The Daily Show on Open Carry

The Daily Show did a piece on the open carry movement last night. I have to admit I think their coverage is pretty funny, but I’m not sure, overall, it’s good for the right to bear arms.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Open Carrier Discrimination
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

What made the Open Carry guys think talking to the Daily Show was a good idea? That show lampoons everyone. That they were going to be the butt of a joke was entirely predictable. I think we ought to be able to laugh at ourselves, but do we want the rest of America laughing at us too?

UPDATE: John Pierce, the subject of the Daily Show interview, responds in the comments as to what motivated them to do TDS interview. Of all the points the first one is probably the most compelling, that if they hadn’t done the interview, someone else would have. I should clarify I don’t think TDS interview is in any way a disaster, since I think it’s funny, and doesn’t stoop to the kind of fear mongering you’d get from our opponents. But I have to wonder if we really want our issue’s first introduction to a younger, more urban generation to be a lampooning by the Daily Show.

70 thoughts on “The Daily Show on Open Carry”

  1. at least it’s slightly better than “OMG MURDERER/REDNECK/TERRORIST” that the antis fling our way most of the time…

  2. LOL. Well, at least the juxtaposition with Helmke made the Brady bunch seem like the hysterical ones–hard to feel threatened at all by the mild-mannered guys in the video–normal often means nerdy.

    I think Wyatt Cenac is actually very sympathetic. I watch the show regularly & he has made several offhand comments that suggest he’s at least a gun owner.

  3. I actually think the only think that really saved us in the piece was Helmke’s over-the-top rhetoric that just happened to play perfectly well in the way it the Daily Show wanted to mock the open carry folks. It’s a huge risk to talk to the Daily Show folks, and I don’t suggest doing it again.

  4. “It’s a huge risk to talk to the Daily Show…”

    Kind of like talking to “reporters” from Kazakhstan–you have to wonder why people do it. : )

  5. Like Zak J, and for the same reasons, I think it came out well.

    In addition, there’s (almost) no such thing as bad publicity. The web site was prominently featured, and I don’t doubt that there will be an avalanche of new traffic.

    Pierce is a savvy fellow, and is used to dealing with the media.

    I am calling this one a win.

  6. i loved it. i’ve always loved John Stewart, even if i don’t always agree with his views. he manages to defuse heated debate by injecting topics with humor, which, frankly, some gun owners are lacking. i’ve been open carrying regularly for some time, and have been active in some minor activism. i’m a member of opencarry.or, and, as well. i fear, however, that many open carriers are a bit too militant in their behavior, and come off as humorless billboards for 2A rights. the public doesn’t need reminding that it’s a legal activity, as much as they need reminding that the people who choose to open carry are just normal people, with various personalities, lifestyles, and habits, and some of us like joking around.

    i’m glad Mr. Stollenwork agreed to appear on the show. he’s no fool, and i’m sure that his appearance would be used as part of a joke. it was tastefully done, and i don’t think the show took sides on the issue, really. kudos to him, for showing he’s not just an activist, but just a normal dude, as well.

  7. I don’t think it was a disaster, largely because I think the Daily Show wasn’t out to totally skewer them, and because of Helmke’s error. But generally speaking, I’m not sure this kind of coverage is good coverage. There is such a thing as bad publicity.

  8. I am the open carrier who was featured on the show and I can answer your question as to why we thought doing the interview was a good idea. As a matter of fact, several commenters here have already touched on the reasons.

    1) They WERE going to do a piece on open carry. It could have been once of us, or it could have been an angry, anti-government activist. Which do you think would have hurt the cause?

    2) The Daily Show reaches a hip, young, urban audience who may never have even considered the legality of open carry or gun ownership. Those are future gun owners if we can reach them before they are indoctrinated by the other side.

    3) So long as you do not make a statement that you are unwilling to own up to, there is no such thing as bad publicity. It was worth the shot at my weight and sexuality to hear the Brady Campaign described as a “well funded hate group”. :)

    I hope this makes sense. Thanks!

    John Pierce

  9. Most of these paranoid types who oppose the basic right of armed self-defense also would probably be “pro-choice”. So why does pro-choice not apply when a woman wants to carry the means to protect her body against, the robber, the murderer, even the rapists??

  10. I saw the segment last night and thought that the open carry guy did as well as any interviewee has. The coverage got open carry activities to be shown on TV in a neutral manner except for the formula joke “What are you looking at?” by Cenac.

    Cenac reminded me of Chris Broughton at the VFW convention here in Phoenix, Arizona with the rifle. Who lost face in the segment IMO, the person carrying a rifle in a coffee shop.

    Perhaps if enough TV shows broadcast their employees carrying around a rifle on their back often enough, perhaps people would acclimate to that as well…. tis an idea.

  11. I think the piece was great—it was funny and lighthearted and poked fun at both sides equally.

    I think John is right too—it could have been pretty bad, depending on who they got to do the interview. John handled himself very well.

  12. I have two questions for John Pierce the open carrier or anybody else who can answer these:

    1) Was the Starbucks store used in this video segment in the Old Town section of Alexandria, Virginia?

    2) Isn’t there actually a gun store along the riverfront about one or two streets over from that same Starbucks store?

    The reason for my questions is that I used to frequent Old Town in Alexandria back when I was serving in the military and stationed in the DC area, and much of the scenery in this video segment looked familiar to me. The gun store I asked about is where I once bought a few spare magazines for my 10/22 and some other guns, but that was quite some time ago. I don’t even believe there were any Starbucks stores in existence anywhere back then.

    Anyway, it comes as no big shock to me that a Starbucks store even in a state with strong gun rights like Virginia would still be a popular hangout for a big bunch of hysterical gun-hater and latte-drinking libtards. From what I can recall, there was a “Ben and Jerry’s” store somewhere in Old Town Alexandria that I patronized a few times, and this is where I saw some corporate anti-gun propaganda for the very first time in my entire life. It was part of some type of artwork layout on the disposable paper place-mats. After seeing this, I decided that I would never give any more of my business to “Ben and Jerry’s” ever again.

    I also noticed in this video segment that John Pierce seemed to have a tactical folding knife clipped to his right rear pocket. I wonder if the libtards in this country will also start trying to make an issue over the “open carrying” of such deadly edged weaponry, especially since their counterparts overseas in countries like England already have done exactly as such with all of their various “anti-knife” websites.

    1. I know the gun store Ronnie is referring to, and it’s not Mike’s place. There was an old surplus shop on the river that closed several years ago. I heard they moved, but never found out where. It’s definitely not anywhere near Old Town. Mike’s gun shop was right on King Street, but I think the description of a lingerie store is a bit generous. I thought it was an adult “novelty” store as well. :)

  13. It’s old town, for sure. The guns shop there is closed. The owner wanted to expand, and the City got in his way, so he sold the shop to a lingerie store.

  14. Ronnie,

    Yes. The entire segment was filmed in Old Town and the Starbucks was the one on the corner of Union and King.

    There were actually two gun stores that used to be in Old Town. One on Union right on the waterfront and one above the tobacco shop on King. Both are now closed.

    And you are right in your keen observation that I was carrying my Benchmade in my right rear pocket. :)

  15. Yeah, that was taped in Old Town Alexandria, VA. There used to be a gun store right on the Potomac on Water Street, called Old Town Armory (I think). They moved out several years ago. It’s an expensive location for any retail operation.

  16. The gun shop above the tobacco store was Old Dominion Arms, if memory serves. Just add sales of alcohol and you would have one-stop shopping for all your ATF needs.

  17. Could one of our blogging overlords do a proper interview with John Pierce on talking to the Daily Show?

    Mr. Pierce presented himself well and I think that if he can do so on the Daily Show we can all steal some notes for how to talk to the media and general population about guns without being wookie-suiters.

  18. Brady email regarding this issue (links omitted):

    Dear “Carl from Chicago”,

    I thought you might enjoy seeing The Daily Show segment on open carry guns.

    The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac came to the office a few weeks ago to interview me about the recent rash of people openly carrying guns in public.

    To give you the inside scoop about interviews like this — Wyatt asked me questions for almost two hours. I was told to be the “straight” man and not to laugh at his outrageous and funny questions.

    While The Daily Show pokes fun at those who carry guns openly, it just doesn’t make sense for the safety of our families to have more guns being carried by more people in more public places. It’s the wrong direction for this country to head.

    As I said in the clip, gun owners should leave their guns at home. Let’s keep them out of places like coffee shops, sports stadiums, and schools.

    Paul Helmke, President
    Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

    P.S. If you haven’t signed our petition urging Starbucks to keep guns out of their stores, please do so now. Click here!

    Video: The Daily Show Explores Open Carry Discrimination

    Watch the Brady Campaign on The Daily Show.

  19. Manassas or Ashburn? Really? Dang. (Also not entirely true, the Dicks at Potomac Mills is an FFL; but it’s, well, a big-box).

    I guess I’m not surprised considering the attitude of Fairfax Co .gov towards firearms owners (and I can only assume the same or worse from Alexandria and Arlington); but I wonder if you could make money with an FFL in the Springfield area.

  20. Helmke says “gun owners should leave their guns at home,” but he doesn’t actually want us having them there, either.

    When are the criminals going to start leaving theirs at home?

  21. John Pierce. BRAVO.

    In regards to comment #1, you made the right call and did great. Better than 98% of the guests on the Daily Show.

    In regards to comment #2, THAT IS THE REWARD THAT OUT WEIGHS ANY RISK. Kids today are looking to be unique, hence the stupid tatoos and painful looking peircings. Think how our numbers and power would grow if a younger generation embraced gun ownership. It would destroy the anti’s plan of making gun ownership extinct.

    In regards to comment #3, I would have worn a pink tutu if they told me that was the price to hear the Brady Campaign described as a “well funded hate group” which is what they are.

    To you sir, I tip my hat out of great respect! Thank you for moving the ball forward.

  22. Hey everybody,

    I used the “street view” feature on Google Earth to locate what I believe was the building on the riverfront of Old Town Alexandria that once had a guns shop on the second floor that I asked about above here.

    This property is at the corner of Prince and The Strand, and everything there looks closed up from what I could see in the imagery. I could see how there is a sign at the top of the building which says, “Potomac Arms Established 1958,” (Or 1938, it’s hard to see.) and a sign below this one which says, “Full Metal Jacket Surplus,” but this sign has another sign on top of it which says, “We Moved,” but I cannot really make out the address written below this from the imagery’s resolution.

  23. I loved it.

    It made Helmke look like a Grade A tool. (Which is hitting from the red tees, granted, but still…)

  24. Old Town Armory was located at 0 Prince Street. It was a neat place, if a little over priced. Lots of antique and historic guns, and a good collection of military weapons and EBRs. Saw my first ever Barrett there. Purchased a couple of handguns from them, And my henry .22. Last time I went I was in the market for a 1911.

    They wouldn’t let me break it down. When itold them either I was going to strip it or not buy it, they let me and low and behold the frame was cracked. Not sure why they did, as I didn’t buy it after discovering that.

    Downstairs was one of the best surplus military army/navy stores I’ve ever been too. We used to hit it all the time.

    Old Town is certainly much worse off – especially from a military history point of view – for alowin it to close. Not sure what is there now.

    The funny thin about the Ben and kerry’s is there is a local ice cream shop literally around the corner 25 steps away. And with better ice cream ta boot. Sort of ironic what with ben and kerry’s anti corproate schtick and all.

    To the others, there are plenty of places to buy guns in NOVA. It’s true that there usedto be only Blue Ridge in Fairfax, but I can think off hand of 10 gun shop within a half hour drive that sell handguns. If you want to include Dicks and stores that sell rifles, it’s sinificantly more.

    And I’d fully support an interview with Mr. Pierce on the experience.

  25. Ben and Kerry’s should be Ben & Jerry’s.


    Funny (and fitting) iPhone auto correct error.

  26. OK – that was the place I had been into once or twice (icnluding, I want to say, First Night ’98/’99, maybe?)

    Finding FFLs in Fairfax (say that 3 times fast) is academic to me right now; no longer live in the area

  27. The gun shop is gone; however, there is still a gunsmith located in a warehouse a block inland from the old FMJ shop. It’s the last little remnant of Interarms.

    It’s fun carrying rifles and whatnot in Old Town! I’m surprised I’ve never been hassled. Probably the next time I’m there…

  28. Ron W Said,

    “Most of these paranoid types who oppose the basic right of armed self-defense also would probably be “pro-choice”.”

    And they’re against free choice (and/or a right to privacy) in healthcare…. Ie, what if we don’t want one of their approved plans?

  29. Wow! I remember the Full Metal Jacket Surplus as well as the potomac Arms Co.!
    Yeah, FMJ surplus was run by this tall, thin germanic guy with glasses and a mustache. Nice guy. I remember haveing a conversation with him about him having a dentist with the same last name as mine.
    Potomac arms was were, cradling a Spas-12, I realized that I was a gun nut.

    I came out of the closet immediately, but most of my acquaintances already knew.

  30. Hey John Pierce, you did good work. Coming across in a positive light in the Jon Stewart show if you’re a conservative/libertarian is very hard.

    It was a hilarious piece and I think it helped us.

  31. If you’re curious how you ‘came across’ to someone not involved in the debate…

    1.) TDS confirmed that Americans are crazy when it comes to guns. No surprise.

    2.) It was somewhat surprising to see that the majority did not seem similarly crazy – TDS did a good job of showing how the rest of the country sees ‘open carry’ advocates as crazy, albeit in a ‘banality of evil’ kind of way. It was a “look at the middle-aged men with no life who have to carry something as evil as a gun to feel normal” kind of impression.

    It didn’t appear to be ‘positive’ to me. Being in another country, I have no horse in this race. Good luck.

  32. I thought it was funny and a net positive. John, you did a great job and it was clear that you were playing along with the homosexuality parallels. The look on your face when he asked whether your wife knew that you OC’d was hilarious and exactly what it needed to be.

    Yes, the Daily Show lampooned OC activists. But I think the overall comparison is one that we want them to make. Portraying it as a civil rights struggle similar to the ones engaged by homosexuals, blacks, etc. is exactly what we want (because it is a civil right, after all). We’re not hurting anyone, we just want to be left alone and able to practice our beliefs openly. That’s a great storyline, and TDS actually did a better job communicating that than anything else I’ve ever seen.

  33. John, great job. That was a tough act and I think you did as well as could have been done. I agree that it’s better to spin this as a civil rights issue — even mockingly so — then to let them go down the Crazy Militia route. I also noticed that even though a few people in the coffee shop looked at Wyatt funny when he was loaded up with the AR, the majority didn’t. Not sure if that is because they didn’t notice anything outside their laptop/IPod bubbles or because they didn’t care. I’d settle for “not caring” from a bulk of people as opposed to active support. At least “not caring” is better than “actively opposing.”

  34. rcn2, where in that piece did TDS show what “the majority” or what “the rest of the country” thought about open carry?

  35. Aack, yes it was Potomac Arm not old Town Armory. And FMJ was the surplus shop. Picked up a pair of east German binoculars there that we still have. Glass us as nice as on my Steiners ( heck, it may very well be from the same plant).

  36. Good job, Mr. Pierce. The fact that all the people in the Starbucks didn’t freak out says a lot. Sure, some stared – but what do you expect? Remember, besides the guy with all the guns there’s also a guy with a big video camera. “Ooh! A TV stunt! Maybe I can get on TV!” Creative editing can also do lots – did they rubberneck before or after he yelled “what are you looking at?” And at the end, let’s be honest. If a stranger sat down next to you at one of those little tables, wouldn’t you move your laptop away from him and his hot coffee? Yeah, me too.

  37. Whenever folks come into local coffee shops with slung AR15s, my only worry is that they are going to knock my coffee over onto my laptop.

    I have a lot of experience carrying slung rifles and shotguns, and dang it if I still don’t bump into stuff from time to time. It’s a bit better when they are slung across the chest, as it’s easier to keep track of the muzzle and the buttstock.

  38. I would agree with what Texas Mike wrote in #48. I would also bet that a producer of TDS had already told everybody who was in that Old Town Alexandria cafe exactly what they were doing, what to expect, and how to act before this Wyatt Cenac character walked in there openly carrying those three pistols and the AR type rifle on a sling across his back.

    To answer SayUncle’s question in #9, I would guess that none of those guns openly carried by Wyatt Cenac in this video segment were real. The Comedy Central network’s legal staff would probably advise against such a thing for liability reasons.

  39. Carrying a slung rifle can’t be any worse than carrying a sword at hip (as I was occasionally wont to do at renfaires – it eventually became too much of a pain).

  40. @48,
    I think the real question should be: Were the firearms (if they weren’t props) loaded? Considering the poor control Cenak exhibited I would hope the answer would be no.

  41. “Thane Eichenauer Said,

    Cenac reminded me of Chris Broughton at the VFW convention here in Phoenix, Arizona with the rifle.”

    I suspect this was a sly and deliberate choice, particularly considering his straight line immediately preceding the shot.
    After all, the under-reported aspect of the VFW convention was that the rifle carrier was black.

    To that, however, I agree about *militant* open carriers can be… annoying. But on the other hand, probably in most places a person carrying openly and acting in an otherwise normal fashion is generally viewed as “normal” – even here in CA (where in most geographic regions one can carry openly, if unloaded), most people seeing a guy in street clothes wearing a holstered firearm would simply assume he was a cop or someone else who otherwise “normally” carries a firearm.

    It certainly wouldn’t send people screaming out of the local Starbucks into the streets, even in someplace as leftist and anti-gun as San Francisco. People see what they want to see, after all.

  42. rcn2,

    If you’re curious how you ‘came across’ to…

    …a foreigner?

    Not really, no. I am less than unconcerned with what you think of me or my country. The eagle does not hunt the fly.

  43. I am less than unconcerned with what you think of me or my country.

    If we were concerned with what foreigners thought, we’d be metric.

  44. I wonder if this comment #35 – rcn2 individual was aware that Jon Stewart of TDS himself often refers to his own show as being the “number one fake news show” on basic cable TV when he proclaimed that “the rest of the country sees ‘open carry’ advocates as crazy, albeit in a ‘banality of evil’ kind of way.”

  45. You must admit, measuring stuff in 10’s makes more sense than measuring them in 12’s :)

  46. Not at all. 12 has more factors than 10 – making it easier to divide in thirds and quarters; as well as in half. Ask Bitter how much that helps in cooking…

  47. You must admit, measuring stuff in 10’s makes more sense than measuring them in 12’s

    Not if you have 12 fingers.

  48. Which reminds me – you can count to 144 on your fingers pretty easily. I find it easier than counting to 1024, anyway (My ring and picky fingers aren’t felxible enough for that, really)

  49. John did a great job! Kudos! I think the humorous angle worked well to emphasize the absurdity of certain members of the “anti” faction.

    Helmke certainly came across as a rather disturbing bigot – which he is, and desperately tries to hide – with his “behind closed doors” commentary. His lame attempt at damage control by claiming it was merely him being “a straight guy” simply doesn’t make sense. His mask came off…and he’s a very ugly person underneath.

    Once again – well done, John :)

  50. I really liked the piece and thought it was done very well. As for gun stores in Nova, there are still a few. Don’t forget Gilberts which is now Sharp Shooters in Springfield/Lorton. There’s also a smaller tactical dealer around the corner from Sharp Shooters.

    Also a new shop opened up in Herndon called Nova Armament. I went in for their grand opening and it is right downtown in Herndon.

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