Open Carry and the Political Process

I have been following the debate in Caleb’s comment section, and I wanted to point out a particular thread. I have to photo capture this because Caleb’s theme doesn’t seem to easily allow linking to comments:

I think John makes a good point. We’re really not as far along in this debate as many think. Gun owners need to repeat this unfortunate fact: the vast majority of Americans are wholly unconcerned with their rights, other than the rights which affect their individual, daily lives. If you’re talking about appealing to a deeply held principle of natural rights, that makes perfect sense to people who have studied Locke, or read the writings of Jefferson, Madison, or Adams, you’re talking about a concept that completely alien to the people who actually vote in elections. You can blame the educational system, or what have you, but the vast majority of the American public are not ideological voters. Most voters vote their interests, and you have to appeal to that.

Robb’s frustration in this is completely understandable. I have shared it many times. You will drive yourself crazy by what other gun owners are unwilling to do to support their own rights, even though we all share broad agreement. I don’t think many gun owners really understand the house of cards that this issue is built on, largely because of another bias in that thinking other people, of course, naturally have similar thought processes to you.

I have pointed out this thread, because I think this is one of those cases both people are making really excellent points. Worrying about public backlash is a concern of someone who understands the outer limits of this debate. We’re talking the issue being pushed by a determined minority, and if that determined minority is meets the brick wall of obstinate public opinion, the issue won’t advance much farther.

How far you can push your issue as a determined minority completely hinges on your ability to influence legislators and threaten their cushy jobs. It hinges on nothing else. If they are not true believers, and almost none of them are, your ability to influence them comes down to, in reality, a good poker bluff. You have to make them believe you can threaten their seat if the bluff gets called. But the politician you’re influencing also is bluffing. He’s betting you don’t have votes behind you on an issue he’s trying to avoid taking a position on, or is thinking about taking a contrary position on.

Neither you, nor they, may be entirely convinced who’s really bluffing. It is an accepted fact in politics now that when the gun vote really does get motivated, the results are epic. That’s the space you, as an activist, have to work in. If the politician in question calls your bluff, you better be sure you can deliver, or else your credibility is finished, and you can expect that legislator will no longer give a rat’s behind about anything you have to say.

This is the nature of the game, and it is a game. Don’t for a second kid yourself politics is about principles, logic, or deeply held tradition. You can appeal to these things; rhetoric is important, but it no more than a part of the game, of building a mystique, of posturing and maneuvering. It serves no purpose apart from that. It is deeply cultural, but also, at the end of the day still a game.

My opinions on open carry are driven largely by the fact that I see it divides gun owners, and our losses have always been driven through issues that divide us, whether it be background checks, or years ago the utility of these newfangled AR-15s, or cheap Chinese semi-automatic knockoffs of the AK-47. Our opponents have traditionally won where they’ve been able to exploit division in the ranks. Let me clarify that — our opponents have only won where they’ve been able to exploit division in the ranks. So I think when you get other activists, not just ordinary gun owners saying, “You know, I’m just not sure about this,” that should give you very serious pause, and open carry is one of those issues.

The question is whether, like the assault weapons issue, we can spend the next two decades educating people. I think what motivates most gun owner activists which are wary of open carry, is that even if it is a topic that 20 years of education can turn around,  it’s practically worth the effort expended when compared to other issues we have to build consensus for. In many ways, I think constitutional carry (i.e. carry, open or concealed, without a license) is less radical than open carry as a form of activism among gun owners. I think it is always important in considering whether a particular course of action offers opportunity to your opponents, and I believe in some cases, this can be the case with open carry. But not in all cases.

42 thoughts on “Open Carry and the Political Process”

  1. My basic premise, when engaging in activities that are intended to generate a response, as a part of a political movement, is that you want to do so in circumstances in which it’s the other side that ends up looking like idiots.

    A prime example would be the open holster protests at the college campuses. It does our cause nothing but good to have people reading about the reactionary hoplophobes who are running our campuses imposing university policies that ban students from wearing empty holsters.

    1. is that you want to do so in circumstances in which it’s the other side that ends up looking like idiots.

      If you can do it, absolutely. That’s the best circumstance. I think this is largely the success of the concealed carry movement… it forced our opponents to own up to their ridiculousness. They predicted blood in the streets, and it’s really amounted to a tempest in a teapot, and even that’s being generous.

    2. But wouldn’t open carrying fall under that too?

      Look at all the people open carrying and not committing a crime! The horror!

  2. We have a group who scream IGOTRIGHTS and will work hard to make sure every damn human everywhere respects them, no matter what. Of course, the fact that “the right” is not yet recognized in any meaningful way nationwide makes no difference to them.

    Lots of people would prefer to OC. Fine. No issues. For some it might be a personal proclivity, but for some it might be a technical requirement. As I noted elsewhere, an IWB at the 4 o’clock is not effective for a leg-amputee in a wheelchair. There is an entire world of discussion nobody is (yet) having regarding handicapped persons and personal defense. Another day…

    My concern is the “OC zealots”, who think causing stress in other people – LEOs, mall security guards, persons on the street – is a Good Thing because it, “forces others to recognize blah blah blah.

    The key words there are “force”. If your activities are intended to “force” reactions, then you are doing it wrong. It will cause a reaction, but because most people’s defensive hackles go up whenever some asshole tells them they “need to respect me” it’s a pretty safe bet the reaction won’t work to our advantage.

    There are a lot of people who swear public perception does not matter. It does. All those lawsuits we are watching nationwide did not rise from nothing – lots of rules and laws were written by people over the years, and many were in reaction to public perception. The idea that lawmakers don’t matter – that IGOTRIGHTS trumps the real-world issues with legislatures responding to public drama – is pure blissful ignorance.

    “Activist OC” scenarios are generally not going to help us. I’m not talking about someone just OC’ing in public and leaving it be. I’m talking about the jerks who gear-up with cameras, recorders and guns just so they can wander into the Redondo Beach shopping mall intentionally to have “forced” interactions with private security guards and later the police (actual case). That is harmful and the “split” we all worry about it coming from their activities.

    These people claim they are helping the cause by changing public perception for the better, yet they are completely blind to the fact that their antics are turning even hard-core gunnies against OC. If you are losing the gunnie vote, you never will come close to getting John Q. Public to go your way.

    I love the hypocrisy: OC Activists who say they just want a world where OC is “nothing to think about”, who then strap on a gun intentionally to force everyone in public to think about it. I think they are attention-whores who like the drama, and frankly I wish they’d take up another cause. They are hurting it for the rest of us – including those who prefer practical OC.

    1. And with that broad brush, you tar me.

      We have highly restricted OC here in Florida. You can only OC while hunting, fishing, or camping. So we have monthly Open Carry fishing events to try to get the message across. We try like *hell* to just show up and fish and outside of one guy with an AR pistol, have been as low key as possible.

      So here we have a state where people are *completely* unconditioned to seeing guns on the hips on non-police and each and every month the same thing happens – Nothing. Nobody calls the police. Nobody screams and runs. In fact, outside of a few dirty looks, we generally get people stopping and asking us about it. I’ve generated membership to my organization from this. Making people aware of the issue is important.

      Maybe Floridians are just a better class of people than the rest of the country and have more open minds. I hate to say that, but the constant bullshit I hear about how it freaks people out must only happen in other states because we do this statewide, and the worst scenario we’ve had was an overzealous cop who ended up getting remedial training.

      And I’ve got people who are ‘pro gun’ telling me I’m harming the entire cause because they lump me in with some idiots. I can *only* OC politically as I don’t normally do those other activities. And being roundly criticized for it is the wedge our opponents USE. I see it first hand.

      The problem isn’t loud OC’ers, it’s the silent, fair weather 2A supporters. As someone who manages the membership roll of a statewide gun rights organization, I can tell you that we fight a battle with few soldiers.

      As Sebastian said, it’s frustrating. Almost enough to make me want to give up at times. We pushed for OC and could not get a *single* sponsor because it was unlicensed. So, we did the unforgivable sin and compromised with licensed OC. I got ear fulls on my blog and in private mail how I was no better than Obama. So we deal with the purists as well.

      However, we keep those battles internal. Argue amongst ourselves, fine – but these open battles on the web fuel our opponents ability to oppose us and they fight this war with fractions of a fraction of what we have.

      And here’s the shitty part of this. The more you try to marginalize the OC’ers you’re complaining about, the louder they’re going to get. Part of our process is minimizing the stupid – something that doesn’t just exist in the OC world. For Pete’s sake, one look at a normal ARFCOM post would be enough for politicians to use as proof that the 2A should be repealed.

      They’re NOT going to go away (we have a group that’s a thorn in our side here in Florida) so it behooves you to mitigate their effect by being louder insofar as being more visible to the public or to your politicians.

      1. Robb,

        Not taring you at all. I am moving to FL and am a proponent of OC.

        My concern is with people who look to actually push their lifestyle choice into the face of others and scream YOUMUSTRESPECTMYLIFESTYLECHOICES. I don’t like it from anyone or any group. I say to them, just live your life and get over yourself. I’ll give you peace and you give me mine.

        I read a recent blog of yours about fishing with your kid on the pier while OC’ing. You described it as setting a good example, and I agree entirely.

        Unless I miss something, you did not strap on a camera, drive to Progessiveville and look for a group of people who – completely ignorant of the law – are likely to call a LEO and then try to instigate a negative reaction so you could be an interwebs hero. Nor did you find the most anti-gun community in the state and get in their face trying to show just how wrong they are.

        Those are the people who are not helping anyone who wants to OC. Wandering the West LA/Southbay area while OC’ing with intent to disrupt is not helpful. Notice the word: intent.

        I did not mean to use or imply a broad brush, I figured my points on the necessity of preserving OC for people who have no choice in the matter (such as for handicapped) would have made that clear.

        I would rarely OC, but that is my choice. It does not mean I want my choice to become your law. And FWIW, I rarely CCW even when I can, but again that is my choice and I would not suggest others be beholden to my lifestyle. I made choice where CCW/OC are not possible in most circumstances. That should not stop others (like my wife) from doing otherwise.

        1. And we welcome you to God’s Waiting Room!

          We have another group here who likes to go OC fishing, but makes a parade out of it. It’s annoying because it is exactly what rubs a lot of people the wrong way and yes, it gets brought up when we talk to certain people who we need to help sponsor & push bills.

          The best way to counter it is to illustrate how little noise is made when our group does their meetings. Yes, we’ve had a guy OC an AR pistol slung across his back and I was the only one on the board who didn’t have an issue with it, mostly because he was there with his daughter, fishing, and we had more conversations started that day than any other.

          For us, it’s a fine line to dance. We *have* to be noticeable but at the same time, we don’t want to cause consternation. Not everyone can manage that line, and not everyone has the same concept of where that line is. I get my feathers ruffled when we get attacked because we do things differently than others.

    2. My concern is the “OC zealots”, who think causing stress in other people – LEOs, mall security guards, persons on the street – is a Good Thing because it, “forces others to recognize blah blah blah.”

      Every time I’ve read something to the effect of the above I’m reminded of blacks sitting down at segregated lunch counters and the like. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison, and I certainly don’t know about that period since that battle was won before I became politically aware (and much of it before I was born). But I do wonder about the applicability of the metaphor.

      OK, one big difference it that the nation’s ruling class is almost entirely anti-gun (at least for the masses, whatever they say or vote because they feel or know they have to), whereas the New England Moralists at least were pro-civil rights for more than a century.

      1. That’s exactly what I was thinking.

        Sometimes you HAVE to force the issue. But that doesn’t issue a blanket cause to be a dick.

      2. Be careful going too far down this road. This is not 1950’s America, we are not living under Jim Crow and I have yet to hear of OC’ers being firehosed en masse. As a matter of fact, each year expands the OC territory. We’re winning.

        My concern is that some people will take the “Rosa Parks” talk too seriously, and honestly think they are going MLK when they create intentional conflicts with others.

        There is an easy way to get what we want, and a hard way: we can keep the win-train rolling in legislatures and courtrooms and get what we want; or we can become antagonistic towards our fellow citizens and cause legislatures to work against us. This will make the judicial fight for rights even more difficult. Ignoring the fact we will now require even more time in court arguing over things that we could have avoided, we also must face the real possibility that antagonism will result in differing outcomes because judges are human. Those on the fence might get pushed by an encounter with one of our overzealous brothers/sisters.

        We are winning on this issue. I think 16 states had some form of OC/Constitutional Carry statute under consideration this year and the “almost” column got pretty high considering history. It looks like OC/CC is trending much like Shall-Issue did a few years back. My suggestion is we keep repeating successful history, rather than take a combative approach that will probably take more time and be less successful than provocative, but respectful engagement with the public.

    3. I have no problem with forcing LEO’s to recognize our rights. Because if they can’t even respect them when the camera’s are running, do you expect them to respect them when they are not?

      For non-LEO’s, its about showing that we are not a danger.

      But its all about acting right- politely and under control. You can wine about those who don’t, but attack them, not the entire OC movement.

      1. Not attacking a movement. I have a close family member for whom OC is probably the only logistical choice she can make due to handicap. No OC == no carry for her. I have a stake in this outcome.

        The words I used – and reiterate here – are “intent”, “force”, and “conflict”. If you are intending to cause conflict with the general public you are not making friends for our movement. We need friends to stop legislatures from doing dumb things.

        Anyone who doubts legislatures do dumb things in reaction to dumb people needs to tell me where they live, so I can become your neighbor. It sounds like a a nice place, even if fictional.


    4. “LEOs, mall security guards, persons on the street”

      Seriously, LEOs cause me stress everytime I pass one on the roadside. So I’m really not to concerned. LOL



      But let’s not forget that Rosa Parks forced people to recognize her rights as well. And you know what, they weren’t comfortable with that either.

  3. While I of course agree with your general point, Neal Knox was fond of quoting Everett Dirksen’s “When I feel the heat, I see the light”, I have to categorically disagree with your “assault weapons” time line. Patrick Purdy shot up that schoolyard in 1989, in that year California passed it’s bill and G. H. W. Bush banned their import (something we’re still living with), the Federal assault weapons ban was signed into law September 13, 1994, and many legislators were forced to spend more time with their families due to the election two months later

    The Brady Bill signed a year earlier was also a factor, along with the rampant corruption of the Democratic House (e.g. Speaker Wright, the Congressional Post Office and bank), and all sorts of things people didn’t like about Clinton’s governing which they could first do something about in that mid-term election (gun related, Waco and the Ruby Ridge trial). But Clinton himself blamed gun control for the historical post-Civil War Democratic losses and that lesson finally sunk in with Gore’s 2000 loss (and 9/11 and the government’s “you’re on you own” feeble domestic response changed the Zeitgeist). And of course the Federal AW ban, which couldn’t pass without a sunset, lapsed ten years later in 2004.

    I don’t see anything in this history where the “two decades educating people” about “assault weapons” was politically decisive. Of course we did it, and of course it made a difference, although I wouldn’t be surprised if most of this was in conjunction with the continued sweep of shall issue regimes across the nation and people learning they couldn’t buy new manufacture reasonably priced > 10 round normal capacity magazines. That’s the sort of thing that hit the people furthest from the activists the hardest.

    1. The reason we got walked all over in the assault weapons issue is because it polled really well. Something like 80% of the public supported the idea. Part of what made the issue toxic were that the election results weren’t matching what polling was telling them, and after that, the polling on the issue started improving. That’s also part of why the ban did not get renewed.

      By the same token, if you had tried pushing concealed carry in the 70s, it would have been a dead end. It takes time to educate people on the issues.

      1. The key bit of education here was for our political class, not the masses. They had to learn that pissing off that 20% who instinctively? disapprove of gun control is a terminally bad idea. “Gun Voters” as the Knox Family calls us are important because we’re nearly single issue voters, screw us on this and outside of the usual benighted localities you’re in big trouble.

        Because there are more than enough of us to throw elections in many areas. E.g. look at how much of the nation in area and population now live in de jure or de facto shall issue states (Iowa and Wisconsin only the latest). Heck, my native Missouri went shall issue even after it lost in a statewide initiative. And after a period where nothing happened (i.e. no Dodge City) there has lately been steady liberalization of the laws, last year or two the minimum age went from 23 to 21, this year there are some good bills which should get signed by the same Democratic governor, someone my family would probably be voting for this November if he hadn’t vetoed a voter ID bill.

      2. And, hmmm, did requiring a new type of photo id for everyone who wanting to buy a handgun poll well for Gore in 2000? And/or was he just an idiot?

        Note the “just” there, I’m pretty sure he’s an idiot but I don’t think he is viscerally anti-gun like Clinton, who he should have listened to on the consequences of being anti-gun in elections of a national flavor (e.g. the 1994 Congressional elections weren’t “all politics is local” ones, nor were 2010 and I suspect 2012).

      3. Sorry about stringing out my responses here; WRT:

        Part of what made the [assault weapons] issue toxic were that the election results weren’t matching what polling was telling them, and after that, the polling on the issue started improving. That’s also part of why the ban did not get renewed.

        You really think it was general opinion? I don’t know about you, but if the Republican Congress and G. W. Bush had renewed the AW ban in 2004 I would have voted a straight Democratic ticket that November, including for effing Kerry, and Bush would have lost and the Republicans would have very possibly lost their House and maybe Senate majorities.

        Don’t know for sure about the Congress (have never examined it since it wasn’t at all likely), but the Presidential election was a squeaker at the state by state electoral level (something I just re-confirmed), it wouldn’t have taken much to throw it to Kerry (Karl Rove is grossly overrated).

        As it was, G. W. Bush like his father is anti-gun, just much less so than Gore and Kerry. McCain’s more than iffy record on guns certainly didn’t help him, just like G. W. Bush’s anti-AW actions didn’t help him against Clinton (although of course both those elections hinged on the economy, as will 2012).

        1. I don’t think it was so much educating the general public as educating gun owners. The latter matters a lot more than the former. It was necessary to make them understand what was really at stake. What the AWB did, really, and I think the state AWBs are important in this equation too, is wake a lot of gun owners up as to what was really going on. Sugarmann’s genius in pushing the assault weapon issue was that it also confused a lot of gun owners as to exactly what was being regulated.

          Once the laws started getting passed, however, it started to become very real. A fairly powerful story you can take away from New Jersey’s ban are all the people who suddenly found themselves felons because they had a Marlin Model 60 in the closet, which in New Jersey is considered an assault firearm. You’d be surprised how many gun owners in the 80s and 90s didn’t think that kind of thing could really happen in America. But it did, and a lot of people woke up, and started talking to others. That’s largely, I think, how the issue turned around.

          1. OK, I guess we’re implicitly discussing where the voting of gun owners gets decisive. Based on my recollection of the ’90s, while the above education of gun owners was useful—they are, after all, a very large fraction of the population, I assume over 1/2—it was not necessary for decisive election results by the “20%”, certainly not in 1994.

            Hmmm, rather that look at the most prominent issue of “assault weapons”, did the 20% or the mass of gun owners push through the shall issue sweep of the nation? I not sure I can see it being due to the mass due to “who’s activist”, although I’m sure some of them joined the 20%. Maybe many; the desire to own a black rifle is not the same thing (at least pre-9/11) as desiring the right to carry a handgun in defense of you and yours.

            The latter is an major American tradition, and prior to the 60s-70s the de jure restrictions on it were largely targeted at “undesirable” populations (freedmen and the later immigrant groups). General application to the whole population for a few decades during which real crime rates skyrocketed and it was clear the system was failing e.g. see the ’71 Dirty Harry and ’74 Death Wish movies and the franchises they started, resulted in a backlash.

            Dukakis lost for many reasons, but his stance on crime, from what I heard about his response to “what if your wife was raped?” in a debate (Wikipedia: “The most memorable moment came when reporter Bernard Shaw asked Dukakis whether he would support the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered. Dukakis’s answer discussed the statistical ineffectiveness of capital punishment.) to Massachusetts “revolving door justice” … Willie Horton was a national issue prior to the election, e.g. coverage in The Reader’s Digest, and it was unlikely Dukakis would win Democratic Maryland (he lost “most of the counties”) due to Horton’s depredations there (Wikipedia: “The sentencing judge, Vincent J. Femia, refused to return Horton to Massachusetts, saying, ‘I’m not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released. This man should never draw a breath of free air again.’“.

            It’s hard to imagine something worse than giving a weekend furlough to a prisoner in for life without the possibility of parole, and there were so many insanities of this type, even if not to that extreme, although the deinstitutionalization of the seriously mentally ill is right up there and statistically equivalent.

            Add the press’s implicit motto of “If it bleeds, it leads”, which has kept up perceptions of violent crime rates even as they’ve gone down, plus there’s the cumulative effect, the longer you live, the more likely you or someone you know will be a victim of a violent crime, surely all this took their toll. Still, translating all this into affirmative action by state legislators and governors, all while our betters are screaming “blood in the streets!” and “Dodge City!” (well, that lost its effectiveness eventually, I’m sure) … that’s a 20% thing, I would think.

  4. Robb –

    This description “However, we keep those battles internal. Argue amongst ourselves, fine – but these open battles on the web fuel our opponents ability to oppose us and they fight this war with fractions of a fraction of what we have.”

    is so full of WIN.

    Nothing like members of our own the enemy camp putting out a youtube video or blogcrapping the rest of the team.

    Patrick’s comments about “OC Zealots” makes me think of youtube of blog zealots who feel the need to “force a controversy” with, oh… say a controversial video and blog post and then hang out all night on a blog generating responses to the commentary.

    Because that public fight helped, right?

    Apparently some of “us” think that we have righted every wrong, corrected every infringement, repealed every bad law, regulation or rule, trained every shooter and now are free to quibble about open carry instead of concealed carry. What were we thinking? :-/

    1. So you’re seriously going to try to argue that Rob Pincus is the enemy? When Pincus is a guy who isn’t pure enough for you, it’s time to re-examine where you stand. I might disagree with the broad brush he used to paint the OC issue, but the guy isn’t on the side of the Brady folks. One of my big problem with a lot of OC activists is that they don’t think anything of suggesting someone like Pincus’s opinion doesn’t matter and casting him out of the movement. The thought never enters into the mind that maybe some OC folks do indeed push things too far and in a poor context and political environment, and that tends to ruin the whole thing, regardless of how reasonable some folks are about it.

      1. No – he’s not -the enemy- but he did act on the enemy’s behalf; aid and abet the enemy and certainly did more harm than good from what looks, smells & appears to be a glorified publicity stunt. I think it’s a legitimate point however, to question the video and subsequent tom-foolery from some of the cavalier and dismissive responses he made in defense of this video. One in particular suggested if you want to make a political statement, hand out leaflets in a park.

        I seem to recall receiving a bill from Mr. Pincus many years ago for a video sent to me unsolicited, then subsequent bills and I seem to recall not being alone in that. I got off topic –

        I would counter that a substantial portion of our camp who “hold their nose and tolerate” the open carry enabled are equally as bad with their disdain & disapproval as the open carry blowhards. <- I mean this in the context of not all open carriers, the open carriers who make even open carriers uncomfortable.

        I’m reminded of the years ago gun rights policy conference in Arlington, VA. The one where Joe Waldron went around castigating a bunch of VCDL members for open carry – admonishing them to cover up the guns or leave.
        Problem: That was illegal at the time – concealed carry was at the time prohibited on the premises of ABC licensed for consumption entities, of which the hotel was one. That meant everywhere on the licensed property. Interestingly the huge banner at GRPC that year said “ban gun bans”. :-)

        Waldron made several people leave, take guns to their cars or conceal in violation of the law.

        Again, just an example that context does matter. To BOTH sides.

        re-stating: "Apparently some of “us” think that we have righted every wrong, corrected every infringement, repealed every bad law, regulation or rule, trained every shooter and now are free to quibble about open carry instead of concealed carry. What were we thinking? :-/"

        1. To amplify on the localism aspect, after George Allen signed the “this time we mean it!” Virginia shall issue law (underlined by the legislature forcing an abusive judge to spend more time with his family), the new ban on carry in ABC (Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) consumption licensed entities resulted in exactly what is described above, people unconcealing their carry weapons.

          Me, I just avoided those places, but I heard from at least one licensee that it was no big deal, i.e. adjust your jacket and expose your gun as you walk into a bar. I’m sure this depended on where you were, but it was apparently well tolerated in many parts of the state, which is anything but homogeneous.

      2. That unity and solidarity needs to go both ways. OCers might not want to be divided and labelled off. But neither should one write off those who disagree.

        We can divide on the OC issue, and than come together on the rest. That’s the way to win.

  5. I think a big part of how you feel about OC depends, largely, on where you live. Tolerance toward the practice is pretty variable depending on where you live. So with the OC issue, Florida is not Pennsylvania, which is not California, which is not Massachusetts, which is certainly not Arizona. Attitudes of activists I think tend to be driven by perceptions they see in their own states, and they take those attitudes along when it comes to looking at the issue in other states.

    There are plenty of states where I’d say OC is a bad idea to push, but there are other states where that’s certainly not the case. Local folks are probably in a better position to know their own local conditions than we are here on the Internet from afar. A lot of my hostility toward it was driven by happenings in Pennsylvania, but that doesn’t really have any bearing on someone who wants to OC in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas or Florida.

  6. I think Robb’s comment, that we keep our battles internal, hit the nail on the head. In comments to a previous post, I went somewhat over-the-top in defending the OC’ers of California, who, due to their activism, are facing the potential of even long-guns being banned.

    Since then, I’ve asked myself, “what was it that caused me to be so passionate in defending the OC’ers?” I think the answer was that the comments that bothered me the most had a lot of text of the form “BWAHAHAHA!” and “Those idiots! They’re getting what they deserve!” That is, rather than questioning the tactics of the OC’ers, or sympathising with their plight (since in California, it seems that just thinking about a gun is almost illegal), or shaking your head and facepalming, they were name calling and taunting.

    Perhaps some of us are wrong–perhaps the OC’ers of California know what they are doing, and in twenty years, we’ll be thankful for what they did. Perhaps Sebastian and others are right–that such sheganigans will set the movement back twenty years. We need to discuss these things, and do so in a sober, and thoughtful manner. And when things go wrong, we need to express our condolensces, perhaps throw in (at most) a “What were you thinking?!?” or two, and then ask ourselves, “Where should we go from here?”

    And we should never express glee, or dance in the blood of our fellow activists when their efforts go sour, even if we disagree on the tactics.

    Sebastian is indeed right, that this is a game–and, because the stakes are so high (our freedoms are at stake)–it’s easy to be passionate about these things. It is a game I wish we didn’t have to play, but since we do have to play it, we should give it our all.

    And now that I’ve written this excessively long comment, I’ll have to remember something else: whenever I see someone gloat over the failure of someone else’s pro-second-amendment activism, the proper response is to call on their untactful and distasteful behavior. Gloating should be reserved for when the Anti-Freedom Activist activities backfire on them! :-)

    1. I don’t really agree with the sentiment that we have our arguments in private. Our opponents can do that before there are so few of them, and they have no real grassroots. We have to choice but to argue this stuff out where everyone can see it. And it has to happen, because what it gains the movement is health is far greater than what the anti-gun people take away from it in ammunition.

      1. Did you mean “we no choice but to argue this stuff out where everyone can see it.”?

        Because that’s what I’m thinking: how can we have truly private discussions when so much of this happens on-line where we can’t vet members of the forums, let alone wide open ones like this blog. As you say, our adversaries as so few in number they can do it in private, and I’d add that organizations like the NRA can plan stuff in private, but that’s not an option for our Army of Davids.

        1. Maybe not all discussions, or all arguments need to be private but I think we all agree there are simply some “holy wars” that historically have proven divisive and unproductive. 9mm vs. .45ACP., my gun is better than your gun, and open vs. concealed carry seems to be trending that way.

          Some discretion I guess to what in some cases… probably ought to be ignored, or dealt with outside the blogosphere.

          1. I don’t know, the answers to the first two seem to be obvious to me ^_^.

            The problem is, you’re asking for a change in human nature; we’ve been fractious debaters and arguers since recorded history, right? Or what about our venerated Founding Fathers?

            [Thomas] Jefferson’s camp accused President Adams of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”

            In return, [John] Adams’ men called Vice President Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”

            As the slurs piled on, Adams was labeled a fool, a hypocrite, a criminal, and a tyrant, while Jefferson was branded a weakling, an atheist, a libertine, and a coward.

            Even Martha Washington succumbed to the propaganda, telling a clergyman that Jefferson was “one of the most detestable of mankind.” […]

            Why would that change now, and why would new media be any less prone to it?

            1. Then I suppose we’re doomed. At least on 12/22 we are anyway.

              In the spirit of impending doom:

              Supporters of gun control and those who oppose open carry have a hideous hemherroidical character which has neither the gentleness of Charmin, nor acceptable olfactory qualities.


      2. As I look over my comment, I think using words like “internal” or “private” aren’t quite the right words to use–indeed, that wasn’t even the main thrust of my argument. Perhaps it is better to say that we need to keep our arguments “civil” and “respectful”…

  7. Just so I’m clear, I’m not intending that we do not discuss these things. This is the Interweb Tubes and they are made of transparent materials. The advantage we have as gun owners is that we are so numerous that it’d be near impossible for the anti’s to follow us enough to latch on to every little squabble we have. Lord knows *I* can’t read all the blogs and I’m a blogger!

    I just wish the vitriol wasn’t so prominent, especially from people who have higher visibility. If people start adopting the anti’s tactics of smearing the whole for the actions of a few, then we’re screwed regardless if we’re talking about Open Carry or Evil Black Rifles.

    1. I have not seen vitriol among those of our group who would not prefer OC. I see occasional arguments about the logistical issues of it, and even some talk of the “tactical” issues involved. But as hot as some of those arguments get, they are akin the the 9mm v .45 arguments: nothing to worry about.

      Besides, everyone knows .22lr is the perfect carry round. ;)

      I do see strong reaction to folks who intentionally cause disruption for political reasons. There is a line that some cross.

      Heading to the pier while OC’ing can make a quiet, respectful point. Heading to a place intending to cause a ruckus is not public education, it is asshattery. I do not suggest you are in that second category, but we all know of people who are.

      I have no problem pointing out the failures inherent in a strategy based on upsetting the very public we need to “educate” so we can continue winning the fight. I don’t think anyone here takes issue when we turn the pressure up on people who handle their carry guns in public for no reason other than they just cannot leave it alone. Telling Joe Tactical to “stop effing with it” does not indict the 7 Million others who carry sanely. By the same token, I think pressure to encourage OC’ers to engage politely and respectfully enhances our success while not indicting the whole community.

      I want OC to be prolific for selfish reasons: I have at least one family member for whom CCW is impractical due to handicap. For these folks, OC will be the only choice. I don’t want the current forward momentum to stall because some of the impatient among us feed into hysteria flamed by others.

  8. We here in Maryland like to call the “splitting the baby” argument BGOS (Battered Gun Owner Syndrome). In other words, for so long, our rights have been denied or diminished that we don’t honestly know how to fight for them.

    Case in point the ruling in Woollard in March saw a huge flood to the state police for permit applications. People see SOME progress and they are willing to fight. The reaction by the Maryland legislature was a thinly veiled attempt to add “training” requirements for ALL gun purchases. Basically it meant open ended training that would punish us for our new found backbone. The community banded together, told the state legislature to get out, and the bill died a procedural death.

    So, my moral here is that a divided community willing to sacrifice a few “fringe” issues for the “greater good” is nothing more than just another form of incrementalism. Divide us on one issue, beat us there, and then the next issue will be another “fringe” issue. The scope cream of the pushers never stops, and we must understand this.

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