The last entry here, on “in your face” open carry versus concealed carry or discreet open carry, caught interest with a three-digit comment count. I also raised some new issues I hadn’t discussed here previously.
Basic truth, folks: economic rhetoric has never fed the hungry, and Second Amendment rhetoric has never armed the helpless.
The gains the gun owners’ civil rights movement have made can be attributed to decades of legal scholarship, working within the system, and reforming anti-gun laws which largely trace back to anti-black bias in the antebellum and Reconstruction-era south, anti-immigrant bias in the industrialized north, and culture war at multiple levels.
Gun-banners will never convert most who read this blog, and we who support a responsibly armed citizenry will never win over the Pelosis and Bloombergs of the world. The battleground lies with the vast majority of people who are in the middle on this polarized issue. I am old enough to remember when Massachusetts and California each held a referendum on whether possession of handguns should be banned in their states. Neither state had a majority of gun owners in the voting pool, but in each case our side won the referendum, because “the people on the fence” didn’t want to go that far.
Doing things that alarm those people in the middle will do nothing to help the pro-gun side. Fear is the key ingredient that creates hatred. Doing things that put the general public in fear will cause more people to hate us, and anyone who seriously thinks flaunting rifles around schools in cities and suburbs will somehow acclimate the public to an acceptance of armed citizens is simply delusional.
Please, don’t compare the heavily armed guy who video-records himself confronting police to Rosa Parks on a segregated bus. Ms. Parks did not put anyone in fear of their lives. Don’t tell me that “a right not exercised is a right denied,” when we’ve seen confrontational open carry result in stricter laws in California, and hamper the responsible open carry movement in Texas much more recently.
This blog post, like the most recent one, grew from a fellow prancing around a school with a visible rifle and handgun. Even gun experts will tell you that handguns are carried holstered, in case they’re needed for a life-threatening emergency, while long guns are traditionally carried only when their immediate use is anticipated. For us, that’s hunting, response to an already identified emergency (think “Rodney King riots”), or a target shooting range. To the general public, that image instantly calls to mind Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Newtown. When an otherwise obviously smart and articulate poster says the officer confronting such a person with hand on service pistol is the one being provocative, I can only say “Wow…just…wow.”
Some open carry advocates hope for test cases to go to courts and validate their cause. I wouldn’t be betting on that outcome. When someone’s behavior is sufficiently frightening that the school in question goes to lockdown, I don’t expect the courts to say that’s just fine. Depending on the jurisdiction, the mood of the court, and the mood of the prosecution, some of the cards on the table may include “disturbing the peace,” “trespass after warning,” and “going armed to the terror of the public.”
But, the people who want to traipse around schools with visible military rifles and camcorders will have had their fifteen minutes of YouTube “fame.”
On this discussion thread, a poster by the username of “usagi” said it better than I: “Open carry of long guns to advocate for 2A rights is exactly the same as blowing smoke directly in people’s faces for smoker’s rights.”