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Waffle House in Kennesaw, Georgia 
Winter 2010, 4:45 a.m.

JP Mitchell and Matt Brannan were enjoying their breakfast at the Waffle House on Barrett Parkway, just off of Interstate 575 in Kennesaw, which was their regular routine a few times per week. As is their customary practice, both Matt and JP were openly carrying their .45 ACP Springfield 1911 pistols on their hips. Open carry is legal in Georgia if the citizen is in possession of a valid Georgia Firearm Permit. Although legal, it is still a fairly uncommon sight, especially as one gets closer to the larger metropolis of Atlanta.

While quietly discussing the upcoming day and enjoying their breakfast, Matt and JP noticed a young man walk in the restaurant and begin walking around the store in an unusual fashion. “He looked like he was walking around the store looking for someone or like he had left something in   here like a wallet or something,” said Matt.

“We both noticed him and paid attention to him,” JP said.

Matt continued, “When you’re a carrier, you notice things. Your level of awareness has to be heightened. You have a responsibility to protect that weapon.”

Neither man really paid much attention to the way the young man was dressed and nothing else about his demeanor set off any alarm bells other than that he appeared to be searching for something he may have lost. Lingering for a few minutes and then walking the entire length of the Waffle House looking up and down the booths, the young man noticed Matt and JP.
Unbeknownst to Matt and JP, their waitress, Lynn, had walked outside to take a break. “I always keep my eye on anyone coming near the store, especially at that time,” she said later. “I’m always alert. I pay attention to everything and this just didn’t look right. I notice everything that goes on there. I watch the parking lot all the time.” Upon re-entering the restaurant, Lynn promptly called 911 to report suspicious vehicles outside the store with several men in them that had slowly driven around the back of the parking lot.

Shortly after Lynn called law enforcement, Matt and JP finished their meals and paid the tab. Both men exited the Waffle house and headed to their vehicles. “I went to my truck, mentioned to JP that I would see him soon and took off. I didn’t really notice anyone behind the store in the parking lot,” Matt said.

Matt and JP were unaware that two vehicles had pulled behind the Waffle House. Lynn said, “When the police pulled in, there was only one police car at first and he pulled up kinda sideways and got out. He told the guys to get out of the car and they said ‘No,’ so he walked up and that’s when he saw the guns and ski masks. There was [a] bunch of guns that he put on the hood of the police car, handguns, rifles and ski masks. I held it together while I was watching the police, and then broke down later.”

Matt and JP, unaware of what had occurred, continued on with their daily lives until a chance meeting with a police officer regarding his openly carried firearm led Matt to a conversation about the Waffle House arrests. In what can only be described as a bizarre twist of fate, Matt realized during that chance encounter with the police officer that the officer was referring to a morning when he and JP had actually been at the Waffle House. Upon further investigation and a call to the department, Matt found out what had actually been going on when he and JP had noticed the young man “looking for something” and what he had actually intended to find.

What Matt and JP found out shocked them. The young man they had seen walk through the restaurant that early morning while they were enjoying their breakfast was there to look for something, all right. That something was victims. As it turns out, the man was a scout for a heavily-armed robbery crew who had set their sights on the Kennesaw Waffle House. Upon entering the eatery and doing a quick walk through, the scout exited the establishment to inform the rest of the crew that there were two armed individuals inside. The police investigated and determined that unbeknownst to Matt and JP, their openly carried guns had thwarted what would most likely have been a very violent situation. During the investigation, the robbery crew told police that they were going to wait to invade until the “guns” had left the store.

Matt, JP and Lynn later came on Armed American Radio to discuss the encounter, hoping to help further justify the lawful open carry of firearms and to dissuade those enemies of freedom who believe that the lawful carry of a sidearm is a disaster waiting to happen. What happened in this case certainly livens the debate between open carry and concealed carry, because there is little doubt that in this case those openly displayed firearms may very well have saved lives without the carriers even being aware of what was occurring.

As someone who has interviewed dozens of fine people who have carried and used their weapons to defend themselves, I am absolutely convinced that the outcome of this event would most certainly have resulted in bloodshed were it not for Matt and JP’s visibly-carried weapons. The story poses some very good questions and certainly brings the open carry movement some well-deserved publicity that the open display of a lawfully carried firearm does in fact, deter crime. One would be hard pressed to argue otherwise under these circumstances. What makes this case unique is the fact that not only were the would-be robbers caught, but they admitted during questioning that the displayed firearms stopped their actions.

We will never know how many times this type of event happens, because it is virtually impossible to gain statistical data on events that never occur. But we do know this: Matt and JP’s open carry on that early morning likely saved many lives, including the lives of the criminals.

The radio interview with Matt, JP and Lynn can be heard in its entirety by visiting www.armedamericanradio.org  and listening to the 2-21-2010 podcasted version, hour 2.


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