Pro-gun activist David Nelson was ejected from last week’s Utah Pride festival by its organisers, security and law-enforcement officers for possessing an unconcealed firearm.
Nelson, who owns the gay group Stonewall Shooting Sports of Utah, has filed a complaint with city Police Chief Chris Burbank against Lt. Rusty Isakson for what Nelson described as “grossly and specifically violative of state weapons laws.”
In the complaint, Nelson described how he arrived at the festival, purchased an admission ticket and entered the event before he was detained, questioned and ejected.
“As a state Concealed Firearm Permit holder, I possessed and carried my firearm unconcealed, but holstered, at the event,” Nelson said.
“I never unholstered it or displayed in a threatening way. In fact, my firearm was unloaded according to state laws (no chambered cartridge). I carefully reviewed the advance published event rules; they didn’t prohibit my possession or unconcealed carrying.
“After I presented my ticket to a main-gate staffer and entered the event, security staffers and organisers met me and asked about my possession and unconcealed carrying,” Nelson said.
“I answered their questions simply and truthfully. As a Utahn with disabilities who uses a cane, my possession and unconcealed carrying is as much a visual deterrent of violence as it is a more responsive and reliable mode of carrying if I need it.”
Utah state laws prohibit “a local authority” [from enforcing] any ordinance, regulation, rule, or policy pertaining to firearms that in any way inhibits or restricts the possession or use of firearms on either public or private property.”
Despite this, Isakson wrote a police report about the matter. Nelson said Isakson told him that he’d send an unsolicited copy of the report to the state Bureau of Criminal Identification for their review, and that “one sure way to lose your permit is to abuse it like this.”
“His implication seemed clear to me: He was intentionally jeopardising my permit,” Nelson said.
“He then asked me ‘to leave’ the event property. It was the first such request of me by anyone involved in the matter, and I left immediately.”
Nelson’s ejection and consequent complaint have received the attention of Second Amendment advocates in the state including those who are lawyers and legislators.
They’ve encouraged him to take his complaint further by pursuing court charges against the city, its police department and others who were allegedly responsible for violating his legal rights.
“My complaint to Chief Burbank is only the first step,” Nelson said. “I’ll pursue appropriate solutions of my complaints against the event organisers and their security staff regardless of any solution with the chief.”
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