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Clayton Cramer Clarifies His Position

Clayton has another article on open carry that’s sure to piss people off. I actually don’t think Clayton is as anti-open-carry as he seems in his articles. I’ve had e-mail conversations with him discussing when and it what contexts that type of activism can be effective, and I don’t think he believes it to always be a negative:

My article did not propose that open carry should be illegal. There are some unusual circumstances where it might be the best choice — and in some rare circumstances, in some states, it may be the only choice that you have. (Wisconsin, for example, completely prohibits concealed carry of handguns, but does allow open carry.) What I did argue is that gun owners should think long and hard about whether it serves our best interests to offend, disturb, or concern people that would prefer that we keep our guns as well hidden as our excretory organs.

I think Clayton also makes some good points in the comments:

I am mortally tired of being told that I shouldn’t do this or that because it will, or might, “offend” someone.

It depends on your goals. If you want to win political battles, you don’t offend unnecessarily. If you want to express yourself, and don’t mind losing, then go ahead, open carry even when you don’t need to; it’s more important to express yourself than to win political struggles.

Some of the comments are way over the top, however. Anyone who’s read this blog for any period of time knows that I have strong disagreements with Clayton Cramer, particularly on the topic of homosexuality. I think we even disagree a bit on certain specifics within the gun issue. But this?

Yet another cowardly politics-before-liberty article from Cramer. Big shock. Here’s a newsflash dummy – rights aren’t subject to focus groups.

Or accusing Clayton of bigotry? Cowardice? Look, whether I agree with Clayton on everything or not, he’s one of the few Second Amendment activists that can claim being cited in the opinion of a landmark Supreme Court case. This landmark Supreme Court case. I don’t question his dedication or contributions to the cause of the Second Amendment, and anyone who does needs to have their head examined. I don’t think that means you have to agree with Clayton, or me, on open carry, but this is pretty clearly a legitimate disagreement within our community.

UPDATE: Another good point by Clayton:

I exercise my 2nd amendment rights because if I don’t, I’ll lose them.

Odd. The Black Panthers said the same thing when they marched into the California State Senate, armed, in 1967. The bill under consideration–to ban open carry of loaded firearms in cities–was at that point controversial, and not certain of passage. But the Black Panthers decided to exercise their 2nd amendment rights–and the bill was passed immediately, and with an “urgency provision” so that it took effect immediately.

Please: consider the possibility that the Black Panthers are not exactly the best model of how to win friends and influence people.

15 Responses to “Clayton Cramer Clarifies His Position”

  1. bombloader says:

    There are always two types of people in any movement, those who are actually trying to find the best way to change things and those who are trying to “stick it to the man” regardless of consequences. Some of the divide over open carry is between members of the first group divided on what strategy actually works, but some of the commenters on Clayton’s article are definitely the “stick it to the man” types. Hopefully they remain a minority, because often you can stick it to the man until the man sticks you back-and you have no allies against him because you convinced them you are a nut-job.

  2. Sean Sorrentino says:

    it seems to me that that particular ship has sailed. OC is out and will not stop. Clayton is wasting his time arguing with this one.

  3. mikeb302000 says:

    I think the strongly opinionated folks who favor open carry regardless of whether it helps the cause or not, just because it’s their right, are in the minority. But like a lot of very vocal minorities, they can appear bigger and more representative than they are. The results I believe will be bad for the gun rights movement. Non-gun people and fence sitters, some of whom own guns even, will be turned off by this and driven in the opposite direction.

    This could actually be your undoing. There could be millions of gun owners, less passionate than you who write about it on the internet, who will end up actually agreeing to universal background checks and licensing and registration schemes.

    It’s going to get very interesting.

  4. Weer'd Beard says:

    Kinda like the criminals that lie and preach gun control?

  5. Blake Sobiloff says:

    The Black Panthers? Puh-leeze, what a straw man argument! None of the loaded open carry (LOC) promoters are reading radical statements on the steps of government buildings, or storming Congress with loaded weapons. They’re just going about their regular activities.

    There’s a well-established and successful school of psychology called exposure therapy that helps people overcome illogical phobias by repeatedly presenting them with the negative stimulus while helping them recognize the lack of adverse effects. Hoplophobia can be effectively treated in a similar manner.

  6. Boat Guy says:

    I’m with Blake. I have a good bit of experience with Open Carry in Virginia owing to a) the “Restaurant Ban” (CCW holders are not permitted to carry concealed in any place that serves alcolhol by the drink) and being temporarily assigned to work/live in VA after my permit had expired.
    If one is merely going about one’s regular activities while open carrying, you have opportunities for (as one friend refers to it) an “outreach program”. those few people who actually notice you’re carrying, will usually react in one of three ways; 1) juvenile comments (no need to respond) 2) genuine inquiry “Is that legal?” “Why, yes it is” and yes, 3) go high-and-right freaking out. The third group will occasionally complain to the manager of an establishment or even cause the police to be called. In every case; if one knows the law, can explain it in a moderately effective and calm manner while maintaining a non-threatening demeanor, one can educate those who will be educated.
    I remember one encounter in Trader Joes; I was squatting down looking at something on a shelf when from behind me I heard “Yes dear that’s a gun, are you scared?” I turned to find myself at eye level with a young girl with an older man behind her. I smiled and said to her “It’s perfectly legal for me to do this and I mean you no harm.” She appeared to be OK with that and I got an opportunity to educate the gentleman.
    Those of you who are not familiar with the many good things the Virginia Citizens Defense League has accomplished in the cause of individual liberty – in many instances by conducting open-carry events should check out their website.
    http://www.vcdl.org.html

  7. Sebastian says:

    And how do you know the people, upon being educated that open carry is completely legal, aren’t going back and writing their state reps about how nuts it is that it’s allowed?

  8. Sebastian says:

    My point is that letting people know open carry is legal isn’t necessarily educating them on issues we need to educate them on. That doesn’t provide them with much context.

  9. Bob S. says:

    Sebastian,

    And how do you know the people, upon being educated that concealed carry is completely legal, aren’t going back and writing their state reps about how nuts it is that it’s allowed?

    My point is that letting people know concealed carry is legal isn’t necessarily educating them on issues we need to educate them on. That doesn’t provide them with much context.

    And how do you provide the context for concealed carry or any RKBA issue?

    Why do you assume that “Its legal. Live with it BEYOTCHES” is the approach we are taking?

    (Slight exaggeration for effect) But you get the idea, right?

    We provide context based on the relationship we have with the person. Some people just want to know that no laws were broken, others want to know why. In the conversations I’ve had, I’ve been able to explain that it is legal, that it should be legal everywhere, that it isn’t legal in Texas (big surprise to many), the advantages and disadvantages to Open Carry.

    Isn’t that providing context? Can you show any cases where people aren’t providing context but would be able to if we had only concealed carry?

    My point is that letting people know open carry is legal isn’t necessarily educating them on issues we need to educate them on.

    Re-reading this makes me wonder about your context. I hope you aren’t saying that we don’t need to educate people on Open Carry just other RKBA issues.

  10. Matthew Carberry says:

    I don’t think anyone has a problem with OC as a daily activity if that is what you do (or are forced to do by law) all the time anyway. In fact both CC and Sebastian explicitly say that.

    But that isn’t what’s being discussed and we all know it. The issue is OC “events” where groups (usually) of people, obtrusively and solely with the intent to cause a scene, open carry, often in non-gun politics-related venues, to make a political point.

    Carry simply for carry’s sake provides opportunities for polite discussion with those who ask and “normalization” for those who don’t.

    Conversely, trying to “make a point” about gun rights by marching around as a bunch of overtly and self-aggrandizingly armed protesting jackasses is the worst kind of evangelization to the undecided.

  11. Bob S. says:

    Matthew,

    Conversely, trying to “make a point” about gun rights by marching around as a bunch of overtly and self-aggrandizingly armed protesting jackasses is the worst kind of evangelization to the undecided.

    I think that most of the people who Open Carry at “events” would disagree with that characterization. From the stories and reports I’ve seen, I disagree with it.

    The issue is OC “events” where groups (usually) of people, obtrusively and solely with the intent to cause a scene, open carry, often in non-gun politics-related venues, to make a political point.

    And again, I’ll say that I think that it helps. It may hurt the cause but it also helps…that is the argument: does it help more than it hurts?

    Frankly, I see your comments and those like them as hurting as much as open carry events do. You give ammunition to the opposition to point out that “even the gun owners think it is wrong”. We don’t need that type of free press for the opposition.

    Even the “events” help. I’m stuck in Texas, we can’t Open Carry. People hear of those events and talk about them. Most of them are neutral (remember the bell curve?), that is where the opportunity comes in and many of us take it.

    Carry simply for carry’s sake provides opportunities for polite discussion with those who ask and “normalization” for those who don’t.

    My point is that is true to an extent, and definitely not true in many cases. If you or others in your area can’t openly carry, how do you start a conversation ?

    If the practice is just to go about the every day business, who in Texas is going to notice the people in Virginia or Tennessee Openly Carrying?

  12. Matthew, you (and Sebastian) say that OC is ok as long as that’s what you do normally. But Sebastian will find someplace where he thinks that’s ‘counterproductive’. So now, the OC guy is left thinking, WWSD everywhere he goes.

    For my part, I live in a small, rural county in GA, the district attorney and I go to the same church, the sheriff is very accessible. I intend to meet with both of them to make sure that we’re on the same page before I ever set foot off my property with a visible firearm. But make no mistake, OC will be my preferred method of carry.

    And Sebastian, I think it’s time you listed the specific issues we’re supposed to educate the hoplophobe on, give specific examples of ‘context’, and why OC doesn’t meet those requirements. Because right now, to me, you’re sounding awful HopeyChangey.

  13. Matthew Carberry says:

    I’m almost certainly being overly general and vehement. For that my apologies.

    My point should have been more clear.

    If there’s a political rally against, say, health care, and you are going to go, and you were going to carry a gun that day openly anyway, then you are just doing your thing normally.

    The event, the context, is about health care, debate that topic in that venue and on its own merits. The gun should play no more part than your shoes do, it’s just part of your garb. If the press or others notice you can respond, “I’m here to give my view on health care, I regularly carry a gun like this, it is legal and has no bearing on this event.” or something similar. The point is thus made that OC is no big deal and shouldn’t be an issue. There’s no need to launch into a discussion on gun rights, or how the current administration is anti-gun or anything not related to the topic at hand, health care.

    Not every public political event needs to be contorted into a referendum about gun rights. Hijacking someone else’s event to non sequiter evangelize for a pet cause is rude and counter-productive. How can “we were discussing health care and then a bunch of armed gun nuts showed up and started changing the subject” ever be a positive in terms of public opinion?

    Context is key, public civility is key. Precision in argument is key.

    General pro-open carry rallies themselves should be single topic about OC and nothing else and should not be formed by hijacking and disrupting others’ events.

    If the topic is something like the Park thing in Tenn then it is not hijacking to hold an OC rally at, say, a community park picnic to point out that some neighbors are being denied equal access simply for doing something legal. In those cases though tone is the key. Civility and calm presentation of facts and positions to those who choose to listen will win more support than stridency and ranting ruining the event for everyone else.

    In general OC is a state/local issue and that is where the politics should begin and end. The message should be calmly and narrowly presented, that open carry is common with no problems elsewhere and should be legal for the law-abiding.

    An OC rally, being politically local in nature, should therefore not be allowed to descend into a general rant about the 2nd amendment (except as “bear” should refer to OC as well as concealed), the current administration or Congress or for signs and slogans about FEMA camps or the evils of fiat currency.

    Precise message, narrowly tailored for the particular purpose of promoting legal OC emphasizing calm presentation of the facts. We will always win on the facts, we lose when we look scary and allow the observer to ignore or dismiss our actual argument..

  14. Matthew,

    Thanks for clearing that up, because given the scenarios you’ve provided, I can say that I agree with you (with the possible exception of the ‘hijacked’ rally).

    Sebastian’s original post was with regards to a group of citizens (PAFOA) who had issues with the ‘lost and found’ law being considered in Scranton. Some were openly armed.

    Sebastian thinks that’s a bad idea, because the media instantly siezed on the firearms (booga booga!)

    In the linked article, notice that the pro-open carry side wasn’t quoted until the end of the article, after the FUD had been communicated, and didn’t quote any other open carriers there.

    And no one was asked if there were any CC folks at the meeting (a rhetorical question).

    Now, without actually being there, how do we know that the OC folks didn’t provide clear, but firm advice to reporters that they were there to discuss ‘lost and found’?

    Is it possible that a reporter heard those admonitions, thought that they made sense, but thought ‘This will paint the gun lobby in a favorable light, so I’ll spike that part of the story’?

    Given the (admittedly) anecdotal evidence that OC is just not a big deal, why don’t we give the OC folks the benefit of the doubt?

    And just a thought ……. how many of us have invited a news person to go shooting? I know I’ve considered it.

  15. Blake Sobiloff says:

    Sebastian seems quiet on the specifics that Packetman asked for…

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