Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Somerset, Wisconsin Man Narrowly Avoids Becoming Case Law

Mark J. Hoffman, 23, of Somerset, Wisconsin,
a graduate of Somerset High School.
On July 24th, 2013, a Somerset Wisconsin man narrowly avoided becoming case law after being stopped by police while openly carrying an AR-15 slung over his shoulder and a handgun in a hip holster.  I spoke to Chief Doug Briggs, of the Somerset Police Department who declined to identify the subject, later identified as Mark J. Hoffman, stated that he [Mr. Hoffman] was very respectful to officers, invoked his fifth amendment rights and refused to answer any questions, only telling the responding officers only that he was "within his rights."  Chief Briggs also identified Mr. Hoffman as a graduate of Somerset High School.  Because the officers could not verify that he was permitted under law to possess weapons within the 1000' radius, he was subsequently arrested for obstruction and disorderly conduct.  His case was then deferred to the St. Croix County District Attorney's office, which declined to press charges, citing Mr. Hoffman's right against self-incrimination.  No word yet on the outcome of the obstruction charge or whether Mr. Hoffman's weapons were confiscated.

My own thoughts on this?  That irony of that shirt cracks me up!  But if one is knowingly, as Mr. Hoffman must have been, within a school zone, the police have probable cause to demand ID and inquire about a CCL, and that Mr. Hoffman is very fortunate to have an ethical prosecutor review his case.

Online sources:,
Thank you to Chief Doug Briggs for the interview!


  1. Agreed, if he was within the 1000 foot perimeter, then he is very lucky that the DA actually used their discretion. Some DA's would nail him just to inflate their numbers and say they are "tough on criminals".

  2. It seems like the obstruction would be hard to prove. The Madison 5 at Culver skipped because they didnt lie or provide false ID

    1. On another note: Chief Briggs defended the deputies that harassed me and said that they had to do what they did because they were getting calls and people were "expecting" them to do something. So they threatened me with unlawful arrest and nearly hit me with a car...

    2. I would love to talk to you about the case. You can see my work on Gun Watch. You can send me an email at, or call at (928) 210-1689.

  3. If the charges were dropped by DA, then they were dropped. No obstruction charge exists. It appears to me that the police had no probable cause, not even a reasonably articulable suspicion that a crime was being committed.

    At best, they saw someone doing an activity that required a license. They cannot assume that someone does not have a license. Just because you are driving, which requires a license, the police do not have cause to stop you and see if you have a license. If they refuse to return the firearms, fire up a lawsuit. Police should never be allowed to get away with legalized theft in these cases.