What I would like to hear from Mr.Â Cramer and others who supportÂ not openly carrying, is just how do we acclimate people to open carry without actually open carrying? Or is Mr.Â Cramer advocating we give up on open carry altogether? I can’t support that and never will.
I would ask why acclimating people to open carry is an important goal for the gun rights movement? Because doing that really only benefits the small number of people who want to openly carry. To me that’s a step 36 thing, when we’re on step 12. Â Ride Fast talks about the path that motorcycling took from being frowned on to being accepted, and I largely think shooting will proceed in roughly the same way, but you have to bring the culture a lot farther along than it currently is before your average person, who has no familiarity with guns, and the people who own them, is going to look favorably on people openly carrying heaters in urban and suburban settings. Let me explain how, in my view, you normalize gun ownership:
- Everyone knows a gun owner. Your friends and family all know you’re a gun owner, and a shooter. Most of your coworkers know this too. This is probably has the most impact, because they know you, and hopefully don’t think you’re a nut. I don’t advocate gun owners hiding in the closet. We have to talk about it. Especially to people we know.
- People can see shooting in the media. Shows like Lock & Load by R. Lee Ermey, and Mail Call prior to that, and even shows that aren’t necessarily about guns, like Mythbusters, have done quite a bit already. Shows like like Michael Bane’s Shooting Gallery have helped bring shooting to larger audiences, and help dispel the myths even a lot of gun owners have about guns.
- People see shooting in the popular culture. There’s a gun shop and or shooting range in your neighborhood. Your favorite magazines have gun ads in them. There’s shooting games at the video game counter. Movies portray gun ownership positively. We’ve both lost and gained a lot here. I think it’s one area we need to work more on.
I know some will chide me for not seeing open carry within the latter category, but as I’ve said, open carry doesn’t paint a clear picture for the ignorant. Let me explain:
- Someone at the checkout counter doesn’t know you from adam. If they are inclined not to be upset at the sight of a gun in a public place, they will probably think you’re police, or a security guard. If they are a more hysterical type, they might imagine the worst. This doesn’t help normalize carry, because you don’t convey context.
- Most individuals do not understand why someone would carry a firearm openly in a public place. Most people wouldn’t understand why you’d want to carry a gun at all. More outgoing, brave types, who aren’t hysterical about the gun, might ask. I agree this is a good opportunity for outreach, but how many that don’t ask walk away thinking the worst because they don’t have context to put it in?
I also think it’s a mistake to suggest that we have to normalize guns in society. That is incorrect. We have to normalize gun owners. Whether you like it or not, the person down at the Stop and Shop does not know you are normal, does not know what a great dad you are, does not know you attend church regularly, does not know you regularly practice with your side arm, likely doesn’t know you can pass a background check, and obtained the firearm perfectly legally. All they see is someone with a gun, and that’s the extent of the context.
Your friends, family, coworkers, fellow congregationalists, what have you, know who you are and (hopefully) think you’re a fine upstanding fellow. Those are the people you need to reach out to, and I think that’s about the best outreach one can do. That’s going to make a whole lot more difference than being a person in public with a gun, and not much else in the way of context.