They had to stoop to a technicality to try to find these two men guilty of anything but, possibly, bad judgment.
Neither, however, were charged with the act of carrying a rifle and handgun into a police station. Whatever the wisdom of that act, there’s no law in the Wolverine State that bars open carriage of a firearm by citizens into a police station…as Baker and Vreeland can be heard loudly asserting in the video above.
According to his attorney, Nicholas Somberg, Vreeland was convicted of the CCW offense, resisting arrest, and disturbing the peace. Baker was convicted only for the CCW offense.
If you think it’s odd that two open carry activists were convicted for carrying a concealed weapon, you’re not alone. Baker was openly carrying his firearms. As for Vreeland, he didn’t even have a gun with him. “All he did was walk in holding a camera!” says Somberg. So what gives?
The CCW conviction was based on video shot earlier in the day by Vreeland on his GoPro camera. As the two men were getting ready for the day’s activities, Baker can be seen unloading a handgun and putting it in the trunk of the vehicle, which Vreeland then closed.
Under Michigan law, persons without a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) can only transport firearms that are unloaded and locked in a container designed for firearms in an inaccessible area of the vehicle. Baker’s attorney James J. Makowski asserted that it isn’t clear in the video whether or not the firearm was placed in a container, but the jury apparently didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt.
“This conviction is based on the silliest of technicalities,” Makowski says. “The gun was in the trunk, completely inaccessible to the passenger compartment. Is that really deserving of a five year felony conviction?” Even in California, one of the most notoriously anti-gun states in the Union, he notes, the offense would be a minor misdemeanor.
There’s another wrinkle here. While Makowski notes that Vreeland “never bothered to get a CPL,” Baker arguably did have one at the time of the arrest. He had been issued a license by the state of Michigan in February 2015. It had been suspended that year due to misdemeanor charges stemming from another protest, but those charges were dismissed in August 2015.
At that time, Michigan law was unclear as to whether a CPL suspended due to pending charges would automatically be restored. Both Makowski and Somberg argue that it should have been, and that Baker was legal to have a handgun locked in the trunk when the incident took place earlier this year. Needless to say, an appeal is in the offing.
Two gun rights activists were convicted yesterday as a result of an incident that took place in February at a police station in Michigan. James Baker and Brandon Vreeland walked in…