Was Openly Carrying A Gun Enough For Police To Stop Keith Scott?

Food for thought?

CMPD said Keith Lamont Scott had a gun. Was that reason enough to order him to drop it?


Gregory Wallace, a law professor at Campbell University in Raleigh, said the city’s statement raises questions as to why police ordered Scott to drop his gun.

In North Carolina, the open-carry of a handgun is legal. Concealed carry is also legal, so long as you have a permit.

He said the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2013 that someone carrying a handgun does not give the police the ability to stop and search them or someone with them. (snip)

“The mere possession of a handgun does not give the police probable cause or reasonable suspicion to briefly detain you for stop and frisk,” Wallace said. “The mere fact that you have a handgun isn’t enough – it’s legal in N.C.”

I’d recommend reading the article for the full effect, but, is this correct? Were officers wrong for taking notice of Mr. Scott for carrying a firearm and then telling him to put it down?

Here’s what is missing: Mr. Scott was holding the gun in his hand. It was not holstered, as is proper open carry. States that allow open carry, whether loaded or unloaded, dictate that you aren’t supposed to be just walking around with the gun in your hand.

Mr. Scott got in and out of his vehicle with the gun in his hand.

That is improper, and is certainly going to cause a response from law enforcement. Carrying a firearm requires responsibility. Keep the gun on your hip when out and about unless it is needed (for a rifle, keep it on a sling over your back or dangling from a strap. Not in your hands). If you’re walking around with it in your hand, law enforcement has every right to approach you and ask your intentions. If they tell you to put it down, put it down.

If you feel law enforcement is wrong, still put it down. You can worry about the legalities later. Do not give someone reason to pull their gun on you.

Which leads this from WTVD, despite the misleading headline

(Charlotte Police Chief Kerr) Putney said he has reviewed video of the shooting and what he saw does not give absolute definitive proof that Scott was pointing a gun, but Putney said it does support what has been reported that Scott was armed and did not follow repeated commands to put it down.

If Scott did not raise the weapon, then why shoot him? This is an extremely important point. If he started to raise it or point it at the officers after all the warnings, well, he received what he was asking for. But, if it was never pointed at an officer or anyone else, then there is a potential threat, not an imminent threat. Simply holding the weapon is legal excuse in this situation to fire upon the suspect. I’m getting battered in a few different places for point this out, but, I will stand by this opinion. For the sake of Charlotte, the police best resolve the question as to why Scott was shot. Simply holding the weapon is not enough.

And, a bit of an addendum, even before I post this. I talked to a former Sheriff’s deputy who said there is no law requiring an officer to wait for the gun to be raised. They have the right to shoot if the person is not following commands after a period of time, if they think the person is a danger.

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17 Responses to “Was Openly Carrying A Gun Enough For Police To Stop Keith Scott?”

  1. john says:

    no video taken by the police show a gun in his hand

  2. I’ll ask you again to post a link that says that, John. Where is it?

  3. JGlanton says:

    LOL, I see crazy Maxine waters getting in on the act, “the killing of unarmed black men is an epidemic”.

    Well, ok, if getting hit by lighting is an epidemic, it could ring true.

  4. drowningpuppies says:

    Race hustler Jesse Jackson says it’s okay to loot because Wells Fargo does it too.

  5. gitarcarver says:

    no video taken by the police show a gun in his hand

    The police have not released the video john, so you are either living in a fantasy world, unable to comprehend what people say, or just lying.

    Most likely, it is all three.

  6. john says:

    must long guns also be kept in a holster ?

  7. john says:

    if a deaf person does not obey a command can he also be shot legally ?

  8. john says:

    and exactly where in the Constitution does it say that the right to bear arms means that they must be holstered? Did they even USE holsters in the 18th century ?

  9. Raven says:

    The professor only pointed out that mere possession of a gun in plain view does not give the police reasonable suspicion to forcibly detain, disarm, and question the carrier. That’s the law—see the Third Circuit’s decision in US v. Ubiles, the Fourth Circuit’s decision in US v. Black, and the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Northrup v. City of Toledo.

    We don’t know whether Scott was brandishing the gun or otherwise acting suspiciously. All the police have said is that he had a gun in his hand.

    While carrying a gun in one’s hand may not be “proper open carry” as a matter of technique, it does not necessarily give rise to legal suspicion that the carrier is dangerous—unless you’re in Texas where the open carry law requires that handguns be holstered. Of course, if the carrier has his finger on the trigger or otherwise is acting in an unsafe or threatening manner, the police would be justified in detaining and disarming.

    Be careful not to put words in the professor’s mouth, or read your preferred open carry technique into the law.

  10. Jeffery says:

    If you’re an African-American carrying a gun you are risking your life. Police officers are suspicious of Black guys with guns, and get a bit trigger happy.

    In addition, if you’re an African-American not carrying a gun you are risking your life. Police officers are suspicious of Black guys without guns, and get a little trigger happy.

    In addition, if you’re an African-American not carrying a gun, and with your hands up you are risking your life. Police officers are suspicious of Blacks guys without guns with their hands up, thinking the Black guy might be reaching for a gun.

    Stephen Colbert may have said it best:

    Referencing the state of emergency in Charlotte, North Carolina, after the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, he observed: “The shooting of African-Americans by police officers and the community outrage that follows seems to keep happening over and over again, no matter how many times we do nothing.”

    “I just wish there were some kind of respectful, silent civil protest that people could engage in that wouldn’t enrage the other side,” he said, as a photo of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick flashed onscreen. (Kaepernick has received death threats for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police shootings.)
    “Yeah, no, that’s not going to work, either.” Colbert said.

  11. drowningpuppies says:

    Yep, get you some of that sweet social justice down at Walmart…, right, little guy?

  12. david7134 says:

    John, do you ever realize that your comments take away from any real message that you are trying to convey? In fact, they make you look very stupid.

    Jeff, you are wrong in your presumptions and have no evidence to back them.

  13. gitarcarver says:


    Only the Fourth Circuit’s decision in US v. Black would be binding in Carolina. The rest of your cited cases would not be binding.

    Black was not stopped or questioned for having a gun in plain sight. (In fact, the police didn’t know he had a weapon until he tried to walk away from the police after he was detained illegally by the police.)

    There was no cause to detain Black and the others with him. The police had every right to stop them, but not to detain them.

    No matter what, this case was not about being stopped for having a weapon in plain sight, but whether the weapon on Black was discovered because of the illegal detention.

  14. Raven says:


    Yes, US v Black is binding in NC and the other cases set the rules in those circuits. My point was that courts in several jurisdictions agree that this is the law.

    You misunderstand Black. Fourth Amendment law does not distinguish between a stop and detention. A “Terry stop” is a brief investigatory detention.

    Black argued that the police found his gun only after he was “seized” (i.e., detained) and, since the police did not have reason to seize Black or his companions in the first place, his gun should be excluded from evidence (as “fruit of the poisonous tree”). So the question was whether the police had reasonable suspicion to seize Black and his companions in the first place.

    The court considered various reasons the police offered to justify the initial seizure. One reason was that the police had reasonable suspicion to detain Black and his companions once they saw one of Black’s companions display a gun. The court rejected this reason, explaining that “where a state permits individuals to openly carry firearms, the exercise of this right, without more, cannot justify an investigatory detention. Permitting such a justification would eviscerate Fourth Amendment protections for lawfully armed individuals in those states.”

    The court concluded that since neither Black nor his companions had been lawfully seized to begin with, any evidence discovered after the unlawful seizure—Black’s gun—should have been excluded at trial.

    So, yes, US v. Black stands for the proposition that the police cannot detain a person a for investigatory purposes (i.e., perform a “Terry stop”) merely because that person displays a gun in a state where open carry is legal.

  15. Raven says:

    Let me add one more thing:

    We don’t know why the police initially moved on Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte. Maybe he was brandishing the gun in a threatening manner or maybe he was engaging in other suspicious behavior. But it’s legitimate to ask why the police attempted to disarm Scott in the first place. Was it solely because Scott displayed a gun, or was it because they saw Scott acted in a criminal or dangerous manner?

    Those of us who are pro-gun rights cannot be so invested in the pro-law enforcement narrative or anti-BLM/riot narrative to see why the initial police approach to Scott might be concerning to gun owners. We can 100% condemn the BLM and rioting and still be concerned about how the police handled this situation.

    Of course, even if the initial engagement was unlawful, if it turns out that Black refused to follow police orders and acted in a threatening manner with a gun in his hand, the police were justified in shooting him.

  16. Raven says:

    Sorry, I meant “Scott” not “Black” in my last sentence.

  17. Liam Thomas says:

    If your carrying a gun….and a police officer asks you to put your gun down and raise your hands…..

    Thats pretty much what you should do…..NOT stand around protesting your civil rights are being trampled on.

    Once the incident is resolved peacefully you can sue the shit out of the police department……

    Or you can wave your gun around and act all bad and angry that your a black man getting profiled and end up dead.

    Your choice…..I suggest 10,000 lawsuits by black men would resolve this issue quite famously.

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