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Context Again

We’ve talked about context on this blog before, though it was a while ago.  I am a supporter of open carry of a firearm being legal and acceptable, and I don’t agree with the unlawful behavior of many government officials when it comes to enforcing laws that don’t exist.  That is why I have supported open carry folks when they get into trouble.  The practice is legal in Pennsylvania, and even though some officials don’t like it, tough.  It’s a lawful activity.

But I’m increasingly finding myself on the other side of open carry advocates when it comes to social pressure, which I think is not a matter for government.  I point to this article involving the soccer mom losing her License to Carry.

Parents were upset by the presence of the weapon at the game being played by 4- and 5-year-olds, said Charlie Jones, who coaches one of three under-age-6 teams, known as U6, in the Lebanon Recreation Youth Soccer program.

“More than one parent was upset,” he said. “I did not see it, but it was brought to my attention.”

I agree that Ms. Hain has a legal right to carry her pistol openly unmolested, but I also agree that just because you have a right doesn’t mean you get to be immune from social decorum and social pressure.  Looking at the comments, I see:

She must love the attention. If you have a concealed permit, carry it concealed! She wanted the attention by doing this at a little kids soccer game. I hope she’s happy with the attention she is getting. I’m a gun owner with a permit as well.

This lady makes all proud gun owners such as myself look like morons. Little kids dont need to be around that nonsense legal or not. OUT OF SITE- OUT OF MIND. Carried Concealed!
HAVE SOME BRAINS, I dont think many people get Mugged at a kids soccer game!

I have a carry permit and carry when I can. but to openly carry at a kids game wasnt very smart. in this paranoid world, she was asking for trouble by doing so openly instead of concealing it. Nothing wrong with going to the game with a sidearm.

On a lighter note, I bet it kept the ref’s honest!

I have to wonder about the wisdom of this when even most people who have carry licenses think this is really going too far overboard.  I know the goal of open carry advocates is to get the public used to seeing law abiding citizens with guns, but I’m coming to increasingly question whether or not this goal is actually being accomplished, as the situations open carry people are finding themselves in become increasingly bizarre and outside the realm of where I think even the general gun owning public can sympathize.

I’ve sort of hinted about this issue before in the Dickson City incident a few months ago.  I will continue to support open carry being legal, and highlight abuse by state officials when they attempt to stifle this lawful activity.  But I really think open carry activists need to rethink what the public perception is going to be if they get create a stir in some situations, and perhaps be a bit more mindful of public perceptions of what they are doing.  Yes, you have a right, but we also have to get along in a society with other people who might have different experiences and beliefs about armed self-defense.   There’s a lot to be said for changing public perceptions, and getting the public used to the idea of people carrying firearms for self-defense, but perhaps a kids soccer game is not the best venue to begin that education.

35 Responses to “Context Again”

  1. Crotalus says:

    Social decorum is one thing, and if it were me, I would have kept it concealed in that context. However, the sheriff had no legal authority to revoke her permit, and that’s where the outrage should be directed.

  2. Micheal says:

    I agree in part with your statements. We as gun who carry need not just to be mindful of those around us who disagree with the whole carry issue. But also for the sake of, it is better not to that kind of attention to ourselves. This is why I almost strickly carry concealed. I want to have the ability to protect myself from the bad people, but do not want to be inconveinced by drawing the wrong kind of attention. Mostly from LEO’s who might disagree with the idea of a civilian carrying in the open.

    So, in short, (I know — too late), by all means carry, just carry smart. That is my take on it anyhow.

  3. Steve says:

    Excellent post, thank you!

    I agree with your stance completely. To change the hearts and minds of our anti-gun brethren, we don’t need to shock them into acceptance (I’m carrying my gun, I’m carrying it everywhere, whether you like it or not, damnit!) but win them over in stages.

    Becase like it or not, they vote too. And when something like this is presented as it is, it looks bad to anti-gun people. It shouldn’t, but it does, and that’s a fact. And being civil is a good thing.

  4. Robb Allen says:

    I will continue to support open carry being legal, and highlight abuse by state officials when they attempt to stifle this lawful activity. But I really think open carry activists need to rethink what the public perception is going to be if they get create a stir in some situations, and perhaps be a bit more mindful of public perceptions of what they are doing.

    I agree with you 100%. I mean, I support homosexuals and mixed race marriages, but it’s best if, due to social norms, they keep their queerness and interracial relationships hidden, out of sight. In the closet and everything. Can’t have kids seeing members of different races (like my parents) or members of the same sex holding hands or displaying affection in public.

    I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s legal and all, but homos and mixed race people need to think of the effect they have on their acceptance by not doing anything that would cause people to realize they’re gay or mixed. Because hiding something is the best way to get people used to it.

    I’m sorry, but I strongly, strongly disagree with you here. You make it seem as if carrying a pistol is something to be ashamed of, something that should be hidden, especially around children. I bet you don’t have a problem with a police officer carrying at a local game, do you? What’s the difference between him and this woman?

    I totally understand not walking up to people, shouting SNBI!!!! and rubbing your pistol on them to prove a point, but simply carrying it, regardless of where, is not over the top. In fact, it’s the most minimal thing you can do.

  5. Mike Gallo says:

    If not at a soccer game, then where? I think you’ve lost your direction, Sebastian, while attempting to simply be objective. If there is one thing we should all agree upon, it is that the rights of minorities should not be trumped by “social consensus.” This is why our government is Constitutionally constrained in the first place. The consensus here is on the State level, where laws are in place to protect this woman’s behavior. If the State’s population’s consensus, along with constitutional constraint on the extent of possible government intervention have arrived at the current state of legality for this action, then a bunch of whiny bitches at a soccer game is in no way, shape, or form a balance to that reality.

    I am by no means a true “SNBI;” this extra legal harrassment must be stopped no matter WHO the initiating actions offend.

  6. Sebastian says:

    This isn’t gay people getting married, this is this guy. Dose he have a right to do that in a free society? Absolutely. Will I protest if the police haul him off to prison? Yes. But is he a good public face for the gay rights movement? Absolutely not.

    Look, we are not racial minorities. People can’t help being gay or black. They can help whether or not they carry a firearm openly or concealed. There’s not really a direct comparison, and the public will not view the two as equal no matter how much we may want them to.

    I’m sorry if you think I’ve lost my way here, but I don’t see any benefit in antagonizing the general public to the point where even gun owners are distancing themselves from this whole thing.

  7. Krahling says:

    As a matter of pragmatism I tend to side with Sebastian – reluctantly. In the 60’s, when the civil rights movement was actually concerned with civil rights, they had the same arguments within the movement. The “advantage” they had was that the treatment of people standing up for rights then was much more shocking to the conscience of average folks. Revoking a concealed carry permit just doesn’t compare to firehoses and dogs.

  8. Rich says:

    I too am disappointed to see “gun owners” condemn people like Mrs. Hain.

    BUT

    I say that when I see an ignorant comment, such as “she is stupid for carrying to a soccer game” I respond by asking “Why?”.

    When they answer my question of “why?”, their individual concerns can be addressed, such as “safety”, etc.

    I think a lot of people jump to conclusions about things such as GUNS + CHILDREN.
    Things like this bring the conversation to the table and give us a way to educate those that are ignorant or acting on unfounded emotion by answering their questions…

  9. Laughingdog says:

    Calmly standing at a soccer game is not “that guy” (I wish I had a clue how you embedded a link in a reply like that). Robb’s example of a person carrying while yelling SNBI, sporting a tactical holster and the most outrageous and offensive gun rights t-shirt you can think of might be. But I see nothing stating that she was doing anything to draw attention to herself beyond simply carrying.

    Here are a few things to consider.

    1. The average woman is smaller than the average man.

    2. Given the same size, the woman will still have a harder time finding ways to carry concealed because their curves complicate things.

    Because of those, it was not uncommon to see my ex-wife open carrying in the warmer months because concealing just wasn’t very practical. As far as I’m concerned, what she was doing is the moral equivalent of two guys walking down the street with their arms around each other.

  10. Sebastian says:

    The “advantage” they had was that the treatment of people standing up for rights then was much more shocking to the conscience of average folks. Revoking a concealed carry permit just doesn’t compare to firehoses and dogs.

    Yes. That’s the crux of the problem with the comparison between the two movements.

  11. Sebastian says:

    Laughingdog:

    I am not unsympathetic to the notion that open carry is a lot easier for women, but there are other options for when the situation calls for more discretion. And yes, I do think sometimes you have an obligation not to accommodate the sensibilities of those around you. I think she was fine open carrying up until the point where the other parents objected. That’s when it’s time to try to educate them. If they drop their objection, fine. But if they continue with it, I think you have an obligation to accommodate, and go concealed. People tend to frown on activists who are in their face with their cause. That’s something to consider.

  12. Sebastian says:

    BTW, to embed a link, just do this:

    < a href="URL" >

    Just don’t put spaces between the greater than and less than signs.

  13. Robb Allen says:

    Please, a group of men circle jerking is not the same as a woman carrying a weapon openly. To gays holding hands, showing they are normal, caring people carries a lot of weight. Trust me on this, I’m not a big fan of homosexuality, but I relegate my discomfort to the dust bin because I know what it’s like to have what I do cause the same.

    I’ve often said “Being right does not negate being an asshole” and I cannot fathom why anyone with no bad intent carrying a weapon anywhere is bad for our movement. Standing up in the soccer game, screaming SNBI and quoting the founding fathers while the game is on is simply being an asshole, sitting quietly on the sidelines isn’t.

    But we HAVE to openly carry in places where people are not USED to it in order to expand the faith in rights this country is rapidly losing. If we limit ourselves to where nobody is going to get upset, we’ll be walking around gun stores and our own homes and nowhere else.

    This isn’t carte blanche to rub your gun in others faces, but it is perfectly acceptable to push the boundaries.

    I am curious to know how we can expand the recognition of our rights if we don’t let people know we’re exercising them.

  14. Sebastian says:

    This isn’t carte blanche to rub your gun in others faces, but it is perfectly acceptable to push the boundaries.

    I am curious to know how we can expand the recognition of our rights if we don’t let people know we’re exercising them.

    I think don’t think you’re wrong about that Robb, but I think this was over the boundary. I also don’t think it’s beyond question that open carry actually helps the gun rights movement. I have been open to that theory, that familiarity would breed acceptance among the public, but I’m becoming increasingly skeptical of it. It certainly seems to breed acceptance of it from a legal point of view, which Virginia is a good example of, but does it make more people comfortable with armed citizens?

  15. RAH says:

    Conceal carry used to be considered unmannerly, because it was an unfair advantage. Open carry was considered more socially acceptable. As less and less open carry occured , more restrictions on gun rights occured. A right not exercised is a right lost.

    This woman was not in a ninja suit and declaiming about gun rights. When asked to go over to the other side she complied to be polite. This people are trying to shun her for the daring to exercise her right. These people are in the wrong not the soccer mom. If she is willing to take the social flack, how dare you criticized her. She has to interact with these parents and their social diapproval, not you Sebastian.

    There is no better way to get people accustom than seeing a mom at a soccer game with a carry weapon. She is less threatening than a man, so this is just fear of a gun syndrome.

  16. Robb Allen says:

    In order to become accepted (armed citizens, not necessarily open carry) we must inform others that we are and illustrate that we’re no different than they are and that what we do is not dangerous, immoral, or “unusual”, especially given that for every gun they DO see, there’s hundreds they don’t.

    The paradox is that by showing we are armed, we scare people. I will admit, I have very little respect for those kinds of people, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re there and that in numbers, they can make our lives harder.

    I don’t think going anywhere armed is over the line, but it behooves me to remember that I am a minority. We’re going to have to push the boundaries, and the lines between too little, enough, and too much are always going to be difficult to discern.

    It just pisses me off that just going to a kids’ soccer game is considered “off limits”, especially given that I’m going to be armed when at my daughters’ games. Heck, even if I’m coaching.

  17. Sebastian says:

    But by being on the other side of the field, she was not educating anyone. In fact, she was probably letting the other gossipy soccer moms talk about what a strange and deranged person she must be. That doesn’t help anything. That’s not advancing the cause at all, in my view.

    I should note that I’m not suggesting she was wrong for open carrying. Not even to the kids soccer game. Where she went wrong was when other parents objected, not dealing with the situation in a productive manner. Instead of going off to the other side of the field, what if she just carried concealed in a holster purse next time, and gone up to one of the other mom and said something like “I’m sorry if I scared you the other day with the gun. See, I usually carry everywhere, and sometimes it’s just too hard to hide it well with the clothes I’m wearing.” and used that as a way to break the ice and get the other people, the people who were afraid, talking. If you’re going to open carry, you have to be prepared to be a good ambassador for your cause, which is what you are when you open carry a firearm. If you find your behavior is getting you ostracized from people, that’s not going to help anything. Most people I know know that I carry a firearm. I’m open about that. I won’t usually tell them _when_ I carry, but they know it’s something I do. Open carry can start that kind of conversation too, but the conversation is the important part. Open carry is just a way to start it.

    I wish we lived in a society where a woman could carry to a soccer game and not have anyone bat an eye, but that’s not the society we live in. If we want to change hearts and minds, and I agree that’s a worthy goal, the best way to go about that, if you’re a soccer mom, is to be an ordinary soccer mom. That’s kind of hard when the other soccer parents are afraid or ashamed of you.

  18. RAH says:

    This mom will do more to push the social acceptance than conceal carry ever could. Other moms will see this and decide to do the same . The more it is common the more acceptance there will be. This is a slow progress.

    If Palin becomes VP this may accelerate since she is a high visibility role model.

    Be patient. Decades of conditioning needs to be overcome.

    I drove to Ohio the other day and was happy to see the signs at rest areas that said no guns. Why was I happy? Because it meant that the state has accepted that many residents are carrying.

    Now the next step is to allow carry at rest stops. BUt even if that does not occure it means that all the rest is allowable to carry.

    I live in MD there is no carry period in this state. No signs at rest stops because it is already illegal.

  19. Sebastian says:

    That’s another claim I keep hearing, that more and more people will do it. I’ve spent a lot of time in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and the only place I’ve seen people open carrying in Virginia was in a restaurant near a gun show, and Greg when he was down in Virginia with us at the Para event. Only place I’ve ever seen it in Pennsylvania is at pro-gun events. Maybe again I’m not being patient enough, but I’m skeptical.

  20. RAH says:

    It may take a decade or so. CCW was allowed in 1995? So in 13 years it has become greater and greater numbers. The push of actual open carry was how long? Not 13 years and a lot of resistance by fearful CCW holders.

  21. teqjack says:

    Irony? Without the CCW, she retains the right to “open” carry in PA.

  22. Sebastian says:

    That is kind of funny isn’t it teqjack?

  23. Sebastian says:

    The worst thing a movement can do is get angry at the people who they need to win at an issue for being insufficiently pure. Most people just want to go about their daily lives. They might have time to help out here and there, but they aren’t willing live their activism. The last thing you can do is get mad at them for that. Down that path lies nothing good.

  24. Peter says:

    Another ‘don’t scare the white people’ posting.

    Sigh.

    I read through the first half-dozen pages of comments with the intention of compiling a count of the pro versus anti comments when I realized that it was completely off point. I don’t think it’s any great revelation that you cherry picked some comments to buttress your position. The number of comments that agree with you aren’t close to ‘most’, at least so far as I read, and as of this writing are up to 295.

    It seems to me that you have internalized the Brady meme of ‘reasonable’ and ‘commonsense’. Either the folks in Pennsylvania have the option of open carry or they don’t. The ‘context’ is irrelevant. The real story would be if she had open carried amongst a bunch of Soccer Moms and nothing was said. We’ve had two generations of ‘guns are icky and evil’ and it’s time to push back. Some guy standing on the sidelines dressed in camo with crossed bandoliers and an AR slung across his back could be seen as over the top, not a woman with a handgun on her hip.

    The fellow who had his LTC revoked because he open carried while voting, the gentleman in Norfolk who despite having won a lawsuit still gets harrassed by the PD goes to show how far the situation has deteriorated. That Justice Scalia could write his opinion supporting the 2A whilst simultaneously giving hints on how to circumvent his writ is another example of just how far down the disarmament road we have travelled.

    Cherish your right to open carry, don’t criticize those who do. I cannot do that here in Florida, and about the only way I’ll get to challenge that law would be after a hurricane in the face of looters, or perhaps during the threatened civil unrest in the wake of an Obama defeat after the election.

  25. Tom Gunn says:

    I wonder if you remember the refrain from a few years back?

    “I’m here I’m queer get used to it”.

    gun owners and oc’ers are up against a force the gays never really recon’d with namey the media. Gun owners and oc’ers are almost always portrayed negatively, being associated with crims and crazies. Even when the gunner or the oc’er does the right thing the noble thing they are post judged, cops, “dial 911 and cooperate for safety” and every death by gun goes into the negative column.

    Many gun owners hide that fact, ask yourself why!

  26. RAH says:

    The article did not indicate Ms Haim was in an arguement with the other parents so how was she angry? I agree that anger is not a way to persude others OC is OK.

    No one is pushing to get angry at the non gunnies. We maybe Mike V. So why that comment?

    Ms Haim just said that the commisoner had no authority to bann her from a public park while carrying. She is right. People love to enact petty tryannies. Those petty tryannies have to be resisted by pushing back.

  27. gnbrotz says:

    Being “immune from social decorum and social pressure” is far different than abusing one’s office to make a political point. Mrs. Hain open carries regularly, and had done so in the very same park, for pervious practices and games without any confrontation whatsoever.

    This “outrage” is clearly being spearheaded by the local league director – and former District Judge – (Nigel Foundling) and one of the Coaches, who is also a local public defender (Charlie Jones). Two more examples of people who think they are more important than they are, leading the ‘outcry’. Never mind the fact that there are parents who support Meleanie’s position, or that the President of the soccer league (Tim Beard) has said the Nigel Foundling does not speak for the league, and they recognize their lack of authority in the matter.

    As someone directly and actively involved in open carry activism, I will say that we do get alot of comments from folks who say this will either begin to open carry or increase the frequency, because of these types of incidents. Whether or not they actually follow through, I can’t say.

    I’m not sure that OC as a “social norm” is what I’m working for. I think having it recognized as indisputably legal (by the public at large) and a no-win proposition for power-hungry LEOs would suffice. Feel free to criticize me all you want (and this undoubtedly includes other gun owners too), but don’t threaten to detain/arrest/charge/revoke me for legal activity.

    There are times and places I choose not to open carry. I recognize that others will ultimately disagree with some of those choices. But other than the statutory restrictions, it is a personal decision, and I will not justify it to anyone.

    I will continue to open carry as long as the law permits, whether there are 100 of us doing it, or 100,000.

  28. Joe Huffman says:

    I was going to provide some insightful comment but Rob got my point across better than I would have.

    The only thing I would like to comment on is that I’m confrontation adverse enough that I have only once carried openly (the after Para Summer Camp dinner in Virginia) in city venues. On the other hand what I instead do to “come out of the closet” is to wear “provocative” clothing such as my celebrate diversity shirt. I figure this gets their attention in a thought provoking manner without so much scare potential.

    In environments where I feel comfortable enough I will start open carrying but we aren’t there yet in most of the places I frequent.

  29. scott says:

    “I have been open to that theory, that familiarity would breed acceptance among the public, but I’m becoming increasingly skeptical of it.”

    If we give in to the social “norms” then we eventually lose, period.

    At the time of the founding the colonists used to be required to bring their guns to church for goodness sake. Its time we get back to that.

    Its time we get back to the time when a high school student could bring a rifle or shotgun to schoold to hunting after class without causing the SWAT team to be called out.

    Its time we got back to the time when the police would call upon citizens for help – as they did in the Texas Tower shooting incident.

    I’m totally in favor of pushing “open carry”. It is the only way to get Americans back to their senses in regards to guns.

  30. Sebastian says:

    At the time of the founding the colonists used to be required to bring their guns to church for goodness sake. Its time we get back to that.

    We don’t live in that world anymore. People don’t bring their guns to church because there’s little danger your church is going to get attacked by marauding natives. You’re never going to get back to that world because it doesn’t exist anymore. Even if you make it legal, people aren’t going to do it.

    Its time we get back to the time when a high school student could bring a rifle or shotgun to school to hunting after class without causing the SWAT team to be called out.

    That I agree with you on. We’ve gone off the deep end there. I don’t think going back to that world is a lose cause.

    I’m totally in favor of pushing “open carry”. It is the only way to get Americans back to their senses in regards to guns.

    Is it really true though? The open carry movement is a relatively new phenomena, and yet we’ve been progressing on the gun issue for nearly two decades now. I’m open to the idea that open carry can be a component of that, but it’s not an end all be all.

  31. Brass says:

    This one hits pretty close to home for me. Because of my own actions I won’t be eligible to get my CCW for another 5 years, however, living in CO I’m still allowed to open carry. If someone complained that I was carrying at a softball game or such, should I surrender to their sensibilities and “not scare the white folk” or should my safety trump their fears? If more people scared the white folk it would slowly cease to be an issue and I wouldn’t have to worry about the tap on the back followed by the “Can I see some ID?” question.

  32. TCK says:

    So what, everyone should give up their handguns b/c some ‘huntahs an’ shooters’ think having a couple rifles and shotguns locked in your closet is all the 2nd Amendment is good for? That’s all I can think you meant when you said ‘even concealed carryers blah blah blah.’

  33. Sebastian says:

    Did I say that? No. There is a danger of pushing out too far ahead of what the public is willing to tolerate. That’s the main gist of what I’m saying.

  34. There is a danger of pushing out too far ahead of what the public is willing to tolerate.

    Dare I say it, but this bears great resemblance to a gay pride parade, full of men and women shouting, “We’re Here! We’re queer! Get used to it!” Does that work? No. It generates resentment.

    I’m for open carry. I hope Texas goes that way, because I’d love to. But until the general public gets a bit more acclimated to OC, I’m not going to be the big long-haired freaky dude with a gun that keeps getting the cops called on him at soccer games.

    tweaker

  35. Pennywise says:

    One thing OC definately does do is open a dialogue with the non-gun public. It is a great opportunity to educate the general public and let them see that people that carry guns are no different than them.

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