Open carry advocates gather in Delavan
Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 11:16:04 CDT
Topic: Wisconsin

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By DARRYL ENRIQUEZ   Monday, Aug. 30, 2010



Shaun Kranish, executive director of the gun rights group, videotapes at an open-carry gathering Sunday at the Delavan Starbucks. Dan Plutchak/staff.

DELAVAN -- Several dozen open-carry advocates from throughout Wisconsin and Illinois gathered at the Starbucks here Sunday to socialize while openly carrying holstered handguns. They agree that weapons be carried on most any occasion.

“It’s like wearing a seat belt in a car,” said Shaun Kranish on the importance of being armed at all times.

The one exception that Kranish jokingly agreed to may be when snuggling with a loved one at night.

Besides that circumstance, people must be prepared to defend themselves and others against criminals who kill without remorse or conscience, Kranish said.

“I would hate the thought of someone opening fire on innocent people (near me), and I’m not armed,” he said.

Kranish is the executive director of, with members in Illinois and southern Wisconsin. He and several members traveled to the Delavan gathering from Rockford, Ill.

Advocates argue that the Constitution and legal rulings from courts and top state officials allow them to carry openly, as long as guns are holstered and in plain site and not concealed by clothing or other objects.

Nik Clark, chairman of Wisconsin Carry Inc., also was at the rally

Rallies to display firepower in public have become prevalent this summer, having occurred at Starbucks in Eau Claire, La Crosse, Racine, Kenosha and at a Culver’s restaurant in Beloit, said Paul Fisher of Sugar Creek Township, an event organizer.

The Delavan Starbucks manager, personally known by some attendees, said she was instructed by her boss to not comment on Sunday’s rally.

In March, Starbucks publicly stated it allowed open-carry guns in states where it is legal.

At any given moment, about 40 open-carry advocates were chatting on the outdoor patio that overlooks busy Highway 50 or inside the air-conditioned coffee shop.

Overall attendance was likely higher, though. Advocates from the area, as well as from Milwaukee, La Crosse, Sheboygan, Racine and Rockford, readily came and went throughout the warm afternoon.

“Frankly, I’m surprised at the number of people who are here,” Fisher said. “A year ago, I’m not sure we would have had this kind of turnout.”

No Delavan police were seen observing the event, although law enforcement agencies from throughout Walworth County were invited to attend, Fisher said

A picnic for area open-carry advocates might be the next event, Fisher said.

A discussion point at the local event was when was it inappropriate to open carry?

Wisconsin law says convicted felons cannot carry and open guns cannot be carried inside a government building or near a school. People cannot carry if they are intoxicated. Without permission, they cannot carry inside a place that serves alcohol. If a merchant does not want open carry in his or her establishment, the armed person must leave as immediately as he or she is able.

Besides the incidents spelled out by Wisconsin law, many attendees were hard pressed to set personal restrictions on their own open-carry practices.

Fisher said he thought church might be one example, but he quickly retracted that thought after remembering the slaughter that happened several years back at a church based in a meeting room of a suburban Milwaukee hotel.

“Everyone would assume you’d be safe in church, but you can never really tell,” Fisher said.

Heather Palenske carries a pink handgun, the same color as the van of her husband Mike’s business—Dam Road Gun Shop in Delavan.

The gun not only provides protection but also accessorizes her outfit. Palenske said pink is her favorite color.

She also could not think of an inappropriate time in which to carry her petite handgun, including weddings and funerals.

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