We’re A Political Minority, Not a Racial Minority

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.

17 thoughts on “We’re A Political Minority, Not a Racial Minority”

  1. I disagree, the entire gay rights was to become open in public. This woman did no more than open carry and perfect legitimate public behavior. This is a better behavior than any public display of affection. Some gays flagrantly try to become offensive in gay parades which do offend.

    This woman did not brandish her firearm. If we want open carry to become normal and acceptable public behavior then normal moms will be the best role model carrying openly at a childs soccer game.

    The only way people will get over their fear of guns carried by normal folk is too see them on the hips of normal moms and dads in everday activities.

  2. The only way people will get over their fear of guns carried by normal folk is too see them on the hips of normal moms and dads in everyday activities.

    I’ve been hearing this claimed for years now, and while I’ve been open to the notion in the past, I’m becoming increasingly skeptical that’s actually the case, as every time I see in comment sections of these articles other gun owners getting pissy because these people are making them look like loons. When we start losing non-activist gun owners, that should be a big warning sign that we’re actually not being effective with this.

  3. Be patient it took over a decade for gays to become more accepted. How long have people practice open carry? Three years in Virginia and one year in Pa?

  4. In your example it does no good in the end if everyone stays closeted (CC). Some brave souls have to come out (OC) for the point to be made. It may have been unpopular for gays to be out in certain professions or situations(Chuck E. Cheese, Church, Summer Camp Counselor?) but it was necessary for them to come out anyway to make the point that they’re just people to, and even people you know.

    “I’m becoming increasingly skeptical that’s actually the case, as every time I see in comment sections of these articles other gun owners getting pissy because these people are making them look like loons.”

    I would be amazed to see that reaction if this story were posted in the VA section of the OCDO forums.

    Perhaps that is the progress made by the 2 extra years RAH points to?

  5. It’s been longer than that, RAH, in Pennsylvania. At least two years, possibly three.


    First, I’m not issuing a blanket condemnation of open carry. I’m open to the idea that it’s doing what its proponents claim, but I’m growing skeptical. Nonetheless, regardless of whether it’s an effective form of activism, I think it ought to be legal.

    I have no doubt that people on OCDO forums are very supportive of open carry, since those are the people that are open to that right. It would be equally unsurprising to find that there are no gun owners on AR-15.com who support a new assault weapons ban. What I’m talking about is the large negative reaction from other gun owners that appear in comments to media articles highlighting when open carry activists come into contact with the media. That’s what sets off alarm bells that we’re pushing too far out ahead of public opinion on the matter.

  6. I remember a story in the Washington Post about VCDL open carry at a restaurant in Alexandria several years ago and how the police acted and they later apologized and was educated. That was the first it was heard of open carry to Washington metro area.

    I did not hear of that in PA until the last year or so and they seem to be less active than VCDL.

    VCDL did not mean to become an open carry, the law required that in restaurants. Now they have hundreds at the state house open carrying and people are becoming reluctantly, but surely educated that it is allowed and accepting that.

    As to other gun owners, well gun owners have existed for over a hundred years and all those hunters and shooters had no problem with laws banning guns in DC and other places. They accepted that guns were shameful and lost our rights.

    So other gun owners being cowardly is been a problem. They also need to learn that open carry is OK.

    It is the individual that will suffer the hassle of police and the social disapproval of other parents at soccer games . They are taking that battle and it is not up to us who are too afraid to do the same to express diapproval.

  7. “I have no doubt that people on OCDO forums are very supportive of open carry, since those are the people that are open to that right.”

    I realized the mistake I made here very shortly after posting. But there’s no edit button. My bad. *shrug*

  8. So other gun owners being cowardly is been a problem. They also need to learn that open carry is OK.

    See my post in the other thread about nothing good coming of getting angry at the people you need to help win. And believe me, I’m not condemning you for that as someone who spends a lot of time perpetually frustrated at gun owners who won’t lift a finger to help protect their rights. There’s a lot of temptation to feel this way, but I think it’s a pitfall to be avoided.

  9. Hmm…

    From what I can see, the soccer-mom in question did not open carry as part of any scheme of activism but simply as her normal style of carry. The article says the first time other soccer-moms even noticed she was carrying was the game of Sept. 11th. As such it seems the only real problem here is the over-reaction by the soccer game authorities and by the police.

    I could agree with Sebastion about this incident of open-carry if the soccer-mom did it to make a political point, if she did it as an act of public demonstration. But she didn’t. That soccer-mom apparently is in the habit of open-carry whenever she carries. So the real story here is another illegal police over-reaction to the legal reality of open-carry.

    When it comes to the politics of open-carry, there are two issues. One is public reaction and the other is police reaction. As long as a person who is open-carrying acts in a pacific manner and does not try to draw attention, I don’t see any problem. I really don’t think any reasonable person who reads the soccer-mom news story will believe open-carry is some sort of danger to be squased and cause the open-carry law to be repealed.

    If anything the real politics of open-carry is educating police to obey the law. And the soccer-mom story is a perfect example of another illegal police over-reaction to a case of peaceful and legal open-carry.

  10. My post is not angry with cowardly gun owners. The fact is that many people do not wish to risk being hassled by neighbors; associates and police to open carry. That risk averse is a fear reaction. That is cowardly and not because there is no risk. I admire those who take that risk, but many gun owners do not like to have confrontations and either verbally or by openly wearing a gun.

    Being fearful is a normal reaction and most gun owners have been condition to feel ashamed of being a gun owner and will not talk about unless with others who share that opinion.

    Like conservatives do not verbally confront liberals when they badmouth Bush, Palin, or McCain because they want to avoid an argument or scene.

    WE get used to being quiet when we disagree. The Internet is different. Here we can talk freely because we hide behind handles. Considering the prosecution in many states and under the Clinton administration that is not an unwarranted fear.

    So I count myself among the cowards since I do not try to open carry in other states than my own since I do not wish to be hassled. But I recognized and applaud those who take the risk to gain acceptance for the rest of us.

    But I have seen from the 1970’s the normal acceptance of guns in schools become the worst transgression in the 1990’s. It took 20 years for that to come about and it will take another 20 years only if we push for acceptance.

  11. To be clear, from the story it seems the soccer authority was not being reasonable. The problem for him wasn’t open-carry, the problem was the fact the soccer-mom was armed at all and his demand was for her to disarm, quite rudely too. And it’s clear from the statement of the police that the problem wasn’t open-carry the problem was being armed period at a soccer game. Revoking the soccer-mom’s carry permit was as far as he could go to revoke her rights, since he wanted to go even further.

    The only real political activism here is by the police.

  12. The view that this is the same as the picture of the fat fairy dude makes me wonder about personal comfort.

    Those who do not carry all the time, who are not comfortable carrying all the time, might feel it inappropriate to carry in certain places or at certain events.

    Those who carry all the time, who are comfortable being armed pretty much everyone, might not feel uncomfortable in those same places.

    There has to be some reason for the idea that a third person being uncomfortable with me personally carrying a handgun should make me want to not be armed, open carry or not.

    I can understand wanting to wage the good PR fight. But I really and truly also understand that our basic human rights should not be compromised just for the feelings of bigots, be they soccer mom’s or government employee’s.

  13. Sebastian,

    I felt much like you did… but then I just tried it a few times. I do not open carry all the time, but I understand why the OC community does, so let me try to explain it from the outside looking in:

    OC is considered a civil right.

    You say “Don’t OC in some places even though you can.”

    They hear: “Give up your bus seat, gun niggah.”

    I am not trying to be inflammatory with my comment. I am trying to give you insight on why your post on OC will not “reach” the OC community. For the majority, there is no compromise. There is either OC, or the need for a good lawyer.

    In any event, there are radicals in the OC movement, just as there are extremes in the CCW folk.

  14. “Common sense” is too subjective to use as a guideline. If I were to follow that logic, I wouldn’t OC anywhere – there are children in Wal-Mart too, ya know. Who decides? The individual. Something about ‘personal liberty’ and all that crap (that is apparently just for the history books).

    Admittedly, Rich and myself are probably considered two of the most ‘hard-core’ OCers in PA. Yet there are places that I might OC that he would not, and vice versa. Once again – it’s a personal choice. It doesn’t mean that either one of us has made the “wrong” decision.

    How many times must I OC without incident in a particular venue before I can lay aside “it’s common sense to just cover up here” argument?

  15. A lot of people are afraid of Gays too, does that mean that Gay people have to cover up, and hide their Gayness when they go out in public? Can you IMAGINE how the left wing would be up in arms, if someone got arrested for being Gay?

    And FYI, the armed soccer mom stated she had done the very same thing, many times before, and no one ever complained. Of course, my guess is, no one ever noticed before. Still, I think the Sheriff is in for a rude awakening. As for the soccer league officials, I wonder what they would do if a bunch of drag queens showed up. ;)

  16. I think it’s Uncle who is fond of saying “Don’t scare the white people” in the context of OC. New Hampshire is an OC state, has been for many years. There is a movement that is attempting to desensitize the public by OC while picking up roadside trash in the cities, the jury is still out on their effectiveness, by most of the time they are not harrassed while OC.

    Personally, I let my circumstances determine if I OC or CC. Traveling to and from the range, doing chores like dump runs, filling the truck with gas, or just being in non urban parts of the state, I OC. The people that I’m likely to have contact with know me by sight or are used to OC and eyebrows are not raised. If I’m going into the city, or to a chain or more formal restaurant, I CC. My thought is that there’s no sense raising alarm and confirming the other 50% (sic) of the population’s notion that gun owner = gun slinger.

    That might be cowardly in the eyes of some, but usually you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. The fairy at the gay pride parade is a lot more off-putting than the guys down the road that fly a rainbow flag on the porch of a house with a well kept yard. Which one does a better job advancing their cause?

  17. As it now stands, Concealed carry is a privilege in 46 states, and a right in only 2, Alaska and Vermont. Everywhere else, you need a permit. Except of course for Wisconsin and Illinois, which don’t allow Concealed Carry.

    The only right we do have, with regard to carrying firearms, is open carry, and even that is denied in 6 (approximately) states. And it is of course, somewhat restricted in most others. If we don’t exercise this right, we’re gonna see it disappear completely.

    If we don’t get the sheeple used to seeing firearms carried by typical, law-abiding citizens, there will ALWAYS be this sort of hysteria any time one of use goes walk about with a pistol. That needs to stop. Activism is the only way it will happen.

    A right not exercised is a right lost.

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