Why we criticize open carry

I’ve gotten some flak recently (and in the past) for my criticism of the obnoxious behavior I see from Open Carry “Activists.” Usually it’s people saying that criticizing OC presents a divided front to the anti-gun activists. The problem with that assertion is quite eloquently summed up by Tam in a comment:

[F]rom the outside? That douchebag doesn’t just represent Robb [Allen]; he represents you and me and Todd, too.

Non gun-owners don’t grok any OC/CC schisms; they just see “gun owners acting like toolbags”.

This is the sad truth.

wonka open carry

See, to the middle class, to non-gun owners, and people neutral on the issue there are no schisms in our community. They see us as the media represents us, a giant blob of gun owners marching in lock-step to the tune of the NRA’s piper. While we know that couldn’t be farther from the truth, that is in fact how the very people we need to keep being neutral to our cause see us.

This is why it’s important for us to call out bad behavior when we see it. That dude with the rifle in Starbucks? That becomes you, that becomes me in the minds of non-aligned/neutral voters. Yes, there are 80 million gun owners in America, but how many of those people actively vote on the gun issue as a core issue? I’ll tell that it’s not enough should we ever get in a situation where the neutral votes turn against us.

We have as a movement made great strides in just the time that I’ve been around. But getting those advances in protecting rights haven’t come by shoving rifles into people’s faces and shouting “LOOK AT MY GLOCK” like a needy child. They’ve come through the hard work of dedicated volunteers and activists, from people calling, faxing, and writing their representatives. Alan Gura didn’t win Heller by slamming an AR15 onto the desk of the Supreme Court and yelling “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED OC4EVA”, and we as a community won’t continue to move the ball forward if we think that being the Westboro Baptist Church of Gun Rights is a good, or laudable idea.

No one is saying OC should be banned. In fact, Open and Concealed Carry should be legal in every single state in the union. But that path to that legalization doesn’t visit Jerkville, and we certainly won’t reach that laudable goal of 50-state carry by acting like tools.


  1. “Maybe those guys need to take some effort to rein in the extreme members of their group.”

    How, exactly, are us normal OC’ing folks supposed to rein in a small minority of “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED” types carrying shotguns and rifles into restaurants? I have control over my actions, not theirs. Best I can do is say “hey, knock it off children”

    1. Not you in specific, but perhaps when people are offering reasonable criticism of OC trolls, instead of defending them we should all band together and hit them with a rolled up newspaper.

      “No! Bad activist, no!”

  2. It is nice to view the 2nd amendment as moral high ground and principle that cannot be changed. However, our “rights” can be changed and will be changed if we do not appear and act reasonable.
    I agree with the case the article makes which essentially is “clean your own house or have it cleaned for you.” If gun owners truly believe in the cause they advocate then they need to be socially aware, calibrated, and protective of their message so it is not broadcast to the world by unreasonable nutjobs. We have clearly seen this process destroy the Republican party from the inside out.
    The pro-firearm citizens face the exact same issue dealt with recently by Starbucks. The credibility of the pro-firearm platform is being spent and undermined by people who are acting like idiot termites to a reasonable and consistent message.
    The availability of a firearm and a qualified, law-abiding user can be looked at like someone trained at CPR; they may save a life and stabilize a situation while the “first responders” are on the way. This is a very reasonable and sound message.

  3. They don’t represent anyone but themselves, but when you can’t rationally explain why you think someone exercising their right and resort to simple ad hominem attack you show the lack of substance in your position.

    Fact of the matter open carry a viable option and maybe if we made the move to see people stop panicking and help them become more comfortable with seeing a weapon and recognizing it is what a person does with it that should concern them, not the person having it.

    OC people have no reason to alter their behavior for anyone, as the saying goes a right not exercised is a right lost. Stop attacking them and realize they aren’t the problem, the cops who illegally arrest and harass them and the people who have the mindset that anyone but the government thugs (cops) who openly carry are criminal.

  4. What point would that be, because I don’t open carry myself and I’ve been rather civil, where as your whole post comes down to demonizing people for not sharing your belief and calling them names, such as “tools”

    It is a sad to see how emotionally invested you are in criticizing and ostracizing people who disagree with you, would have been nice to see you discuss intelligently.

    Have a good one though.

    1. I agree with you David_TheMan. The problem we are facing is that the 2nd Amendment Right has been kept under cover for far too long. Now that it’s coming out into the OPEN, people are freaking out. Fact of the matter is, we have the right to open carry to protect ourselves. Now I have to ask myself, how many states will allow me the right to open carry any weapon of choice that is legal to own and have it loaded? Here’s the deal, we’ve been pushing for concealed carry throughout the 50 states, but we should be pushing for the right to practice the 2nd Amendment in all 50 states; we don’t have that right back yet.We’ve been infringed upon.

  5. There is no “gun culture”. Opinions vary wildly as are reasons for owning.
    Owning a gun does not make you part of “the gun owning family”. There is no collective. We are simply Americans that happen to own guns. And the vast majority has no real interest in each other.

    There IS the Second Amendment. It’s the only thing that very loosely and delicately binds gun owners together.
    Only one thing will cost us our rights: INFIGHTING

    How’s this happening?
    Hunters declaring there’s no need for semi autos and magazines.
    Carve outs for police, government employees and elected officials.
    Gun owners attacking OC demonstrations.
    Calling hunters “Fudds”
    Whining about the “tacticool”
    Not voting.
    Not supporting those that effectively defend your rights.

    The list does go on. Gun owners are doing it to themselves. Of course it looks bad to those sitting on the fence that could be swayed. Not to mention, you’re giving the anti’s the tools to take away our rights

    The gun owning Americans need to be less concerned about the types and reasons. And only concerned about defending every law abiding Americans’ rights.

    If you want to collect, buy, sell, hunt, compete, conceal/open carry, as freely as possible, do what your mama told you (regarding other gun owners, anyway). If you can’t say something nice, shut the hell up. Every word against a law-abiding American exercising their 2nd Amendment right lawfully is an attack against yourself and every other law-abiding gun owning American.

    Stop helping the opposition.

    1. The anti-gun groups are well organized and they play the game very well. By taking baby steps, they try to remove rights that only a few of us care about. If a gun that we do not own is banned we have lost just as much as the people that own that gun. Just as “UBC”, how could any “honest” gun owner object?
      OC and CC both should be legal in all of the US, but we are on the defensive in a lot of places. NRA and SAF are the people that are fighting for us and we need to support them. I know that we will at times object to the methods or approaches will not match our personal priorities, but they are the glue that holds us together.

  6. Waving a rifle in someone’s face is brandishing a weapon which is illegal in every state and I don’t believe OC enthusiasts are practicing that action.

    It really kills your point when you misrepresent the opposition to try to gain ground.

    It seems to me the anti-OC gun owners are no different than the civil rights activist who were telling the young kids in the 60s to not rock the boat too much you don’t want to upset the supporters of the status quo.

    There is room enough in the pro 2nd Amendment movement for OC and CC supporters and like Howdy said we should be trying to remove restrictions on our rights, not in fighting.

    1. Waving a rifle in someone’s face is brandishing a weapon which is illegal in every state…

      I really wish the internet would stop telling me that.

      Fun Fact: I have a copy of the Indiana Criminal Code right here and the word “brandishing” is nowhere in it.

  7. Fun fact you are right, it doesn’t have the word brandish in it, but it doesn’t prohibit brandishing a weapon none the less.

    IC 35-47-4-3 Version a
    Pointing firearm at another person
    Note: This version of section effective until 7-1-2014. See also following version of this section, effective 7-1-2014.
    Sec. 3. (a) This section does not apply to a law enforcement officer who is acting within the scope of the law enforcement officer’s official duties or to a person who is justified in using reasonable force against another person under:
    (1) IC 35-41-3-2; or
    (2) IC 35-41-3-3.
    (b) A person who knowingly or intentionally points a firearm at another person commits a Class D felony. However, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the firearm was not loaded.
    As added by P.L.296-1995, SEC.2.


    1. Fun Fact: Laws are made of words.

      “Pointing a firearm at at another person” != “brandishing” or, as you put it, “waving”. You can wave your rifle in the air like you just don’t care in the Hoosier state and not be in violation of IC 35-47-4-3.

  8. David appears to be a lot less interested in conversation than he is in knocking down strawmen of his own construction.

    David, how about we do this instead – how do we as a community address the bad behavior by certain members of the OC activist group without upsetting your apparently delicate feelings?

  9. There is room for reason on both sides. I will support anyone’s inherent, God given right, as a matter of principle. Even though I may ardently disagree, the rules of civil discourse demand that I respect another’s REASONABLE position. However, that respect STOPS at the point another becomes UNREASONABLE. Please forgive the mental picture I’m about to paint, but I pray it makes the point. There is no law forbidding one to pick his nose at the local buffet, but no REASONABLE person would defend such a disgusting display. The owners or management would be justified in asking such a person to leave. And the consequences of such an action are minute, compared to the potential pushback an UNREASONABLE practice of OC could bring upon us all.

    For the record, I often OC. A disability (which I will not disclose) makes it difficult to conceal, literally depending on day to day pain. My business has me in public and travelling frequently. Whenever I OC, I make sure to be presentable, dress professionally, maintain a quiet and polite demeanor, and do everything possible to direct attention to my smile, not my hip. Over the years, I have been approached a few times by LEO’s. Not ONCE has this EVER escalated into an unpleasant encounter. It has, on occasion, turned into an enjoyable discussion of IDPA, training, gear, etc. I have absolutely no doubt that, if I had appeared to have been making a “statement”, or the least bit adversarial, my encounters may have been a little more unpleasant

    Though I generally detest off-the-cuff, ad hominem remarks or labels, I will agree with the term “tool”. The sad fact is, whether knowingly or not, “in your face” activists of ANY sort, play perfectly into the hands of those who would seek to disarm, contain, subjugate, or otherwise tyrannize us. Therefore, they are the perfect “tools” By all means, OC if you choose to do so. But make sure your head is as well armed as your hip. After all, one’s demeanor will betray, or confirm, one’s intent.

    1. Dude, you win 10,000,000 internet points for actually understanding the point! Thank you, this comment honestly made my day.

      1. Thanks, I appreciate that. The sad fact is, as you and i both know well, some will simply choose not to “get it”. There are some who are completely hopeless. However, I choose to believe that there are many who just don’t know any better, and have taken some really bad advice. I would like to think that some of those are still reachable. To that end, I encourage you to continue carrying on, and hopefully you can educate a few along the way. As the saying goes, “there’s no cure for stupid”, but maybe, just maybe, we can enlighten some of those who are merely “ignorant”.

        For the sake of full disclosure, I don’t always agree with your views on certain issues. However, I’m also man enough to admit that I am as prone to be wrong as anyone. I have learned from you, as well as some of your readers. And even when I disagree with you, I will endeavor to always do so respectfully. Keep on keeping on.

  10. @Tam
    Fun Fact: Laws are made of words.
    “Pointing a firearm at at another person” != “brandishing” or, as you put it, “waving”. You can wave your rifle in the air like you just don’t care in the Hoosier state and not be in violation of IC 35-47-4-3.
    I didn’t put it as waving, the post I responded to did though. So first off you are presenting a false argument. Second no one said your coudln’t wave your rifle in the air, the comment was about waving your firearm of preference in someone’s face and that is illegal in Indiana, while as you correctly pointed out it is not a statue called brandishing. Equally illegal though. 🙂 Thanks for playing.

    Fact is no one is arguing that anyone has the right to threaten or terrorize anyone, but I will never see how anyone can militantly exercise a right, and why that needs to be frowned upon.

    Like I said before it is the same faulty argument levied against the SNCC, SCLC and CORE by the NAACP during the 60s and it is flawed. Instead of trying to appease and make excuses for your rights, recognize the ones who are infringing on it are the one who need to be on the defensive.

    David appears to be a lot less interested in conversation than he is in knocking down strawmen of his own construction.

    David, how about we do this instead – how do we as a community address the bad behavior by certain members of the OC activist group without upsetting your apparently delicate feelings?

    What strawmen of my creation have I knocked down when every post I have has been in reference to another post on this page. If you again don’t have the ability to backup your stance, admit it, but you ridiculous ad homenim attacks and now out right lying makes you look terrible with regard to engaging in logical discussion.

    We aren’t a part of the same community, hell all of us pushing for a strengthend 2nd amendment aren’t even doing it for the same reasons. Ad hoc fellowship of different parties would be more apt, instead of trying to single out a group, this case people fighting for their right to OC without looking to be “agreeable” you should support them and tell people that they are still acting within their right or at best say nothing.

    But you don’t want that, you want to demonize a select group so you can feel good about yourself in the eyes of the people who don’t support you, in hopes they will accept you exercising your right and it is ridiculous and counter productive to accomplishing the goal of strengthening 2nd amendment protections..

    I’ll add if you had written this article about people who were wrong and breaking the law or doing unethical actions you would have a point, but you haven’t, you’ve written a article to attack people you don’t like because they don’t think or agree with the actions you deem preferable and it is ridiculous.

    Instead of getting mad at the more militant ones, get mad at the people who are violating their rights, and that means the cops who arrest them illegally and then try to claim it was for safety no the cops are wrong by the very law they are supposed to uphold. The people who are scared will be scared and nothing but immersion to being faced with the reality of OC will cure that irrational fear.

    If a private establishment bans it, that is that establishments right and I don’t see any in the OC crowd saying they want to violate private property and do what they want on someone else’s property, if you do post up that group and I’ll be on your side, but until then you are simply aiding the fight against you by trying to instigate in-fighting.

    1. I’m sorry David, but you’ve spent this entire conversation operating under the incorrect assumption that I’m against open carry or that I want to demonize people. Since you’re incapable of grasping the central point of the post as it was written, please take any further comments you may have elsewhere.

  11. (Grabs popcorn)
    Unfortunately, there are lots of idiots with guns, and they occupy that vast, easily accessible space we call the interwebz. We, as gun owners have to fight these assumptions that all of us are patently fools and with each new YouTube video saying “ZOMG!!!!! Bumfuzz cops hold PATRIOTIC AMERICAN at GUNPOINT”, we have to deal with another person seeing the video saying “Wow, that guy really is sitting there, being a dick to those Police Officers and not even saying his name. I’d have tazed this a$$hole already.” Let’s face it, no idiotic comments like “the shoulder thing that goes up” or “Speed Reload” Joe Biden’s shotgun “advice” get much publicity, but all it takes is a video about an OC advocate showing up at a political rally to get Piers Morgan’s waxy British coiffure ruffled.

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