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A Strategy Toward Acceptance

Ride Fast has a question:

What I would like to hear from Mr. Cramer and others who support not openly carrying, is just how do we acclimate people to open carry without actually open carrying? Or is Mr. 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.  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.

38 Responses to “A Strategy Toward Acceptance”

  1. MicroBalrog says:

    On the contrary, you’re being a guy with a gun IN context – a professionally-dressed, polite, guy with a gun. That is what is important here.

  2. Sebastian says:

    I don’t think that’s enough context for most people. It certainly helps, but the fact that someone is well dressed doesn’t tell your average person much.

  3. Wolfwood says:

    There’s also the matter of putting your best foot forward. The middle-aged gentleman seen as a pillar of the community, the female Baptist minister? Most people would probably be okay with that. The dude with tattoo sleeves and drop-leg holster, the Gangta-lookalike, the dude who can’t stop telling you how the Jews want to steal Ron Paul’s gold? Not so great. I guess that’s where the Expansionist vs. Discretionist divide comes in.

    As Sebastian said earlier, the guy in the grocery store doesn’t know me from Adam. Am I a responsible grad student concerned about recent muggings in the area, or am I an angry loner upset at the world and looking to take out as many people as possible before ending my own sad existence?

    Each of us has probably has gun-skeptic friends who’ve said something along the lines of “Well, I’m okay with you having a gun; it’s the criminals and lunatics I’m worried about.” They can say that because they know us. Let me ask this: who among us would hand a loaded gun to someone we don’t know? I wouldn’t. It’s not hard to see how gun-skeptics can see OC and my situation as essentially the same: someone you don’t know is near you with a weapon. We don’t freak out over cops, or even security guards, doing this because we assume (mostly with good reason) that they’ve had sufficient training and background checks to show that they’re not a danger. That’s not the case with OC’ing. CC’ing with a permit, while not ideal, helps to inform the listener that “someone in authority knows” what you’re doing. It’d be nice if that weren’t the situation, but as far as we’ve come we’ve still got a long way to go.

  4. Bob S. says:

    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.

    They dont’ have to know that I’m a good dad or I attend church regularly.

    What they do see is a person who came in and shopped — just like they did but I happened to have a gun.
    What a normal activity for a gun owner to do.

    Most people wouldn’t understand why you’d want to carry a gun at all.

    How about the corner store where I often stop?
    Most of the people who shop there know it has been robbed several times. I’m sure that the crooks stopped and picked up a carton of milk or a ice cream cone before they pulled their firearms and robbed the place?
    Never mind the fact that criminals don’t seem to open carry in a holster, eh?

    Isn’t my behavior what most people see?
    There is an old saying “What you do speaks so loud I can’t hear what you say”.

    A dozen people could hear me talk about how I am a good safe firearm owner, but a dozen people seeing me exercise my rights safely and politely is a better message.

    Everyone knows a gun owner
    I know about 5 people on my block well. Another 12 enough to wave at. 2 know that I’m a gun owner and that is because they are elderly and have asked me to keep an eye on their house.

    Not everyone knows a gun owner, sorry just isn’t true. How many “gun owners” are someone with an older revolver stuck in the sock drawer or a shotgun in the closet.

    Seeing me washing my car at the car wash normalizes me.
    Seeing me picking up a frozen pizza at Wally World normalizes me.

    Those are activities that everyone does, not everyone goes out to matches on the weekend or practices once a month at the range.

    Your ideas about outreach are great and I encourage and participate in those.

    That doesn’t mean that Open Carry doesn’t have a place as an effective and positive means of outreach. Reading your posts definitely gives me the impression that anyone Openly Carrying is going to set off waves of panic or a backlash against gun owners.

    All they see is someone with a gun, and that’s the extent of the context.

    I disagree. If they see someone who looks like them that is context. If they see someone shopping like them that is context. If they see someone stopping to open the door for them, that is context.

    Behavior, Location, Time, Attitude – those are also context that you seem to overlook.

    If you saw a person walking down your street – wearing dark clothing, would you be concerned?
    What if the time changes to 2:00 am instead of p.m.?

    How about someone who is staring at you instead of smiling and glancing?

    How about the people who see a publicized Open Carry event, is the gun the only context they get?

    I think that Open Carry can be effective and should be encouraged. Otherwise we will never normalize people who Openly Carry.

  5. Sebastian says:

    Well, I’m okay with you having a gun; it’s the criminals and lunatics I’m worried about.

    Yes. That’s common. But that’s a first step on the road to getting it.

  6. Bob S. says:

    Wolfwood,

    CC’ing with a permit, while not ideal, helps to inform the listener that “someone in authority knows” what you’re doing.

    I dont’ know about you but I’m not in the habit of telling people that I carry concealed. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

    I tell a few people that I carry concealed. Those that want to Openly Carry have decided to tell more. That is their right as we agree.

    But how does my carrying concealed tell the soccer mom at Wally World that gun owners are normal?

    It doesn’t and can’t.

    Sebastian talked about some great idea and I think that most people are doing those…probably not enough but we’ll never have enough people being active.

    Openly Carrying is a simple, effective (in my opinion) of telling people that ” I am just a normal person going about my business”.

    We try to getting the antis to stop focusing on the firearm then turn around and do it ourselves.

    I don’t get it. If my appearance doesn’t sooth anyone, then my appearance with or without a firearm isn’t going to do it, right?

    Let me ask this: who among us would hand a loaded gun to someone we don’t know?

    I wouldn’t hand over my car keys, my watch, my wallet, etc to someone I don’t know.

    But I also trust those same people I don’t know to drive a car, to prepare my food, to make my medicine, to fix my gas or electrical lines.
    Every day we trust people we don’t know with our lives and no one panics.

    Every day we see dozens of people openly carrying knives and we don’t panic. Why?
    Because it is “normal” for people to carry knives…it’s just another tool.

    Open Carry can help us get that mind set about firearms.

  7. markofafreeman says:

    It amazes me the number of posts you’ve had in the past few weeks trying to convince fewer people to open carry in fewer places.

    I do, however, want to encourage you (and Clayton Cramer) to continue this crusade. Because you’re encouraging more of us, like Breda (http://thebredafallacy.blogspot.com/2009/10/oh-say-can-you-oc.html) and Linoge (http://www.wallsofthecity.net/2009/10/first_open-carry_experience.html) to start doing it. Heck, even living in an ‘anomalous’ open carry state (as they call it at opencarry.org), I may consider it myself.

    I recently found out that the leadership at our church has begun (or maybe it’s been the case for a while, I don’;t know) assigning individuals to be on the lookout for suspicious characters (among other duties). My pastor knows I carry. I may sit down with him some time soon (and a deputy or two who attend our church) to advocate for openly armed individuals taking on that task. I might not have even thought of it had it not been for these posts.

  8. Sebastian says:

    If you want to open carry, it’s your right. It won’t bother me any. All I’m doing is making a case as to why I don’t think it’s effective activism. If you want to open carry to prove me wrong, by all means.

  9. Acksiom says:

    “Because doing that really only benefits the small number of people who want to openly carry.”

    I am curious as to your grounds for this bold assertion, considering how it directly contradicts both the accounts I’ve read at OCDO of how the practice has served to prevent likely criminal behavior (let alone mere loutism) and the agreement of my common sense understanding of human nature.

    However, I still don’t expect you to actually engage me on this directly yet, since I’ve only made that point here 3 to 5 times now and the average person usually needs to hear new information that reframes a topic 7 to 10 times before they can integrate it and respond meaningfully.

    On the gripping hand, though, I kind of had the impression that you were better than the average person.

  10. Sebastian says:

    Never make the mistake of assuming the circle of people who associate with on line and real life represents the set of people as a whole. It’s easy to come to the conclusion the number of people wishing to open carry is quite small, as the number of people who have permits is roughly only 1% of the total US population, and the number of people who carry on a regular basis is even smaller than that. It’s hard to conclude from permit numbers that the number of people who wish to carry a gun are very large at all.

  11. Sebastian says:

    Bob S. –

    Presumably criminals also shop at Wally World. Presumably people with mental disorders do as well. The act of you being in public and doing what normal people do does not automatically mean a person knows much about your character. I have little doubt that mass shooters looked very much like someone out during the course of their normal lives, until they pulled out a firearm and started shooting people.

    Note that I’m not saying that’s you, or that open carry people are going to be mass killers, just that being in a public place doing normal things that the public tends to do does not automatically put you in the set of upstanding and non-threatning to the casual observer.

  12. Wolfwood says:

    Acksiom

    Obviously YMMHV, but in years of paying attention, I’ve never seen anyone non-uniformed OC unless at a gun show/store/range. Not in New Orleans, Missouri, Miami, all over Virginia and Pennsylvania, and pretty much the entire South, Mid-Atlantic, and eastern Midwest. Not even once. Saying the number of people who OC is tiny is an insult to small things.

    If it were a third of gun owners then that would be one thing, but we’re talking a few dozen people even in states where OC is unrestricted. I was in rural Virginia while a cop-killer was loose in my town and even then I didn’t see anyone OC’ing.

    So far as I know, no one’s saying OC should be illegal (nor that someone at imminent risk shouldn’t take all necessary precautions). The Discretionist view, though, is that it risks distraction at a critical time for very little potential gain.

    If you really want to spark a conversation, walk around with an empty holster. It’s provocative, yet not threatening, and is incongruous enough that people may actually come up to you and ask about it.

  13. Bob S. says:

    Sebastian,

    I have little doubt that mass shooters looked very much like someone out during the course of their normal lives, until they pulled out a firearm and started shooting people.

    My point exactly. There is nothing separating the law abiding from the criminals except their behavior.

    You are assuming that some/many/most people will automatically think the worst. That just isn’t borne out by the evidence. Can you show otherwise?

    The reason the “eat the pavement” stories get so much play is they are rare. Too common but still rare.

    So are the letters of outrage and the calls for abolishing Open Carry, just don’t see it happening much. Do you?

    When you are driving down the road, how do you know the person in the opposite lane isn’t going to swerve into you and try to kill you?

    How do you know that the person in the next lane isn’t going to suddenly force you off the road?

    Short answer you don’t until it happens….but you still trust the person in the other cars.

    Because that is what we’ve been conditioned to expect. We expect the other person to be law abiding. Right?

    We don’t panic every time some drives by in the opposite lane or drifts in their.

    Yet you conclude that people will panic because they see a firearm without the necessary accompanying badge or uniform that makes it alright. Isn’t that pretty close to what you are saying?

    just that being in a public place doing normal things that the public tends to do does not automatically put you in the set of upstanding and non-threatning to the casual observer.

    Again, sorry but I disagree. Any evidence to the contrary?
    On the other hand, anecdote after anecdote shows that Open Carry doesn’t normally generate the “dangerous man with a gun” call and panic.

  14. Sebastian says:

    Obviously YMMHV, but in years of paying attention, I’ve never seen anyone non-uniformed OC unless at a gun show/store/range.

    That’s been my experience too, both in PA and in Virginia.

  15. Linoge says:

    I am apparently a little late to this party, and much of what I have to say is probably a rehash, but here we go anywise.

    …because you don’t convey context.

    Yes, I do indeed convey context.

    I am dressed cleanly, neatly, and appropriately.

    I am (typically) shaved, and while my hair is getting far longer than it ever has been before, it is generally controlled and maintained (but is sadly in that awkard length where hair ties do not hold, and combing is insufficient).

    I behave politely and respectfully at the store, getting out of people’s way, saying “excuse me”, and trying to not play Bumper Carts.

    I help people when asked (there are a surprising number of little old ladies in E TN).

    I smile at those who make eye contact with me.

    I am polite and, dare I say, talkative with the cashiers (having worked as one myself, non-sullen customers are a gorramed God-send), and bag my own goods if it helps.

    And I did all of this before I ever strapped on a firearm in any context or holster. I blame my parents.

    I contend that if an individual were to take all of that information, add in the information that I am carrying a firearm, and come to the conclusion of “thinking/imagining the worst”, then there was never any chance of converting them, whatsoever, no matter how carefully the subject was broached. Likewise, I equally contend that “thinking/imagining the worst” of our “target” demographic is just as bad as them doing the same to us.

    No, hardly anyone I meet in any of the stores I go to know what kind of person I am, or what I might or might not do. However, just as someone over the phone cannot tell you are smiling unless you properly modulate your voice, there are ways of proving that you are a rational, sane, reasonable, responsible adult, without having to take the other person out to dinner and buy them flowers.

    Now, if you want to downplay all of that, and write it off as being insufficient, then more power to you. However, if I were to invert all of those things I am doing now (and have been doing my entire life), I can guarantee you that perceptions of and reactions to me would be noticeably different.

    WIll all open carriers behave the same way I do? Of course not. But given that we open and concealed carriers (and bear in mind that I still fall under both camps) are not flying off the handle and shooting everyone at a whim, not taking everyone hostage in a grand police stand-off, not threatening or endanering people… well, we are already breaking the stereotypes right there, and making people realize that the lines that have been fed to them might not be the whole truth. Anything above and beyond is just a bonus. The only difference is that with open carrying, people can actually realize that we are not the demons others have made us out to be.

    Am I saying that open carrying is the superior form of carrying and that everyone who can should? Of course not. I would not propose that anyone who is uncomfortable with the idea do it, just as I would not propose the same for carrying a firearm in general. I am saying that, regardless of “steps”, there is no reason for things to not occur concurrently, and that if our goal is to normalize firearm owners, then getting people used to the idea of actually seeing firearm owners as people who actually have firearms on their person, in a safe, responsible, reasonable manner, is certainly one way of doing so. As you said over at my place, open carrying is just another tool in our arsenal, but it does not have to only be a tool against immediate, violent threats to our person.

    Or we could always go back to encouraging women to hide their ankles…

    (As for acceptance only benefiting those who want to open carry, I guess the open carriers of the states where open carry is unlicensed but concealed carry is licensed should stop in any efforts they have to get concealed carry unlicensed as well, right? After all, it only directly benefits those who want to carry concealed, right? Narrow-mindedness does not become you, Sebastian.)

  16. Linoge says:

    Oh, and thanks for the shout-out, markofafreeman. That is, indeed, the irony of the situation – Sebastian can almost claim credit for me open carrying.

  17. Sebastian says:

    Bob S.

    I think very few people will actively panic, but there will be people who are uncomfortable with it, and walk away with a negative impression of gun owners, and the gun issue as a whole. A lot of them aren’t going to be uncomfortable with it just because they are afraid of guns. They will be uncomfortable with it because they have no context with which to understand why someone would be openly carrying a firearm in public.

    I think the strategy the open-carry folks promote isn’t completely out in left field. I think if you could get even 10% of the population open carrying on a regular basis, you’d probably eventually move to tolerance, and then acceptance. But we’ve only gotten about 1-2% of the population of the US to even get a permit to carry concealed, and most of those who have such permits don’t carry very often. That’s not a very large pool of people to recruit from to take the plunge, and as long as seeing people openly armed is a rare occurrence, it’s not going to foster tolerance or acceptance, even if people don’t break into a panic.

    Now if you can get 30% of people to have CCWs, and 5% carrying all the time, then you might have enough folks to recruit from for an effective open carry movement.

    But with small numbers, I think the best you’ll get is acceptance from law enforcement. Which is something, I’ll give you that, but in the end that only really benefits people who open carry.

  18. Sebastian says:

    Sebastian can almost claim credit for me open carrying.

    How is that? I shouldn’t be the reason for anyone open carrying or not.

  19. Bob S. says:

    Sebastian,

    I really don’t understand this:

    I think the strategy the open-carry folks promote isn’t completely out in left field. I think if you could get even 10% of the population open carrying on a regular basis, you’d probably eventually move to tolerance, and then acceptance.

    How can we get more people Openly Carrying when you are making the case we shouldn’t Open Carry??

    We have trouble getting acceptance from you, an influential gun blogger and 2nd Amendment Advocate for Open Carry as a method of outreach.

    How in the world are we going to convince more people…up to 10% to Open Carry when Clayton Cramer, you and many others are shouting out — Don’t do it, we might lose a couple of people who get scared at the sight of a gun???

    But we’ve only gotten about 1-2% of the population of the US to even get a permit to carry concealed

    One of the reason for such a low number is the cost and hassle involved with getting a CHL. If we can convince people (where legal and no permit is needed) that it is easy, safe and acceptable to Open Carry, wouldn’t MORE people do it?

    Instead of advocating for the low cost, more democratic method of gun rights, you want advocate that we accept the gun control mind set.

    We need to “know who to trust and the permitting process does that”. That is straight out of their play book.

    Why not advocate Open Carry? Why not tell people that the government and the gun control advocates don’t trust them until they have been fingerprinted, a background check done and photographed, tested and deemed acceptable.

    This is the confusing aspect of your position.

    That’s not a very large pool of people to recruit from to take the plunge,

    Yet instead of looking for more people to take the plunge, you want to use only the people already in the pool. How many people are going to take a day to get their CHL, spend $140 (Texas current rates).
    On the Other Hand, you could get more in the pool by showing them it doesn’t cost or costs less to Open Carry.

    One of the biggest problems with Concealed Carry is having to dress around the firearm. Is that a problem with Open Carry?

    and as long as seeing people openly armed is a rare occurrence, it’s not going to foster tolerance or acceptance, even if people don’t break into a panic.

    Then why advocate against people seeing people armed? If it is rare occasion, doesn’t it make sense to make it less rare?

  20. M Gallo says:

    The normalization of guns as just another object, like a phone or a multitool, must be done through repetition and positive context. Gun owners do not need to be normalized; we already are. We perform everyday activities like anyone else, we go to work, have beers with our friends, and we mow our lawns. Performing these activites while obviously armed for all to see, that is not “normal.” So, you are 100% wrong on that point, IMHO.

    The fact that cops openly carry means that OC is already normalized as something good guys do. That means that the minimal challenge of changing public perception on the scope of “good guys” is all we face. To say that once we have normalized guns in everyday settings and situations, carried in an obvious manner by everyday people, it will benefit only those who choose to do so, is short-sighted. The general attitude change will benefit those who CC as well, as the general populace will become less and less worried about those icky gun-carriers, even the current “good” ones who emulate criminal behavior* by hiding their guns…

    *They are seen as “good” now because they hide their icky guns. The behavior irrefutably mirrors criminal behavior, as you are hiding something that is seen as taboo generally, and concealing a gun specifically.

  21. Acksiom says:

    “Obviously YMMHV, but in years of paying attention, I’ve never seen anyone non-uniformed OC unless at a gun show/store/range. Not in New Orleans, Missouri, Miami, all over Virginia and Pennsylvania, and pretty much the entire South, Mid-Atlantic, and eastern Midwest. Not even once. Saying the number of people who OC is tiny is an insult to small things.

    If it were a third of gun owners then that would be one thing, but we’re talking a few dozen people even in states where OC is unrestricted. I was in rural Virginia while a cop-killer was loose in my town and even then I didn’t see anyone OC’ing.”

    Thank you for replying. Unfortunately, though I’m not following how any of that is supposed to be relevant.

    Again, OC, according to the reports at OCDO, appears to prevent criminal behavior by preemptively intimidating would-be criminals. This contradicts Sebastian’s bold but so-far wholly unsupported assertion that open carry really only benefits the small number of people who want to openly carry.

    So what the relative numbers of open carriers versus concealed carriers versus non-carriers has to do with the invalidity of Sebastian’s assertion escapes me, and I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

    “So far as I know, no one’s saying OC should be illegal (nor that someone at imminent risk shouldn’t take all necessary precautions).”

    Okay, so why are you bringing either idea up, then?

    “The Discretionist view, though, is that it risks distraction at a critical time for very little potential gain.”

    I’m afraid I must apologize for my lack of familiarity with the terms you’re using. I’m sorry to put you to the trouble, but could you please explain what distraction of whom at what critical time for what gains to which you are referring?

    Yes, I really truly am that ignorant of what you mean, and I honestly can’t figure out how carrying openly would distract our putative bearer in a crisis, or how the gains of reducing loutish behavior, let alone preemptively intimidating actual would-be criminals, are very little.

    Of course, we have scant data to go by, but according to what we do have so far it does appear that openly carrying causes those planning criminal acts to stop and leave the area considerably more than it causes increased targeting of open carriers by criminals. Well, not counting LEOs engaging in technically criminal acts, of course.

    And in that regard, the real critical junction appears to be dispatcher informedness, and I get the impression that dispatchers are increasingly being taught to ask if the MWAG is brandishing the weapon or otherwise behaving abnormally, and upon being told, well, no, are informing complainants that, yes, open carry is legal and they won’t be sending any police to do anything about it.

    I’ve also gotten the impression that OCDO reports of interest among young people in getting informed about carrying in response to OC have been increasing relative to reports of revulsion and discrimination by older ones. I’m inclined to attribute this to the popularity of PC and console FPS gaming among the younger folks making guns in general seem much cooler to them these days, and if you want to talk about the long term, then, well. . . .

  22. RAH says:

    The comments about normal looking people recalled a scene from the Adams Family whee the youngest girl at Halloween was wearing her normal clothes and was asked what was her costume and she said homicidal maniac because they always look normal.

    There is validity to people worried about others carrying guns because guns are not carried on the hip for sport shooting or hunting but for self defense or offensive purposes. Whether the gun owner is using for defense or offense it is not a good idea to be around at that time.

    It is natural for people to not want to be near a shooting scenario.

    We have gotten used to security and cops wearing a gun but not normal people. If a lot of people do so it also gives a message of an unsafe society which is a message that most do not want to acknowledge.

    Carrying a weapon concealed or open is a hassle. Those who do so decide it is best and accept the hassle. Most will not unless safety is really compromised.

    I am personally am for OC or carry in any fashion without permit since that is freedom. I can understand the emotional argument against it though. I just do not agree.

  23. Again, OC, according to the reports at OCDO, appears to prevent criminal behavior by preemptively intimidating would-be criminals. This contradicts Sebastian’s bold but so-far wholly unsupported assertion that open carry really only benefits the small number of people who want to openly carry.

    And in economic terms, those who benefit from the OC actions are known as ‘free-riders’, or those who benefit from an action, yet don’t share in the cost.

    So in the case of a criminal who refrains from robbing a convenience store for the sight of an armed customer, more people benefit than just the armed customer. Indeed, all the customers at the time benefit.

  24. Wolfwood says:

    “The Discretionist view, though, is that it risks distraction at a critical time for very little potential gain.”

    The distraction refers to the attention of the RKBA movement, as having to retrace our steps every time some panicky city council decides to take action is inefficient. The potential gain refers to the hopes of desensitization that OC advocates have.

  25. Wolfwood says:

    Again, OC, according to the reports at OCDO, appears to prevent criminal behavior by preemptively intimidating would-be criminals. This contradicts Sebastian’s bold but so-far wholly unsupported assertion that open carry really only benefits the small number of people who want to openly carry.

    Maybe. On the other hand, you’ve heard from both Sebastian and from me that neither of us, despite actively looking, has ever seen someone casually OC’ing, and it’s not like either of us lives in California or New England. I suppose it’s possible we’re each just bad observers, but I suspect we’re at least about average. Even in places where OC is effectively unrestricted, I’ve never seen it done.

    Maybe it’s just that there are so few people who OC, and that encouraging more to do so would raise public perception? The problem is critical mass. Let’s say you increased OC tenfold, which strikes me as wildly optimistic. It’s still going to be something so rarely seen that the response is going to be “My, isn’t that odd! He must be an off-duty policeman!”* and not “Ho-hum; someone with a gun.” If your counter-argument is that those whom you encounter on a regular basis see it then: Congrats! We agree that it’s familiarity with the person, not the sight of the weapon, that is what desensitizes.

    The reason CC desensitizes better is because it is itself sensitive to the beliefs of others. A person who OC’s is often seen as flashing a gun around and thus doing violence to the concerns of others. CC doesn’t directly inform others, but when someone finds out you hold a CCW and yet they haven’t seen you “waving a gun around” (meaning: they haven’t seen the gun), it makes them think that you’re reasonable and respectful of the concerns of others. If your concern is for your own rights and you don’t care what others think then that’s your business, but people have their own right to view you and your act in a negative light and try and stop it from happening again if at all possible (we know it’s actually possible to ban OC, and it may even be constitutionally possible).

    OC, of course, comes with its own drawbacks. Criminals aren’t always on rob-rape-kill mode. Let’s say you’re walking down the street, OC’ing, and you come across a group of thugs who decide to have some fun with you. One comes up to you and starts hassling you, but not actually doing anything criminal (“Hey man, could I get a light for my cigarette? C’mon man, I know you got a lighter somewhere!”). You act as a model citizen and politely decline and walk away. A few minutes later, a cop comes by and tells you that he’s gotten a call that you threatened a group of guys with a “silver-and-black pistol, but not like a revolver, man.” The guys you walked past earlier all come up and have a consistent story about what you supposedly did. You have no witnesses. What then? If you think this can’t or doesn’t happen, or that you can’t be prosecuted based on that alone, then you need to become more familiar with the criminal justice system. That’s not to say that this is common, but the visibility of OC cuts both ways.

    *I’ve OC’ed twice. The first time, a clerk came up to me and asked if I were a cop. The second time, the cashier bagged my purchases and said “Will that be all, officer?”

  26. illspirit says:

    So where is the backlash? Aside from you and Mr. Cramer?

    People were OCing at Tea Parties all year, and nobody noticed until the two town halls which were kinda sorta near the POTUS. Even then, to make it sound shocking, the legacy media had to spin it like they were in the room with Obama and crop the photo of the black guy with the black rifle so they could lie and say he was an angry white racist. Yet, even then, it blew over rather quickly when the White House issued a statement saying it was legal and stuff.

    You may both be right that it’s not accomplishing much from a strictly activist perspective, but it it’s not exactly hurting things either, seeing as the PSH well ran dry within the span of a news cycle after the EBR stunt in AZ. One would almost need to go full retard and organize an OC parade through midtown Manhattan with NFA toys to get any real attention after that. :p

  27. Sebastian says:

    When the pendulum swings, it tends to swing hard. We went from pushing through a major revision of GCA ’68 in 1986 to getting beat up on issues we weren’t prepared for really quickly.

    The lack of it not happening today doesn’t mean it won’t happen tomorrow. It doesn’t mean it will happen, but I wouldn’t just flat out discount it.

  28. I have answered that question on the newer thread here – to the question ‘How much context is enough’

    With all due respect, Sebastian, I don’t think that you have.

    You’ve told us several times how much isn’t enough …… I’d like to know what I, or anyone else who chooses to open carry, have to do to get the Sebastian Open Carry Seal of Approval.

  29. If I lived as close to the Soviet of Philly as Sebastian, I’d probably be a spaz about OC too, in SEPA, you’d cause some epic PSH if you OCd. In central PA, it’s possible the police might be called, but you wouldn’t see the kind of freakouts like you probably would in Philly and the ‘burbs. Thankfully I live in Pennsyltucky, where we haven’t been overrun with Commies, yet.

    “My, isn’t that odd! He must be an off-duty policeman!”* and not “Ho-hum; someone with a gun.”

    I’ve seen OC 3-4 times, I’ve always assumed LEO or OCer, meh.

  30. Mike w. says:

    I have to agree with DPundead. Open carry in / near Philly is pretty likely to cause PSH.

    If you want to OC then do it, but IMO the best way to go about it is to do it not as in your face political activism, but as just a normal thing you do in everyday life.

    That said, I am not going to criticize those who choose to do it as political activism.

  31. Boat Guy says:

    Dunno what part of VA Wolfwood inhabits, but I used to OC up and down the I-95 corridor; Alexandria, Arlington, I may have usually been alone in those times/places but unless all the other folks who posted at OCDO were lying, it shouldn’t be that unusual.
    One reason one usually sees so many people “OC’ing” at gunshows in VA is the requirement to clear and tie one’s carry piece. I got a LOT of offers for my Delta Elite simply because it was there for folks to see, not because I was hoping to sell it.
    The incident last summer at the store in Richmond where and OC’er – using a single-action revolver – stopped a robbery/murder got some media play at the time.
    Again, I’d recommend that if Wolfwood wants to see folks OC somepace “different” show up at the statehouse for Lobby Day – you’ll see a LOT of people OC’ing.

  32. Sebastian says:

    In two years of spending weekends in Virginia, and not exclusively confined to Northern Virginia, and in all my trips to Southwest Virginia to see Bitter’s mom… I’ve never once seen someone open carrying. The one exception was when we were down at the hotel waiting to head to Blackwater. Greg Rotz was open carrying, and when we went out to eat after it was all over, we open carried in a restaurant that served alcohol. Even I open carried in that instance.

  33. Bitter says:

    Just because some folks get on a forum and talk about OC’ing doesn’t mean they actually do it. Some do, but there are going to be your fair share of blowhards, too. You know, the guys who talk about doing everything, but when actually faced with the situation, they haven’t. OC, like many activities that have online communities, will have its usual share of blowhards.

    I lived in SW Virginia and in Northern Virginia. At no time did I ever see anyone open carrying other than gun shows and a VCDL meeting at a county office. That’s it. I never saw any of those folks open carrying in the course of their day – out shopping, eating, walking the neighborhoods. Never. From Fairfax to Alexandria, down to Richmond and over to Roanoke, it’s not something that I ever witnessed outside of very specific contexts of gun events.

    The fact is that the internet – especially issue-specific forums – allow people to focus their interaction with people of a like mind. It is bound to warp your perspective of how many people engage in any given activity.

    Consider that a state open carry forum has a whooping 506 registered members. I don’t know how many are active, just how many are registered. But let’s be generous and assume all 506 are actively engaged in conversations and OCing every single place they go. That would be one huge conversation for the forum! It would, over time, give the appearance to frequent visitors that all these people are engaged in their same activity, so clearly a critical mass either has been reached or is within striking distance.

    Now consider that the state has a population of 12,448,279. No one in their right mind can begin to call 500 people a critical mass. It doesn’t matter how much it feels like it is growing on the internet, it’s simply not a drop in the bucket when it comes to the average population.

  34. Caleb says:

    Not counting myself, I saw exactly one person open carry when I lived in VA for two years. I was at the auto shop getting tires for my Ford, and some dude rolled in with a Ruger P89 in one of those Godawful Uncle Mike’s Nylon sausage sacks with the mag pouch sewn on the front of the holster. It was sagging and rolling all over the place because he had a shitty belt on as well.

    That’s the only OC I remember seeing in VA.

  35. Acksiom says:

    Ah! Thank you for explaining, Wolfwood.

    Now that I understand, I can say that I don’t find the discretionist position persuasive for several reasons. One is my experience with a different activist issue that is even more taboo, in which success is often achieved simply by getting it mentioned by the monopoly media. Another is how beta AFC it is, like a guy trying to get a girl to sleep with him by supplicating to her all the time.

    The most important reason, however, is my original point, which is that the apparent improvement to immediate safety trumps any potential negative or positive consequences.

    And it’s not a maybe that Sebastian has presented no support for his assertion, and both my observations of OC reports at OCDO and my common sense support my proposition, and that this contradicts his assertion. It’s a factual objective is.

    Again, I’m still waiting for you to explain why relative numbers of open carriers versus concealed carriers versus non-carriers is relevant to my specific point.

    Because the public perception that takes precedence is the one involved in how the apparently immediate safety benefits of OC roundly trump potential positive or negative activist consequences. Again, OC apparently prevents criminal behavior through preemptive intimidation of would-be criminals.

    So the problem is not critical mass, because the activist aspect simply isn’t important enough compared to immediate personal safety. The problem is how much return RKBA activists are getting from their investments into arguing about the potential negative or positive activist consequences of OC when the apparent immediate safety benefits roundly trump both.

    I don’t need a counter-argument, because just the mere existence of my original argument that personal safety roundly trumps potential negative or positive activist consequences still hasn’t even been acknowledged, let alone meaningfully addressed.

    And enabling the emotional self-infantilization of others is not violence, let alone such domestic violence industry orwellianism as “doing violence to the concerns of others”. It’s just enabling their emotional self-infantilization, period.

    As it turns out, though, personal protection recording is the reason I stumbled across OC in the first place. So if you think conceited assumptions about what other people don’t know can’t backfire to look like condescending douchebag behavior, then you need to become more familiar with the system of common courtesy.

    But let’s apply your thought experiment to what might happen if said group of thugs decided to mess with a CCer: oh look, a bunch of guys bleeding out in the street, because without the intimidation factor of an openly carried firearm, their behavior was far more threatening and thus caused our putative bearer to pull and shoot.

    That’s one round apiece of the what-if game. I’m not interested in playing any further, thanks.

    I’ve OC’ed twice. The first time, a clerk came up to me and asked if I were a cop. The second time, the cashier bagged my purchases and said “Will that be all, officer?”

    And did you pass up the opportunity to inform a fellow Citizen both times?

  36. Sailorcurt says:

    Accusations of just being a “blowhard” notwithstanding, I open carry my 1911 in Norfolk almost every day.

    Not only do I disagree with Sebastian and others who claim open carry is detrimental to the cause…I say they are flat out 180 degrees out of phase.

    Virginia was once like OH and PA and some of the other places where the Police are called when someone is seen open carrying. It took a few brave souls to accept the risk…to accept the harassment with grace…to “bite the bullet” so to speak. With the support of VCDL and OCDO, using media exposure, letter writing campaigns, going to city council meetings to protest and, in a couple of cases, filing lawsuits, those brave souls brought the issue to a fore, raised awareness, won public acceptance and got the government educated.

    Because of those brave souls, Sebastian and the other Blackwater attendees were ABLE to openly carry in a restaurant in Norfolk, one of the most anti-gun cities in Virginia, and didn’t have a dramatic Law Enforcement intervention story to tell.

    Notably…think back to that night. Do you remember any bad reaction to…how many was it…10 or so? Openly armed people in a restaurant that served alcohol eating dinner?

    Do you remember any reaction at ALL?

    Although I wasn’t one of the people who had to endure the harassment and discomfort to get Virginia to this place, I know most of the people who were and I’ll be sure to pass your thanks on to them for their sacrifice which enabled you to enjoy a nice dinner out while armed when you were here.

    The bottom line is that Sebastian and Clayton are working under the assumption that most people are scared sheep who cower at the thought of an armed person being near them.

    BS. Most people are average Joe’s just like you and me. Most have simply never given the issue much thought and in my experiences over the past 10 years open carrying in Virginia show me that the most prevalent reaction is curiosity, not fear.

    This is a good thing, not a bad thing. Clayton and Sebastian are wrong.

    Plain and simple.

    Their entire argument is built upon emotion, assumption and presumption with nary a solid fact upon which to base it. They’ve bought into the media and anti-gun lobby (but I repeat myself) scare mongering and are allowing them to define the terms and set the narrative rather than us.

    Open carry enables us to define the narrative for a change. Versus only being exposed to media reports of criminal gun use and Brady Campaign propaganda, they are exposed to the concept of “Law abiding citizen just like me, carrying a gun for self defense.”

    Predicting that the general public will be stricken with fear and will clamor for more gun laws as a result of seeing armed citizens in public is no different than the anti’s claims that “blood will run in the streets if….”

    It simply doesn’t happen in the real world.

  37. Montco Alex says:

    I’m going to have to say “it depends”. Seeing someone out and about with a cute family while OCIng is a whole different situation than someone dressed in camo and combat boots.

    If the father or mother hands out gun rights fliers then this is positive IMO. Having went to school in Philly, I was surprised how many people don’t know anything about gun laws, or even laws in general. Even many people who own guns don’t know the laws fully. Handing out fliers is a great way to spread the news and inform people.

    OC events are a great way of showing the media and the public that most people who own guns are perfectly normal and safe.

    I think though, if you are walking around in head to toe camo with evil looking facial hair, its a whole different situation, and it doesn’t help our cause.

    One other thing that OC is important for…people who are 18-21, who even though they can own firearms in PA law including pistols can’t get a LTCF. They can be executed, die in battle, and exercise democracy through voting, but can’t get a LTCF (or buy a pistol from a FFL…or drink). It’s a damn shame.

    -Alex

    P.S. I OC in my car mostly, since concealing in a 4:00 IWB would be tough to draw from. I carry a OWB at 3 in the car. Although I’m not ashamed to OC while I’m getting gas or running into the store quickly. In many states you can’t even OC in your car if you have a license.

    Props to Sebastian for replying to comments so much.

  38. RAH says:

    I was in a leather shop and I saw a customer OC in Md . He must have had the rare LTC. I really did not notice until I looked down on the railing and there was the holster, gun,and cell phone holster. He was having a small repair to the holster. We spoke a while about MD law and then he put everything back on his belt.

    He was a man is his sixties, retired and ex cop. He had denim jacket that would have obscured the gun and most of us are used to seeing something on a belt, cell phone or pager so we really do not look carefully when someone is walking by.

    The only time I pay close attention is a young male who looks like a possible criminal and I check for a bulge and have seem that bulge a few times.

    I do not say anything because they are not doing anything wrong but carrying weapon. But I watch out

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