Third Party Opinions are Always Useful

Paul Barrett, the author of “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun” is someone I’d classify as outside the gun culture looking in. He’s been willing to learn and take the subject seriously, which is more than you can say for a lot of journalists. A comment tipped me off to an article in Bloomberg Businesses Week he essentially comes to the same conclusion I did over the weekend in regards to appreciating Starbucks by grabbing your AR and heading out for some coffee.

They have the right in most states to carry firearms openly. But the now-annual Starbucks Appreciation event is a gratuitous attempt to rile the portion of the populace made uncomfortable by open display of firearms. In a country with sharply divided attitudes toward guns, why purposely provoke one’s neighbors?

So what do I win here? It’s a reasonable question. Normalizing rifle OC? Well, I don’t OC, and I certainly wouldn’t ever OC a rifle around suburbia for the hell of it. So it’s no real prize for me, or most of us. I’d also note that there are still a few states where OC is illegal, even for pistols, and this kind of display is going to make fixing that more difficult as politicians start debating whether they really want to open this potential can of worms.

What’s interesting in all this is I believe the folks who engage in pistol OC have actually somewhat accomplished their task. Pistol OC won’t grab headlines very much these days, and the police are starting to understand the law better. In that sense, it has become more normalized. It’s now dog bites man as far as the news is concerned. This would be great except, and people will hate me for saying this, OC has always been attractive to attention seekers. I’m not saying everyone is, but it’s hard not to observe that some in the OC crowd really want their 15 minutes. I’ve been wondering if the rifle OC phenomena isn’t driven by a need to up the ante in order to keep the attention coming in.

32 thoughts on “Third Party Opinions are Always Useful”

  1. There were plenty of people OC’s rifles at the 2nd Amendment Rally I went to back in January. Honestly, I grew bored of the acres and acres of MagPul, what REALLY caught my eye was a gorgeous M1 Garand with a stunning blonde wood stock.

    What statement are we trying to make with OC’ing in Starbucks? If it’s, “Look, you liberal a-holes, I can carry this, so there!”, by all means, carry a rifle.

    If it’s “Guns are normal, and normal people carry guns”, it seems to me it’d be better to have increasing amounts of people OC’s pistols each year in Starbucks, not fewer people with more black rifles.

  2. Part of what normalizes pistol OC is that there is rifle OC.
    (Overton window, see how Permitless carry makes Shall Issue more palatable, yadda, yadda, yadda…)

    Also a pistol on the hip isn’t nearly as attention grabbing, both from an activist standpoint and from a headline standpoint.

    Also Sebastian I’d be careful with this line of thinking:
    “Well, I don’t OC, and I certainly wouldn’t ever OC a rifle around suburbia for the hell of it. So it’s no real prize for me, or most of us.”

    Let’s tweak it a bit and imagine you were saying this twenty years ago shall we?

    “Well, I don’t have high capacity mags, and I certainly wouldn’t ever carry high capacity mags a rifle around suburbia for the hell of it. So it’s no real prize for me, or most of us.”

    Or to put it a bit more on the nose.

    “Well, I don’t CC, and I certainly wouldn’t ever CC a pistol around suburbia for the hell of it. So it’s no real prize for me, or most of us.”

    See how someone could get a sense of Fudd-like “Well I’ve got mine!”

    Not to detract from your wholey legitimate point that drama-queening doesn’t help, especially when it’s more about “being famous!” than rights.

    1. I see your point, but I think what tends to stop people from carrying rifles for self-defense is that carrying a rifle around with you is a pain in the ass. That, in and of itself, is going to put limits on the number of people willing to do it. Actually, rifle OC has been legal in many states even when almost no states issued concealed carry licenses, but I’m not aware very many people availed themselves, short of keeping a gun rack in the truck.

      But I see what you’re saying. The opposition could use that as a justification for making OC illegal.

      1. Correct. The logistics is a big reason people don’t OC rifles where it’s legal. (For example OC and CC of whatever you want is legal in Indiana, but I’ve hardly every OC’d a rifle. Not that I would ever support a ban on it.)

        And that’s probably part of why OC with a rifle remaind legal even when carry permits were not commonly issued.

    2. The purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to your rifle

      For the great majority of those who live in non-combat zones, that means the rifle is rightly back home, or at most in the trunk (or truck.)

  3. The difference between normalizing pistol OC vs rifle OC is that carrying a pistol IS normal. A pistol a defensive arm that is designed to be carried all of the time, just in case of a surprise confrontation. Carrying a rifle is enough of a pain in the ass that it only makes sense if you’re seeking a confrontation or are in an extremely high risk area. Out in the wilderness where there are large wild animals to worry about, sure. In a suburban Starbucks, no way.

  4. And of course, you know I’ll have to chime in :)

    You know my stance on OC. So you might be surprised to hear that I roll my eyes at rifle OC. As stated above, you carry a rifle when you *know* there will be trouble.

    But, on the flip side, even in states like mine where OC is generally verboten, generally nothing happens when we do. In fact, the most conversations started happened when a guy OC’d an AR pistol.

    There’s a lot of truth to the matter that pistols just aren’t that noticeable and I understand why some people go the rifle route, even if I disagree.

    As for the “OC brings out the attention whores” thing, if that BS was any more pure you could fertilize half of Montana with it. I’m not saying there aren’t attention seekers who OC, but it’s not the OC that does it – it’s the fact that some people seek attention. You can find them in every movement and it is infantile to claim it’s the movement that does it rather than the individual. Do you claim that gays are more likely to be outlandish because a few like to have sex in the middle of the streets to call attention to themselves?

    Personally, I think the biggest takeaway from all of this is “Don’t be a dick”. If you’re doing something to “get in the faces of liberals”, then you’re probably borderline on the ‘dick’ scale. I don’t have OC events to get in people’s faces, and we’re very successful in that regard, and it’s tiring because most of the time nobody notices at all.

    If we only had some rifles ;)

    1. As for the “OC brings out the attention whores” thing, if that BS was any more pure you could fertilize half of Montana with it. I’m not saying there aren’t attention seekers who OC, but it’s not the OC that does it – it’s the fact that some people seek attention. You can find them in every movement and it is infantile to claim it’s the movement that does it rather than the individual.

      Agree. People who “just OC” are potentially the best ambassadors we got. The motto “Nothing Happens” is a fitting one. The problem is when some go out and try so make “Something Happen”.

      The gun doesn’t cause the drama; the person does. I think the important thing is for the larger community to call the drama queens out so that there is less desire for others to follow along. My view is real simple: if they bring a video recorder and go looking for an incident, they are way over the line. If the goal is to shock and annoy, then it hurts rather than help.

      I am one of the many who have no problem with OC (as if anyone’s opinion should even matter), but who rolls eyes whenever yet another “OC Activist” manufactures a dust-up with some mall cop or LEO just to get his attention served. I got family who cannot practically conceal due to disability. OC is much easier – even if it is a partial exposure. Either way, I don’t want a bunch of attention whores to ruin it for those who find OC a needed (or even just desired) manner of carry.

      1. I should note that I wouldn’t argue OC makes attention whores. I’m saying that people who are by nature attention whores will tend to gravitate to activities that scratch that particular itch.

      2. As you mentioned, it’s the “make something happen” OCers that are the problem.

        There’s a vast difference between having a rifle with you on your way to do something with it and going full Leonard Embody retard and wandering around a park in a major city with all your mall ninja gear and an AK painted orange slung across your back hoping to get hassled merely to provoke a response.

        And for most people, carrying a Black Rifle into Starbucks crosses that line. Why provoke people into a negative reaction for no gain?

    2. I really don’t get the problem of some OCer’s being attention seekers. If they are trying to get attention and promote guns and exercising rights, what’s wrong with that?

      I think when you guys say “attention seekers” you just mean “loud in your face dicks”. The former is fine, the latter is not.

      I carry for protection first and foremost. If I open carry, its because I want to promote guns and exercising rights. It gives me an avenue to show strangers that having a gun isn’t going to make the carrier crazy. It gives me an opportunity to engage those low information voters.

      I never understood the hate for OC.

  5. And pushing Starbucks into the glaring lights on their current practices are just as likely to cause them to change – or for other shops to avoid the limelight all along.

    It’s easier for a company to avoid the news by just saying eff you to the gun people, than to deal with large groups of people arguing that guns scare them. Bad publicity is not a good thing. The easy way to avoid it is to avoid the guns. The media will not make a big deal out of a company who says “no carry” (IKEA anyone?), but will report the hoopla when Moms Demand Attention cries hippie tears in front of their local coffee shop.

    Why take the chance and ruin a good thing?

  6. I quite agree that packing an AR to Starbuck’s in the ‘burbs is a bit over the top. On the the other hand I OC on a regular basis. Of course I inhabit rural/small town Pa where firearms are a normal thing. Yes i did have my 15 minutes when I reported on that a wallmart greeter stopped me. It got straighten out without involving anyone else. He admitted he didn’t know walmart policy or the law. He got a flyer some of use carry. the incident was picked up by a local reporter He interviewed me and the sheriff. As we are a town up against the NYS border I sometimes get some looks but most of the people local in NYS have a different attitude than NYC about guns. One time as some stranger was giving me the eye the Chief came in for coffee and we sat and chatted as they looked on.

  7. The OC experience here in California will be an interesting contrast to OC in other states. First, I’ll start off with two quotes from the article:

    Gun-rights activists are playing an obnoxious, unnecessary game. They have the right in most states to carry firearms openly. But the now-annual Starbucks Appreciation event is a gratuitous attempt to rile the portion of the populace made uncomfortable by open display of firearms. In a country with sharply divided attitudes toward guns, why purposely provoke one’s neighbors?

    … and:

    Gun-control activists take the bait. In their eagerness to condemn gun ownership broadly—as opposed to the social ills that flow from misuse of firearms—gun-control activists reveal their condescension toward a part of American culture that is here to stay.

    Open carry of loaded firearms has been illegal in most of California since 1967, when Republican Don Mulford wet his pants at the sight of Black Panthers carrying loaded rifles in the Capitol. He proposed the Mulford Act, which was then signed into law by Ronald Reagan. No friend to gun owners, really.

    Because of this, OC activities used unloaded firearms, mostly pistols, in the hope that such activism would get the state to loosen up the CCW process. How did Sacramento react? Much as Mulford did in 1967: they wet their pants, and made open carry of handguns illegal.

    Open carry activists adapted, over the objections of 2nd Amendment organizations like Calguns, and started OC’ing rifles and shotguns. Sacramento wet their pants again, and passed another bill prohibiting OC’ing of long guns as well.

    My point to all of this is that Barrett has a point: provoking anti-gun activists in areas where like-minded politicians control the government can have drastic consequences. In California gun owners are beleaguered on all sides, and are facing laws that will create ammunition purchase permits, ammunition purchase background checks, and the prohibition of all semi-automatic center-fire rifles with detachable magazines. The purchase of new-model pistols is already prohibited, and there is nothing, except the courts, to stop Sacramento to ban every other type of firearm as well.

    Not all areas are progressing in the gun-rights arena. California is going to get LOT worse, before it gets better, if it ever does. And if new California laws are not struck down by the courts, then you can COUNT on them appearing in your states as well if gun-rights supporters relinquish their hold on state legislatures.

    1. Anti-OC people love to use California as an example of why its stupid, but its a bad example. It was only a matter of time til they took it away anyway. California is so antigun, that it doesn’t matter. Doing it in places that aren’t so crazy is different.

  8. I suspect part of it has to do with the fact that Connecticut is going to turn large numbers of gun owners into felons facing mandatory minimum sentences when their registration requirements kick in for daring to think they have a “right” to own those AR-15s.

    There is effectively NO right to keep and bear arms for militia purposes in the Ban States. That right will NEVER be restored by Democratic means (outside of federal intervention as you’ve described or a hard core judicial smackdown we’re unlikely to see) in our lifetimes, nor in our children’s lifetimes.

    Most folks living under the boot in the Ban States will move to a free state, roll over and submit, or quietly non-comply. A few will be openly defiant, which is what I think we’re seeing with the AR carry in occupied territories. They don’t give a damn about pissing off their neighbors, because let’s face it — the majority of people living in CT, NY, CA, etc want gun owners face down in a ditch or in a cage for life. The Tories that dominate those states hate, despise, and fear gun owners. There’s no reasoning with them. Why try to appease someone that consistently votes for policies that lead to your death or imprisonment?

    I suspect we’re seeing a few folks stand on the village green and say, “Fine, come and take it” to their neighbors. Sure, they look crazy — because they’re the first. My only question is how many dogs will be shot, houses burned, and kids traumatized when SWAT teams start burning down houses in the next few years… and whether that PR creates a similar backlash to Bull Connor’s heavyhanded tactics against another uppity minority group.

    If CT not gone off the deep end, and if we hadn’t seen the hardest core gun grab effort at the federal level for a generation, I suspect we’d see fewer militia weapons openly carried in displays of public defiance.

    It may create a counterproductive optic outside those areas, but the public show of defiance is one of a rapidly narrowing set of options (all bad) for people living in Ban States.

    1. At least in CT, it’s not just that they hate, fear, despise, etc., gun owners, it’s also that a lot of people just can’t understand why someone would want to own one of those scary things. I talked with one woman last fall about it, and she informed me that no one needed a gun in their house, because, “really, how likely was it that you would ever actually need to use it?” I suggested that the Petits might disagree with her, but she was quite adamant that if the odds of your needing something were very small, there was no point in bothering with it.

      I didn’t think to ask her if she had fire or burglary insurance since the odds of her ever having to make a claim were really small too.

  9. Whenever someone must buy a license or pay a fee to exercise a right, then it is something less than a right. It is in fact a mere privilege, subject to the whim of petty bureaucrats. Fundamental rights are not abstract tokens that are given or sold by other men. They are in fact primary liberties bestowed upon us by God, our maker. Rights are not substantially secured by asking, “Mother may I?” of any government agency. Rights are more properly demanded or boldly seized and then conspicuously exercised regularly. This secures the liberties that have legitimately belonged to us since birth. If need be, lost rights can and must be restored through proscriptive use. If you live in a land where your rights have been marginalized into privileges, then it is either time to change your government, or to change your address. Much like a muscle that atrophies with disuse, any right that goes unexercised for many years devolves into a privilege, and eventually can even be redefined as a crime.

    1. The above paragraph is true.

      It is also only tenuously connected to the topic at hand, which is rifles in Starbucks, not permitless carry.

  10. A person carrying a rifle into a shop is making a political statement.

    A person just wearing a pistol is normalizing open carry.

    One is more helpful than the other.

    1. So, I actually mostly agree with you, but can you further articulate the why of it?

      Is it because rifles are so much more unwieldy? Heavier? Uncomfortable? Lethal? Lethal at range?

      I feel that what you say here is true. But I hate feeling. I want to think it.

      1. The issue is a rifle is too much of a pain in the ass to carry around to deal with an unexpected threat. It would be kind of like toting a big CO2 fire extinguisher with you everywhere just in case there was a fire. The odds of a fire don’t warrant the burden, so people are going to think you’re a little odd. Even if you were a firefighter, and people knew you were a firefighter, they’d think you were a little odd. Other firefighters would probably mock you. It certainly wouldn’t help convince most Americans they wanted to become firefighters, and may even make them think that particular breed was a little weird.

        That’s essentially the problem with OCing a rifle.

      2. Look, I only carried a rifle in a combat zone when I was expecting trouble. A lot of the time I was out and about with only a pistol (well, and a concealed backup). If I’m expecting that much trouble around home, I stay in the house, get some rifles out, and have friends and their rifles over. ;)

        I moved away from a city where that kind of trouble occurs. I’ve only drilled the Emergency Firebase System here, never had to execute it for real.

        Personally, I think that the guys Open Carrying rifles mean well, but they are making a mistake. They are trying to move the Overton Window from outside the current range of the window’s possibilities. The guys Open Carrying pistols are actually moving the Window.

        In one of my residential states there is an active hard-core libertarian movement. I sympathize with their expansive view of civil liberties and their narrow view of legitimate government power. But many of the things they do seem to be designed to do nothing by push cops’ buttons.

        It’s not cops you need to educate — fortunately, because they’re not rocket surgeons — but the general run of your neighbors. A lot of police are sympathetic to open carriers when they talk with them off duty, but they may react differently when provoked on the job. Just cause you know the law doesn’t mean Officer Friendly does, and getting tossed into the jug to prove your point when you get sprung for lack of PC or whatever doesn’t accomplish much. It may actually burn bridges with people you need for the bigger battle.

        This is a long war and we are in for the long term. The current imperfect state of gun rights is, apart from some loci of scientific socialism, better than it has been since 1900 or so (maybe 1850) and much of that has come about by hard work by local activists over the last 20 years.

        If you’re not expecting us still to be fighting the antis in 20 years, you’re not thinking it through.

  11. Political speech is more palatable when you agree with the point of view of the speaker.
    People who open carry a rifle make a political statement.
    People who open carry a pistol or revolver make a political statement.
    People who object to others openly carrying make a political statement.
    All statements are valid to those who make the statements. It is harder to accept and tolerate those statements that you disagree with. However, you must accept and tolerate those statements, just as you must accept candidates that you did not vote for winning political office in a fair election and you must accept jury decisions that you do not agree with in a fair court trial. Your disagreement does not entitle you to violate the civil rights of others whom you disagree with. Sometimes people need to be reminded of this concept.

    1. What does it mean to “accept” the results? I certainly didn’t start agreeing with Obama just because he became President. Heck, I don’t even agree with the outcome of my State Senator (Orin Hatch)–and at one point I actually voted for him!

      I don’t forfeit my right to disagree with an outcome (even a jury outcome, because sometimes a “fair” court of law isn’t all that fair…but if no one ever complained loudly about outcomes, fair or not, then we’d never get to the bottom of things, when something would need to be changed).

      Heck, now that I think about it, I actually came out against a jury outcome I agreed with! And it was because an environmentalist wacko wasn’t allowed to make the case he wanted to before the jury–namely, that he threw off an auction for the environment. That the judge has the power to dictate what the Defense can and cannot do to make a defense just rubs me the wrong way.

      And so it is with discussing OC. I tend to disagree with Sebastian somewhat on the issue–but I completely agree that the issue needs to be discussed. If we never discussed this issue, we’d never uncover the best way to advocate for our rights!

  12. I don’t typically post here but y’all are getting a bit Yankee about OC’ing. OC is very region-specific and locals tend to know what’s appropriate rather than unsettling in a particular area. It was not rare for me to see people OC’ing rifles in the South during hunting season simply because (wait for it) they don’t lock their vehicles. Of course you carry around something you don’t want lifted from your truck. I have distinct memories of eating at Hardee’s surrounded by OC rifles and no one gave ’em a second glance.

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