In that, Sebastian was linking to the post I had here about a Cal State campus being locked down because someone saw an out of uniform ROTC kid walking back to his dorm with a parade rifle. The firestorm got started because initially Sebastian misidentified the gun as an M16, then I pointed out that it was actually a de-commed drill rifle and I figured end of discussion.
Seems as I wrong, as some people took exception to this comment.
If I saw someone openly carrying what looked like an M16 around campus, I’d probably be a little alarmed too.
This sparked a discussion about why you or I would be alarmed if I saw someone, not in a uniform, toting an AR around a college campus. The side of the argument opposite mine is of the belief that you shouldn’t be alarmed by it, because there’s nothing inherently threatening about someone with a rifle, and I can understand that point to a certain extent. Sebastian and I (and others) feel as though the context of the situation (kid on campus with gun out of uniform) would be sufficient to raise the hair on my neck and cause a certain level of alarm…at least until I’d had time to assess the situation. That’s the key part; I would be alarmed because seeing a rifle on a college campus is not a normal situation, and things that are outside the norm (especially when they involve firearms) are sufficient to alarm me.
My alarm would only last as long as it took me to examine the situation, for example, if that same rifle was being carried safely and the carrier him (or her) self didn’t trip any other perceptual alarms, I’d file it under “that’s odd” and be on my way.
My part in the conversation took a bad turn when I expressed a deep sense of frustration with a commenter who has been a long-time reader of both Sebastian and myself. My frustration wasn’t based on the current conversation, but rather the history of discussions that we’d previously had wherein I oft felt like I was slamming my head into a rather stubborn brick wall. The wall didn’t notice, and I ended up with a headache.
I’ve expressed before that I believe that open carry is a good thing, and that I’d like to be back in place where the open carrying and display of firearms is considered acceptable in public; but we’re not there right now. This is where I often come to the divide with other supporters of open carry, because I don’t feel like we should all strap iron on and go play outside. Just like concealed carry, open carry is about moving in stages; we’re not going to win by tying on a hog leg and going to market.
Rather, I feel like open carry needs to be gradually pushed into public awareness, because if you want it to be accepted, you can’t go around scaring middle-class soccer moms. That means that open carry on college campuses is pretty much out the window for now (with the possible exception of Utah), and so is open carry in a lot of other places for the same reason.
Virginia is a good example of how open carry can proceed in a good manner; because they have a culture of it, and because VCDL does a great job with that local issue, they have begun to really foster an environment where open carry can thrive. It’s all about moving incrementally; and I think they’re doing a good job.
I’ve said before that I support open carry, because it’s well in line with my personal philosophy; I continue to support open carry. But I support doing it intelligently, don’t go walking around a bunch of cops with a .45 tied on and swagger about with a “this is legal you can’t touch me” attitude, because that hurts our case. Same with toting your drill rifle openly on a California campus, even though it’s a deactivated rifle it doesn’t help our case. Open carry, but do it intelligently. Don’t scare whitey.