Bearing Arms reader “MW” was at a restaurant with his son’s baseball team after a game, when he looked up to notice an off-duty officer having a beer while armed. While this is apparently legal in Florida, MW approached the officer to respectfully discuss what sort of message that it sends when an officer is drinking while open carrying. It didn’t go all that well.
Here’s MW’s story, in his own words.
I observed an officer walk in and start to enjoy some social time with friends and family. I noticed he was open carrying, which is perfectly legal for an officer in the state of Florida. As a few minutes go by, and I see the officer (whom, as of right now, is unidentified) enjoying an adult beverage. Again, not illegal, but NOT what I would expect from a police officer, or ANYONE for that matter. Especially while openly carrying AND representing their department.
I approached him, and asked him if he thought it would be in his and the department’s best interest, to be openly carrying, and drinking a beer. He immediately got snotty with me, asking me what I had an issue with since he was off duty. I replied that it just wasn’t the best image in the public’s eye, and maybe he should carry concealed. He began to ask why it mattered if he was off duty, what did I know about the law, and acting in a condescending way to me. I then informed him that I knew he was within his rights to do what he was doing, but it just wasn’t smart.
I was done being talked down to, and asked if he’d tell me the department he worked for, to which he refused. Gee, I wonder why. I have the utmost respect for police and most law enforcement, and this is just not smart. Above and beyond the image aspect, it’s just not good gun safety to be drinking and carrying a firearm.
I think “MW” brings up a very valid point. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean that something is smart. When it comes to mixing guns and alcohol, one drink can quickly lead to another and all sorts of trouble can quickly follow.
So I have a few question the law enforcement officers who read the site:
- Do your state laws and department policies allow you to drink while armed?
- Would drinking while open carrying and wearing enough of your uniform to identify you as a law enforcement officer run afoul of department regulations?
- Even if it is legal to drink while openly carrying and identified as an officer, do you think that is helps or hurts the public perception of law enforcement in your area to be seen consuming alcohol while “in uniform” and armed?
Now, I can see from the officer’s perspective how he might have found a stranger coming up to him and questioning him to be both intrusive and off-putting. I can see how and why the officer might have gotten defensive when a civilian is essentially questioning his judgement.
But I think that “MW” was right to be concerned about the message it may send to the public—especially the children and teens in this family restaurant—when they see an officer of the law drinking while carrying a gun.
What sort of message does that send to the general public about mixing guns and alcohol?