GERMANTOWN (WITI) -- A man walking down Mequon Road carrying a loaded shotgun on his back, and a handgun on his waist had concerned residents flooding Germantown police with telephone calls this weekend. The man says he was just exercising his right to openly carry a firearm.
"Put a shotgun on my back and a pistol on my hip and I went for a walk," William Polster said.
Police responded to the scene after getting several frantic phone calls from people concerned about the man's intentions.
"He didn't say what his purpose was at the time and he didn't identify himself. The subject was polite. He was not confrontational. He did not want to identify himself. The officers were confident he did not do anything illegal. He did not violate any ordinances and he was free to go," Germantown Police Chief Peter Hoell said.
Police say they didn't have a problem with Polster exercising his Second Amendment right, but they did have an issue with the manner in which he did it.
"People's perceptions were that this might be a problem. They feared for people's safety," Chief Hoell said.
Polster says the concern was unnecessary. He says his intent was to prove a point, and says he believes he was creating educational awareness.
"For the people that are scared -- one, just seeing a gun, there is no need to be afraid. Open carry -- the mere presence of a firearm deters crime, so many criminals will walk in, see an open gun, turn around and walk out. They won't commit the crime they were intending on committing. Secondly, people won't know it's legal. If guys see it, they might feel more comfortable to arm themselves and be able to defend themselves if the need arises," Polster said.
Although the incident was alarming for some, Germantown's Police Chief says he found something positive in the situation.
"I think it needs to be talked about. I'm hoping maybe some common ground can be found,"
In the future, Chief Hoell hopes people can agree on some common ground where open carry advocates can exercise their rights without scaring people.
Polster says he wants to open people's minds on the fact that it's not the gun itself that is the problem, but rather, the actions of the person carrying it.