That damn open carry thing

So, with the recent shooting in Moscow, Idaho in the news, it also seems that a couple of kids from Idaho are similarly making headlines. Admittedly, their headlines aren’t for going around plugging people, but rather for them exercise their right to carry…openly.

Zach Doty, 18, carries a loaded Glock handgun on his hip. His 15-year-old brother, Steven, carries a .22-caliber rifle in a sling on his back.

Police have been called on several occasions to question the teens but have not found the teens to be in violation of the law.

In Idaho, residents 18 and older can openly carry a firearm in public. And those ages 13 to 17 who have parental permission can carry a rifle in public.

I like open carry as it appeals to the part of me that doesn’t feel like I should have to hide a handgun any more than one would hide a screwdriver. Sebastian looks at the issue from the point of the context of your situation, inasmuch that if he (or I) saw someone with a slung rifle in Kroger it would definitely grab our attention. I generally agree with that; I also agree with SailorCurt who pointed out in the comments that the kids were doing this specifically to get a reaction.

Like I said above, I like open carry. I can carry a more effective firearm with a higher level of personal comfort openly than I can concealed; and I also wouldn’t ever have to wear any article of clothing with the word “tactical” in it. The biggest problem with open carry though isn’t from me; it’s in the reactions of the people that witness open carry.

Generally, when people see a person with a gun strapped on in public, they have one of two reactions: A) “Oh, he must be a cop”, and B) “WTF CALL THE POLICE”. The 2nd reaction is generally the one I’d like to avoid. Hardcore advocates of OC will say that carrying openly gives you the chance to educate people on gun rights; I really disagree.

Guns (and gun owners) are negatively stereotyped all the time in this country. Like I’ve said before, if we want to keep our 2nd Amendment intact, the people we need to win to our side are the Joe Sixpacks and Suzy Soccermom’s in their Volvos. Tying your heater on and strolling through the public square is a great way to reinforce the “cowboy gunfighter” image of gun owners.

Worse yet, it’s not even our fault that we do that; most open carry advocates are responsible gun owners. It sucks, because we can’t even penetrate that first layer of stereotypes; honestly I think that if you’re open carrying it makes it even harder to educate people about the gun rights. Most people just see that heater and assume something negative.

When I was growing up “in the church”, a common phrase used on us teenagers was that we should “live our witness”; or to let how we acted be the loudest message of our faith. I always felt like that was a good message, and it’s a message that applies to gun owners as well. We’re all ambassadors of our sport/hobby/right to our non-gunny friends. I might sound a bit preachy here, but it’s of critical importance that we don’t do stupid shit like go around happily reinforcing silly-assed negative stereotypes about gun owners.

I love open carry, and I wish that I lived in a country where it was common and accepted. Unfortunately, it’s not and I don’t – and I’m not going to win anyone over by tying on a Glock and running around yelling “whatever, whatever, I’ll do what I want”.

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