Too Far?

Just when I thought it was safe to start feeling better about open carry, the ante gets upped. If some guy walks into a restaurant with an AR-15, I’m going to have my hand on my own pistol, figuring there’s a very strong likelihood I’m going to have to draw it in self-defense. Why? Because I can’t think of any reason a reasonable person is walking into a restaurant with an AR-15. Even if the guy with the AR is wearing a police uniform, I’d be quite nervous, because police don’t generally walk into restaurants carrying AR-15s unless serious trouble is afoot.

UPDATE: OTOH, if the folks who are engaging in attention seeking behavior now need to up the ante to rifles, because pistols just don’t grab attention like they used to, maybe there is something to the OC theory.

63 Responses to “Too Far?”

  1. Mike w. says:

    If your goal is to “normalize” open carry you don’t do it by toting around an AR-15. If however your goal is to be an attention whore, then carrying around a long gun is perfect.

  2. ZK says:

    I’ve been regularly piled on for suggesting that people open-carrying long guns could be seen as a threat. I know I’d also have my hand on my gun and cover garment.

    Expect a deluge of people telling you that you’re no different than the Brady Campaign in 3, 2, 1…..

  3. Sebastian says:

    I’ve been down this road before. I don’t much like it, but it has to be said. We carry rifles to deal with expected threats. We carry handguns to deal with unexpected threats. Even police, who certainly prefer open carry, operate this way. We do not live in a dangerous enough society that people are going to accept openly toting rifles around. With pistol OC, you at least have the example of police successfully doing it.

  4. Sage Thrasher says:

    My main use of my CCL is for hiking in the back country. Unless you’re in Alaska or clearly hunting (and even then) it just freaks out a lot of people to run into somebody openly carrying, and for very little upside as far as I can tell.

  5. Bill says:

    Maybe the poor guy just brought it in the library instead of leaving it unsecured in his car/truck. Can’t we just get along.

  6. Robb Allen says:

    Sage, there is a massive upside about normal people seeing other normal people openly carrying a pistol. However, other people’s discomfort is not enough of a reason to make something illegal (see gays, interracial couples, etc).

    However, Sebastian’s quote on handguns for the unexpected resonates with me, and I had a big article coming up on this whole affair that will now change because I cannot find any fault in that statement.

  7. Dave says:

    It is extremely poor strategy (scaring the white people) but it has to be said that carrying a rifle or shotgun around with you was once entirely unremarkable. Granted that was a very long time ago now. Even so it seems like we are well along in the transition from the land of the free and the home of the brave to the land of at least we are more free than Europeans, and the home of the candy asses.

  8. GMC70 says:


    This isn’t that hard, people.

    Just because you have a rightto do something does not mean it is in your interest to do it. While these folks may be technically in the right, tactically this is not a good call. Think bigger picture, folks. This kind of action makes gun owners look very much like the caricature the antis are always trying to pin on us.

    The goal here is to win. And we’re winning. Stuff like this risks snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  9. OTOH, if the folks who are engaging in attention seeking behavior now need to up the ante to rifles, because pistols just don’t grab attention like they used to, maybe there is something to the OC theory.

    On the third hand, that kind of attitude is pretty limiting for open-carry. Continually pushing harder against people’s tolerances as they fail to talk you is a pretty odd strategy for a movement supposedly intended to make open carry unremarkable. It sounds to me like a great way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Now, I can see an interesting use for Activist Carry of long arms in New Jersey, for example, where handgun carry is banned in practice but the law allows you to carry long arms with just an FID.

    I don’t know that it’s a _good_ use, but it’s an interesting one.

  10. Ha! GMC70 preemptively plagiarized me! ;)

  11. Ian Argent says:

    Unloaded long arms. Separate clause in the law requires they be unloaded unless otherwise permitted by law.

  12. Jerks. Okay, mag-fed AWB-compliant ARs, then.

    “New Jersey: we’re one step dumber than California!”

  13. Matthew Carberry says:

    I agree that carry of long guns around was unremarkable but it was, as noted, fairly long ago and definitely not in anything resembling what we’d call a modern city suburb.

    Regardless, the folks toting a shotgun or rifle were doing it for a reason beside “they could”.

    They didn’t necessarily have nice cars to lock them up in and might have actually (say greater than today’s >.001% chance) needed them to hand for defense against wild animals or Indians or to take a shot at a deer to supplement the family larder. None of which can rationally apply, outside a fantasy world, inside a South Michigan suburban restaurant.

    Perhaps he thought the Cartwrights wouldn’t mind him carrying into the Ponderosa?

  14. David says:

    This armed activism of some is screwing us all. Some of these OC guys are as bad as code pink and act up. I’m not really sure what their endgame is, but the constant confrontations they get and their aggressive hostile responses are hurting us all as more and more “no guns” signs pop up. They are quickly turning on the fence people into pro gun control people. For some I wonder if it’s really about the 2nd amendment or about getting attention, be it negative, and people thinking they might be the cops.

    I think there is a whole lot of misguided passion in the OC movement. I’m not anti OC. But I am anti jackasses looking for confrontation while OC’ing. There is a right way and wrong way to do things, and there right time and wrong time for everything.

    I just think some of the OC crowd is missing the connections between the negative encounters and the increased resistance to their movement.

  15. Carl from Chicago says:

    Well, we have to accept the inevitable … people will push the envelope wherever that is perceived to be. For better or worse. We see it with criminal behavior, we see it with lawful behavior. To some extent, we have to help police ourselves, lest the legislature will try to police us.

    Regarding those who carry around ARs or what have you just for the “effect” of it … part of me would like to tell them they are being stupid and immature. But I know that would not have any positive effect.

    But what any few of us do affects a great many people. In part, we have to find our own norms and agree on them … and then try to rein in those who insist on acting abnormally.

  16. Carl from Chicago says:

    Gun owners will often or even usually be viewed in light of the loudest and most extreme among us. Certainly that is the tactic being taken by most or all of the prominent gun control groups. Find the craziest and most extreme-acting gun owner and say “look … this is your typical gun owner.” They do that because it works.

  17. Dannytheman says:

    Unbelievable! I have been to some open carry dinners and I usually get the easy going folks, but I laugh when I see a guy show up with a full 2 gun single action colt rig.
    But I agree with Sebastian. If I was sitting anywhere and a man walked in with a shotgun or AR, I would be SA to the max!!

  18. mike says:

    These clowns are trying to get OC banned, right? They work for the Brady Bunch, right? Nobody can be that obtuse to think that this actually *helps* gun rights.

  19. GMC70 says:

    elmo – re: your 3:59:

    Great minds, and all that. Indeed.


  20. Tony says:

    “Even so it seems like we are well along in the transition from the land of the free and the home of the brave to the land of at least we are more free than Europeans, and the home of the candy asses.”

    …Meanwhile, in Switzerland, walking into a restaurant whilst carrying a fully automatic rifle slung across ones back continues to elicit no reaction whatsoever. :)

  21. Dave says:

    More free than most Europeans then. :)

  22. johnnysquire says:

    If “I can’t think of any reason a reasonable person is [doing X with a gun” is a good reason to object, then how can one defend OC of a handgun? A LOT of people sincerely can’t think of a good reason for handgun OC.

    Individual knowlege of reasons can’t be the measure. It isn’t compatible with a constitutional right.

  23. GMC70:
    As my grandma used to say, great minds may think alike, but two fools seldom differ. ;)

    The reality is, whether it makes sense or not, that carrying handguns in public seems normal or close to normal for most Americans, while carrying slung long arms doesn’t.

    A guy who just wants to exercise his rights? Yeah, he can go right ahead and say “to hell with what seems normal to them”. That’s what rights are all about.

    But another guy who claims to be an activist trying to advance the cause of gun rights? In that case, we ain’t talking about what he has a right to do. We’re talking about what’s most likely to achieve the goal. And in that case, he’d damned well better think about what people consider normal.

  24. j t bolt says:

    Condition yellow to orange, yeah.

  25. MicroBalrog says:

    The restaurant AR15 guy was over a year ago. I observe it not having harmed the cause back then.

  26. Ian Argent says:

    Incidentally, if someone did try to OC an unloaded longarm in NJ, after he’s done picking his teeth out of the asphalt, they’d probably lift his FID as “not in the public interest” and pass a law banning it.

    Any other state, I’d figure you could make a decent political point by carrying, say, a SUB2K legally and then pointing out that it’s (slightly) more dangerous than a Glock 19, and use that to point out that the FID is shall-issue, the carry permit should be. In NJ, it’d get carry of longarms banned…

  27. ExurbanKevin says:

    Open carry has been legal in Arizona since, well, there’s BEEN an “Arizona”. Pistol on hips are a common sight here, but even with that, a person (cop or not) carrying around an AR would put me at Condition Orange, and quickly. Glocks in shoulder holsters, no problem: Assault rifles slung on backs, and you’ll get more attention than you want, even in Arizona.

  28. My comments on this subject are at But the short and skinny of it is I am in AZ, home of the AR-15 carrying Wookie Suiters at Presidential Events.

  29. Motor-T says:

    If I was coming from the range, would it be better for me to leave my AR-15 unattended in my car, or carry it in for my meal?

  30. Sebastian says:

    I would leave it in the car. Long arms aren’t that useful for criminals.

  31. mike says:

    “If I was coming from the range, would it be better for me to leave my AR-15 unattended in my car, or carry it in for my meal?”

    As though it’s an either-or! Give me a break. You plan accordingly, just as I do when I need to go to the post office. If you’re coming from the range, get drive-thru, or wait until you get home. I get what you people are saying, but if you actually pull this crap, the only people you’re helping are the Brady Bunch. That you don’t get that suggests to me that whatever reality disconnect you have should raise serious questions about how fit you are to even possess firearms.

  32. Sebastian says:

    mike makes good points. But exercise common sense. We all take risks, just don’t take risks which are going to make you a poster child for the other side. If you carry an AR-15 into a restaurant, you’re a poster child for the other side.

  33. MicroBalrog says:

    Again: the AR-15-restaurant incident occurred over a *year* ago. The mythical anti-gun backlash had a year to materialize, where is it?

  34. MicroBalrog,
    I’m not concerned that a given poorly-planned OC demonstration will lead to popular sit-ins and marches on the courthouse demanding gun control, because that isn’t what average people do. I’m concerned that a poorly-planned OC demo will lead to disapproving conversations over dinner, a darkening of people’s private impression of firearms carry, and an increased sympathy for gun control advocates when they talk about needing new laws to counter “the NRA’s any gun anywhere any time agenda”.

    In the world of political activism, unspoken impressions add up, and both sides are trying to manipulate a public opinion that’s extremely hard to gauge, can add up slowly, and can reach a turning point very unexpectedly.

    Based on my own experience, casual, matter-of-fact OC of handguns by polite, normal people seems to actually increase sympathy and acceptance outside the craziest anti-gun enclaves, as people go from “Hey, he’s got a gun!” to “But he seems like a nice guy… I guess it’s no big deal.” If that’s the effect you want, why go out of your way to make a spectacle of yourself, when upping the ante makes even a lot of hardcore pro-gun folks say “something ain’t right here…”

  35. Arnie says:

    Just wanted to say, the conversation here is so much more respectful and gentlemanly than over at Say Uncle. Those folks can be downright vicious!

    Great rule of thumb about expected vs. unexpected threats, Sebastian. Makes good sense.

    Enjoyed the post. Thank you!

  36. Andrew says:

    A lot of people are saying stuff about under 21 can’t carry a handgun and while technically untrue it is effectively true. In Michigan you can purchase a handgun from a private seller and OC it legally. However, to transport it, you must unload and case it, rendering it null. Without a CPL (21 to get CPL) you can’t carry at any of the following:

    750.234d Possession of firearm on certain premises prohibited; applicability; violation as misdemeanor; penalty.

    Sec. 234d.

    (1) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person shall not possess a firearm on the premises of any of the following:

    (a) A depository financial institution or a subsidiary or affiliate of a depository financial institution.

    (b) A church or other house of religious worship.

    (c) A court.

    (d) A theatre.

    (e) A sports arena.

    (f) A day care center.

    (g) A hospital.

    (h) An establishment licensed under the Michigan liquor control act, Act No. 8 of the Public Acts of the Extra Session of 1933, being sections 436.1 to 436.58 of the Michigan Compiled Laws.

    Section (h) there means anywhere licensed to sell alcohol AT ALL. This means gas stations, grocery stores, party stores, restaurants, big box stores like Target, coffee shops that have liqueur flavoring, festivals with temporary alcohol permits, etc, etc

    (There is some argument about whether or not the entire property or just the building is the PFZ for liquor licensed establishments. Most believe it’s the building itself, but this may require a court case.)

    So, being under 21 makes it nearly impossible to carry a handgun for self defense in Michigan.

  37. Alpheus says:

    If we can ignore the fact that carrying long arms spooks people, I see nothing wrong with it. The question is, how do we do so without spooking people?

    I would propose that the best approach would be to just ease into it. Rather than carry an evil black rifle, for example, why not an unloaded muzzle-loading flintlock? Bonus points if you dress up as a Colonial soldier, and are prepared to discuss the history of Lexington and Concord! To separate guns from costumes, go as a group, and half only just over half dress up. And go shooting!

    Repeat, using lever-action rifles, and dressed as mountain men and Union soldiers; then using Garands and dressed as WWII soldiers.

    It would perhaps be awkward to dress up as Vietnam soldiers (that being a controversial war), so what to do about EBRs? I would propose that two things can be done. First, rifles don’t have to be black–tastefully paint your gun a neutral, even pleasant, color, such as pink or dark blue, to make it less “scary”. Second, you don’t have to be exactly period-accurate: if you don’t own a musket, costume up and carry an AR-15 anyway, with the explanation that “this is the only rifle I own”. If you don’t costume up, and have an AR-15, you could come to the party anyway, but make sure you come with a friend who *did* costume up, or that you make darn certain you come later than those who do.

    It would probably be best to do this in restaurants whose owners are willing to further the cause, or at least are willing to put up with “crazy gun nuts”. And it certainly ought to be emphasized that gun safety ought to be emphasized at all times–especially since it would seem natural to me, to talk about guns at such parties.

    The more I write about this, the more I like the idea. Perhaps I’ll have to try to get together a group for monthly meetings!

  38. gary foster says:

    It’s time we realized the pro gun second amendment folks have a looney fringe just like other advocacy groups. Your an idiot if you think it’s appropriate to carry a shotgun or longarm into a public library.
    This incident with the accompanying “discussions” on the various blogs has gotten me to reexamine my support for open carry. I am not ready to abandon it yet but the advocates are too often out of touch with reality. Especially those on the forum.
    We have made great progress as gun owners and the militant open carry people could undo some of this if they are not more careful. In the meanwhile, I don’t want anything to do with them. Shotguns in a library?!!! Come on!

  39. Robb Allen says:

    Well gary, it’s nice to know that in the fight for the 2nd Amendment, we have people like you who’ll fold like a cheap lawn chair at the first sign of trouble.

    It’s not ‘insane’ for someone to do something that you personally do not approve of. The vast majority of the hue and cry about this whole incident has been caused by gunnies who are blowing its effect completely out of the water. Was a bill introduced? Actually, two of them were, one to ensure rights were respected. And yet we have so many people ready to toss others under the bus for the other bill that has hardly a snowflake’s chance in hell to get out of committee.

    And I know it’s being a Grammar Nazi to point out, but there’s irony in someone saying “your an idiot”.

  40. Robb Allen says:

    You know, now that I think about it, there have been so many assholes regarding this situation that maybe I should rethink my support of the Second Amendment.

    I mean, why bother fighting for rights if something I do doesn’t match someone else’s description of “how I should do it” and they decide to just throw me under the bus?

  41. It’s like how I gave up on my support for freedom of speech after that jackass Voltaire refused to agree with what I said.

  42. mike says:

    “This incident with the accompanying “discussions” on the various blogs has gotten me to reexamine my support for open carry.”

    I’m headed in that direction myself. These clowns not only jeopardize all of our rights, but they adamantly believe otherwise.

    If you’re writing about how it’s perfectly reasonable to bring a shotgun into a library or restaurant, then you need to get your head examined. What the #$%^ is wrong with you people? Do you really think that scaring people who, prior to your stunt, had no opinion either way about OC helps gun rights? Really? Screw that. And thus officially ends my support for OC. Hearts and minds and all that. Congratulations.

  43. Robb Allen says:

    mike, with fair weather supporters like you, I don’t think the movement is going to miss out much with you leaving it. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

    And good luck when it comes time for you to need others to support your rights. Hopefully those people are a bit more mature about things than you and won’t desert you simply because you don’t do thing their way.

  44. Rich B says:

    Have we seen any state where the OC movement has pushed back gun rights?

    In fact, have we seen much loss of traction anywhere regardless of OC?

  45. gary foster says:

    In all these various discussions in the blogs about this issue you find the same snarky immature attitudes from the open carry radicals.
    If you can’t understand that carrying a shotgun into a public place like they did in Michigan is not an inflammatory and scary act, then I am glad I am not anywhere near you. Even in’s forum, they cut off the topic of long gun carry as unacceptable to that forum! So who is tossing who under the bus Robb!!!!????
    I carry a gun every day just about all the time until I go to bed. Don’t give me any crap about not supporting the second amendment because I have been standing up for it for 45 years. I voted like it was my religious duty every election there was over this.
    I know the so called reason the kid brought a shotgun to the michigan library and it does not cut it. Grow up. Not all places are appropriate for open carry at all times. If you can’t understand that I don’t think you can be helped.
    Right now I support open carry and live in an open carry state. We don’t have state preemption over local ordinances but my city is open carry legal. I like that a lot. But I can tell you if some idiot started walking around with a shotgun an ordinance would be passed within the week! Hows that work for you! Huh?!!!

  46. mike says:

    Robb, I CC every single day. I live in Philadelphia, so as a gun owner I’m under constant assault from the city and their game of “illegal gun law of the week.” It’s hard enough without oblivious gun owners making our opposition’s job that much easier. So if throwing OC under the bus means that it’ll prevent people from doing insanely stupid things that jeopardize my gun rights, then so be it. You think line of reasoning is counterproductive and hurts gun rights? Well guess what, that’s what *most* of us think about OCing a shotgun into a library. Perspective: Get some.

  47. Robb Allen says:

    Perspective? You’re taking one instance of someone doing something you don’t ‘approve of’ and extrapolating it to HOW FAR BACK IT’S SETTING GUN RIGHTS!!!!!!! and you’re telling me I need perspective?

    Enjoy your rights while they fade away.

  48. Carl from Chicago says:

    We can at least be civil with each other, can’t we? I am afraid that sometimes, folks can take themselves a little too seriously (myself included).

  49. Robb Allen says:

    Go stick your head in a bucket, Carl…


  50. mike says:

    Robb, if this were the only time this ever happened, I’d deal. But gun owners are under constant assault from the anti-gun crowd as well as loonies in our own ranks – such as those who chimed in here saying how perfectly cromulent it is to bring a long gun to the library or a restaurant. I’m move than happy to support restrictions on such loonies, as it will keep them from turning the public against guns.

    If you know a way to just restrict the loonies who want to shove long arms in peoples’ faces, I’d love to hear it. But since I don’t OC or bring shotguns to the library, I’m happy to see those activities banned. I wouldn’t be too concerned, as the impact will just be my one vote, and me no longer calling legislators before a vote (I typically call down the list telling them what I’d like them to support). But I suppose when I’m telling them not to support X bill, they should support Y bill if that means no OC activist with a shotgun will get on the news because they went to Taco Bell.

    And hey, if we can prevent OC activists from hurting our cause, then my rights will be around much longer. What the OC activist crowd absolutely refuses to get is that they’re hurting the cause. Well I suppose, for me, it’s time to look out for number one. When I woke up this morning, I didn’t feel that way. Again, congratulations. Now imagine how people who aren’t 2A supporters might be affected by these stunts.

  51. Robb Allen says:

    Mike, I had a big comment lined up that explained a bunch of reasons why you should support OC, even when it’s the crazies. But I see you’re not a fan of rights, only the ones that benefit you.

    I have only to say that I find your position one to pity. We have no common ground as I will still fight for your rights even though you won’t fight for mine.

  52. mike says:

    Robb, at the risk of monopolizing the comments here, I’ll just add that I will not support your right to help to erode my own. That’s what it boils down to.

  53. Robb Allen says:

    My rights can do nothing but bolster yours. You erode your own rights when you split them up.

  54. Ian Argent says:

    I’m going to sit in the middle and get hit from both sides. OC “activism” can be an effective tactic. But it has to be EXTREMELY well-planned, and preferably have lawyers handy; and the “protesters” have to be willing to say “I’m leaving, since you asked; but my lawyer WILL be back.”

    “The 18-21-yo can’t defend” himself argument is a red herring, though. The “correct” answer to that is that they should have the same rights as any other legal adult. Which, right now, doesn’t allow of grandstanding…

  55. Robb, for what it’s worth, you and I at least are talking about two separate things. I think it’s a bad idea to OC long arms as a political statement and wish people wouldn’t do it, and I’ll tell you so. But I support your _right_ to do it and oppose laws against it.

    I can’t speak for anybody else here, but OC debates seem to pretty routinely run off the rails on that distinction.

  56. Ian Argent says:

    Oh, and what Elmo said :)

  57. Ian, dependent on the specific legal situation, I think grandstanding can be useful for people facing bans on polite forms of carry. As with California’s OC movement, it can be very… I won’t say “effective”, but compelling to ruffle some feathers if you have a carefully targeted message of “well I’d _like_ to be more discreet, but…”

  58. Heh. Watching the same email updates, are we? ;)

  59. Ian Argent says:

    Any effective public protest must grandstand. But grandstanding is not a guarantee of an effective protest. And there are other forms of activism than protest.

  60. Arnie says:

    Someone earlier (I think Uncle) tried to compare OC longarms to the offensive, in-your-face public kissing of the sodomite crowd as harmful to the cause; but, haven’t they been WINNING? Is it possible their tactics worked by getting soccermom to say, “Ok, ok, you can have your civil unions or whatever, just get a room, PLEASE!” Is it not likewise possible OC longarms could similarly work in our favor, as in “Ok, ok, you can have your concealed carry, just keep the big dog out of sight, PLEASE!”?

    Just wondering (be gentle!).

  61. Sebastian says:

    We are winning too. You can win despite people in your movement with no common sense and who just want to shock. Gays won because most of them are normal people, and everyone realized it once they came out of the closet.

  62. Arnie says:

    Good point, sir, as usual. Here’s to hoping we continue winning!

  63. Ian Argent says:

    I’ll drink to that.

    When the decision to carry concealed or opernly is as momentous (or not) as the decision to wear black or brown shoes – then we can say we have won.


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