Friday, June 26, 2009

On open carry

John Pierce on why the open carry movement is important for gun rights:
... However, the question that we, as pro-gun activists, should be asking is "What are the benefits to the gun-rights movement of my carrying openly?"

After all, we are bombarded, almost daily, by a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle anti-gun media messages. And it is amazing how effective this bombardment is, even for those of us with deeply held pro-gun beliefs. It is a dangerous mistake to assume that societal influences do not make an impact. They do! The number of pro-gun, pro-concealed-carry advocates who will chastise open carriers is a prime example of the fact that even we can be influenced to treat firearms as something "somehow unwholesome."

At the risk of sounding like a sociology professor, what we are dealing with is a general populace that has had their perceptions about firearms turned into prejudices by societal pressures. Most people are not anti-gun in the traditional sense of the word, but they can be counted upon to swallow whatever drivel is presented by the true anti-gun movement.

Make no mistake about it; if we do nothing to counter these negative stereotypes about gun owners, then our rights will be slowly taken away. Open carry is a very easy way to begin to counter these stereotypes.

To put it simply, open carry forces those you meet, be they friends, relatives or neighbors, to reconcile their preconceived notions and prejudices regarding firearms with the fact that you are exercising this right in a safe and responsible manner.

Prejudice thrives on ignorance. By openly carrying, we are showing the public what gun owners are really like. More importantly, we are showing them who we are. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have heard people say that they do not know any gun owners. They do, of course, but they are not aware that they do. This allows them to buy into the idea that gun owners are different; and people fear and distrust that which is different. Seeing you or I openly carrying a firearm forces them to confront the object of their prejudice.

Remember ... we are not just a collection of people who are interested solely in self-defense and personal protection tactics. We are also political activists! The anti's understand this and factor it into all of their public contact, but often we do not. ...

Article here. One point I would quibble with is the idea, mentioned earlier in the article, that concealed carry is "tactically superior" to open carry. Sometimes, sometimes not. It depends. Both open and concealed carry have their advantages and disadvantages. Open carry may be "tactically superior" when you're out hiking, for example, where concealed carry may be less suitable both from a comfort and a accessibility standpoint. In addition, you are probably less likely to be selected as a target if you're both confident and visibly armed.

Certainly, in urban environments especially, concealed carry has much to recommend it from a tactical standpoint. But as the article notes, concealed carry does nothing to dispel negative stereotypes about gun owners. Open carry makes a statement; concealed carry does not.

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