I get this question a lot. But, what I love the most is when they say, “idiots!! There is no good reason for this. I am all for gun rights but this is stupid.” [emphasis added] How can someone be “all for gun rights” and then proceed to tell you how you shouldn’t be by limiting what you should be able to do with them? It’s like those people that say, “I’m an NRA member and there’s no reason anyone should own an assault weapon.” Just because you SAY you’re for gun right or you SAY you’re a member of the NRA, doesn’t mean you support or even understand the right to keep and bear arms. It just means that you’re insecure in your support of those rights because you’ve fallen prey to the media and political stigmatization of guns. The thing that really gets annoying are those that say when we open carry we’re somehow ruining it for everyone else – the “normal” gun owners.
What makes one category of arms bearers normal and the other a fringe group of lunatics? Why is open carry so stigmatized? First of all, let me say for the record that I don’t recommend open carry for a majority of circumstances. In fact, I rarely open carry on a daily basis because it’s inconvenient. Carrying rifles around everywhere gets tedious and cumbersome. Plus, if I go to a restaurant, I have to carry my rifle with me everywhere I go unless there is someone with me willing to watch it. But, I’m a firm believer that a right not exercised is a right that is easily lost.
If we Texans truly want open carry legislation passed for our pistols, don’t you think it stands to reason that we show we can responsibly carry our rifles first? If no one is carrying their rifles the way we are “permitted” to in Texas, it’s very easy to say that such legislation for pistols is unnecessary. The argument is then controlled by those that say there is no reason to open carry.
Last year, after I returned from Afghanistan, I took some extended leave to visit several National Parks in several states. Except Texas, every state I visited was an open carry state: Oklahoma, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and (at the time) Colorado. It was kind of embarrassing to return to my home state and have to hide my gun.
In every state, I took the opportunity to openly carry my pistol, but I didn’t do it everywhere I went. There are simply some places you don’t want to openly carry. There are actually some places that you would carry openly sometimes and concealed during others. For example, I probably wouldn’t openly carry to Wal-Mart on Black Friday – or anywhere on Black Friday for that matter. There are simply too many people in a small space and it would be too easy to lose control of your firearm.
The main reason why we believe that Texans should exercise their rights to open carry their long guns can be found in the reactions to many people when we do it, especially the police. The argument in places like Little Elm and Houston is that openly carrying a rifle “causes alarm.” Just because a person is “alarmed” at the site of a lawfully carried firearm doesn’t mean that there was an intent to alarm. It’s the same concept that just because someone gets “offended” it doesn’t mean that what caused it was offensive. There will always be a societal class of sheep that claim “alarm” in order to hinder your ability to exercise your rights, speech or otherwise.
Why is that? Because not enough people do it. People aren’t used to seeing others carrying a shotgun or rifle in public. The media have done a fantastic job lately of making most rifles the boogeyman in the minds of so many. And our politicians have jumped on board the train and guided it for their political agendas as well. So, when they see these guns in public, their automatic reaction is “OH MY GOD, WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!”
It’s funny that as we’ve engaged in all the open carry events locally, the reactions have been so overwhelmingly positive. You can always see the initial response when they see our weapons as either confused or fearful. But, within a second or two, there is an immediate change to their demeanor and reaction. They are accepting and “get it.”
We’ve found over a dozen businesses in Temple that are extremely supportive of what we are doing and the awareness we’re trying to raise. As we walk down roads, people actually pull over and ask us what we’re doing. Some ask if it’s legal and some just ask why. It’s a perfect opportunity to explain it to them. The questions aren’t accusatory or angry either. They are sincerely curious and not the least bit frightened.
We open carry – to put it simply – because we can. Because it’s our right. Because this land is our land and we’re not going to let anyone take it from us. Let me be clear: there is no threat of that happening. The reason that government has been so constrained through our history is BECAUSE the people are so well armed.
We open carry because it puts everyone on notice that we are not victims. It comforts them to know that there are sheepdogs out there able to stand between liberty and tyranny. People actually feel safer knowing that when we are around, crime will avoid coming near us. And if crime does decide to rear its ugly head, the response will be immediate and not rely upon a slow-reacting police force.
We open carry because government at every level needs to be reminded that absolute power in the United States of America rests with the PEOPLE. Authority is granted to local, state and federal government officials according to OUR desire; not the desire of authoritarian statists. As long as there are police officers out that don’t get or respect our rights to carry, we will be there to remind them that it doesn’t matter what they THINK the law oughta be. We will remind them that their job isn’t to interpret law according to their opinions or what makes them feel safe or “this day and age” pressures.
We open carry because we want to condition citizens to understand that guns don’t kill people. An armed society is a polite society, as Robert A. Heinlein so eloquently put it. We’ve been to Smash Burger here in Temple several times and no customers felt threatened. Instead, we’ve been welcomed with open arms and thumbs up by those there with their families. And, the employees at TCBY actually came by and ASKED us to visit their store. We even had some customers ask to pose with some of our weapons. As we were about to leave, the store manager called and asked us to wait so she could come and hang out with us!
In the end, openly carrying a firearm should be no more or less “ordinary” than carrying a weapon concealed. This idea that openly carrying a firearm only makes you a target is not supportable by facts. It’s an old wive’s tale and we are out to disprove it.
In the end, look at the question this way. Do you feel you should have to justify why you attend the church you do (or don’t attend church at all)? Should newspapers and the media be required to explain why they report on the stories they do? Do you need to explain why you don’t want police officers searching your home for no reason at all?
Then, why do I even have to write this post about why I open carry?
Join us in this effort by going to our Facebook page and organizing an open carry walk in YOUR town. Also, please take a moment and watch OCT Board Member Robert Sneed talk about why we do what we do here.