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Clayton Cramer on Open Carry

Clayton Cramer has a column up on the open carry issue that I think just about perfectly reflects my own view on the matter.

Open carry in an urban setting, when you have some realistic alternative available (such as concealed carry), is rather like a homosexual “kiss-in.” The supporters are convinced that doing so makes Americans more tolerant and open-minded to the subject. I’m convinced that for every person who gets used to it, there are two who are repelled. In July of 2008, one of the open carry advocacy groups held an open carry event at the Zoo here in Boise, carrying loaded and holstered firearms. This is about as gun friendly a city as probably exists in the USA–and the reaction to it was about the same as if a bunch of same-sex couples had started passionately kissing and necking in front of the monkey cage. It wasn’t illegal–but it sure took people that didn’t think about the issue much, and made them unhappy.

I don’t agree with Clayton’s views on homosexuality, but I think he’s correct that you can’t normalize unusual or uncommon behavior by shocking the public with it. Gays didn’t make their advances by doing so, but by being our of the closet, and being normal people, and leading normal lives. I think open carry will proceed the same way. It won’t be open carry picnics to trips to the zoo organized by groups of activists that help people accept it, but only individuals engaging in the practice in the course of their normal lives, and in circumstances that aren’t likely to cause shock or alarm.

29 Responses to “Clayton Cramer on Open Carry”

  1. Peter says:

    First off, if you go back a ways and start reading all the postings, you’ll notice that Clayton is just this side of obsessed with gays. When he has covered a gay pride event, he only manages to publish the outrageous photos and not the ones that portray homosexuals as regular people.

    And please remember that the situation was one where open carry is legal and was reported on by people who live in places where gun ownership (period) is about as rare as hen’s teeth. And that’s before the distortions were added.

    Even if you accept his unfounded assertion of ‘one person accepting, two persons turned off’ as gospel, that’s only a short-term phenomenon. I spent 37 years living in NYC and I can tell you from personal experience that homosexuals, if not embraced, are accepted and regarded as Just Folks in Gotham. The only people who ever said something like “Peter, you’re friends with one of Them?” was said by someone from my grandparent’s generation.

    The only way to gain general acceptance is by shocking people at first. When the sky doesn’t fall nor does the sun rise in the west as a result, that’s when acceptance begins.

    You don’t need to scare the white people, but we do need to confront their suppositions.

  2. I’m not in favor of shocking anybody but I also feel that there are rather few people in the city or the country who are predisposed to be shocked by a holstered gun carried by a non-government employee (other than the rare screaming meemee).

    Recently there was an open carry event in Phoenix (the fifth largest city in the US) and as far as I can tell nobody was shocked. While I don’t presume to know how many easily shocked people there are in Houston, Texas (4th largest city in the US) I don’t assume that the event would go much differently there.

    Now it is probably unlikely that an open carry dinner would be unnotable in New York City, Washington, DC or Chicago, Illinois, it could (eventually) happen, although the likelyhood of a screaming meemee noticing is probably far higher there.

    Normalizing normal behavior must start somewhere. Let’s not exclude “urban settings” out of hand.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=golden+corral+phoenix+open+carry+dinner

  3. Sebastian says:

    I’m aware of Clayton’s opinions on homosexuality.

    When he has covered a gay pride event, he only manages to publish the outrageous photos and not the ones that portray homosexuals as regular people.

    And the media does the exact same thing to gun owners. Just something to keep in mind if you decide to open carry.

    I spent 37 years living in NYC and I can tell you from personal experience that homosexuals, if not embraced, are accepted and regarded as Just Folks in Gotham. The only people who ever said something like “Peter, you’re friends with one of Them?” was said by someone from my grandparent’s generation.

    Yes, and open carry is perfectly acceptable in most small towns and small cities in places like Arizona, and not that far unheard of in big cities like Phoenix. But do you think a gay couple would win people over by going to, say, Mexia, Texas and making out in public?

    The only way to gain general acceptance is by shocking people at first. When the sky doesn’t fall nor does the sun rise in the west as a result, that’s when acceptance begins.

    I don’t think shocking people really accomplishes anything, and I don’t think that’s how the gay rights movement has progressed to the point where most people accept it. If shocking tactics were effective, PETA would be a much more powerful organization than it is, rather than a bit of a joke.

    You don’t need to scare the white people, but we do need to confront their suppositions.

    Yes, but open carry is a poor way to do that because it’s more prone to shock people rather than convey enough information to them that will help them overcome their suppositions.

  4. elmo_iscariot says:

    The point is an interesting one, and may have a lot going for it. But I think the idea could get more traction with somebody less… misguided about gay people than Cramer. The gays-as-gun-owners point has a lot of potential in quite a few parts of the gun rights debate, but it’s best articulated by somebody who understands that homosexuality and self defense are both normal, constructive aspects of the human experience, not somebody who projects the idea (implicitly or explicitly) that “we don’t want to come across like those deviants”.

  5. Sean Sorrentino says:

    I think we gun owners need to embrace teh ghey. I think that the people that are most in need of getting their predjudices rearranged could be most easily reached by the argument that goes like, “so you’re ok with us owning guns, so long as we keep it at home? in the closet?”

    Remember that St. Patrick’s Day marches weren’t originally supposed to be a fun celebration of Irish heritage. they were militant angry marches, designed to show people that they couldn’t push the dumb Micks around anymore. we don’t need to resort to violence to make our point any more than homosexuals do, not in this day and age. we just need to be seen carrying and being normal.

  6. elmo_iscariot says:

    “I think that the people that are most in need of getting their predjudices rearranged could be most easily reached by the argument that goes like, ‘so you’re ok with us owning guns, so long as we keep it at home? in the closet?'”

    It also has the convenient extra benefit of defanging one of the opposition’s most effective negative stereotypes of gun owners. Quite a lot of anti-gun sentiment at all intellectual levels comes from the cartoonish idea that guns are for stupid, narrowminded provincial neanderthals. Gun ownership is tied up in their minds with bigotry, discrimination, and hypocrisy (“they say it’s about individual rights, but have no problem telling other people who they can marry!”) Making it implicitly clear that most of us have zero problems with gay people would go a long way toward showing lots of casually anti-gun folks that they’ve been lied to.

  7. Tom says:

    Gays didn’t make their advances by doing so

    No, they had the media. More and more gay characters appearing on the idiot box, more and more “education” about how perfectly normal it is, overlooking the truth of the matter, that without advances in medical science they’d have to resort to heterosexual relationships to reproduce.

    There are more and more gays as it is celebrated as a lifestyle and NOT a choice as it is.

    You, well, not you seb as you appear to hate open carry, can’t change the minds unless you control the propaganda that is TV.

  8. Wolfwood says:

    It seems to me that the analogy between guns and homosexuals, regardless of anyone’s other opinions on the issues, is unequal. Much of the homosexualism stuff happened before my time, but my understanding is that people didn’t just become aware that there were homosexuals among them when they saw folks they knew holding hands in public but rather first became aware that some of their friends were that way.

    Open-carrying in the normal course of business, at least on the East Coast, skips the “regular people have handguns” phase. Few would be surprised to learn their friend had a shotgun or a hunting rifle, but an EBR or handgun would probably be met with “Whatever for? [you nutcase]”. At least out here, we’re still in the phase where we need people to realize its normal for people to have, and even carry, handguns.

    I’m in grad school right now and there are about 200 people in my class, with perhaps the majority being liberals and very typically being from Northern or Midwestern states where owning a handgun may be unusual. I’ve taken about 10% of my class shooting for their first time and this has prompted several of the girls to decide that they want a handgun to keep at home. These are people who’ve never handled a gun before in their lives and tended to have voted for Obama, yet not only do they now have a better understanding of guns but they’re even becoming gun owners themselves and getting a stake in the issue. This wouldn’t have happened if they’d just seen me walking around with a 1911 on my hip.

  9. MicroBalrog says:

    So wait.

    We can’t start open-carrying until open-carry is normalized, but how the hell do we normalize open-carry without carrying?

  10. Sebastian says:

    No one said you shouldn’t open carry, just that you need to be aware of circumstance and context. I’m not against pushing people comfort zone, but you could be careful of how far you push it.

  11. Wolfwood says:

    We can’t start open-carrying until open-carry is normalized, but how the hell do we normalize open-carry without carrying?

    That’s exactly what I’m saying is a mistaken belief. I’m saying that open-carry shouldn’t be done because handgun ownership has not yet been normalized, at least in many places. Folks in Idaho and New Hampshire might be able to open-carry without anyone caring, but even in places like Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Georgia it’s still a shock to many that people own handguns.

    This isn’t to debate whether such things were formerly normal or whether they should be normal; I’m just saying that at this present moment they’re not. Open-carry without a proper foundation of recognition of handgun ownership is going to be like walking down Main Street dressed as Dorothy (or worse, like the Folsom Street Fair): counter-productive.

  12. Peter says:

    Tom sez:
    “There are more and more gays as it is celebrated as a lifestyle and NOT a choice as it is.”

    No, Tom, it’s not a choice. Certainly there are people out there who will buck the trend, or do something outrageous just to ‘stick it to the Man’, but most of those people grow up and get over themselves.

    For whatever reason they were created bt God that way. Personally, I’m coming to believe that gays are our time’s version of the Samaritans. Remember what Jesus said? Howsoever you treat such as these, so you treat me.

    You don’t have to like them or how they live their lives, but how you act towards them will have to be justified at the final judgement.

  13. Peter says:

    Sebastian @#3:

    You know, disagreeing with you is like the comments over at HuffPo.

    A pair of flamers in a lip-lock is not now, or will it ever be equivalent to simply walking around with a sidearm in a holster. Waving that gun around and taking the occaisional potshot at a stop sign? There you might have a point.

    As to the rest, you give far too much credit to the entrenched anti-gun folks. There will never be an acceptable method of open carry to those people, and if you hide in the corner, legitimizing it to the general public will never happen.

  14. Matt Carmel says:

    I beleive it would be helpful if the gun rights community espoused the general theme, that while we would not object to “found” gay rights, neither will we support it – unless and until our specifically enumated RTKBA is fully and freely accepted.

  15. mikeb302000 says:

    Anyone who thinks open carry will someday be accepted everywhere is living in a dream world. I believe you when you say it’s already accepted in small towns, but I’d bet even there some people are shocked, either you don’t see them or they conceal the fact. The idea of gradually encroaching on the territory which finds this unacceptable and aiming for that utopia in which everyone can carry their guns, which is what I hear when I read these comments, to me is a little crazy. No offense intended.

    The reason people are shocked is because it’s shocking behavior. In normal modern society, guns are not necessary and are actually a major liability. So people who are shocked are absolutely right.

    I urge you all to stop this insanity, get rid of your guns and come over to our side before it’s too late. :-)

  16. MicroBalrog says:

    Mike: I live in a country where open-carry is culturally accepted throughout the place, and people carry guns to college lectures, places of worship and so forth.

    We have more people carrying guns, per capita, than the US, even though we have far less people owning guns.

    If we can do it, so can everybody else.

  17. mikeb302000 says:

    Macro, What is the name of that Utopian paradise? Can you share it with us?

  18. MicroBalrog says:

    My name is MicroBalrog (a MacroBalrog would be a sight to behold), and I live in Israel.

    Our gun laws are actually far stricter than those of the US, but because the few people who do own guns almost universally carry them, we have more people, per capita, carrying guns than America has.

    And I would rather not use the word ‘utopia’ in this context. Utopias are impossible. Israel is quite possible.

  19. Thirdpower says:

    “Anyone who thinks ********* will someday be accepted everywhere is living in a dream world. ”

    The desperate cry of bigots everywhere as they lose ground.

    You’re in such good company MikeB.

  20. Matt Carmel says:

    Off topic question for MicroBalrog. Is there any provision in Israeli law that would permit me as a visiting US citizen to carry concealed or to obtain an Israeli carry permit? Please response to mcarmel@constitutionarms.com.

  21. Mike w. says:

    “In normal modern society, guns are not necessary and are actually a major liability.”

    Why do cops carry guns then MikeB?

  22. MicroBalrog says:

    Mr. Carmel, I have replied to you by email.

  23. Wolfwood says:

    “In normal modern society, guns are not necessary and are actually a major liability.”

    Why do cops carry guns then MikeB?

    They carry guns because it’s too heavy to carry a…wait, nevermind. Hmm.

  24. MicroBalrog says:

    “The desperate cry of bigots everywhere as they lose ground.”

    Hummingbird. Mars.

  25. Tom says:

    Sorry Peter, I know gays, I work with gays, I even hang out with them. Almost all of them were pushed there as children by mental or physical abuse and other forms of conditioning. I’m not buying the “born that way” argument as there’s no biological reason for it.

    Same thing happens with a lot of the gun haters and anti-gunners.

    My only problem with gays or any other minority is the constant push for extra-equality and the teflon status that they want to hold…just like if you disagree with Obomber you’re a racist, you disagree with them you get labeled a homophobe.

    As far as linking guns with gays…we get that smear enough from the antis. I can’t see the fudd types supporting a campaign like that. I can think of quite a few “punny” things right now that are in somewhat bad taste. I’ll skip them as I’m already gagging thinking about MikeB sucking his foot yet again. The pink pistols do a good enough job covering that angle anyway, at least when they get coverage. There’s really not much that you could throw out in the media that would sway anyone over, say 15 or so. You want to destigmatize guns you find a way to mainstream the positive to kids, but you have to cross the nanny stater mine field to get there.

    To put it in Roman Polanski terms…”if you can’t find a good woman, raise one.”

  26. “Clayton Cramer has a column up on the open carry issue that I think just about perfectly reflects my own view on the matter.”

    Well, there’s a big surprise.

    Mike
    III

  27. Sebastian says:

    Glad I didn’t disappoint, Mike.

  28. “I’m saying that open-carry shouldn’t be done because handgun ownership has not yet been normalized, at least in many places. ”

    In most of the urban areas with the strongest gun laws, handgun ownership is the most “normal” form of firearms ownership. People in urban communities don’t hunt. You’re mostly going to see a few shotguns and lots of pistols in nightstands. That might not be the case in places with near prohibitions like NY or NJ, but I know it’s the case in some very blue areas like Baltimore.

  29. Big Gay Al says:

    Gee, I guess the idea of two gay guys openly carrying pistols and kissing in public would be too much, huh. ;)

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