Gun Carriers Walk into Ponderosa Steakhouse

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email
They say they were simply exercising their rights

Real Gun

LANSING -- Quite the scene developed outside Ponderosa Steakhouse in South Lansing this past Saturday afternoon.

About seven men walked into the restaurant, packing guns -- open for all to see in holsters on their hips. A short while later, Lansing Police showed up to show the men out.

A verbal argument between the gun carriers and officers ensued, caught on camera by a bystander (the video can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzPTi8heUTQ).

"The open carriers were of course not happy, because they were minding their own business, doing a lawful activity," said Tyler Hilliker, a gun rights supporter who was at Ponderosa on Saturday.

Under Michigan law, people with legally registered handguns can openly carry them in public. Some of the men who walked into Ponderosa, in fact, were members of the Michigan Open Carry. They were holding a meeting to discuss gun rights.

Only thing is, private property owners can refuse them.

"My analogy would be: If you come to my home, that's private property. I can decide who I want and my home and who not," said Teresa Szymanski, captain of the Lansing Police Department's South Precinct.

Officials from Michigan Open Carry say the owner of Ponderosa greed to let them hold a meeting at the restaurant. But he says he didn't expect the meeting to be held on a busy Saturday -- and certainly didn't expect the men to bring more than handguns.

"At first, we looked the other way on the handguns," said owner Dennis Holleran. "And then some gentleman shows up with an assault rifle, and that was just too far over the top."

That's when an assistant manager decided to call police. The open carriers say about 10 officers arrived on the scene and began harrassing them.

But LPD say no one was arrested and notes they're now working cooperatively with Open Carry to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"I think the taxpayers of Lansing want us to respond to gun calls. But at the same time, we need to be aware of individual rights."


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