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The Spectrum of Public Opinion on Guns

We’ve had a lot of talk in the blogosphere lately about normalizing guns within the culture, and have discovered substantial disagreement. For my part, I think the only way we can educate and enlighten people is for individual gun owners to reach out to the to people they know and associate with, and give them real information on our issue in a context they can relate to. It’s for that reason I’m not particularly sanguine about methods like open carry to promote cultural change. It’s just not conveying enough information to the ignorant to help bring them closer to our position. That’s not to say I think open carry has no value, and is inappropriate under all circumstances. Rather as a general tool to promote social change, I’m skeptical of it’s effectiveness. More than a few folks say they want proof. I don’t think either side has proof. All we can offer is evidence. Into that debate I’m going to put forward some evidence of what ordinary people on the street think on the issue of guns.

Cam Edwards from NRA News, in his evening radio show, runs a segment during his breaks called “Man on the Street,” where he sends his producer down to the streets of Alexandria, Virginia with a cameraman and a microphone to capture the opinions of people walking by. These segments are very helpful to understand the diverse and often incoherent opinions of the general public. I have captured a collection of them from this past week to share with you, some of which even touch on people’s attitudes towards carrying firearms.

You can see they do find people who are strong believers in the Second Amendment, but notice the couple from Texas who was with us all the way up until the point where he said he doesn’t approve of civilians possessing machine guns? Notice the ignorance on semi-automatics that can be converted to automatic? And this is someone who knows and has carried firearms! Here’s another segment, including a woman who’s from England, the North of England judging from her accent:

You can see from these videos that the assertion by Michael Bane, that people are really on one side or another isn’t really true. There is a rich tapestry of opinion on the issue of guns in this country, and the truth is that the majority of people, even the majority of gun owners, are somewhere in the middle between our position and the people who want to prevent gun ownership. Our success over the past decade has largely been due to reaching people who are conceptually on our side, like several of the people here who voiced general but weak support, and getting them to understand the issue better. But to do that, we had to reach them with real information, and on a lot more issues than just carrying firearms.

My skepticism of open carry as a means to effect social change is based on the fact that I don’t believe it reaches people with enough information to help them put it in context and understand its role in the political and cultural struggle for gun rights. It is one of the great dangers in any kind of activism, that if you spend too much time only speaking with other activists, that you lose touch with what average people think about your issue. It’s through that mistake, to switch the context to gay rights for a second, that you go from “We just want to be equal and accepted members of society” to the Folsom Street Fair.

There are two messages competing for the loyalty and votes of the types of folks you see in these videos, our’s and the Brady’s. The more our message is outside of context they can relate to and understand, the more appealing the Brady message is going to be. That’s why I advocate more discretion and restraint than many harder core folks are comfortable with. We can do very well using certain kind of outreach methods, but others I think are less effective. All I’m advocating is that when folks think about outreach, they keep in mind the people in these videos.

28 Responses to “The Spectrum of Public Opinion on Guns”

  1. Caleb says:

    This post is win. I’ve been critical of your lack of support for open carry in the past primarily because I’ve felt that you failed to articulate with enough precision why you were/are opposed to open carry.

    By laying it out with the opinions from Cam, I feel like you’ve at the very least cleared up the “muddy waters” feeling I had about your feelings on OC.

  2. Oakenheart says:

    One thing that is quite obvious from this is that we need some way to educate these people. They are not knowledgeable about history, or the specifics of function of semi VS full auto firearms. That is the big failing that I see, we have lots of people that know nothing but the soundbites they get from the media.

  3. Sebastian says:

    It definitely shows you how successful the Bradys have been at even getting their message across to gun owners. No doubt they will look at this and wonder how they can lose. Sometimes I wonder that too.

    But the reason they don’t is because our activists are more passionate than theirs, and we have more of them. But the current state is very much a detente. You can see from these videos, if the issue were machine guns, or even carry, we would lose if every person in this video were to vote on guns alone. The fact that most of the unwashed masses don’t have guns on their brain when they go into the voting booth benefits us greatly, and long as those of us who know the issues well do. I’d prefer to keep things that way.

  4. Matthew Carberry says:

    So the best technique really IS to use informed persuasion in letters to the editor and in discussions and the like? To calmly present a rational argument backed up by confirmable facts?

    Not simply erupt into haranguing tantrums focussed on repeating “What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ don’t you understand!?” at top volume ad nauseum?

    Whoulda thunk it? =/

  5. Sean Sorrentino says:

    even the British lady was cool with carrying. basically we are winning. we just need a little more information to get out and we will have reached the tipping point. we can’t just stand on the street and hope that people will talk to us. it is our job to create the conversations. so you can consider my gun a conversation piece. I’m tired of hiding in the closet, pretending to be unarmed. the sad part is that no matter how openly i carry, no one notices. I am looking forward to the next time the idiots in the New Jersey legislature (and Bryan Miller) show up at the “Free Bridge” in Easton to talk to their counterparts in the PA legislature. I’m going to OC right in front of them.

    http://www.freedomstatesalliance.com/?p=124

  6. Philbert says:

    “even the British lady was cool with carrying.”

    And I think her views represent those of a good segment of the American population. I think most people do not want British style gun bans or any other of the Brady fantasies. But they do want some controls. I think parts of Heller’s dicta was written largely to those people.

    A lot can be done by simply clearing up misconceptions. How much of the British lady’s opinions would differ if she knew exactly what the federal and state laws were on the sale of firearms? Versus the “gun show loophole” rhetoric and other nonsense.

    How much of the public support for the “assault weapons” ban is based on the misperception that the firearms in question are fully-automatic?

    Attacking distortions like this should be a high priority, because the anti-freedom crowd are relying on misleading people in a pretty clear cut way. This is a big strategic mistake on their part, and one I think the pro gun-rights crowd should capitalize on more than they have. Unfortunately there’s a great temptation to adopt a “them and us” attitude and blame people for being misled. Many times when I see a discussion of “assault weapons” online, someone will rudely chastise people for not knowing various technical details about firearms. But most people will never own an EBR, and they shouldn’t be talked down to because of that.

  7. Sebastian says:

    I don’t think the British lady said at any point she was cool with carry. She said she wasn’t against self-preservation. That’s a different thing than being for carrying a gun in public.

  8. AndyB says:

    A lot has to do with where people are from, where they grew up. I started life in NY and have moved around the country to CA, WA, AR, FL, IL, TX, VA, CT, etc. Opinions vary dramatically. Currently in NJ, I come across a lot of negative feelings toward gun ownership. Open carrying here would set off mass hysteria, so it would not be a useful approach.
    However, when I have a discussion with someone, one on one, about gun ownership and what it means they seem reasonable and open to the idea. And if I can get them to the range, well, you see some eyes light up! A big step in one the worst states for gun owners.

  9. Sebastian says:

    Keep doing what you’re doing, because it works. It’s a long way to go in New Jersey. I think it does make a difference where you are, though.

  10. Sebastian,

    With all due respect, you (nor Cam) haven’t convinced me. All you’ve succeeded in doing (to me) is showing that members of the general public (not to mention certain TX NRA members) are woefully misinformed. And I think that the only way you’ll correct that is to find someone with really deep pockets to start buying some prime tv time on the big three networks to start informing the public, because the MSM isn’t going to help us, the public schools aren’t going to help us, few private schools will help us, the police won’t help us (even though many rank-and-file officers agree with us), most politicians won’t help us, and most importantly, I don’t believe the NRA will help us (much).

    But you do offer a glimmer of hope.

    Tell us, how much information is enough information to help the un- or misinformed put open carry in context and understand its role in the political and cultural struggle for gun rights? And how do we get that information to the people who need it, unless we do something to get the conversation started?

  11. Wolfwood says:

    +1

    One step at a time. We’ve been on the defensive for a very long time, yet island-hopping isn’t a viable strategy. We need to take back every inch of ground if we’re going to do this right and secure our victory in the long term (look at Obama if you want to see what happens when you skip important steps).

    In most places, open carry still equals “nutcase,” at least in cities and east of the Mississippi. I’m not going to say a word against anyone who OCs in places where CC is reasonable, but I think those doing it when they could CC are going a bridge too far for the moment. My opinion is that we’re not that far away, but OC is an unnecessary risk in most cases that could unnecessarily alienate those who will eventually be tolerant of our rights (yes, it’s a shame that they’re not; some of us favor extending grace to others despite the rights we undeniably possess).

  12. Wolfwood says:

    er…OC’s where CC is unreasonable.

    That’s what I get for commenting after taste-testing whiskies…

  13. Ian Argent says:

    As far as “island-hopping”; look at what that got the Bradys. They went as far as they could (or even a little farther) in ’94. It got them nothing.

  14. mikeb302000 says:

    Thanks for the great videos and analysis. You mentioned what I think is a key element. The pro-gun folks tend to be much more passionate than the gun control folks. And a much higher percentage of you guys are passionate compared to the others. If it were’t for that, I think you’d be losing every little battle as well as the big one coming up in the Supreme Court.

  15. Weer'd Beard says:

    And the Anti-Gun folks, are ignorant, paid shills, or criminals, like you MikeB.

    I don’t think we need felons arguing for more gun control.

  16. Bob S. says:

    MikeB302000,

    You forget, contrary to the claims of antis like you, that the law is on our side; that is the major reason we are winning.

    Nothing shows that more then the recent court cases. The 9th Circuit found for incorporation before being brought back for en blanc hearing. The 7th(?) punted the case, saying let’s wait for the Supreme Court. Heller was a big win. Read the Heller Decision, the law is on the pro-rights side.

    What the antis have done is a good job of convincing people that the law means something else that what it means.

    That is what we are changing. I think that Open Carry does create opportunities for conversation. I know that after the recent Open Carry at political events, I talked to many people. Most were amazed to learn the law actually allowed open carry. Letting them know counters the anti propaganda.

  17. Thirdpower says:

    MikeB,

    Another reason we can be passionate over an issue over such a long period of time is that we’re a community based on a common interest.

    ‘Gun Control’ advocates have nothing to compare to that.

  18. Bob S said:

    I think that Open Carry does create opportunities for conversation.

    Exactly, Bob. Open carry creates opportunities for conversation in a way that concealed carry, by definition, cannot.

    Unless you enjoy whispering in the ear of the nice lady in the check out line with you that you have a gun and would she like to discuss it?!

    So exactly how do concealed carriers advance our firearms rights?

    Everyone who knows that I carry, knows because I had to tell them …… how else would they know? If you have to wear a shirt that says ‘I’m carrying a firearm’ in order to converse with the unenlightened, that doesn’t do your concealed carry much good, does it?

    Now imagine this scenario: you go to lunch at Wendy’s every day. You know the employees by sight, if not by name. Now you start to OC. Many people will become nervous, many will flip out and demand that something be done. But after a few days, they see that you’re the same, normal guy that has come in to eat as always. Some may ask you why you do it. Have a conversation. Maybe they start taking up for you as someone else in line says to them ‘Did you see that man has a gun?!’. ‘Oh, that’s just Sebastian, he’s been coming in here for a year and he’s never killed anyone yet! In fact, it’s kind of reassuring to the rest of us to have him in here.’

    Wow, now you’ve got other people, if not pleading your case, at least they’re letting others know that you’re no threat to anyone’s safety (save for the thugs).

    How can any of this happen if you only CC?

    Sebastian, it is my firm belief that no one who’s not in our camp already is going to go out and search for someone to teach them about firearms. They have to be given a reason to want to learn, and it’s my opinion that OC is the way to use the anti’s message against them. When people who have heard forever that ‘guns are bad’, ‘guns are evil’, ‘guns only kill’, now they see a man with a gun,who does ……… nothing out of the ordinary.

    That’s when the cognitive dissonance starts, and then we can be there to enlighten.

  19. Sebastian says:

    A few questions:

    1. Why do open carry people assume the only conversation starter involves talking about your hog leg?
    2. How often do people really ask? And how often do you convey real information? I don’t just mean information about how open carry is legal. That doesn’t really matter. How often do you relieve real ignorance about guns, and how people use guns?

    I think you’re far better off talking to the people around you, who know you, about your gun habits than dealing with random people on the street who don’t know you from jack. I’ve started more conversations by telling coworkers “I have a match tonight. I need to leave early.” I’ve encountered people who didn’t even know pistols were used for sporting purposes using that as a conversation starter.

    I’m rather blown away that some of you seem to think that the only way you can get a conversation going is by strapping a gun to your hip. There’s a lot of ways to get that conversation going.

  20. Rwilson452 says:

    Open carry is not the only way to get a conversation going. It is a way to get a conversation going. In my case it works. I will take it any way I can get it. I’m convinced an informed public will vote differently than those that only hear what they hear from CBS, NBC etc. I had one guy ask me what was wrong with banning armor piercing bullets. I ask him if he hunted deer. then I ask him what he hunted with (3080. I informed him that was an armor piercing round. He said,”WOW”. Then I had to explain the different classes of body armor.

  21. Wolfwood says:

    So exactly how do concealed carriers advance our firearms rights?

    Do taking people shooting, being a resource for information on guns and gun laws, and helping novices select a good firearm for home defense count? If not, then I guess I haven’t really done very much.

    Imagine that you’re out in public and are OC’ing. Some overzealous cop or security guard sees this and tackles you while other people around you stare in amazement. A few minutes later their supervisor gets on scene and yells at the cop/guard and apologizes to you. Ignore for a moment your inevitable lawsuit; the people around you aren’t going to see that. Do you think that the reaction of the people around you is more likely “Oh that poor man, harassed for exercising his right!” or is “Serves that idiot right for flashing a gun around”?

    If you’re threading a needle, do you just shove the string at the eyehole or do you moisten it and take your time to slowly get it through? You do the latter because it works, whereas the former not only doesn’t work but is counterproductive.

    The OC approach, at least in many (most?) places in America, is like trying to cure someone of their fear of spiders by walking them into a shed full of them. The fear is (mostly) irrational, but clearly the better thing to do would be to look at pictures of spiders in a book, then maybe see one in a sealed jar, and move on up that way. If you don’t, they’ll not only never get over their fear of spiders but will take whatever measures are in their power to ensure they’ll never have to encounter them.

    There’s no guarantee that the recent track record of success for RKBA will continue. I think it’s likely to do so if we continue to play smart and not get ahead of ourselves, but eventually there will come into power someone who will do whatever he can to get rid of guns. If all we can do is point to the Constitution and some laws passed by a majority of legislators then those are pretty easily swept aside. Buttressing the Constitution with consistent court opinions and the actions of the legislature with the sincere support of the people helps protect our rights in the long run, even if we don’t enjoy the full blossoming of them at present.

  22. I will apologize for putting the emPHAsis on the wrong syLLAble regarding OC being the way, but unforunately I’m not sure I can do better (see here). So I’ll answer Sebastian first.

    I, nor do I think other OC proponents, believe that OC is the only way to start a conversation about firearms rights. Despite some ill-written phrases, I don’t believe that I’ve made that assertion. The kerfluffle is about Sebastians contention that OC is inferior to CC as a means to effect political change. It’s my contention that concealed carry, by its very nature, does nothing, nothing to advance the cause of firearms rights in and of itself.

    As to your second question, I don’t know how often OC’ers are asked (since I don’t currently), and I resent your implication that I don’t have good information to pass along to the general public. How often do I relieve real ignorance about guns, and how people use guns? As often as the opportunity presents itself.

    Now, if your question is really ‘Do I have a stack of NRA-approved and logo-emblazoned literature to pass out?’, then the answer is NO. Do I have the ability to articulate in an understandable manner the reasons I do firearm-related things? Absolutely. Do I have the common sense to defer to someone more knowledgable when I’m stumped. Sure.

    You know, we had an intentional instance of OC for political gain in AZ during the presidential visit. The Youtube videos I saw showed the gentleman being very respectful and knowledgable in his interactions with the public. The group responsible has spoken to law enforcement, and even had a laison officer present. The Secret Service had signed off on the display of weapons. The MSM were shown to be the douche nozzles that they are. Radical lefty-libtards will never support us, and yet we even had the most liberal president in recent history announcing that what the gentleman did was legal and that he had no problem with it. How is that NOT a win?!

    Because Sebastian doesn’t agree with it. FAIL

    Rwilson, I am in complete agreement that an informed public will vote better than the sheeple. And good on ya for acquitting yourself as well as you can as you open carry.

    Wolfwood, I should have said ‘concealed carryING’ instead of ‘concealed carriERS’; I apologize. Never the less, I stand on my assertion that concealed carry, in and of itself, does nothing the advance our cause.

    Your fantastic overzealous cop and your threading a needle analogies are, respectively, too fanastic and too nonsensical to consider (at least to me).

    Your fear of spiders analogy is more to the point, but it’s backwards. Open carriers are the spider, and yes, the public may be scared of spiders, but it’s only those with an irrational fear who cannot be reached. But rational folk can be brought around as they see that the spider wants nothing more than to be left alone.

    I appreciate your viewpoints, but I don’t think you’re answering the question.

  23. Bob S. says:

    Sebastian,

    Why do open carry people assume the only conversation starter involves talking about your hog leg?

    I don’t assume that and I don’t think that most people who advocate Open Carry do either. Don’t create strawmen where none are needed.

    What I said was that it “creates opportunities” for conversation. Many things create opportunity for conversation and we are doing those. If we or others don’t Open Carry then that is one avenue that is forever closed off. You may not think it is effective but others do.

    I think you’re far better off talking to the people around you, who know you, about your gun habits than dealing with random people on the street who don’t know you from jack.

    Who do you think I’m talking to here in the Land Of Texas where Open Carry isn’t allowed?
    That is the point that I’m making. I’m using the stories of Open Carry to discuss it, to tell my friends, my family, my neighbors, my co-workers….people I know about our rights.
    Many of these conversations would not have occurred without some guy stirring the pot at a political event. Not because I don’t want to talk to them about it but they didn’t want to hear about it until it was on the news.

    How often do people really ask? And how often do you convey real information?

    Does it matter? If one person asks who wouldn’t have then there is one person who wouldn’t have information otherwise.
    Every time I talk I convey “real information” I guess.

    Care to explain what “real information” is? If by that you mean that many states don’t restrict the right to carry openly but Texas does, yes. If by that you mean that most of the states with less restrictive gun control laws have lower levels of violence and crime, yes. If by that you mean I explain how our rights have been taken away by increment by increment, yes.

    My skepticism of open carry as a means to effect social change is based on the fact that I don’t believe it reaches people with enough information to help them put it in context and understand its role in the political and cultural struggle for gun rights.

    This is where I agree with you but think that you are missing the point. If people ONLY were dependent on the visual image of open carry you would be right.
    But we aren’t.
    How many news broadcasts showed the advocates Openly Carrying and then on local, regional and national television informed people that it was perfectly legal.
    How many people saw the broadcasts or a person Openly Carrying and then researched it to find out it is legal?
    How many people turned to their “friend who knows about guns” and learned more?

    And that is the value of Open Carrying that can not be denied.

  24. Bob S. says:

    Wolfwood,

    If not, then I guess I haven’t really done very much.

    I don’t think that people are denying that you as a gun owner are doing things to help advance our cause.

    I think the emphasis was on how does concealed carry affect the public and inform them. Concealed Carry by it’s nature and the law is not something the “public” knows about.

    I carry concealed (only way allowed here in Texas) and know one is the wiser….yet 1 news broadcast of someone Openly Carrying generated several conversations about it.

    The OC approach, at least in many (most?) places in America, is like trying to cure someone of their fear of spiders by walking them into a shed full of them.

    Two points about this:
    1.) I disagree with that analogy. It is more of a desensitization step like showing someone a picture of a spider. Forcing them to a gun club or range is similar to throwing them in the shed.
    No one is forcing them to do a darn thing around someone Openly Carrying.

    2.) Someone’s fears should not trump our right. I realize you aren’t saying that it does, but we are getting close to the line with that concept.
    Not doing something because someone might be afraid gains us nothing. Under that concept, we shouldn’t teach kids to enjoy firearms safely. We shouldn’t advertise gun stores or shooting events because even the image of a firearm scares some people.
    The idea that people have a “right to be from fear” is ridiculous. Not Openly Carrying because someone might be afraid plays into that and gives it credence.

    There’s no guarantee that the recent track record of success for RKBA will continue

    We agree on this and your following points but think about the difference between Open Carry and Concealed Carry in future conversations.

    When someone comes along to restrict our rights, some of those people will remember seeing that soccer mom at the fields or the guy walking through Wally World or the couple at the Open Carry picnic. When they remember those harmless incidents and people it will be harder for the opposition to paint gun owners as a menace.

    Buttressing the Constitution with consistent court opinions and the actions of the legislature with the sincere support of the people helps protect our rights in the long run, even if we don’t enjoy the full blossoming of them at present.

    The Constitution can be amended, court opinions can be overturned, legislation passed easily.

    Everyone of us are talking about the public perception which is our greatest protection. I think we disagree only on how to effectively reach that public.

    I think that Open Carry is particularly effective for some states that don’t allow it. Even the cases of when a cop over reacts are useful because it provides an opening for communication.

    Do you think that the reaction of the people around you is more likely “Oh that poor man, harassed for exercising his right!” or is “Serves that idiot right for flashing a gun around”?

    I think the most likely response is “What’s going on?”

    I think that is what most people ask when they see the news broadcasts or newspaper stories…..and that is what we need.

    While each of us, I hope, is an effective advocate; having people learn for themselves is more effective. People hearing the news research and find out it is legal, people hearing of a person illegally detained are more likely to side with the person instead of the cops.

  25. Wolfwood says:

    The Packetman, Bob S.

    I don’t know that the overzealous cop analogy is too far-fetched; perhaps the tackling is, but not beings stopped and looking like a criminal to those around you. I really do think that a common response from bystanders is the person brought it on himself, like a person walking around with a keffiyeh masking his face shortly after September 11th or college-age kids in a nice car slowly driving through a ghetto.

    What’s wrong with the threading the needle analogy? Certainly you agree that sometimes finesse at the expense of time is needed, especially if you’re dealing with the fears (rational or otherwise) of people.

    As for OC’ing being like spiders, I have to stand by my original analogy. Putting a gun-fearing person near an openly-carried gun is like putting an arachnophobe near a spider when there’s no glass in-between: the perceived danger is imminent. Walking around with an empty holster, with a picture of a gun or an obviously fake gun, showing pictures of OC’ing in ads or movies, or letting someone see a person OC from what they see as a “safe distance” are good intermediate steps.

    If the purpose of OC’ing is to spark conversation, surely a flat picture of a 1911 in a gun will spark more curiosity than an actual gun, which probably just makes people think you’re a cop. I’ve OC’ed twice before, and each time was treated like a plainclothes cop (including “Will that be everything, officer?” when checking out at Wal-Mart).

    I’m not against OC, but the in-your-face attitude of so many I read give me very serious pause. Walking around armed is seen by most people as, at the very least, intrusive. The guy walking around in the 5.11 shirt and drop-leg holster and the woman with the tip of a Glock sticking out under the edge of her sweater are going to be perceived very differently. Talking to people, it’s common to hear “I’m okay with YOU having a gun, but it’s the crazy people and criminals I’m worried about.”

    Walking around, people don’t know me from Adam: am I a responsible grad student out to buy a new tie at Macy’s, or am I an angry loner upset at the world who wants wreak havoc in a public place? My friends have no doubt whatsoever, but given all the recent public mass shootings, it’s not unreasonable for people to wonder if it’s the latter case.

    We’ve been having to come from behind on this issue and so it helps us to put our best foot forward. Someone looking like Rob Zombie, a Blood, or a punk girl with a shaved head undeniably has the same RKBA as the person looking like a soccer mom or Eagle Scout, and in a truly tolerant world maybe it wouldn’t matter. We don’t, though, and so that’s why conversations like this about what course of action to take are so crucial.

  26. Bob S. says:

    Wolfwood,

    I really do think that a common response from bystanders is the person brought it on himself,

    So because we might have some people stopped by cops sometime and they might be seen by some people who might not understand the law and our rights and might think that person deserves it we shouldn’t Open Carry?

    While there is that chance, the question is it worth it NOT to do something because the probability of a negative perception?

    Look around the blogs, look at the people who are Open Carrying and nothing happens. That is the predominate and probable outcome. People notice it and go “wow, look at that a guy with a gun…I wonder what is for dinner”.

    What’s wrong with the threading the needle analogy?

    I didn’t have a problem with the needle analogy. What I have a problem with is the “phobia” issue.

    I think that we need to be careful to thread the needle and show that Open Carrying is what normal people do. The more people Open Carry the harder it is for the antis to paint it as an extremist position.

    Putting a gun-fearing person near an openly-carried gun is like putting an arachnophobe near a spider when there’s no glass in-between: the perceived danger is imminent.

    Your original analogy was that it was like shoving them in a shed full of spiders. That I had trouble with. Most people who Open Carry do it as part of their normal routine, hardly a shed of spiders.

    The other aspect that I have a problem with is letting their fear, real or imaginary, control what other people should do in public.

    The bell curve example comes into play here. There just aren’t that many people who are extreme Hoplophobic. So, why should we limit what we do for the extremely small percentage of people who are?

    Walking around with an empty holster, with a picture of a gun or an obviously fake gun, showing pictures of OC’ing in ads or movies, or letting someone see a person OC from what they see as a “safe distance” are good intermediate steps.

    I disagree because it takes away the most effective aspect of Open Carry: normalcy.

    Seeing someone walking around with pictures, a fake gun or empty holsters means that those people are trying to make a point. In some places that point is needed, here in Texas we can’t Open Carry. I think that would be a great activity to highlight that fact.

    Most of the Open Carry advocates are simply going about their lives, even the activists are trying to do routine things. Like litter pick up or having dinner.

    What a image of hardcore 2nd Amendment advocates; they are carrying while picking up trash or they are just sitting their having dinner. Hard for people to say they were afraid of Mom Pop and Junior at the dinner:

    Hoplophobic: “And there I was at Arby’s and all these people came in carrying guns….real guns.”

    Hoplophobe’s Friend: “And then what?”

    Hoplophobic: “Then they had lunch”

    Does the Hoplophobe’s friend see the problem as being the gun owners or the friends fear?

    Walking around, people don’t know me from Adam: am I a responsible grad student out to buy a new tie at Macy’s, or am I an angry loner upset at the world who wants wreak havoc in a public place?

    And every day we get in our cars; surrounded by people who don’t know you and I from Adam. They don’t know if you, me or the next guy is wanting to wreak havoc…..yet they continue to drive and find absolutely nothing unusual about it.

    but given all the recent public mass shootings, it’s not unreasonable for people to wonder if it’s the latter case.

    And given the recent wrong way traffic accidents, drunk driving collisions, hit and runs, etc people look at their neighbor, the person in the next car and see they are normal looking and go about their business.

    Even the events at the political rallies generated much the same reaction from most people. The ones who engaged the activists were the minority. Most people shrugged and moved on.

    We’ve been having to come from behind on this issue and so it helps us to put our best foot forward.

    And that is the problem I have with posts, comments and debates like this.

    We give fodder to the opposition and they lap it up.

    They gleefully jump on every 2nd amendment advocate or gun owner who says “We shouldn’t Open Carry” or “I don’t see the need to carry guns in public” There are still gun owners who are against concealed carry, why should we provide quotes for the opposition to use against us?

    While there has been remarkably little of that “shouldn’t Open carry” here, there is too much out there.

    I think that putting ordinary people out there Openly Carrying is putting our best foot forward. It isn’t our only foot and shouldn’t be.

    Someone looking like Rob Zombie, a Blood, or a punk girl with a shaved head undeniably has the same RKBA as the person looking like a soccer mom or Eagle Scout, and in a truly tolerant world maybe it wouldn’t matter.

    And I say that until we have Susie SoccerMom, Eddy the Eagle Scout, Don the Overweight Dad and Becky the Barmaid carrying, we won’t have people who look like Rod Zombie or a Punk Girl supporting us because it doesn’t look like we support their right.

    We are arguing about well dressed, well mannered, well spoken people carrying. Imagine what “Goths”, “Punks” “Rappers” are thinking when they read this.

    I would say that they would think we wouldn’t be there to support their right to carry because we don’t think it is a good idea for Don, Susie, etc. And that is a shame that people might think we wouldn’t support their rights.

  27. windex1 says:

    “normalizing guns within the culture”

    What is that exactly?

    I think gangsters have done a damn good job of “normalizing guns within the culture,” don’t you? Everybody knows that gangsters carry guns. It’s part of the gangster culture.

    Or are you talking about the “psycho nutcases” who commit mass murders with guns? I think they’ve done a good job of “normalizing guns within the culture” too. Everyone knows that psycho nutcases carry guns.

    Or are you talking about the police? I think everyone knows that police in the USA carry guns. They’ve done a good job of “normalizing guns within the culture” too.

    There are two definitions of “culture” that can apply here:

    1) a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period: Greek culture.

    2) the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group: the youth culture; the drug culture.

    I believe that you are trying to change the perceptions of the first definition. The problem is that you may actually be changing the perceptions of the second definition which is much narrower.

    Since many people in the USA haven’t been converted to the “gunnie” lifestyle, the OC movement and even other pro-gun movements might be seen as changing the second definition only, while leaving the first definition totally unchanged. People will see that “Pro-gun people” have “normalized guns within their culture,” but they, being outside of that culture, will not find guns normal at all.

    If people can’t define this “normalization” better than it’s being defined now, I don’t see how it can succeed. In other words, I don’t see hearts and minds changing.

  28. elmo iscariot says:

    I’ll add that even in NJ, while I’ve met one or two loonies who think “guns are evil” or “we should repeal the Second Amendment”, the overwhelming majority of folks say something similar to “I have no problem with people owning guns, but they shouldn’t have Uzis”.

    It really _does_ come down to talking specifics, dispelling misinformation, and putting guns in context, and–most importantly–coming across as a friendly, well-adjusted person.

    I don’t claim to know what all people everywhere think of OC, but I think it’s dangerous to figure that you’re reaching the people you talk to without figuring in all the people you _didn’t_ talk to, who saw the gun, had no context for it, had nothing to dispel their knee-jerk assumptions about you, and walked away thinking any nutcase can walk down the street with a pistol.

    I want to live in a world where it’s legal, normal, and uncontroversial to walk down the street with a gun carried openly anywhere in the nation. And I don’t think pushing OC in contested territory _right_now_ is the strategy most likely to make that happen.

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