We’re getting some comments in the post directly below that touch on a few issues I want to address in a separate post. I don’t deny that the gun rights movement is a civil rights movement. The ability to defend oneself is one of the most basic natural rights that one can imagine to exist. I can’t imagine what comes ahead of self-preservation.
With the fact that our struggle is a civil rights struggle, there will be parallels between ours and other civil rights struggles. In terms of strategy, tactics, and even sometimes rhetoric. But I think we have to resist thinking of ourselves as an oppressed minority in the same vein as those who experienced systematic, government sponsored racial discrimination at the hands of Jim Crow. As much as many of us might want to wear that badge, the public won’t buy in. Race is something people are born into, and they can’t escape or hide from it.
We’re probably more like the gay rights movement than we were are the civil rights movement, in that while I believe many people can’t help being gay, they can certainly help their behavior. The reason the gay rights movement has been successful is because by coming out of the closet, people suddenly realized that they knew a lot of gay people, and more importantly, they were normal. They were your family members, your neighbors, and coworkers. Would the gay rights movement have been as successful as it has been if this guy had been their public face?
Whether we like it or not, we do live in a world where some people are afraid of guns, just like some people were once afraid of gays. Those people do need to be educated, and relieved of their ignorance. But I question whether appearing openly armed at a kids’ soccer game, when other people have expressed discomfort with the idea, and politely requested you stop, is really accomplishing that goal? Or is that more likely to convince other people that gun owners are odd and belligerent? Whether we like it or not, I think we need to be reasonably accomodating to the people around us, and keep in mind that when carrying openly, you’re representing all gun owners, so that gives the rest of us a right to bitch. Sometimes, that’s going to mean having to go concealed in certain situations. I would argue that a kid soccer game, when other parents have objected to the presence of your side arm, is one of those situations. I’m not saying people who open carry, or do open carry activism need to give it up. I am suggesting that common sense be exercised, and people be mindful about how they are making other gun owners look.