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The Milwaukee woman who wore her gun to services at a Brookfield church in July has sued the city and four officers involved in her arrest, the latest in a growing number of court challenges by Wisconsin gun rights advocates.

Krysta Sutterfield had not created any disturbance at the Unitarian Universalist Church but was stopped as she was driving away, detained at gunpoint, searched, arrested, booked and released. Police recommended a citation for unlawfully transporting her gun in the car, but Waukesha District Attorney Brad Schimel declined to issue any charges.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Milwaukee federal court, contends that police infringed several of Sutterfield’s constitutional rights, such as being free from unreasonable searches and to keep and bear arms.

It seeks unspecified damages plus court orders that Brookfield police not detain other lawful gun carriers and remove all records of Sutterfield’s arrest from their files, and a declaration that openly carrying a gun, “without more, is not a criminal act.”

“Our goal here is to obtain damages for Krysta, for her unlawful arrest and the harm she suffered,” said Nik Clark, president of Wisconsin Carry Inc., “but also to show that police can’t just arrest people at gunpoint for doing something within the law.”

Wisconsin Carry Inc., a group that advocates for gun rights, joins Sutterfield as a plaintiff in the suit. Both are represented by John Monroe, a Georgia attorney who specializes in gun rights cases. Monroe represents the group and some other members in pending federal cases over police response to members wearing guns at a Madison Culver’s last month, and challenging the state ban on firearms within 1,000 feet of school zones.

Clark said Wisconsin Carry has collected thousands of dollars in donations to fund its lawsuits. While the group supports the open carry of guns, which is legal, it also believes Wisconsin should issue concealed carry permits to gun owners who meet certain criteria. Wisconsin and Illinois are the only two states that do not permit any concealed carry. Proponents expect such a law will pass in Wisconsin soon. Gov. Jim Doyle twice vetoed prior bills to allow concealed carry.

Source: Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel.

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