So…It’s time for me to discuss a national Second Amendment hot button topic, and throw in my own two cents. The topic is open carry. Most of the states in the United States of America allow some form of open carry. Whether it is a holstered handgun on the carrier’s hip, or a rifle in their arms, there are several legal means of open carry. Here is where is gets sticky. Each state and subsequently local municipal government has their own individual regulations on open carry. Some states require a person to be licensed, and may only carry in a way that is completely visible at all times. Some states just allow for the open carry of firearms. Some states only allow for people to carry long guns openly. From what I have seen, the states, including my home state of Texas, that only allow the open carry of long guns, have the most issues.
The modern occurrence of the open carry marches, for the purpose of Second Amendment activism, has come to head in states only allowing the open carry of long guns. Many of these activists believe that it is part of their Second Amendment right to openly carry any firearm that they may legally own. That is not where the problem has arisen. While there are many, many, many, very responsible Second Amendment activists, there are many that are not. In Texas, a person may openly carry a loaded long gun, in public almost anywhere. Being that normal citizens may not openly carry handguns, there have been many marches and demonstrations held by the open carry supporters. Many of these marches have become national news, recently. The issue that has been that the marches are usually held in heavily populated public places. This is very normal for any time of activist march. The issue at hand is that the average citizen probably doesn’t realize that it is legal to carry a loaded rifle around the town square, and freaks out when they see 20-100 people carrying around loaded rifles.
Fear. Fear has been used to get points across since the beginning of time. Does the average, gun owning, Second Amendment supporter believe that it is their protected right to legally carry a firearm openly. Probably. I know that I do. Now ask that same supporter if they want to see a couple of guys in fatigues, carrying rifles, walk into a restaurant right behind them and their families. I would venture to say that they don’t. This has happened at restuarants and stores across the country during open carry marches. It is irresponsible and a fear tactic. These activists say that they are doing it to get the word out about their rights, when in fact, they are just scaring other citizens and the employees of these establishments. Two guys I know recently had an incident with an open carry group. My friends were on the town square one Saturday morning, having coffee, when they saw an open carry march come by. A short while later, while still sitting at a side walk table of the coffee shop, several of the marchers began to congregate in front of my friends. One of my friends immediately noticed that the march participant closest to him was negligently pointing the muzzle of his rifle at him. Bear in mind, that this is in Texas, where you may open carry a loaded, chamber rifle. My friend, who is a former Marine and Second Amendment supporter, got the man’s attention and informed him that he was pointing his rifle at him and his friend. The marcher made several comments about it being his right to carry his rifle. My friend informed him of his history of service and gun ownership, then explained that basic firearms safety means treating every gun as if it is loaded and never to point your muzzle at anything you do not intend to shoot. The demonstrator ignored him and continued his conversation with the other participants of the march. The man began to negligently point his rifle at my friend again. At this point, after already having pointed out the man’s mistake, he grabbed the barrel of the rifle and moved it away from himself and his friend. The open carrier began to cause a scene about the incident until the mention of the police being called. At that point he moved away.
I personally do not have a problem with a group of citizens, legally, peacefully, assembling and marching with rifles and shotguns. I do have a problem with people who do not regularly wear fatigues, playing G.I. Joe, muzzle flashing bystanders, with their loaded rifles. I also have a problem with the demonstrators who are assembling solely to cause an interaction with local law enforcement. These demonstrators are using fear to get on television. It is not helping the cause. The average citizen only sees crazy people with guns, having run-ins with the police. If you want people to believe AND vote your way, respect is the way, not fear. If you feel it necessary to walk into a restaurant, in full tactical gear, with a loaded rifle and if you are doing it legally, it’s your right. It doesn’t mean that I respect your decision. The same person marching on the town square, well dressed, with a rifle that I could see was unloaded and safe, would gain my attention in a good way. Remember that this is the opinion of a Second Amendment supporter, and the opinion of many other Second Amendment supporters. Please remember that while the Second Amendment DOES guarantee the right to bear arms, it comes with a responsibility to do it in a safe and responsible manner.