Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dividing ourselves in the foot

David at War on Guns has a post up about the fight for open carry in Texas.

He quotes the article, then comments;
Y'know, if everybody just did it, what could they do about it?

Our problem is that nobody will--because they know they'd stand alone--and even be condemned by the majority of their fellow gun owners for making "us" all look bad.

This strikes a chord with me, because it touches on a divide in the gun rights community that irks me.

Gun owners who open carry are not doing anything wrong. They have the right to do it, and choose to do so. The only thing that's wrong with it, is the group of gun rights pragmatists who argue it is destructive to the effort.

I'm something of a pragmatist too, you won't see me talking about the violent overthrow of the government with a someone who asked me to teach them to shoot. It would be truthful, and correct, but it alienate the potential gun owner. I would not open carry because open carry does not fit into my reasoning for carrying a firearm. But some gun rights supporters call them extremists, and detrimental to the cause, and attack them. These people are the gun rights pragmatists. The ones who argue that we not bite off more than we can chew, and talk endlessly about the political will for this fight or that fight.

I'm going to lump all the non-pragmatists (Non-prags) together; extremists, non-political believers, illegally packing grannies, and all. This may seem odd, but since pragmatists have become so vocal, sensitive, and protective of the issue, they've fortified their position against all others, and determined the division.

The pragmatists (Prags), erect barriers to form a circle around themselves, and attack everything that isn't within their boarder. They pontificate, and weigh, and determine the course of action with the most likely chance of success. They then accuse the Non-prags of pounding the table, and shouting "Shall not be infringed!" instead of coming to grips with the political reality of the gun rights fight. (In case you were wondering, they're talking about the political reality they've agreed upon.)

But are the gun rights pragmatists right?

I guess.


The Prags stick their finger in the wind, determine the current socio-political landscape, and figure out the best way to fight today. Playing the game, making concessions, and moving the football one yard at a time seems to be the way to progress in this political machine, and the political repercussions of pushing too hard should be obvious to all.

But does that mean the Non-prags are wrong? Or at least, hurting the effort?

While it's not immediately clear if they're hurting the overall effort, but it's clear that the Prags perceive them to be hurting their effort. For this, the pragmatists make sport of shouting down and deriding those who fight for their rights in ways they don't agree.

This is bullshit.

We can argue till we're blue in the face about the specifics, but at the core of the argument is the Prags saying;

It's not that simple! You can't just exercise your right! What you're doing is stupid and destructive, because I say so. Step away from the effort, and just go stand in the corner while we do it the right way. Oh yeah, don't forget to keep sending checks to our legal funds.

The argument is between one side trying to impose its will on the other; and the other side simply exercising its rights.

If you can't see why this is wrong, I can't help you.

Exacerbating the problem is the holier-than-thou subtext that permeates the writing of some Prags. They do not claim to be our betters, but they imply it by claiming the burden of determining the proper direction for the gun rights movement, and tearing down all who disagree.

Yet for all the vitriol they absorb, all the Non-prags have to say is, "when you compromise on principal, you can only lose," and "A right unexercised is a right lost." They're simple statements. They lack the sophistication of a properly tuned political conscience; but they're still hard to disagree with.

I guess the point here is that disagreement is fine, and open debate is even better. But instigating divisiveness by deriding and talking down to the other side is wrong and childish.

On to open carry specifically; much to my surprise, there are people open carrying in Orange County, California. They open carry, and blog or post about it on their forum, and talk about how nothing happened to them. No SWAT teams descended on them, nobody got trampled to death as everyone fled the building, and no criminal grabbed the gun and went on a shooting spree. There is the occasional instance of police interaction that ends without incident, but where are the dire predictions? Most people are conditioned to think of a gun as a shooting spree waiting to happen, so what happens when they see a gun, and a shooting spree doesn't happen? They progress our cause.

So, lets get back to David's question. What if everybody just did it?

There would probably be some people freaking out, but the police are becoming increasingly aware of the legality of open carry, and do you really think they're going to roll code three to the 98th "man with a gun" call of the day? Hell no. They're going to ask; "Is he shooting anybody? No? Then what he's doing is legal." Then after people are done freaking out, it would become normal. Regular people are going to realize that seeing a gun doesn't instantly mean death and destruction.

Isn't this the exact message the Prags want to get across by bringing one person to the range at a time?

We're all on the same side here.

Lets try not to forget that.


Anonymous said...

Well said. It seems every other week someone is being hammered on by the "Prags" for "Scaring the white people". I have to wonder if somewhere Paul Hemke and Josh Sugarmann are touching each other in an impure manner and cackling like super villains over the latest shitstorm.

John R said...

You really can't "just do it" in Texas.

This is one law where CA has us beat. I used to open carry in Imperial County CA, in Texas open carry is a trip to the jail house.

You can do anything you want with a long gun, but a handgun has to be concealed.

As for "scaring the white people", well... sometimes that is the only way to get their attention.