The Open Carry Experience Part 4: Our own worst enemy

Cracked has an article about Open Carry Texas. I agree with the general points made in the article, and it illustrates the biggest problem I have with Open Carry: the actions of a few extreme actors come to represent gun culture as a whole, and they’re hurting the cause. It’s almost like I said something along these lines yesterday:

When Open Carrying, whether I like it or not, I am acting as a representative for literally every other gun owner on the planet by virtue of carrying my gun where people can see it. That is quite a lot of responsibility.

Don't be this guy.
Don’t be this guy.

This is what I struggle most with during the OC project; despite the fact that I had another uneventful OC day, and I actually find that method of carry to be quite comfortable. I don’t want to be that guy, and I worry that their attention whoring antics have spoiled the pot for the rest of us. Because when Cracked and Bill Maher are talking about OC Texas and I agree with them, you have a serious problem. That’s a major image problem, and it’s not one that is going to go away unless the mainstream firearms community does something about it.

But what can we do? All too often, we’re quick to eat our own for any perceived deviation from ideological purity. I think that two things are important: first, we have to reinforce in communication with regular folk that those guys don’t speak for us. They don’t speak for the majority of OC advocates even, and holy shit how bad is that? When regular OC advocates are all “hey bro, maybe you should calm down” you are definitely not walking the path of righteousness. The second thing to remember that it is on us to act like responsible gun owners and be good, positive representatives of the community when we’re interacting with people who know we own guns. Regardless of whether you’re open carrying or not, I cannot stress this enough: be a good ambassador. Don’t be that guy.

I’m going to keep Open Carrying, because these articles are interesting, and they’ve made me even more sensitive to this issue. I’m responsible, I’m well dressed, I’m using a good gun in a proper retention holster. I don’t want to get lumped in with those clowns, and I don’t think you want to either.


  1. Hey, even “That Guy” in the photo is not being scarily aggressive. A rifle that looks (to non-gun people) like a Fudd gun, slung on his shoulder — not carried at teh ready.

    Sure, he dresses dorky, but at least he isn’t going out of his way to intimidate people with his bad-assitude. (And yes, for a political rally as this photo was apparently taken, I would have preferred to see him in a shirt with a collar. But, baby steps.)

  2. My home state allows for open carry IN. I got my permit in 1983 and have kept one ever since. The strange thing is that I don’t know or seen anyone open carry. I’m all for open carry. But my reason is ? In case I accidently expose my handgun. And I like to OWB carry when hunting /fishing. With all the shooting going on today. And all the nuts going to the local hangout with a shotgun / rifle isn’t going to help us any.All that does is scare the sheep and give the anti`s more ammo.

  3. Thanks for OC series! Thankfully Ohio has both CC & OC, and I agree with many of your points in this 4 part series. Both CC and OC have their proper place and we must strive to be the best representative of the Second Amendment.

  4. So sick of hearing how you must dress up in business attire in order to OC the correct way. Get off your high horse. There is nothing wrong with OCing and wearing whatever you would like to wear.

    Is it ok to go down and vote in your dirty work close at the end of a long day? So why is it not ok to OC into a store in the same work clothes after a long day of work.

    Carry in the matter that you wish to carry OC or CC. Where what ever you enjoy wearing. If people don’t like it that is there problem to get over not yours.

    1. This is the problem, we are not presenting a united front. Some people (Troy, OC texas, etc.) believe whole-heartedly that OCing rifles in their “everyday” clothes will “normalize” OC and make people more inclined to view guns positively. Other people (Caleb, et. al.) believe that to properly do political manuevers you must manuever politically, and that means compromise. If you OC and break one cultural norm you CANNOT break several other cultural norms (sloppy dress, not shaving, overweight, not clean)and expect to be relevant. Troy you need to realize open carry is politics in most areas, and in politics relevance matters.

  5. Troy —

    Are you referring to MY comment, above? Because, this guy was AT A POLITICAL RALLY, trying to sell his cause VISUALLY.

    Yeah, when you are deliberately setting out to promote your cause by having people see you in public (especially in groups), you need to dress neatly and somewhat normally, if you want to be effective.

    I don;t give a damn if your cause is OC, or more funding for the local schools. If you look like a goon, gangster, or cave dweller, it WILL HURT YOUR CAUSE. That’s just politics, from a guy who HAS run a successful political campaign, and HAS managed to influence the laws passed in my area.

    Of course, if you just want to present a poor image and make your cause look bad, go right ahead. Personally, I always figured the point of a political cause was to WIN WHAT YOU ARE FIGHTING FOR.

  6. Target corporation basically told Gunsense to go to hell, that they’re going to respect the laws of each state and not ban guns from their stores. So why are you giving the Open Carry movement a hard time? In the words inspired from Bill Maher, are you a self-hating ammosexual? Suffering from internalized ammophobia? Seriously, you’re agreeing with Cracked and Bill Maher? Two of the biggest gun haters around? Dude! We are winning! Just like the gays are getting gay marriage all over the country, we’re getting gun rights all over the country. If you want to win in America, you need a parade! You need to make a stand, show up, be seen, and unlike blacks in the 60s, we aren’t getting our asses kicked! So don’t bash the Open Carry movement, join us, wear a suit and tie if you like to, but stop attacking the people doing something to advance our gun rights.

    1. But the Texas “lookitme!!” OC movement is not advancing the cause of gun rights… no more than the person who set your car on fire has fixed the heater.

  7. I always carry CC. I hope that I will NEVER have to use my gun for personal protection. I don’t want to advertise that I have it on. I feel that OC is a bit like flexing your muscles on the beach to impress someone (an awful lot of people would look pretty silly doing that). Do these avatars in OC really truly think they are changing people’s opinions about guns by flaunting their equipment? If so, it seems to suggest delusions of grandeur.

    Some very smart social psychologists have shown that the attitudinal effects of mere exposure can have a bipolar outcome. If one’s initial attitudes are neutral or positive, mere exposure leads to more positive attitudes. However, if one’s initial attitudes are negative, mere exposure leads to greater negativity. Just guess where most people’s initial attitudes are likely to be….


    1. Open carry is extremely common in Israel, so I don’t see it as flexing your muscles, as long as you’re not pointing the gun at people and yelling threats, you’re not a threat. Bob, you can’t change everyone’s opinions but we are winning converts, and the OC is spreading all over America, not just in Texas.

      As for social psychology, I take it with a grain of salt. The anti-gunners use social psychology, there was a study that having a gun on the table led people to have heated discussions vs. not having the gun. See? Sometimes it’s junk science. I do however believe that everything that’s weird becomes normal. Look at tattoos, they used to be the domain of criminals, bikers, and soldiers, now they’re everywhere, doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, blue collar, white collar, even the former editor of the New York freaking Times has tattoos. Or what about gays? I remember going to the movies and hearing people boo and jeer whenever two gays would kiss, now they don’t care.

      It’s the same with open carry, people will get used to it, we’ll make sure of that.

  8. Yes, go OC nutjobs, wear whatever the hell you want with your weapons. It doesn’t matter if you have a shirt and a tie, you are still threatening others by carrying a weapon. Don’t you get it, people are scared of the weapon, and with good reason. You can kill them, and that is the only reason you have a gun, to kill someone.
    Your need for security comes at the expense of everyone else’s. You want to feel comfortable, well so do I. But if I see you in a public place, I’m going to leave, because even police officers make mistakes and I know that they are trained. I don’t know that about you.

    So let’s be clear, you are alienating others and driving them from public places. If you want to live in a civil society with others, this cannot stand.

    There is no justification for OC in civil society, where laws are enforced by a publicly trained and maintained force (i.e., LEOs). None. And neither is there for CC.

    1. Fortunately for those of us that value our freedom and security our forefathers disagreed. Our right to carry is codified by the constitution. Your right to “feel secure” is not. As you can see from my other posts I do not agree with the OC advocates on every issue, but whether right or wrong they have the constitutional right it bear arms. I hope you realize that when you read the writings of Machiavelli you are the one being ruled, not the ruler.

    2. Israel is full of CIVILIANS open carrying weapons and nobody’s scared, so frankly, I don’t give a crap if some AINOS (Americans In Name Only) are scared, they are wussies, they need to grow up. Yes, cops do make mistakes, but are all cops punished for the mistakes of a few? Of course not, so why should I accept to be treated like a 2nd class citizen just because of the rare possibility of an OC activist making a mistake?

      “So let’s be clear, you are alienating others and driving them from public places. If you want to live in a civil society with others, this cannot stand. ”

      Whatever, we gun owners are also part of civil society, we’re not going to sit in the back of the bus. This is standing, this will continue to stand, and we’re going to force the pro-gun and anti-gun businesses to come out of the closet once and for all.

      1. Please stop comparing OC in Israel to the United States. They are two completely different cultures, one of which has compulsory military service. Most of the Israelis you see OCing are in the military and off-duty or still in the reserve.

    3. Thank you for a sensible post, OC is pointless when you have the ability to CC and is damaging to the cause. Gun owners should take pride in being responsible and reasonable or else we will inevitably lose the rights we fought so hard to keep. How will you pro OC people respond once large groups of gangster looking thugs with gold chains, tear drop tattoos and baggy pants hanging below their asses start taking advantage of this “right”? How would you feel if you were working in a retail store and a group of Lil Wayne looking thugs walked in while carrying AK 47’s? Would you want your children to be exposed to that? That is the future of this ignorant movement. Be smart and don’t blindly support every pro gun movement without objectively considering the consequences. I can’t help but notice that movements like OC have a scary resemblance of the same tactics used by extreme liberals, it’s the same selfish intolerant mindset. Do we really want to stoop to that level? Level headed gun owners need to distance themselves from such fools and not be afraid to speak the truth!

  9. Feeling secure is the basis for my first amendment rights. In effect, your OC is a prior restraint on my ability to enjoy my first amendment rights.

    And honestly, while the constitution may protect it, it also protected the owners of slave for a long time. That just doesn’t mean a whole lot. Common sense pretty clears show there is a lot to be gained from basic federal regulation. Get rid of OC and CC. Neither is necessary, neither protects more than it endangers. We have police, let them do their job.

    Ironically, it’s OCers are making NCers into second class citizens.

    1. So the truth comes out at last, your issue isn’t with open carry but with ALL CARRY, you hate the 2nd Amendment, you support gun control, you even have the audacity to tell us to just let the cops do their jobs. Really? Did the cops save Matthew Sheppard? 99% of the time a cop isn’t around when you need one. Maybe you should google “guns save lives” to see stories of people who didn’t listened to your advice and are alive today because they relied on themselves and not on some cop.

      As for your first amendment rights, guess what? You still have them! What are you afraid of? That I’m going to shoot you because you disagree with me? By the way, your 1st amendment rights have NOTHING to do with feeling secure. We have a Bill of Rights, not a Bill of Feelings. The 1st Amendment gives you freedom of speech, religion, and association, and it only protects you from GOVERNMENT discrimination, others can still tell you to STFU.

    2. Get rid of CC? Now I regret commending you on an earlier sensible post. CC is the greatest defense tool our society has.

  10. Sure, make fun of me because I use the word “feelings.” Are you a big strong man!? Did you go jerk off at a Rand Paul rally today? Libertarian. Translation: I don’t like to pay my taxes. Objectivist! Translation: I haven’t read an actual book of philosophy. Or, I’m a shill for capitalism.

    If you don’t get how being secure makes one able to move freely, speak freely, assemble freely, then you’re an idiot. Why the fuck do you carry to begin with? Because you’re afraid of those black people you see on the news. You’re the coward. I don’t need a gun to go outside, unlike you. And you’re missing the whole point. You need to feel secure so you tie on that fucking gun or have it at home at night. Fine. But when you bring it in public you are denying that right to me.

    1. I have said NOTHING about black people, yet you’re the one thinking about them, so who’s the racist now? As for why the fuck do I carry? I carry because it’s my right, and because I choose to live, i choose not to become a victim, I choose not to live like an ape, relying on physical strength. Man has the capacity to make tools, that’s what makes us superior to animals. As the saying goes, God created man, Colt made them equal. With guns all men are equal, doesn’t matter of you’re a 300-pound wrestler or an 84-year-old man. Guns like airplanes like scuba diving equipment help us overcome our biology. Without guns we’re just dirty beasts.

      1. That is quite enough from the both of you. You are now both in violation of the Gun Nuts Media Comment Policy. Further infractions will result in removal of posts and/or banhammer.

        Clean it up or take it elsewhere.

  11. Sorry. What’s banhammer? Is that like a banana hammock? I take it you mean a ban. Feel free to delete my last comment, again, as I apologize for the foul language, personal attack.

    A joke, to lighten the mood: “A biologist, a chemist, and a statistician are out hunting. The biologist shoots at a deer and misses 5ft to the left, the chemist takes a shot and misses 5ft to the right, and the statistician yells, ‘We got ‘im!’ ”

    But more seriously, when you say “I choose not to be a victim,” that indicates that you are afraid of someone or something. You would have to be a fool in the United States not to associate gun violence with blacks, as statistics and media representations continually do (this is merely a statement of fact, not an affirmation of their truth). The 2ndA is not colorblind. If it were, then this small portion of the American population (African-Americans, 13%) would not constitute the majority of victims of gun violence.

    1. So by me being a black american who has a concealed carry permit & carries concealed and/or open everyday would make me a triple threat. Forget the fact that im a law abiding citizen and currently deployed in the middle east. A lot of the black on black gun crime are criminals shooting at other criminals in lower income urban neighborhoods but your right Niccolo the right to keep and bear arms is colorblind.

      1. If I was black I would never open carry. That sounds like putting a target on your head. Honestly, even CCW sounds pretty dangerous for someone who’s black. Imagine being able to CCW in Harlem while stop and frisk was going on.

        1. “Stop and frisk” only affects criminals with illegal guns. If you have a license to carry a concealed weapon (hard to get in NYC but possible), the cops can’t do nothing against you.

          1. Right, police never act without proper grounds. Have you forgotten that you are one of these pro gun rights nutjobs who is incredibly wary of even the slightest hint of excessive governmental power? Or does that not matter for blacks and hispanics?

            It’s great for guys who know nothing about the experience of stop and frisk to go pontificating ignorantly about how anyone who is legal has nothing to worry about.

            Tell that to blacks in the South during the early 20th century who wanted to vote.

          2. 1. If the police act without proper grounds they can get sued, arrested, end up in jail themselves. I love the movie Robocop, but in reality you can’t put your fingers inside a suspect’s nose and torture him a bit.

            2. I’m a right-libertarian, not anarchist. I don’t mind government power when it’s used to fight crime, I mind it when it turns law-abiding citizens into criminals. When it treats a lawful activity like concealed carry as a crime.

            3. Don’t blame me for stop and frisk, that is the result of the Big Government society Bloomberg and his gun-hating police chief wanted. In Tennessee we don’t need stop and frisk, instead we have stand your ground and a castle doctrine and legal open carry of a handgun without a permit. In NYC it’s very hard for the good guys to get a gun, so the only way to stop the bad guys is to stop and frisk them. Ironically, the policy was working, we know this because DeBlasio ended stop and frisk and now crime is going up again.

            I’m surprised you don’t support stop and frisk, a big liberal like you should be excited about a cop patting you down.

  12. niccolo machiavelli June 16, 2014 at 06:52 —

    “Feeling secure is the basis for my first amendment rights. In effect, your OC is a prior restraint on my ability to enjoy my first amendment rights.”

    Where in teh WORLD did you get THAT idea?!? What court case, etc., did you derive THAT from?

    Feeling secure ISN’T a right. And the First Amendment has NOTHING to do with security or feelings – it’s the right to express yourself peacefully and freely, to practice your religion, and to join with others to do the same, without interference from the government.

    What if someone said, “Feeling secure is the basis for my first amendment rights. In effect, racially mixed marriages threaten me and are a prior restraint on my ability to enjoy my first amendment rights.”? Would that be reason to discard Loving v. Virginia? (And that isn’t even based on an ENUMERATED right. . . )

    1. This isn’t really a complicated issue. The main point is that there are certain conditions that make our civil rights possible. For example, if I was a black in the South during the beginning of the 20th century, I might have had the right to vote, but I would not have had the feeling of security to make it possible for me to exercise that.

      Of course I’m not saying that “feeling secure” is a right enumerated in the Bill of Rights. All I’m saying is that there are conditions for these fundamental rights. Thus, children and insane people are excluded from some of the protections of the Bill of Rights. That means simply that they have not achieved the basic conditions by which they are protected by them.

  13. Wait a minute; what happened to “an armed society is a polite society?”
    Why is it SO easy to push buttons which turn people into verbally aggressive troglodytes?
    Is it possible to measure the effects of OC vs CC? Might it just be possible that we could define a goal here and measure progress toward it?

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