Monday, August 06, 2012

Open carry is the way forward.

I've been aware of the open carry debate for some time, and even did some serious thinking on the topic four years and one state ago, but now that I'm open carrying, and thinking more about it, I've had a change of heart.

It's obvious to me that Open Carry is the best way for us to advance our gun rights.

The gun rights supporters who fight open carry have a few arguments I'd like to go over.
It's not socially normal!
Well, duh. That's the problem. If you are afraid to carry your gun openly, where legal to do so, you're acknowledging that the carrying of firearms by private citizens is still taboo in your community. If we keep acting like carrying a gun is something we need to hide, people will continue demanding we hide it. Is that acceptable to you? Or would you rather that change?

Soccer moms will clutch their pearls!
I didn't realize we lived in Europe, where someone being offended is a legitimate argument to stop you from exercising your rights. Someone will always be offended, and the great thing about America, is that it's ok to be offended, and to offend. When someone says that you carrying a gun makes them scared, you smile politely, and say, "Have a nice day, Ma'am." and walk away. I can't even believe this is a common argument.

All those casually anti-gun people are walking around, right now, thinking that a small police force is all that prevents the barbarians from overrunning the city. They don't know, or choose not to believe that regular citizens are contributing to the security they enjoy by carrying firearms around them all the time. Don't allow them to reject reality. Show them the truth, and make them come to terms with it. It's not your job to participate in their fantasy.

Also remember that you might be surprised by the lack of response. This guy open carried (when legal) all over the place in Southern California. Are you going to tell me some Kommiefornian was exercising rights you are afraid to? What's the matter, McFly? Chick-fil-a?

The cops will hassle you!
I didn't realize that making a law man uncomfortable was a reason to not exercise your rights. If open carry is a legal activity, wouldn't that make harassment for doing so illegal? America is a nation of laws. If the cops don't like 'em, they can fight to change 'em. Until then, we have this right, and you know what they say about a right unexercised.

There are practical concerns which might prevent you from standing up for your rights, we all have important things to do, so refusing a vehicle search and waiting an hour for the drug dogs to arrive when you're on your way to the airport to fly out on vacation might be beyond your level of tolerance. But don't let this convince you that everything you do is more important than exercising your rights.

This argument has some validity in states where open carry is flatly illegal, but there are many more areas where the right to open carry has not been explicitly confirmed, or it's allowed by exclusion, or it has conflicting ordinances. It is your responsibility to determine how legal open carrying is in your area, but if you look around, I bet you'll find people are already doing it. Yes, even if it's the guy who open carries an AK and a Ron Paul sign in the middle of downtown. If he gets arrested, and charged, and the charges stick, you've got your answer. But in most cases open carriers who know the laws rarely get hooked up. Just hassled.

Videos like this are all over youtube, waiting to be watched. If you do watch them, try not to be alarmed by the thrill you may experience when the tiny little citizen says "No." to the big scary law man, and then the big scary law man gets all Ezekiel 25:17 on him, and the little citizen, threatened with the wrath of an angry demigod, simply repeats "No." That's the thrill of freedom.

So, when a cop tells you he's going to arrest you if you don't hide your gun, tell him you'd like to speak to his supervisor, that you are carrying where it is legal to do so, that your lawyer has confirmed this, and that you'll file harassment charges against him faster than the DA can reject the case. Like Claire Wolfe says; Intimidate back.

Finally, keep in mind that there are varying degrees of "harassment" that you can choose to accept based on your comfort level. Some police will do everything within their power to stop you from doing what you're doing. Some will ask for (not demand) your ID so they can run you like a criminal to make sure you're not a felon. Some will just ask for a name they can put in their report. It's up to you to choose what level of "harassment" you're willing to put up with. Just know that many encounters may be diffused with a little voluntary compliance.

You're just an attention whore!
You're damn right I am, and you should be too!

It's about time private citizens carrying guns got some attention outside of the usual "On the lighter side of the news: Granny's got a gun!" news story. You know the ones I'm talking about. Where the anchor cheerfully relates how a man broke into her house to rape and murder her, and he got "mooooore than he bargained for!" as "Janie's got a gun" plays in the background. If they're lucky, there's even a surveillance video they can play cartoon sounds over as the rapist falls all over himself fleeing for his life. No matter public opinion, the media is STILL closed to the idea of private citizens carrying.

For all the progress we've made, "Man stops robbery with gun" still isn't news, nor is "Rapist runs after woman draws gun." We can't trust the media to spread the truth about carrying a firearm, so it's up to us to take it to every town and city we can, to reach everyone we pass the same way we reach individuals we take to the range one at a time. It's obviously not as complete a transformation, but we can make it up in volume, because the casual anti-gun population have not challenged their premises. They exist in their little bubble where everyone agrees guns are bad, so no one even feels the need to explore it. Pop their bubble. Let them see a regular person carrying a gun in a regular situation, and let them see that this person was polite, pleasant, and didn't start shooting when they bumped carts at the grocery store.

You'll make my fight harder!
"Right now, we're tip-toeing by the casually anti-gun population, and we've been making progress! If you Wookie Suiters jump in front of them and yell 'SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!!11' then public reaction will snap back, and we'll be worse off!

That argument might have been valid before the Aurora shooting lacked public backlash on guns entirely. We've tipped the scale to 51%, and people are starting to realize that guns are just tools and they can be used for good or bad. The grey ponytails are always going to hate you for carrying a gun, concealed or not. The "respect mah authoritah" cops will always hate you for carrying their power symbol, concealed or not. Hiding your gun from them so you don't feel hassled is wrong. You won't be able to change their minds. But revealing your gun can have a positive impact on casual anti-gunners.

The idea of open carrying to a theater in Colorado right after the Aurora shooting would have been rejected by most in the gun community as tactless, dangerous, and damaging but I think it's exactly what should have happened.

Then, when some people freak out and overreact, it can make the news, and casual anti-gunners can look at the story and astonish themselves by thinking, "But he wasn't going to shoot anyone." This is how minds are changed. We need to direct this emotion for us, instead of waiting for it to turn against us.

Open carry is tactically unsound!
This is a completely valid opinion one can have in ones decision to open carry or not. However, your opinion is just that. I can certainly agree that there are tactical concerns in revealing you have a gun rather than keeping it secret, but the goal I'm trying to outline here is a society where open carry is the norm.

The idea of cities, counties, or entire states where the population is empowered to open carry, and does so, has significant tactical advantages over what we have now. Which is, an average of less than 2% of the the population with carry permits, and only a fraction of them actively carrying, and those who do choosing to hide their guns.

If you don't care about gun rights, and only care about being able to carry to protect you, and yours, continue carrying concealed. It's totally pragmatic, and no one can blame you for making your choice. But know that you are standing stationary in the political arena, and hoping the winds never blow you backwards. Shouldn't you advance instead of fighting to maintain the status quo?

The end of the fight.
I have a vision for gun rights in America that you very likely share. The only difference is that we disagree on how to get there. We've been moving the ball forward, one yard at a time, for decades now, and much is owed to this strategy. But the balances have tipped, and we've got a whole new generation who is open to the idea that private ownership of guns has value in a civilized society. We need to take this momentum and direct it to where we can make the most progress. If we don't take this opportunity to show everyone, not just those who choose to listen, but EVERYONE, that private citizens with guns are doing their part every day, we could lock this up for generations to come.

I hope that we haven't been on the defensive for so long, fighting tooth and nail for meager gains so often, that we've become afraid to floor it when we see a path to the finish line.

No comments: