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Context Matters

From a, “there ought to be a law” perspective, I have no problems with what these two kids are doing. But, no matter how old or young you are, I don’t think I can universally say that slinging a rifle around with you is a good idea. Context matters.

If I see someone come into a mall, our roughly similar public place, with a rifle slung, I’m probably going to do a double take, and, to be honest, even if I don’t call the police, I wouldn’t blame anyone who did. I’m very certainly going to keep a very close eye on that person while they are in my immediate vicinity and prepare myself for the possibility I might have to draw on this person. Why? Because context matters, and around here, people don’t go walking around with slung rifles in public places. That’s not oppression, that’s just how it is. What I wouldn’t think twice about seeing on the hiking trail, or along a road, if I see in a populated public area, it’s going to elicit an entirely different response.

I’m not saying open carry should be illegal. I think everyone has as a right to bear arms in whatever way they see fit. But I have to agree with this guy, at least in part:

He said that just because the Dotys are carrying guns in public doesn’t mean they’re not responsible with them, but questioned the need to carry them in town even though it was legal.

“My advice for them is the same as it is with adults — yes it’s your right and yes it’s legal, but why draw unnecessary attention to yourself just because you can?”

I don’t really agree with him in regards to the need, but do as far as drawing unnecessary attention to oneself. I’ve never been a big advocate of open carry for this reason. Some will argue the educational aspects of it, but personally, I don’t think it’s changing anyone’s minds, or really successfully communicating gun rights messages. People either a) assume you’re a cop, or b) get the willies. In the case of slung rifles in populated areas, I’m not entirely sure I’d say someone who had reaction b) would be entirely off base.

3 Responses to “Context Matters”

  1. Alcibiades says:

    They could at least keep the weapons in soft leather cases. That would soften, somewhat, from their appearance. Or at least I think that’s better.

  2. Sailorcurt says:

    I agree that context matters. The context in which they are doing this is a small community in one of the most gun-friendly states in the country. To that end, I don’t find anything blatantly wrong with what they are doing. However, there is a problem with it.

    That would soften, somewhat, from their appearance.

    I get the impression that they are not doing this strictly for personal protection. I think they view themselves as patriots and activists and are doing it to make a statement. The statement being “This is our right and is perfectly legal, so we are going to exercise it and are not going to allow people who fancy themselves our ‘betters’ to tell us how to live.”

    Keeping the weapons, even the rifle, in cases would nullify their entire purpose. They are TRYING to get a reaction from people.

    Although I admire their courage and their willingness to make a stand, I fear that the only thing that is going to result from their escapades is a change in the law to make what they are doing illegal.

    There are many people…especially in a town like this that is experiencing rapid growth from the influx of “big city” people trying to escape oppression in California and other locales…who are only going to be made aware that this behavior is legal under current law. They are not going to like it and are going to work hard to get that law changed.

    I’d be willing to bet that this “weakness” in the law will be addressed shortly.

    What will be really bad is if the law is changed at the state level which will affect kids that don’t live in ANY town…and that’s a shame.

    I’m not condemning the kids for doing what they are doing and I’m not condemning their parents for letting them “feel their oats”. At least these kids are showing an interest in the world around them other than the latest trend in non-music and what new Playstation 3 games are out. If nothing else, they’ll learn something from this experience.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to read more about the Doty’s in newspapers in the future.

  3. Yes, it’s context. Back in rural Indiana when I was in high school, we took rifles to school every day, and carried them there (and out shooting after school was out). Nobody looked twice. Open carry doesn’t raise eyebrows in some places, and causes people to have strokes in others. It’s not uncommon here to see pickups with rifles in gun racks, but I suspect those pickups would get stopped in Philly.

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