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Context Matters?: AR-15 Open Carry in Michigan

SayUncle says that this isn’t helpful. I have to agree with Tam on this one, “Ten out of ten for enthusiasm, but minus several thousand for Thinking Things All The Fucking Way Through.” What I don’t understand is why folks in the comments, who say they generally support open carry, don’t support this. I have to applaud Packetman for at least being consistent. If there’s no problem with people open carrying a pistol, there’s no problem with people open carrying an AR-15. It’s just a matter of degree. Won’t it get people used to the idea of seeing guns in public? If you say no, then you admit that there’s time, place, and other contextual considerations at play here, in which case it’s fair to say that maybe those who think open carry ought to be legal, but perhaps isn’t effective or appropriate anywhere, anytime might have a point.

15 Responses to “Context Matters?: AR-15 Open Carry in Michigan”

  1. luckytexan says:

    I don’t understand the hub-bub, either. The article seems to indicate that the gunnies were meeting to discuss gun rights; one would presume to they wanted to highlight their right to open carry in particular. Well, they got the attention they wanted, and a discussion is ongoing. Sounds like great marketing to me.

    Haven’t we all been arguing that an AR-15 is just as useful and not much different than a Keltec P-3AT?

    This is one area where I envy other states. Here in Texas, open carry of a handgun is outright banned unless you are on private property. But open carry of a long arm isn’t restricted.

  2. Tam says:

    I think part of the issue is that most folks are used to seeing pistols being toted around by “good guys”, and the whole thrust of the OC movement is to expand the definition of “good guy”.

    Speaking as someone who carted an M4gery to work in the front seat of her car every day for years, though, a carbine is indeed a very contextual thing. I wouldn’t bat an eye at a carbine being dragged around places that I’d normally see a carbine being dragged around, but I’d probably give a double take at one being carried into a restaurant. I wouldn’t wig out or call the manager or the po-po, but I’m not the general public, either.

  3. “If there’s no problem with people open carrying a pistol, there’s no problem with people open carrying an AR-15. It’s just a matter of degree.”

    That kind of logic only works if matters of degree don’t matter. They do. There is a big difference in most people’s minds between defensive weapons like pistols and offensive weapons like assault rifles. Pretending that there isn’t doesn’t change that.

  4. Sebastian says:

    But to a lot of people pistols are offensive weapons too, especially in large urban areas. I think the points you and Tam made are good, but what I’m saying is that essentially, is that you can’t ignore context, and a lot of open carry advocates seem to suggest that context is never a problem.

  5. Sebastian says:

    I guess what I’m trying to say is an openly carried handgun in some areas and in some context is going to be taken the same way an openly carried AR-15 would be in others. No one would bat an eye at an openly carried gun in, say, Arizona. Same thing in Philly, or it’s suburbs would be a totally different story told to a totally different audience, and they will take away different lessons and impressions.

  6. Drang says:

    When i finally left Michigan for good, open carry of a pistol was legal, but “open” carry of a long gun was not. (legal during hunting season,at range, on own property, but not while going about your business.)

    Haven’t been back for more than a couple of days in several decades, so i don’t know current situation…

  7. Mulligan says:

    guns are tools.
    he carried a tool.

    Was it the right tool for the job ? Depends on the job he was trying to do.

  8. Aww, shucks Sebastian!

    I agree with Tam ……. I’m not going to think but maybe twice about a long gun, and then only where I’ve not seen them before.

    However, I probably won’t be carrying a long gun anytime soon, ‘cuz 1) they’re a bitch to keep up with while you’re moving around and 2) you eventually have to let go of them to , like, do stuff!

    Ever lost your M-16? I have ….. not fun!

    Bastard 1st Sgt ……..

  9. Matthew Carberry says:

    I live in Alaska and folks walking around with rifles in town with no purpose but self-defense is almost unheard of. If the goal of OC is to normalize gun carry, and long gun carry isn’t normal even up here (where we have 2 and big 4 legged threats in downtown year round), I can’t see how it’d be particularly rational or useful to push the point that much in a much less “evolved” locale.

    Also, carrying a long gun, as noted above, is generally a pain in the ass even when it is actually undeniably necessary. While carrying a gun should be comforting, not comfortable, it also shouldn’t be contrived nor counter-productive.

    I’d cut slack if it was the only firearm he had, but if not, he sure seems to have been just attention-whoring and probably doing his own cause more harm than good.

    No one should strive to be “that guy”.

  10. Sebastian says:

    But wouldn’t you have to start somewhere with rifle carry? I can tell you that open carry in Philly is probably just about as rare as open carry or a rifle in Alaska, yet it was suggested by activists here that it would be a great PR move to have an open carry day at the Philadelphia Zoo. What could possibly go wrong?

  11. Zak J says:

    What isn’t clear from the article is whether the owner asked them to leave or take the guns away or if he just called the cops without ever addressing them. It sounds like he’d been allowing them to carry weapons before & then changed his mind for whatever reason, apparently over the rifles. Perhaps he was genuinely frightened, but whatever the case the article implies he never said anything.

    One problem with open carry could potentially be to freak out people like this owner so they put up “No Firearms” signs on the door–signs that even concealed holders would be legally bound to obey on private property.

  12. Matthew Carberry says:

    Sebastian,

    Perhaps the place to start with rifle open carry is to get handgun open carry normalized AND have a rational, statistically sound, explicatable basis for having the rifle on your person at any given time. Context is key.

    I can accept the following as a given.

    I have a right to defend myself with the most effective tools, thus I have the right to carry a firearm.

    Since it is a right, and since fearing a firearm being carried is irrational in a grand sense, it shouldn’t (note shouldn’t) matter how I choose to carry it, openly or concealed.

    Also, it really shouldn’t (an even more italicized shouldn’t) matter what kind of a firearm I choose to carry, handgun or long gun.

    But, in the really real world, not guntopia, how do we really frame the debate?

    “We carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.” Well, cops do have long guns handy, but they don’t usually carry them around for defense.

    “I carry a gun as a precaution, like a fire extinguisher.” To carry the parallel, if carrying a handgun is carrying a fire extinguisher, then carrying a long gun is driving a whole fire truck.

    “I’m not looking for trouble, I’m preparing for foreseeable, realistic defensive situations.” Statistically, if a situation where you need a handgun “right now” is rare (which is true everywhere in the US) a situation where you need a rifle “right now” is absolutely infinitesmal. What happened to “foreseeable and realistic”?

    Where’s the up side? You get to carry a rifle into the john? Set it down when you eat, never out of arm’s reach at the table? Knock stuff off of shelves in narrow aisles? Hit people on the bus when it jostles?

    To realistically, rationally be prepared for what exactly?

    Militant Canadians driving rubber boats across Lake Superior a la Mumbai?

    Throwing long guns into the mix, in a city with no predator around that a handgun can’t stop (the sole defensible, kinda, reason for packing a long gun around even Anchorage) is a contrivance that undercuts the lawful carry overall message which is:

    “We’re normal folks just like you. We simply add “pistol” to our list of things we put on in the morning.”

    In that context I will remain of the opinion this was counter-productive attention whoring by an idiot.

  13. Mikee says:

    And another unaddressed question is whether the AR-15 was slung over his back, or carried in his hands.

    One would seem much less threatening to the casual diner in Ryan’s Steakhouse than another, at least to me.

    It might have helped public relations if he had mounted the gun on a stand as a table centerpiece, with a poster describing it as an unloaded weapon brought out for educational purposes. Maybe even have a show and tell for the kids in the restaurant?

    Otherwise, if I’m coming into Ryan’s for dinner with the family and I see a man holding an AR-15 at port arms, with no immediate explanation of why, I’m turning around and eating elsewhere without asking any questions.

  14. The issue as I see it is that private property owner’s rights trump yours.

    A private property owner ALWAYS has the right to ask you to leave their premises.

  15. robert says:

    The difference to me is that with a handgun, you have it in your holster and there’s no need to touch it unless something forces you to. You can go in and sit down and eat or whatever with no problems. Can’t do that with a long arm. He would have to handle it to unsling it and sit it somewhere when he sit down to join the meeting. Unless he wanted to stand up the entire time, which then he would be both rude and in the way of the other patrons and servers in the restaurant.

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