Social Question

LostInParadise's avatar

Do members of neighborhood watch groups typically carry guns?

Asked by LostInParadise (29137points) March 26th, 2012
26 responses
“Great Question” (8points)

One of the things that bothers me about the recent shooting of Trayvon Martin is this image of neighborhood watch members walking around with pistols. Having a bunch of people, other than policemen, patrolling the streets with firearms is really scary. I am all in favor of neighborhood watch groups, but the only thing that they should be carrying is a cell phone to contact police.

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bkcunningham's avatar

The question would be impossible to answer. It would depend on the individuals, the state laws and the local laws regarding carrying guns.

SuperMouse's avatar

After a quick search I found this Neighborhood Watch Organizers Guide. This one is from the Sacramento (California) Sheriff toward the bottom it talks about setting up patrols and says very clearly: “Never carr(y) weapons of any kind — e.g. guns, black jack, mace, baseball bat, or knives.” When I added the word “Florida” to my neighborhood watch search, I got an entire page full of hits saying Dude carrying a gun was against neighborhood watch guidelines.

elbanditoroso's avatar

In my county (suburban Atlanta), neighborhood watch are specifically NOT allowed to. Members can be thrown off the group for doing so. Now, that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen, but the rules say “no”.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@SuperMouse and @elbanditoroso have the correct answer for at least 90% of the neighborhood watches, we are also not allowed to patrol alone in my neighborhood watch.

We are only supposed to observe and report.

AmWiser's avatar

Guards in some prison systems don’t even carry guns.

ragingloli's avatar

The Mafia, mostly.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Here in Texas they carry, but then again so does everyone else ( who isn’t a convicted felon ). : )

ucme's avatar

Here in england town, their “arsenal” consists of a big arse sign affixed to a street light, regularly meetings with the local police & a vigilant neighbourhood.
Of course my stash stretches a bit further, baseball bat & a nine iron.

marinelife's avatar

“Patrol members should be trained by law enforcement. It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers and they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles. They should also be cautioned to alert police or deputies when encountering strange activity. Members should never confront suspicious persons who could be armed and dangerous.”

From the manual Neighborhood Watch Manual: USA on Watch National Neighborhood Watch Program prepared by the National Sheriffs Association and the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance.

CaptainHarley's avatar

As if everyone followed the directives of some national level organization. NOT!

marinelife's avatar

@CaptainHarley Those are the guidelines for forming a group. If people don’t follow them, they are asking for trouble just like what happened in Florida.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I understand that.

bkcunningham's avatar

When this was first reported locally, the father of Trayvon said the voice heard on the 911 tape screaming for help when a neighbor called wasn’t his son’s voice. It was the voice of George Zimmerman when he was on the ground being punched by Trayvon Martin. An eye witness said Zimmerman was on the ground screaming for help. We really won’t know what happened until all the facts come out.

Coloma's avatar

I live in a rural high foothill/mountain community and there are no neighborhood watches up here, only neighbors that watch, with their rifles and shotguns and pistols. lol
I don’t agree with civilians carrying weapons around a neighborhood.
Patroling and observing and then, as mentioned, reporting any suspicious activity is the basis of neighborhood watch programs.

LuckyGuy's avatar

We live in a more rural setting and have an extremely low crime rate. Most, if not all, of my neighbors have guns in the house. “Neighborhood watch” is making sure a van does not pull into the neighbor’s driveway when they’re not home.

Two weeks ago at ~10PM I went over to my neighbor’s house because I saw three cars in her driveway at night and I knew she was away for a week. Her nephew was supposed to be taking care of the dogs and driving a white truck.
I walked into the garage, hesitated and swung open her kitchen door to find them sitting at the table. I said I was “supposed to shoot the tires of any vehicle that isn’t a white truck.” One kid jumped to his feet and introduced himself apologizing that it was being serviced.
I might, or might not, have been carrying.
I emailed her later and told her about the late night visit. She was glad I did.

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy Yes, same here, very low crime and we also have two county sheriffs living in this neighborhood. Everyone is on minimum 5–10 acre parcels with lots of 20–100+ acres.
It is very rare for a home to be robbed. Home “invasion” out here means the raccoons are coming through the pet door. lol

flutherother's avatar

A neighbourhood watch should do just that, watch, and contact the police if necessary. To consider themselves an armed vigilante force is a recipe for disaster. Come the zombie apocalypse there might be a point but we aren’t there yet.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

SuperMouse's avatar

@CaptainHarley‘s post got me to wondering if the rules might be different in a state that allows concealed weapons. I mean if someone has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, are they allowed to bring it on their neighborhood watch rounds?

bkcunningham's avatar

After realizing that Neighborhood Watch is a national organization and has bylaws, I’d doubt it would endorse guns on volunteers. Is it in their bylaws? I looked and didn’t see anything about guns. Just that you don’t confront, just watch and call law enforcement.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@SuperMouse We have very liberal concealed carry laws here. The rule still is no weapons when on duty with Neighborhood Watch.

We don’t have the authority or training to make arrests. The unofficial position of the neighborhood watch I am associated with is, if we don’t have weapons we will be less likely to provoke a confrontation that will end badly for someone.

bkcunningham's avatar

What state are you in, @WestRiverrat?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@bkcunningham South Dakota.

Brian1946's avatar

They better carry guns! How else could they defend themselves against thugs armed with ice tea and Skittles? ;-)

woodcutter's avatar

@CaptainHarley Here in Texas they carry, but then again so does everyone else ( who isn’t a convicted felon ). : )

Trust me. Your convicted felons are packin. They don’t care about silly laws in that regard. If the felons all conformed to these laws then these laws would actually make sense. That’s why it baffles me that some here think that if you make a law to control behavior then thats the fix and your done…problem solved. Laws like those are a false feeling of security, and, or, accomplishment on the part of lawmakers.
The latest on this is, apparently Zimmerman is not an accomplished fighter and this kid was handing his ass to him in a scuffle. In over his head. Whether it was deserved or not the last thing someone who is carrying wants, is to allow themselves to be bested in a physical event where they are incapacitated briefly and during the struggle the presence of the gun is discovered. worst case scenario the gun is taken from its owner and is used on him. Next to the worst case scenario is the gun is stolen and now there is a loose gun on the streets that is unacounted for. For this reason It seems like a bad idea to have a firearm when on patrol.

However everyone has the right of self defense when out there and maybe that part of town is notorious for bad shit going down and maybe the guy felt the need to have it “just in case.” All gun carry people have a responsibility to keep their weapon secure. If the other guy gets hold of it…it’s over.

If some guy comes up to me on the street and starts dressing me down as if they are an authority and I know they are not.and makes me feel uncomfortable I’m probable going to tell him to piss off. Neighborhood watch people have to be careful to not put themselves in that gray area where they become the problem.

Nullo's avatar

My dad works with a woman who tells of a related condition.
She did her early growing-up in the bad part of St. Louis. Crime was high and varied, and the police weren’t terribly keen on going there. So her father and a number of the other neighbors took up arms and formed an ad-hoc neighborhood watch, with beats and everything. They were technically vigilantes, and what they did was probably illegal, but their neighborhood remained safe. The family eventually moved out to St. Louis’ safer, more rural surroundings.

So you need not necessarily fear armed civilians.

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