Context Again

People are coming absolutely unhinged over this Meleanie Hain situation:

“Come on, a 5-year-old’s soccer game?” she said. “I mean, really. But if she was in my club and I told her she cannot carry, I would be sued.”

Gregg-Bolognese said some clubs have approached her about hiring security guards. Some fathers have threatened to take a gun away from anyone who arrives at a game with one, an idea she tries to squelch. Referees have asked if they should carry guns.

What I see here is a bunch of people who really don’t understand why someone would carry a firearm to a kids soccer game, and are coming up with unrealistic and hysterical thoughts for why someone might want to do this openly.  Keep in mind that this league has had problems with overzelous parents.  Those of us in the issue understand the context of open carry, so we know Hain is no threat to anyone.  Most other people do not, which is why, once again, context matters.

You might have a right to carry a firearm openly at a kids soccer game (the sheriff was wrong for revoking her permit) but we’re raising awareness of the issue of carrying firearms in the media in a way the public is going to have a tough time understanding.  Parents who get scared and hysterical at the thought of someone carrying openly at a kids’ soccer game do not have a right to be free from fear.  But they do have a right to vote, speak to the media, and petition the government.  Pooh pooh their fear all you want, but scared parents are dangerous politically, and thin ice is being tread on here.

Hat tip to Arms and the Law

19 thoughts on “Context Again”

  1. By the same token, the age-old phrase of “ignorance is no excuse” raises its little head. Granted, the situation that phrase is typically applied to is one of law enforcement, but why should it not also cover rights enforcement? Just because someone is ignorant of their rights does not mean they should be taken seriously when they go ballistic over someone else exercising those rights. Sure, they have a right to go ballistic over whatever they so desire, just like me or anyone else. But, by dint of the same right, I can try and educate them, and then just call them ignorant when they refuse to learn.

    For instance – trying to take someone’s firearm away, when they are lawfully carrying, is a horribly bad idea. A catastrophically bad idea, both from the personal and the legal perspectives. Honestly, I am amazed someone is actually proposing that…

    Make no mistake, I fully understand how peoples’ fears can dictate rights-limiting laws – I just escaped a state where that was happening on a weekly basis. But neither am I happy with the idea of limiting your own personal rights simply because someone else is afraid of them. When you get right down to it, a person’s “feeling” safe should never override my own rights, and my decisions to exercise them.

    All this said, while Tennessee carry permits are just “carry” permits, and make no specification as to whether the firearm should be concealed or not, I do not carry openly. But that is a personal choice, just due to me being me :).

  2. For instance – trying to take someone’s firearm away, when they are lawfully carrying, is a horribly bad idea. A catastrophically bad idea, both from the personal and the legal perspectives. Honestly, I am amazed someone is actually proposing that…

    I agree, that’s way out of line, but it’s part of the hysteria. People in charge are telling parents there’s nothing they can do, and they are losing their shit. This is dangerous politically if they get motivated enough to start lobbying their state reps.

  3. Great post. There’s definitely a difference between having a right and being a civil, compassionate enough person to think about the fears of others. I do many things I don’t have to to be a nice guy, like waiving people trying to merge into traffic in front of me, holding the doors for old people, following voluntary parking rules around my kid’s school the way we in the PTO have agreed to (too complicated to explain) etc.

    So for the same reasons I don’t wear my NRA/Pro-gun T-shirts to church (church is not about gun rights, and divisive issues distract people from the higher reason we are there) I wouldn’t open carry to a kid’s soccer game. Not becaue I don’t have a right to, but because it’s an unnecessary distraction that takes away from the kids.

  4. It would not be a good idea, to advance on an armed person with the intent to disarm them. If you are not a Law Enforcement officer, of any type, that sort of act can be seen as a direct threat and could justify a self-defense act.

    But that is one of the reasons that I carried concealed, not open. It is better the have it and not need it, and have no-one know that you even have it.

  5. Sebastian, correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t PA a shall issue state? That being said, isn’t the only constitutional protected method of carrying a handgun is open carry? Here in Ohio, when we first lobbyied for ccw, our Supreme Court, anti-gun/anti-CCW proponents and most major newspapers all voiced the opinion that CCW was not necessary because “you can carry openly” I cried “bullshit” then as I do now…..they didn’t want us to carry at all and the open carry gambit was just a distraction.

    Those who don’t want you to carry like the PSH’s don’t want you to carry at all. They prefer you stay in the closet, so to speak. I think we should take a page from the GLBT crowd and in a responsible manner let them see, normal everyday people going about thier business, while being armed.

    I don’t carry openly all the time, but when I do I make sure that I am aware I am respresenting gun owners for everyone to see. I dress conservatively, and most of the time people don’t even bat an eyelash….maybe they think I am a cop. For those who ask I explain why I carry a handgun for self-defense. I have yet to have someone go into hysterics.

    As for the PSHss in the linked article, these are the same sort of people who if someone did come to their park intent on murder and mayhem would be screaming “Where were the police?”

    I had this same discussion with one of our township trustee’s who opinioned that “Guns don’t belong in parks, happy children playing do” in a local op-ed. I was fourtunate enough to get my own op-ed published pointing out that in one of his happy parks, a woman jogging was attacked and the ONLY reason she wasn’t more seriously injured or raped is that she shot her attacker. After some back and forth where I was able to convince him that a “No Guns” sign didn’t do squat he changed his mind and publically came out for lawful carry for self-defense.

    Not everyone is going to have the same reaction, you can change some people’s minds but not others. If you crave other people’s approval and are willing to compromise your rights just to make them feel better, you will soon lose all your rights as they press their advantage.

  6. Jeff:

    Again, you’re arguing that you have a right to open carry, which I agree with, and ignoring the importance of appearing right to the public if you want to get people to think and thus change hearts and minds.

    Look at it this way, strictly from a rights point of view, anti-segregationists in The South would have been completely within their rights ethically to tell southern blacks to take up arms against the oppressive governments that enforced Jim Crow. The Declaration of Independence said that we were “endowed by our creator” with the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Blacks in the south had none. The Declaration also said the people had a right to “alter or abolish” governments that denied these rights.

    But Black leadership didn’t advocate force of arms to alter their governments. They fought a long, difficult legal battle in the courts and in the legislature to change minds, and to change the law. In the end, they succeeded, and Jim Crow crumbled. It crumbled because people could fundamentally understand why other human beings wanted to be equal members of society. They understood why you wouldn’t want to always have to sit at the back of the bus, and give up your seat to white people. The Civil Rights leaders raised awareness of the issue, and people could themselves think “I’d really hate to be treated like that just because I was born the wrong color.”

    Most people cannot understand why you’d want to carry a gun to a kids soccer game. There’s no way to make a connection there in order to get people thinking. They have zero context for understanding it. Even of people who have concealed carry licenses; most of them aren’t carrying all the time. Most of them wouldn’t carry to a kids soccer game. Even if they did, they wouldn’t understand why someone would do it openly. Without that connection of understanding, you’re basically not engaging people nor are you changing hearts and minds in the same way. Most people are going to conclude she’s either crazy, or an attention seeker.

    I do believe there are ways that open carry activism could work, but activists need to think about how they can tailor their message to a public that doesn’t understand why someone would want to carry a gun. That’s the fundamental hurdle. Being technically right is meaningless if the whole of the public thinks you’re wrong, and open carry won’t be a right in Pennsylvania for very long if the public turns against the idea of it being so.

  7. Sebastian,

    I think we are talking past each other…….I agree “how” you present yourself while open carrying makes all the difference. Some people aren’t the best spokepersons for open carry (or carrying at all). Never the less, let’s try this experiment. Would you abstain from carry concealed at a kid’s soccer game IF you knew that the knowledge you are carrying would concern some parents (even if nobody knew at the time)? What if you knew that some of the parents were absolutely knew you were carrying? What if your CCW liscence had expired, was revoked, or you didn’t have one, would you carry openly?

    I guess my question is to what extent are you willing to “give” up your right to carry because it makes some people fearful.

    Your civil rights analogy is right on……there were some people who wouldn’t sit at the back of the bus, even tho’ public opinion was against them. There were others who advocated carrying arms (in a peaceful manner) in order to protect their civil rights not yet recognized (google Deacons for Defense).

    I agree there needs to be a middle ground…..after all the State of Ohio does not discriminate between open carry of a handgun or long gun…..and last time I checked I was not advocating (nor do I know anyone doing so) carrying my AR-15 to the park. Although technically I have the “right”

    Perhaps our intreid soccer mom would have been better served in getting some of the kids in her league to take up air rifle competition, or skeet, or hunting as a gentler way to expose them to firearms. But I highly doubt that would be welcomed either, face it the cards are stacked against us.

    You have strong feelings about open carry…… should one go about tailoring their message so that it is more appealing? I already make sure that I a “presentable” by dressing business like and answering honest questions agreeably and not combatively. What other things could I be doing?

  8. If my CCW was revoked, or CCW was illegal, I wouldn’t carry most of the time. I’m not honestly concerned enough about crime to deal with the hassle of open carry. Does that make me a half hearted supporter of gun rights? If you want to label me with that, fine. It’s not my form of activism because I don’t think it helps all that much.

    Actually, I agree that trying to get other kids into air rifle shooter, or hunting, would be a very productive endeavor, and I think you’d be surprised how many people who would react negatively toward someone carrying at their kids soccer game would react fine to the idea of their kids trying out air rifle shooting.

    I think open carry needs to be not so much a message, but just something people see. What you’re doing sounds about right to me. But I think the movement, and it is a movement, needs to tread carefully. There are places where people are a lot more accepting of seeing a firearm than others. The movement needs to avoid attracting attention from the media. That sounds counter-intuitive, but the media is unable to provide people with any context, and is likely to present open carry in a hostile manner. Sometimes trouble will find you though. I understand that. But when it does, it’s a lot better for us if it’s on a city street, or in a place where someone might understand why you’d have a gun on you. It’s very difficult to explain to the lay person why this woman carries a gun at a kids soccer game.

  9. A few of the commenters were folks that are anti gun and used this as their excuse. USMR was one of those.

    I heard through other venues that Ms. Hain wore her gun OC to another game with no problem and the parents had apologized to her. I think that in retrospect this case and publicity will be helpful rather than harmful.

    It gets parents to face their fears and the emotional reasons they dislike seeing gun on a mothers hip.

    But they are the folks that know this woman and this will make them think about the reasons why she carries and some may rethink their positions.

    Lets wait it out. Do not take counsel from our fears.

    Every little step toward freedom take effort and it is not clear that until later if it is sucessful or not. The freedom to open carry is a future that I look forward to. Not so that I can all the time, that I could when I want to without concern from the police or other folk.

  10. Not interested in labeling you at all……just trying to understand your comfort level with different aspects of carrying. I know people who have CHL’s who never carry, are happy knowing they could carry if they wanted.

    I also know people who carried concealed before Ohio had a law expressly permiting it….under the “prudent man” defense. It was a affirmative defense in that you had to “prove” that you were concealing or carrying a handgun under circumstances that a “prudent” man would go so armed. Alot of people went to jail….seems like that bar was always a bit too high. Kinda reminds me a “may issue” states :-)

    Alot of people know I carry…..after all I write the occasional article for Buckeye Firearms Association so it is kinda hard to be too circumspect. I have had alot of people I know come up to me and whisper “How do I get a concealed carry permit” like they were asking to buy crack or where to visit a prostitute. For the record I don’t know where to procure either!!!

    The anti-gun groups have succeeded in the past by making the mere ownership and possession of a firearm virtually socialbly unacceptable, gun owners and carry advocates are fighting and winning to a large extent by showing the lies and half-truths that make up the typical anti-gunners agenda.

    One of the most effective ways a doing this is show the everyday people who own guns for self-defense going about their business day to day. You will have some attention getters and it is these people who will be pushed forward by the media. But never underestimate the power of ther personal example:

    Just last week a friend of ours who knows I carry asked “Are you carrying your gun?” I always reply “If I answered yes, then it wouldn’t be concealed would it?” She replied “Good, I feel better knowing you are.” This person doesn’t own a gun, doesn’t like guns, and yet because of a personal relationship trusts me because she knows me. Perhaps if our soccer mom had a better relationship with the other parents it wouldn’t have gone down the way it did.

  11. I read your post on “context matters” about the Doty brothers. I had followed this story for some time.
    The result unlike the fear that this would be made illegal was that the police and locals got accustom to the Doty brothers carrying and many folk got educated about their right and also exercized their right.

    So a right to carry was energized rather than shoved into the closet. No bad effect to gun laws hapened in Idaho.

    So the Doty brothers changed the context and made it acceptable to carry in their town. Not a bad effect at all.

  12. Overzealous soccer parents? You’re kidding. I thought the whole point of soccer instead of, say, football was so little Johnny could play without worrying about competition much and not get hurt.

  13. Jeff:

    I carry regularly, but concealed rather than openly. If open carry were all that were available, I would, oddly enough, probably only carry when I went places the likelihood of an unfriendly encounter was high (oddly because these places are probably going to be the most hostile towards open carry — e.g. Philadelphia).

  14. RAH:

    Idaho is not Pennsylvania. There’s a lot of urban/rural mix in this state, and the urban areas are not culturally gun friendly. I agree changing that culture is a worthwhile goal, but the question is which ways are effective, and which ways are not. If the parents have apologized, that’s great. But the media isn’t going to print that part.

  15. But the media isn’t going to print that part.

    If you are relying on the media to ever cover the gun rights movement favorably, then you’re in for a long, long wait.

    I like Ride Fast’s idea – Ask the parents if they preferred that you open carry or conceal your weapon. Or the Security shirt.

  16. I’m unclear as to what political action might be taken by the fearful ones.

    There’s no way they’ll change PA’s constitution.

    So, it seems at most they’d ban OC, but then have to issue CC permits at no cost. You can’t charge a fee for a right.

  17. It is easy to change a state constitution at least in MD. Just a referendum will do it. I would expect if PA get a few more anti gun state reps that OC could be restricted or eliminated .

    All it takes is a change in the culture and the state reps and the deed is done.

    After all DC did with a city council despite the Congressional control etc. It has taken 30 years to reverse that.

    I am more worried that criminals will figure out the OC make them be considered a good guy and then the attitude toward OC would change.

    People really do not want to see gun fights between good guys carrying guns and bad guys in the public square.

  18. Overzealous soccer parents? You’re kidding. I thought the whole point of soccer instead of, say, football was so little Johnny could play without worrying about competition much and not get hurt.

    *xlaugh* Tell that to my student that had a bruise up and around his right shin or the player from the other team that got life flighted from a game because of a head injury.

    The school’s trainer has indicated to several people that soccer injuries are the worst.

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