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Why Our Activism Needs to be Careful and Considered

A new survey shows everyone hates environmentalists and feminists, despite people having broad sympathies for the goals of both movements.

“Unfortunately,” they write, “the very nature of activism leads to negative stereotyping. By aggressively promoting change and advocating unconventional practices, activists become associated with hostile militancy and unconventionality or eccentricity.”

Hmm. What does that sound like?

So the message to advocates is clear: Avoid rhetoric or actions that reinforce the stereotype of the angry activist.

We really don’t want gun rights to fall victim to the same problem. That’s the primary reason I’m wary of activism methods that set us apart from normal, everyday Americans. That’s a big reason why I think this October 19th event promoted by GRAA is one of the worst ideas I’ve seen from our side in a long time. It’s very important to stick with activism that doesn’t seem odd, eccentric, or unusual to large parts of the population. More importantly, we’d like more people to get involved with pro-Second Amendment activism, not fewer, and fewer people is what you’ll get if your activism methods are socially awkward.

73 Responses to “Why Our Activism Needs to be Careful and Considered”

  1. Jack says:

    This is especially true when you are an armed activist. Even if you’re not carrying when doing a given bit of activism you are representing an armed group.

    This is also why the antis do their best to potray us as angry and fringe.

    And why some of our best ways to convince fence sitters is by being the normal, happy responsible gun owner in their minds. Sort of the “I know Eric, he’s not like how the media potrays gun owners.”

    As for inclusive this is also includes getting people interested in going to the range and knowing how to make it a safe, approachable, and fun experience.

  2. ctd says:

    “By aggressively promoting change and advocating unconventional practices, activists become associated with hostile militancy and unconventionality or eccentricity.” And that’s what got neutrally-tolerated carry thrown out of Starbucks.

    • Jack says:

      Ding!

      There’s also knowing what your goals are. Sometimes neutrality and apathy is sufficient.

      However, most of the time selling past the close is counterproductive. Badgering people who are doing what you want might not be the best idea.

    • Bob S. says:

      I think there is a lot of confusion going on. Many people seem to be conflating the Starbucks Open Carry events with the Open Carry events happening elsewhere.
      Even considering that any OC Rifle event as “confrontational” there were very few at Starbucks. On the other hand, videos of confrontations with police and others elsewhere are very common.

      Again, I think that no events or advocacy should have been happening at Starbucks because they had asked to be left in their neutral position.
      But put a little blame on the antis who continued to show up protesting if you are to blame the pro-rights who continued to show up also.

      • Jack says:

        But of course. The antis were also quite nasty.

        I have no problem with OC, even long gun OC. (Unlike some commenters here who would lobby to ban it).

        And yes where you open carry and what kind of event and what you carry all matter. One thing I dislike is that there is a lack of clear terms. I’ve seen people rail against “OC” when their ire could be anything.

  3. Bob S. says:

    Now I’m really confused Sebastian.
    You don’t want people showing up in public armed and now you don’t want people showing up on their own LAWN armed.

    Is there any armed advocacy you really support?

    but could easily envision hanging out with those who use “nonabrasive and mainstream methods” such as raising money or organizing social events..

    I have several neighbors who are a.) armed and/or b.) members of the same private range. Why is this an acceptable advocacy event ?

    Open Carry on private property is something that most states allow, many people practice –they get comfortable carrying on their own property before venturing out – when before they get their CHL.

    I’ll invite you and everyone else over to my blog for a discussion that I’ve been hosting — how to do an OC event in Texas. I would really like to hear your thoughts.

    • Sebastian says:

      Actually, there’s is very little armed advocacy I support, though I support being armed. If you want to mow your grass with a gun strapped to your side for all the world to see, I could care less. Depending on where you live, your neighbors might think you’re dangerous/crazy/weird or some combination of the three, but that’s between you and your neighbors. It’s when you go visibly armed for the purpose of advocacy that you go from representing you to representing Second Amendment advocacy in general, and that’s where I think we run into issues.

      I do not categorically say that armed advocacy is always the wrong tactic. Sometimes it a helpful tactic, or at least not particularly harmful. My problem with a lot of OCers, and it may even be a small minority of OCers, is there’s no sense for when it’s a smart tactic to use and when it’s not. The attitude is that all open carry advocacy is good. I disagree. I think it tends to be the wrong tactic in most of the circumstances people are using it in.

      • Jack says:

        When it comes to OC as an advocacy your gun becomes a part of the activism’s optics. It’s as much a part as how you dress or what your protest sign looks like.

        Is that rank marketing? Yes, yes it is. Saddly, that’s part of how advocacy works. People react differently depending on how a protest, for example, is dressed.

        Similarly they’d react differently depending on their signage, their demeanor, and their arms.

        There’s nothing wrong with considering the implications of how you, and your props, look as an activist.

      • Bob S. says:

        Sebastian,

        Hate to pick nits but it seems that this gets to the root of the issue:

        is there’s no sense for when it’s a smart tactic to use and when it’s not.

        Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that since you see little value in it, you are very negative toward any armed advocacy?

        You are entitled to your opinion of course. What I would ask if instead of trashing it, you use the opportunities to talk about how bad the laws are.

        This is a great example — we can point out how so many states keep people from exercising their rights. How restrictive Concealed Carry laws are, how expensive permits, etc.

        Don’t trash our own side for doing something you simply disagree with.

        • Sebastian says:

          Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that since you see little value in it, you are very negative toward any armed advocacy?

          I favor what I think works, and disfavor what I think doesn’t. Armed advocacy has been successfully used to point out absurdities in existing law, such as (in Wisconsin) being able to openly carry with no permit but not being able to get a license to carry concealed. The same technique was used in Ohio. In those cases, they successfully created an issue that the legislators were happy to dispose of by liberalizing their concealed carry laws. You see the same thing in Florida, pointing out the absurdity of being able to carry openly while fishing but not under any other circumstances. So I don’t think it’s always the wrong tactic.

          But do you normally go out and give out candy and drinks to neighborhood kids when it’s not Halloween? Do your normally sit in your lawn for several hours? These are questions you should ask yourself before asking whether it would appear strange if you do it with a gun strapped or slung to your body. I don’t live in a tight knit neighborhood where everyone knows me. I know the neighbors enough to say hi or to exchange pleasantries. I don’t know them well enough to stand out on my lawn with an AR or unconcealed firearm. Your circumstances may be different, and if your neighbors all know your gun activism and get it, it might not be a bad idea for you. But how many people who participate in October 19th never talk to their neighbors and the first exposure to them is going to be when they are spotted with a firearm handing candy to their kids? I don’t see how anyone could take that the wrong way.

          • Bob S. says:

            Sebastian,

            I see a huge double standard here. You and Bitter do a great job working gun shows, electioneering, etc. I’m not knocking that…but it isn’t part of your normal every day activity either, is it?

            You spend that time talking to strangers about the 2nd Amendment but won’t talk to the strangers in your own neighborhood.
            So it seems you are holding people to a standard you don’t practice.

            • Matthew Carberry says:

              Going to gun shows is a normal -context- for talking about gun rights. Talking to people about candidates positions on gun rights in terms of an election that involves those candidates is also a normal context.

              Walking up to a stranger and launching into a spiel on gun rights without such a context is not normal.

              Standing on your lawn armed on a day that -only other people standing on their lawns armed know the context of- is also not normal.

              Normally or historically dresses people openly carrying long guns (preferably of various eras and unloaded but whatever) into the state capital as a group to politely and non-confrontationally celebrate an officially declared and known “State Militia” or “Patriot” Day has a context which people who don’t care about gun rights can grasp, even if they don’t necessarily agree.

              One guy choosing a given day at random to troop through the State Capital for no particular purpose even fellow gun rights people can explain in 25 words or less lacks that context.

              Why is the concept of using appropriate context, which is what allows non-gun people to “get” the message being presented instead of recoiling from random actions they can’t understand, so hard to comprehend?

              • Bob S. says:

                Matthew,

                Nothing is but apparently only a few people are allowed to determine what is ‘appropriate context’.
                How did “State Militia” or “Patriot Day” start? The same way most any other event; a few people started doing it.

                You don’t want to participate Oct 19th, Don’t.

                Not every gun owner has to agree with the context, method or manner of advocacy. But don’t trash them if you don’t.

                What part of that is so hard to understand?

                People don’t have to ‘get the message’ immediately. It can take time, it can take lots of efforts and people participating to make some thing normal or the message effective.

          • Bob S. says:

            Sebastian,

            Handing out candy was ONE suggestion out of several. Don’t like it, don’t do it.

            But please tell me how your continual denigration of others’ efforts is helping advance our cause?

            And I do mean denigration. There is a difference between saying “I don’t think this is effective” and calling it odd or worse. And you aren’t the worst. Some of the comments here are incredibly negative toward any effort at OC.

            We get that you don’t like it. But why not use it to continue to point out the problems with the laws, the restrictions of our rights, etc.

            Stop giving the antis free quotes to use against us. Look at how many times antis are saying “See even those who X (insert pro-gun activity here) don’t support OC”.

            • Sebastian says:

              Odd is a matter of context others will put it in, not a matter of my opinion. If I see one of my neighbors out on the 19th sitting in his lawn chair with a shotgun, I can put that into context because I get what’s going on. The rest of my neighbors are going to likely be very alarmed. Even if you add a pro-Second Amendment sign to the equation, they are still going to think it’s odd. “Who is he protesting?”

              Your neighborhood might be different. If it is, great. But then why do you need an event for it since you do it all the time? Like I said, I have no beef if you mow your yard or do whatever else armed. If participating in the Oct 19th festivities wouldn’t be unusual for your normal routine and your neighborhood, knock yourself out.

              But most people don’t live in that kind of neighborhood. Even though I know my immediate neighbors, and I know one of them shoots, I don’t know the people in the rest of the development, and they don’t know me. I don’t want the first piece of information they know about me to be seeing me sitting in my driveway armed holding up a sign protesting for the hell of protesting. This is actually a case where an armed march would be a better tactic, because people can at least put that into context even if they don’t like it.

    • Sebastian says:

      Actually, this issue here isn’t really even so much the open carry. Would you normally go outside and give lemonade and candy to your neighbors children even without being armed? Some people would consider that creepy behavior from an adult, since the people who like candy and lemonade are typically children. “Would you like some candy little girl?” Throw guns into the mix and you’re really going to creep people out.

      You could argue that attitude isn’t right, and I would even agree with you, but in most parts of suburban America it’s the way things are. If we want to go back to a world where all that is OK, we have a lot of very big hills to climb, and most of those have nothing to do with guns.

      • Bob S. says:

        Sebastian

        I do mow my grass sometimes armed. I also check mail, spread ant and weed killer, etc armed – visibly.

        I do so carrying a pistol because in Texas (besides hunting/fishing) OC of a pistol is only permitted on property I own or control. I do so as advocacy; I want my neighbors to see normal people doing normal things while armed.

        Yes, there are a lot of hills to climb. I’m just asking you stop throwing stuff in the way up the hill.

        • Nathaniel says:

          Do you think it’s working? How have your neighbors reacted? What do they say about you behind closed doors?

          If you’re engaged in advocacy, you need to be in tune with what works. If it works, do it. If it doesn’t work, stop doing it.

          • Bob S. says:

            Nathaniel,

            The ones I know don’t have a problem with it. I don’t know what my neighbors say behind closed doors. I don’t advocate nor practice spying on them. Do you?

            Your point about what works – does it have a time limit? Does it have to be immediately effective or is a gradual acceptance okay?

            Isn’t that the idea behind “discrete Pistol OC”? That gradually people will get used to it even if it upsets a few immediately.

          • Wolfman says:

            Actually- yes. Yes it is effective for me. I’ve had numerous conversations with people while armed and going about my business, and my neighbors like me just fine. So I keep doing it, because it is working.

        • mike says:

          I suspect your neighbors think you’re a weirdo, who’s into guns. I don’t know if you are or not, but you certainly seem obtuse to what should be obvious realities. Like that strapping a gun on and handing candy out to children is seriously deviant behavior. In the very unlikely event that any of my neighbors pull this crap, I’ll be making my “Man with a gun” calls with the quickness.

    • Bitter says:

      I don’t know what to tell you if you can’t see the difference between having a person simply OC in normal and everyday activities on private property and standing watch at the edge of your property while armed. Even without an openly displayed gun factored in, if neighbors suddenly started marching out to their yards and standing watch over nothing for an hour, I’d think they were really, really weird.

      • Bob S. says:

        Bitter,

        Please tell me where on the FB page it is advocating ” standing watch at the edge of your property” – it isn’t there.

        This is nothing more than National Night Out while Visibly Armed.

        • LC Scotty says:

          “…stand or sit in your front yard…”

          • Bob S. says:

            LC Scotty,

            Sorry but that isn’t the same connotation as “standing watch”. I stand in my yard watching the stars at night or talking to my neighbor. Does it make a difference if I do it visibly armed or not?

            No.

            So, I’ll ask. What OC event/activity/advocacy is acceptable and if nothing is, why trash what others are doing ?

            • LC Scotty says:

              To me (and I only speak for me) if it’s something you already do or would normally be doing and you decide to be visibly armed I don’t see a problem. It’s an issue of context, and the further you’re pushing other people’s comfort levels, the greater the risk that your advocacy is pushing people away from where you want them.

              Around here, people don’t normally just sit or stand in their front yards-armed or otherwise. When I read that notice, the image it evoked in me was drag a lawn chair to the middle of your yard and just sit there with a rifle in your lap. Maybe I’m drawing unwarranted assumptions about what this group wants participants to do?

              I love guns. All of them. I love talking about them, shooting them, cleaning them, reading about them. If I saw my neighbor (suburban, upstate NY) mowing his lawn with a rifle strapped to his back, I’d think it was pretty weird. Since I’m pretty firmly in the gunny fold, and not the least bit discomfited by guns, I wonder how that would make the “straights” feel.

              The bottom line is that I want to win-anything that gets us closer to that is a “do” and anything that gets us further is a “don’t do”. Making people who might otherwise not give a shit either way uncomfortable is, by that standard, a “don’t do”.

              IMO, if you want to see how OC advocacy should be done, look no further than Robb Allen. the idea is that they are being completely non-threatening. It’s almost like the gun is an afterthought, not the focus.

              • Wolfman says:

                That last line, I think, is the crux of ‘normalizing’ things. The focus should be on ‘Do things normally, while armed’ more than ‘Arm Up and Do Things!’ Just the same, Robb’s OC Fishing events are, in fact, oriented around guns first, but he and his compatriots have done a remarkable job of not making it appear so.

                • Sebastian says:

                  I think as long as you can make the story “We’re doing this to show the absurdity of being able to do this while doing X, but not being able to do this generally,” you’re probably making a point people can understand. I think the comfort angle might be something people can relate to. But the thing with activism is that you have to be prepared to be wrong, and adjust your tactics accordingly. What if it turns out people really don’t want to see people with guns everywhere they go?

                  • Wolfman says:

                    In all honesty, yes, I would change tactics if it were not working, or if I received a large percentage of negative in-person contacts. Mostly the reason I would change it up is I would not be comfortable putting my family in a confrontational situation. This, of course, is where I depart from the guy who was recently the center of attention here in Hillsboro regarding the ‘Rifle OC near schools’ situation. Where he was pushing the issue, I tend to soft-pedal it. I don’t handle my sidearm, I don’t act provocatively, and I don’t make a big issue or statement out of it. I just quietly (well, to a degree, I’m a naturally ebullient person) go about my business. And it works- at the least, I have never noticed any strong negative response to it, no police called, no panicked shoppers running away from me, and no geting kicked out of stores or followed by security. Chances are I will be in my yard armed on Oct 19, but it’ll be because I’m always armed, and often in my front yard.

            • Matthew Carberry says:

              It doesn’t say “stand and sit -and- do normal things” it just says “stand or sit”.

              Again, the advocates need to be smart enough to suggest ways to give their event a -context- the neighbors can understand.

              Even better would be to suggest that maybe the folks who support them should quit making a big deal out of the OC part and just start doing stuff while armed and make an effort to not point out or mention the damn gun.

              You know, act -normally- while armed and see what happens as the neighbors individually notice and deal at their own pace, rather than making an obvious effort to bring it to everyone’s attention on Oct. 19 whether they like it or not.

        • Sebastian says:

          From the web site: “Starting at 5:00PM eastern time, for one hour stand or sit in your front yard armed.”

        • Kirk Parker says:

          This is nothing more than National Night Out while Visibly Armed

          Bingo!

          Now it still might be a bad idea, but I think your statement puts it into the proper context.

          • Sebastian says:

            For us. How many people that don’t read gun media have never heard of it?

            • Bob S. says:

              That is where you and other gun owners come into play!

              You may not like the idea but don’t trash it, put it into proper context. Provide the narrative that expands on what they are doing. HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND IT.

              Lead the discussion. Spread the word on why we even have to have events like this.

              Advocacy isn’t an ‘either/or’ proposition; it can and should be a “both/and”

              We can have “both” electioneering, slow incremental advocacy “and” national/state/local events like this.

              • Bitter says:

                So you’re expecting other people to justify your efforts when you do something that looks crazy to the outside world rather than simply accepting that people find it weird and learning from that experience?

                It is not up to us to make the arguments on the issue when someone does something overly aggressive that turns people off. That’s the job of that activist – to figure out how to make the activism effective rather in ineffective.

                Added: I think a decent analogy is to think about working toward more Second Amendment rights as a company/job. You’re basically saying that when one employee goes way off course and draws negative attention to the company, you expect the other employees to try and cover for him/her. No. It’s not a reasonable expectation in any real world circumstance to expect that every time one of these OC activists gets it totally freakin’ wrong that the rest of the gun community try to provide some kind of context or cover for his/her mistakes.

              • benEzra says:

                Even by framing it this way, you are tacitly acknowledging that the tactic itself is a net negative unless the broader gun-owning community covers for you.

                And you wonder why those of us fighting (and winning) on this issue are a bit irked at those who are thoughtlessly making this fight harder? Every minute of activism spent doing damage-control for the jerks that provoked the Starbucks response, and other Cletii, is time *not* spent in more effective activism. Which is why I wonder how much of this in-your-face crap is actually being done by anti-gun activists trying to get gun owners viewed as jerks and idiots.

                I think the people who do the in-your-face crap are like the religious people who dress up in polyester 3-piece suits and stand on street corners screaming at people while waving large Bibles. They don’t do it because it’s effective at promoting their cause (it’s shockingly counterproductive, actually); they do it because they like it, and because they feel validated when 1 in 100 passersby gives them kudos for it.

  4. mike says:

    Clown Militia, reporting for duty!

    Here’s the idiots’ event page for those who aren’t on FB:
    http://www.gunrightsacrossamerica.com/Events.html

  5. Wolfman says:

    Here’s where it hits the fine lines, of course- there is a difference between being a responsible gun owner and activist, and being an in-your-face OC nut, but everyone draws this lin differently! I OC EVERY DAY, and my neighbors are cool with it- in fact it has become part of my next door neighbor’s security plan (he’s a retired cop, she works for city PD) that in the event of extreme need, pounding on my door will produce armed response. The stores I go to are used to me, the employees recognize me, and nobody sees a threat. I am VERY careful never to present as though I am a threat- which, in my view, Rifle OC is INTENDED to do. This is MY situation- I have no doubt yours will vary.

    • AnOregonian says:

      “I am VERY careful never to present as though I am a threat- which, in my view, Rifle OC is INTENDED to do”

      I disagree about rifle OC being intended to be threatening, but I suspect we’ll agree that it is certainly perceived that way by the overwhelming majority of people.

      Instead, I think most rifle OCers are excessively unrealistic about people’s perceptions, and as a result their worst offence is just being inconsiderate.

      • Wolfman says:

        Yes, I believe we would agree on a few things. To say that I believe Rifle OC is intended to be threatening may have been a bit strong, but I do see it as an intent beyond normal activity. It is intended to be extraordinary, to draw attention, and at some level, to be inflammatory. From an outside view, a person carrying weapons in an extraordinary or inflammatory manner, while acting in an extraordinary or inflammatory manner is probably 1) going to be seen as a threat and 2) going to skew the perception of the ‘average gun owner’ towards the fringe lunatic ideal that the antis continually try to label us with.

  6. AnOregonian says:

    If these people really want to make an impression, they’d get a better return on their time by getting to know their representatives from various levels; local, state, fed.

    Once they get to know you on a first name basis you can even take the next step and invite them to go out target shooting. There’s simply no better way to change an anti’s position on the matter.

    • mike says:

      Yeah, no. I don’t think we want these people getting to know their representatives. That would reflect very poorly on those of us who are normal.

      • Wolfman says:

        This is getting back into troll territory, mike. Ease up.

        • mike says:

          I’m sure Sebastian appreciates you moderating his blog, but that’s the farthest thing from a troll comment. To be clear, folks who think it’s normal to strap a gun on and hand candy out to children on their front lawn should not go anywhere near people who can determine the future of our gun rights.

          Support for doing such a thing could actually be a very good litmus test for just how far off the deep end one is.

          • Wolfman says:

            Just trying to draw in the rhetoric- obviously we all feel very strongly about this subject, else we would not get so heated. My point was that AnOregonian was making a calm moderate point, suggesting a better course of action, and the response you gave was more heated than necessary. You seem very much to be dismissing me and mine as ‘crazy’ and threatening to call the cops on us, which I don’t think is quite your goal. I was drawing attention to that fact.

            • mike says:

              “You seem very much to be dismissing me and mine as ‘crazy’”

              Actually, until you wrote this I had no idea you were one of the OC activists Sebastian has been warning us about. With that context, I see how you could take what I said personally.

              As for calling the cops, if I see someone doing something stupid with a gun, damned right I’m going to call the cops and tell them exactly what I see. That’s a direct result of seeing how unbalanced so many of these OC activists are.

              • Sebastian says:

                I don’t think Wolfman is one of the OC people I’ve been warning people about. I’m not even really “warning” people. Maybe trying to get people to think a bit more tactically and strategically, but I am not against all types of OC, only poorly considered or thought out activism.

          • Sebastian says:

            I would only ask that people be respectful toward each other. I am OK with people being blunt or harsh. This isn’t public school or a therapy session where we have to all have to think about how everyone else is feeling. But I would like things not to descend into pooh flinging.

    • Sebastian says:

      Absolutely. Also, volunteering for pro-gun candidates at election times make an impression. Volunteers are hard to come by in politics, and they are worth gold. Our side doesn’t do enough of that. We’re very good with the stick, but not the carrot. The fortunate thing is the stick is the more important part, but the carrot is important too.

      • Bob S. says:

        Sebastian,

        I’m not decrying your efforts, just your double standard.

        You keep harping (as many others do) that if OC isn’t done as part of your normal every day activity, it shouldn’t be done or is “in your face”.

        Yet your efforts (and I am being sincere in my appreciation) aren’t something you do every day. So isn’t it a little bit of hypocrisy to keep knocking OC Activists for something they don’t do every day?

        • Matthew Carberry says:

          You can only “do” gun shows when gun shows are happening. You can only “do” electioneering when elections are going on.

          You can carry normally and unobtrusively, to normalize carry, essentially every day of every week, you don’t need an event to do so and the event is by definition the thing that lacks an otherwise normal context, unlike a regularly scheduled gun show or election.

          That’s just using appropriate context, not hypocrisy.

        • Sebastian says:

          Bob,

          I had to think a bit about where the disconnect is here, and I think it’s this: I am not really saying that any activism one does has to be done as part of every day activity. What I’m saying is that open carry as a tactic in advocating for gun rights has limited uses. Not no uses, but limited uses. If your goal is to normalize people being seen with guns in public, then you have to be seen with a gun doing ordinary things. By definition, if you’re doing out of the ordinary things people don’t normally do, you’re not normalizing anything.

          I’ve become convinced that people going out and openly carrying as part of their ordinary routine does no harm, and does at least desensitize law enforcement to the practice. Whether it makes the public more accepting of it, I don’t honestly know, but I don’t really have any evidence that it’s harmful. The only place it’s backfired is California (so far), and that was a) predictable and b) they weren’t following the advice of “just do it.”

          You have to ask what the goal is. If the goal of GRAA is to make everyone realize gun owners are normal people, the suggested list of activities is exactly the wrong tactic for achieving that goal, and it will likely do exactly the opposite if people follow their advice.

          You are correct, that talking to gun owners at gun shows and doing electioneering activities are not every day behaviors. But neither of those things are unusual behaviors. The goal also isn’t to normalize anything. The goal for talking at gun shows is to get more gun owners involved in the political aspects of gun ownership, and to get them registered to vote and think about the issue when they get into the voting booth. To do that, your tactic has to involve going to where gun owners are and talking to them. Likewise, the goal of electioneering is to drive the perception among the political class in at least our local area that people are motivated enough by the issue to work for or against candidates based solely on that issue. I’d be open to an argument that both my gun show tactics and electioneering tactics need some work, because I’m not as successful at either as I’d like to be. I think everything has to be measured against effectiveness.

          • Wolfman says:

            Yes, this I think we agree on. The other disconnect I’m noticing here has to do with context, as Matthew Carberry has pointed out, and locale. While Bob S would, I’m sure, enjoy the opportunity to go about his daily routine openly armed, he does not have the legal ability to do so, as I do. Therefore, any activism he undergoes to try and draw support MUST be extraordinary, such as bluegun carry, empty holster carry, or Robb Allen’s OC Fishing events. Others have mentioned that their neighborhoods would not be apt places for Open Carry activism- if that is the case, what might one do in that area to lay the groundwork for it? The GRAA event seems to be intended to point out how many of us there are in the US, and how normal the majority of us are. I don’t really agree with some of their methods (and yeah, giving candy to random children is creepy, even lacking arms. I wouldn’t stand for that and I’m an OC supporter) but their goal is worthy. What suggestions do you have of things to do on that day which would help normalize gun owners? Maybe suggestions that would better fit your locale and context?

            • Sebastian says:

              I actually do think it depends on the neighborhood, but in neighborhoods where it would go over well, there’s probably not much of a need because things are pretty much where you want them to be.

              I would say in terms of what the GRAA people are trying to accomplish….. and I’d note you’d need to really get the message out there so that the media talked about it and everyone had context…. if you could manage a “don’t go concealed day,” chosen on a weekend day…. where you encourage everyone who normally goes about their every day business with a concealed handgun to, on that one day, not conceal, that could be effective at making people stop and think. But you’d have some issues:

              1. The vast majority of people who carry firearms are not comfortable with open carry. The compliance rate would need to be nearly universal to have the desired effect.
              2. We don’t control the media to the extent needed to shape the ground in advance of such a display.
              3. There are just some circumstances where openly displaying a firearm is going to be perceived badly, even if legal, is just going to be perceived badly, and you’d have to depend on everyone to exercise the right kind of discretion.
              4. There’s a strong possibility a small minority of attention seekers will hijack the event and engage in shock tactics that are off-putting.

              That’s kind of why i think it’s hard to organize this kind of thing. Like the example I used earlier, people became accustomed to bluetooth earpieces by slow exposure to people looking like they are talking to themselves in public. I think it’s hard to get that kind of social acceptance in an organized way. Gay people made most of their advancement by just being our friends, neighbors and family members. There’s a lot of flamboyant tactics that have come along with that, but at the end of the day it’s the former that’s doing the heavy lifting.

  7. Kevin A. says:

    I have no issue with this event. Why? because it’s not a large gathering. Each OCer will be on their own property. Will it be effective toward making non-gun folks comfortable around guns? My gut says no.

    Would I consider doing this event? No. Why? personal liability. I don’t want my neighbors (except for a select few that I trust) know I have guns at my house. I’m one who believes that crooks who know who owns guns will still consider robbing those houses; just not when the homeowners are at home. I CC a lot. And I want the tactical advantage that comes with a bad guy not knowing if I or someone else in a crowd is armed. The way I choose to improve the image of gun owners is to pick when, and with who, I reveal that I own guns and why. I find it carries much more weight when I’v already shown myself to be someone of upstanding character, and then let it slip that I go to the range regularly.

    • Sebastian says:

      I actually think organizing large protest events would be more effective than this, because people can at least more easily put a protest in context. But I still think that’s a tactic of limited effectiveness. And not just because of OC. I think protesting in general is a tactic with limited utility. Not no utility, but to do it effectively is very very difficult.

      • Bob S. says:

        Sebastian,

        Do you think the utility of such events (either marches or something like the Oct 19th event) would be more effective if people like you and others would publicize them, talk about why they were needed instead of trashing the event?

        We have the opportunity to help control the narrative.

        You don’t think they are effective, got it. But does trashing them and condoning the language used (in this and other posts) really help our cause or hurt it?

        • Sebastian says:

          No, because it has a strong potential to take people who don’t care about the gun issue one way or another and make them take the other side, and make them actually think about the issue when they get into the voting booth. I am not big on endorsing good intentions to the point of political suicide.

  8. Sprocket says:

    Oh sweet Jesus. How anybody thinks these misguided exercises in self righteous ego masturbation advance gun rights in this country is beyond me. I’m sure Feinstein giggles with delight every time an OC “event” makes the news. OC shenanigans do nothing but damage our image. Here’s the hard truth of the matter; the only people that don’t think you are wierdos are other OC activists. You are NOT helping. Please stop.

    • Bob S. says:

      And how does your condemnation help advance our rights in this country?

      You say that the only people who don’t think they/me are weirdos are the other OC activists but that does NOT jibe with the hundreds of blog posts and comments from those who OC.

      Even the comments in the media don’t run 100% negative against it.

      Is it the most effective advocacy, not always but they are doing something to advance our rights instead of savaging it.

      I would suggest you take your own advice; if you can’t say anything nice, just please stop.

      • Sprocket says:

        No I’m not going to be nice. When I see people working against my interests, I’m not going to sit idly by. The open carry movement has produced nothing but as string of failures and set backs for the gun rights movement. Unfortunately the open carry folks are too high on their own righteousness to notice. Keep pounding on that bent nail guys, I’m sure it’ll straighten itself out real soon.

        As for advancing our rights, I’m teaching the NRA Basic Pistol course free of charge for novice shooters. I haven’t conducted a peer reviewed study, but I’m pretty sure this is more effective than getting a frapacinno while packing an AR.

        • Bob S. says:

          I did not and will not ask about how you are advancing our rights. That is your choice to make — how you advocate.

          What I asked was how your condemnation of an event you disagree with advances our rights. Big difference.

          While I’ll agree there have been set backs, I think it is a little bit of hyperbole to say “notthing but a string of failures and set backs”.

          There is room for many methods of advocacy; from quiet doesn’t draw national attention and barely gets noticed by a dozen people teaching the NRA Basic pistol to Hey did you see what was on the national news last night Open Carry Event.

          What I’m asking for is simply to use the events, even if you disagree with them, to point out how the laws restrict our rights (Did you know in Texas they can not Open Carry a Pistol -that is why they carried a Rifle into Star Bucks instead). We don’t have to condemn everything we disagree with, nor do we have to use hyperbole or foul language to trash it.

          • Sebastian says:

            What I asked was how your condemnation of an event you disagree with advances our rights. Big difference.

            Because I think any movement needs to speak out against tactics which are counterproductive and try to convince other people to adopt more effective approaches.

            While I’ll agree there have been set backs, I think it is a little bit of hyperbole to say “notthing but a string of failures and set backs”.

            California was an unambiguous loss for open carry activism. It was the wrong tactic there. Starbucks is a much bigger loss than many want to accept. They tried for years to cajole Starbucks with no sign of success until people starting holding OC events at Starbucks. And that’s saying nothing for the string of bad press that appears all over the country from poorly considered OC activism.

            What I’m asking for is simply to use the events, even if you disagree with them, to point out how the laws restrict our rights (Did you know in Texas they can not Open Carry a Pistol -that is why they carried a Rifle into Star Bucks instead)

            I realize that Texas outlaws OC, and the more other gun owners see people doing stupid things with it, the less they are going to be willing to get on board with legalizing it. But I agree this disagreement doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t get nasty. I realize it is, and that’s unfortunate.

  9. Eh, I mow my lawn and OC while doing so. It is very hot and its more comfortable.

    If I were going to give out free candy to kids while OCing I’d definitely rent a panel truck to drive slowly through the neighborhood in first though. :-P

  10. Richard says:

    Everyone may hate feminists and environmentalists but both have been wildly successful in implementing their agenda. And both keep pushing the envelope when they succeed in one place.

    • HappyWarrior6 says:

      Incrementalism… the mark of any well-thought through agenda. It’s a strategy we should embrace more often.

      However, I actually think if anything gun rights is a ripe political issue that can be done well incrementally and without much fuss. That’s mostly how things have gone anyway, whether we like it or not.

    • Sebastian says:

      They’ve succeeded, but largely despite their activists, because they control key institutions that influence public opinion. We don’t have that luxury, and we have to adjust our tactics accordingly. They can drive perception much much more effectively than we can. We have to overcome their advantages with raw numbers.

      • AntiCitizenOne says:

        This. That’s it. We don’t have the luxury of controlling the lamestream media or can pull on emotional strings very easily on low-intel voters – so the only way really is to find every. single. gun owner and muster up (not to mention turning a few on the fence.)

        What about simply carrying an empty OC holster as well as your real CCW piece? Some people in the Concealed Carry Campus group have done that (or at least in this case have their empty CCW holster on them) – when people asked them about the empty holster, they revealed the presence of the ccw holster.

  11. Arnie says:

    Two other examples of in-your-face-demonstrating movements are PETA and the homosexual movement. I realize no analogy is perfect, because firearms have a “scary” nature all their own, but still, these two movements have employed some pretty dramatic, even tasteless tactics in public, with varying results. PETA has influenced some legislation but are generally considered,.,undesirable. The homosexual movement, on the other hand, has made substantial gains both politically and socially. And (showing my age here) let’s not forget the anti-war demonstrations of the 60s; people were killed, cities burned, riots swept the country. Personally, being very young and idealistic about “America-right-or-wrong,” I despised those “treasonous rebels.” (Now I find myself rebelling against involvement in Syria!) For years, they were held in disgust by the “Silent Majority.” But those “peaceniks” changed an entire generation of foreign policy – “No more Vietnams!”

    I’m not advocating GRAA; but my years have taught me not to judge too early – some impacts take years to take effect! Some seem crazy wacko – like PETA, and the sit-ins and rioters of the 60s. But some of the most repulsive were ultimately successful, at least to some degree. Others, like PETA, have harmed their cause more than helped.

    My conclusion: I won’t participate in GRAA, but I also won’t expatriate those of you who do. I’ll wait for the long-term results before I label you as unequivocally harmful to the cause of firearms freedom.

    Respectfully, Arnie

  12. Andy B. says:

    I can see a very fundamental MAJOR error the GRAA people are suggesting: At the bottom of their poster it says “Don’t forget your signs!” “Obama must go!” “Save the Second!”

    They are bringing in more than one issue. Maybe for us “Obama must go” is just synonymous with defending gun rights, but for anyone who isn’t a rabid Obama-hater — and the 2012 election suggested there may be a few such people around — attacking Obama is just going to label you as some sort of stereotypical wingnut, of the type they’ve been warned about. “Obama must go!” Where will you suggest he go, given that he is the elected president in his last term, and there is no plausible basis for impeaching him, even if you’ve been told there is?

    In one little step you have transformed yourself from a “normalizing” citizen, to an armed Tea Party dingus. Frankly, I’d stay a country mile away from anything GRAA suggests.

    • Andy B. says:

      While I’m at it, didn’t the “nationwide rallies” promoted by GRAA in the past mostly turn out to be non-events?

      They pretty much have nobody’s ear. Participate in this and you’ll be the only guy in your town sitting on the lawn with a gun and a Teabagger’s sign. That should look really, really normal.

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