Please, Open Carriers, Stop “Defending My Rights”
I’m not sure what’s going on with the gun rights movement lately. We faced a serious threat after Newtown, but at the grass roots level, America showed that it does not want more gun control. Most major gun control efforts failed miserably. Gun sales have soared. More and more good, decent citizens are getting concealed carry permits. The public is slowly learning that despite the incessant media focus on guns, actual gun crimes have plummeted. A few prominent liberals like Anthony Bourdain have tried to convince other liberals to stop demonizing gun owners. By most measures, we on the pro-2nd Amendment side have won.
But then open carriers go and screw things up.
At last count several large corporations including Starbucks, Sonic, Chipotle and now Target have at least asked OCers to stop open carrying at their businesses. I’d guess they did this because OCers were driving customers away. The businesses’ request, of course, drove some pro-2A people nuts. These businesses have all been accused of being “anti-gun”. In reality, they just want to sell stuff. On their private property. You know, in accordance with their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. They aren’t required to take sides in a fight they never wanted to be involved in. They should be left out of this.
But instead of leaving the uninterested out of the debate, open carriers have apparently adopted a policy of forcing people to take sides. They do this by flaunting their right to open carry, carrying specifically to provoke a reaction, carrying for no logical reason in really stupid places, and basically making asses of themselves. Then they take pictures of themselves proudly “defending our gun rights”.
Really, who wouldn’t feel comfortable walking into Chipotle’s with this gaggle of freedom-lovers hanging around outside? It’s not like any of them are CARRYING THEIR F’KIN’ WEAPON AT PORT ARMS, which has been taught as a combat-ready position for decades. And just look! None of them, NONE, have their weapon slung in front, which is where we soldiers carry our carbines on patrol so WE CAN QUICKLY RAISE THEM TO SHOOT PEOPLE IN THE FACE.
This has been explained by other writers already, but it’s worth repeating: if someone is carrying a weapon at port arms or low ready, it’s no different than walking around with a pistol out of the holster in a combat grip. Professionals carry their long guns in front when they’re prepared for imminent contact. When I was overseas and outside the wire, my weapon was either in my hands or hanging on my chest. You know, the way OCers carry their weapons inside coffee shops.
Now, I’m going to do a little compare and contrast. Take another look at the totally non-threatening latte buyer above. Note how his weapon hangs by the sling on his chest. If I ever have a chance to ask him, I’m sure he’ll say nothing in the manner of his open carry suggests he’s a threat.
Now, check out this guy:
Notice that he’s carrying his weapon in pretty much the same manner as the latte buyer. But he is, in fact, one hell of a threat. Because the soldier, probably unlike the coffee shop customer, has been trained how to quickly raise his weapon and engage. The soldier carries his weapon up front specifically so he can shoot people with it. The fact that the open carrier apparently doesn’t know that he’s carrying his weapon in a combat-ready manner kinda suggests he shouldn’t be carrying it in a coffee shop.
And then there are guys like these flaming morons, wandering the streets with AR-15s that they can probably barely operate. And intentionally walking past a police station. While talking like rappers. And bragging about their right to open carry. Just to get attention.
But you know what’s even sadder than that? When you realize that those ridiculous open carry bozos were actually safer and less threatening than the coffee shop guy.
Now, let’s say I’m in Home Depot. I carry a concealed pistol every day. I’m with my wife and kids looking at appliances. We turn the corner to another aisle. And I see this guy, carrying an AK with his hand on the grip and finger just outside the trigger guard.
I now have a decision to make. Is this an open carrier demonstrating in support of a right, that we already have, by walking around Home Depot completely oblivious to the fact that he’s carrying his weapon ready for action? Or is it an aspiring active shooter who just ditched his trenchcoat to expose his weapon? Might I be forgiven for not realizing that he (supposedly) doesn’t intend to appear threatening, and that he’s just clueless?
Many of us pro-2A people carry a gun just in case we run into some murderous nutcase wandering around a business with an AK ready to open fire. Then we encounter “gun rights activists” wandering around businesses carrying AKs ready to open fire. But the gun rights activists are supposedly on our side. And we’re supposed to be able to quickly tell the difference between the two. At least one open carrier in Georgia couldn’t tell the difference, and drew on another open carrier recently (http://www.valdostadailytimes.com/todays-top-stories/x1736693358/First-day-of-new-gun-law-leads-to-arrest).
Here’s another example. How do these guys, especially the woman carrying with both hands on her weapon, not know they’re carrying in a threatening manner?
EDIT: I had to remove this image because I inadvertently attributed it to the wrong source. The picture is originally from the Detroit News (who charges for its use), and can be seen here: http://www.colorsmagazine.com/stories/magazine/88/story/us-gun-owners-want-the-right-to-order-caramel-frappuccinos-while-fully-arme
Could it be… gosh… maybe they’re not the highly trained master gunfighters some of them imagine themselves to be?
Call me crazy, but I feel one of my responsibilities as a gun rights advocate is to show people that gun owners are reasonable, responsible people who aren’t a threat to the innocent. If I were to, say, walk into Chipotle carrying an AK at the combat ready, I’m pretty sure I’d accomplish the exact opposite. And I really couldn’t blame regular Joe for being afraid of me. Think about it, guys. If a cop walks into Chipotle with a rifle, people will get scared. If a soldier walks into Chipotle with a rifle, people will get scared. If some unknown guy walks into Chipotle with a rifle, especially if he’s carrying it at the combat ready, people are going to get scared. In America, carrying a rifle into a restaurant isn’t a normal act. Right or wrong, it scares people. And you won’t make people less scared of guns by intentionally scaring them with guns.
At this point, I’m sure open carriers will call me “Hoplophobe! Anti-gunner!” or whatever else helps their “You’re either one of us or one of the enemy” mindset. My response is, “Sure, whatever.” I’m 100% pro-2nd Amendment. In fact, I actually support the legal right to open carry in private businesses. I support it the same way I support the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to protest at soldiers’ funerals. I consider both acts to be the height of stupidity. I think the WBC and open carriers are only harming their own cause. Both acts are moronic. But this is America, and people have a right to be morons.
Peaceful open carry rallies where gun owners safely carry long guns slung across their backs on public land? I’m down with that. Blatantly ridiculous, orchestrated confrontations where open carriers walk into private businesses with rifles at the combat ready, just to piss people off, knowing that all they’ll do is create more enemies? No thanks.
So please, open carriers, stop “defending my rights”. Just stop. You’re not helping. You’re not creating friends. You’re not “proving how important it is to exercise our rights.” You also have a right to wander the streets dressed in drag; do you exercise that right? And you’re not “getting people used to open carry.” For years, the Westboro Baptist Church has angered people by protesting at funerals. America hasn’t gotten used to it. We grudgingly tolerate it because it’s legal, but pretty much everybody hopes the WBC picks the wrong funeral and gets beaten senseless. America will never say, “The Westboro Baptist Church? What a great group of guys!” And you open carriers will never NOT provoke a reaction by carrying an AR-15 inside Chipotle.
But maybe, if you keep doing this stupid crap, you’ll turn more gun-neutral people into anti-gun people. Once you create enough enemies, you’ll finally hit the critical mass that gets new gun control laws passed. When that happens, I won’t just blame those anti-gun people. I’ll blame YOU.
ADDED 7/9/2014: I just ran across this video. I don’t know anything about this guy’s background, but he makes a lot of good points.
Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com, Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).
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Tags: 2nd amendment, gun rights, open carry, veteran writers