by Neil W. McCabe, Guns & Patriots
His 1942 M-1 Garand slung on his back, a senior at nearby Troy High
School was walking his girlfriend on April 13 through Birmingham, Mich.,
and did not expect an arrest.
"It was a Friday night around 10:30-ish, I'd say," said Sean M. Combs,
who graduated June 9 and will start college in the fall. "We were in the
downtown area and two lovely law officers walked by."
Combs said one of the two female police officers gave him a strange
double-take look and called him out. "She asked me if I thought I was
out of my mind. She then asked me what I thought I was doing with the
rifle. I told her: 'Nothing.'"
At this point, Combs should have expected his arrest. When he declined
to provide an ID, the lady officers called for backup. Soon, there were
two male officers and a small crowd.
"Before I was stopped nobody looked twice, nobody was saying: 'Oh my,
God! Nobody called. There were no problems until they showed up,'" he
"One of the male officers told me if I didn't show ID, he would take me
in for obstruction of justice," he said. Combs relented and as he
extended his arm to give his ID to one of the females, one of the male
cops grabbed his arm, twisted it behind Combs' back and knocked him to
The teenager said they took his M-1 and charged him with three
misdemeanors: obstructing and resisting police, brandishing a weapon and
disturbing the peace. His evidentiary hearing is June 20.
Attorney and law professor Steven W. Dulan
said the problem the police and prosecutors face is that both the M-1
and carrying one in the open are legal in Michigan, which explains why
the actual charges do not address what triggered the interest of the
police in the first place. "I am not familiar with the facts of the
case, but as a defense attorney, I am well acquainted with the concept
of over-charging." He is not associated with the case.
Dulan, who is on the board of directors of The Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, said one reason for the police to respond how they did may be a lack of understanding of Michigan law.
Before MCRGO led the fight more than 10 years ago to change Michigan's
concealed carry law from "May Issue" to a "Shall Issue" each of the
state's 83 counties had its own gun laws, he said.
With the new concealed carry law, the state also asserted "preemption,"
which meant that local gun ordinances could not be more restrictive
than state law, he said. Despite the time passed and new training, many
Michigan police officers are ignorant of state law and still operate as
if the old ordinances were still in effect.
In the meantime, Combs said he is looking forward to getting his M-1
back. "It's a fun rifle. They're accurate, reliable and they've got a
great history. I just love them."