Caring What Other People Think

I was thinking of an idea for a post, but as I was thinking it up, I got that dejavu feeling you get if you’ve been blogging a while “I know I’ve blogged about this before.” So rather than revisit the topic again, I’ll just link to it. Why you don’t have the option of not caring what other people think about your movement. I think a lot of gun owners are independent minded libertarian types that ideally prefer to do what they want, and screw what other people think. In a world dedicated to libertarian principles (i.e. not the world we live in) you could get away with that. But in a world where a minority is trying to convince a majority to accept its culture and habits, you have to care what the average joe thinks. It’s tempting to believe the average joe accepts what you do, or doesn’t care, and that might even be the case, but the fact that I know I need Joe’s consent to continue doing what I do is one of the reasons I get paranoid about this stuff.

The media environment has changed greatly for us in the past decade, and it’s largely been in our favor. I know it sounds crazy to believe, because a lot of gun owners believe the media just hates us, and we shouldn’t care what they think, but that’s courting disaster. If the media’s treatment of the gun issue today turns your stomach, it would have given you a full case of dysentery in the 90s. One of the reasons I’m skeptical of open carry as activism is every time I read coverage of the issue in the media, it reminds me of the 1990s media, and I don’t want to go back to that. In addition to that, in various reports or commentary, you’ll notice plenty of gun owners who aren’t particularly enamored with the practice. It’s not like some of the places where open carry has created a backlash in Pennsylvania are hotbeds of anti-gun sentiment — it’s coming from very pro-gun areas. Then you have incidents like in Idaho. Idaho! You don’t get a much more pro-gun culture than that. If all this were limited to anti-gun urban areas where I’d expect people to freak out, I wouldn’t worry as much, but when I start seeing people freak out in Idaho, I wonder whether we may be pushing the issue a bit beyond what we can defend in the public space.

You can disagree with me about open carry, and think I might be worrying too much, but I think it’s hard to argue there’s absolutely no cause for concern at all.

11 thoughts on “Caring What Other People Think”

  1. We have a lot of white flight from the late great state of California to the Treasure Valley. The attitudes in the greater Boise area are not necessarily representative of the rest of the state. We have a rich heritage of libertarian ideals in this state.

    The overreaction to OC is certainly due to scaring the white people. I am not an OC activist, and, since I have the requisite permit, I tend to carry concealed in town since it is the established norm. When I first came to Idaho concealed carry was the law in Boise before they complied with preemption.

    I would prefer that my limited funds available for dining out not be spent in a bigoted establishment. I wouldn’t dine in a restaurant that banned gays, or blacks, or Arabs, or Asians, or Jews. Why would I financially support one that opposes a legal form of carry?

    Full disclosure: I am a transplant from PA, and my wife was born in CA and spent some of her childhood there.

  2. I think it largely depends on the culture of the state. There’s open carry traditions in the deep south and southwest that seem to make it easier to get accepted there, and in some parts of the southwest it’s acceptance has never been in issue.

    I think it gets more complicated when you start taking open carry into states that have previously never had a tradition of open carrying, and Pennsylvania would be one of those states, as would most of the Northeast and midwest.

  3. Ironically, as much as most of us argue for federalism and allowing states to make their own decisions, there seems to be a lot of one-size-fits-all here. What’s right for Montana isn’t always what’s right for Maryland. Arguing generally over whether OC is okay or not leads to people arguing past each other a lot of the time.

  4. That’s probably the case, and I should make it clear I’m arguing the OC issue from a Pennsylvania perspective. Obviously if we were talking Arizona or New Mexico, it wouldn’t be the same debate, since those states have a longstanding open carry tradition, strong enough it was hard to get concealed carry passed in those states.

  5. Way up here in north central PA open carry is all that much of a big deal. Wearing camo all year is a accepted norm. I open carry I have been doing it for years. Any spark of an issue you can count on one hand with fingers missing. I have sat in a local restaurant at a table next to our local CLEO, no issue. We exchange greetings and get on with eating. The problem I see with open carry is when and where. I do carry concealed at times when I consider it the right thing to do. That said, if you give up and don’t open carry because some granny might get her panties in a wad, it is effectively tossing away the ability to open carry. I take the long view. The more people open carry the more likely it will become an accepted norm. It surely will not happen overnight.

  6. Sebastian,

    I’ll ask until more people Open Carry, how can everyone Open Carry as RWilson does?

    It’s a vicious circle and I’m not throwing stones your way for saying you don’t see the effectiveness of it as a tool.

    What I’m trying to do is open the conversation to the question: What do we gain if we don’t open carry?

    We are working and need to work harder at many other methods of advocacy without a doubt.

    But why only focus on the down side of it?

    If we don’t get people used to it, then we still have to fight that battle another day.

  7. Title of Idaho story mentioned “Gunslinger”. That’s a loaded image. Who was slinging anything?

  8. There’s a very real difference between open carrying because it happens to be the most convenient way to carry at a given time, or it is how you generally carry regardless, and open carrying as an overt, planned, political “in your face” act.

    One is simply going about your business doing what you do, the other is “trying to make a point”.

    Much like religious evangelism, I have to believe OC is more effective when you just happen to be living your life while doing it and people half-notice you are normal like them, but with a bit “something different” about you. That leads to positive interactions where learning and sharing can take place.

    However, actively, purposefully trying to force people to come to an awareness, “right there and now”, that you are in the right, has to turn people off IMO. At least I have to believe it turns off independently minded people, the kind of people most likely to give us a fair shake on the facts, if we weren’t so rude as to try to jam our beliefs down their throats.

  9. I don’t think the media are anti-gun per se. I think the media love sensations, and they like scaring people. I think Michael Moore is actually [gasp!] right on this one: media are fear merchants. They will always, always portray abnormal behavior as perverse or dangerous, EXCEPT if it falls in some narrow groups that they have learned they should be tolerant of – gay people, certain ethnic minorities, etc. – NOTE THAT I AM NOT MAKING AN ANTI-GAY POINT HERE. The tolerance of media people and academics has always been limited to very narrow groups of people.

    Now when I say it’s okay to open-carry as activism, I do not talk about open-carrying especially to a given location or place. I mean that people should open-carry as part of their daily lives. It requires no effort of them – since we’re talking about people who would be carrying guns either way, just concealed rather than open.

Comments are closed.