, and city streets. And that’s just this year. Kids have been shot and witnesses to kids being shot have been shot. Just do an Internet search of “Chattanooga gang violence” and see what pops up.
But Riverbend and any area Sgt. Garrett knows of are immune to this violence? No need to legally carry a concealed weapon? I would say that the police department’s lack of effective protection in the city establishes a clear need for law-abiding citizens to arm themselves.
So, with all of this going on, what’s Sgt. Garrett’s plan to enforce the law at Riverbend? Is it to control the drunk folks? Keep smokers penned up in their area? Stop crazy country music mosh pits? No, his plan is to harass card-carrying, law-abiding gun owners. Seriously, it is. Here’s what he told the newspaper…
“What’s going to happen is you’re going to get stopped every 30 feet by one of us…You’re going to get tired of getting stopped.”
Sounds to me like harassment. The Chattanooga Police Department is planning on harassing gun owners until they either leave the festival or lock their guns their guns in the car.
Let’s take this a step further and ask if this is official department policy and what else may be coming down the road from the city of Chattanooga. Is this a sign of the future? Is the city planning on creating local laws that prohibit gun owners from the city limits? Mayor Andy Berke insinuated as much when he made a statement regarding local communities creating their own laws on this matter. I’d like to know.
This guest post was written by a concerned Chattanooga TN citizen who decided not to attend the Riverbend Festival due to expected and publicly posted policy of intent to harass gun owners by the Chattanooga Police Department.