Many citizens who embrace the Second Amendment to our Constitution contend that it is a bad idea to openly carry firearms in public. They fear it will lead to laws that criminalize openly carried firearms and maybe even concealed firearms. Or worse yet, government might criminalize the ownership of entire classes of firearms such as AR-15 rifles. Is there any truth to this? Let’s start with a brief look at history . . .
Remember when Chicago criminalized ownership of handguns? Remember when Washington D.C. criminalized possession of an operable firearm in the home? Need I mention New York City’s downward spiral to the current situation over several decades? Or the New York SAFE Act? And how about the 1990s? Does everyone remember the federal “assault weapons” ban and magazine capacity restrictions? How about the federal gun free school zone act?
However government justified those laws, I can tell you one thing for certain: they did not enact those laws as a response to citizens openly carrying firearms. Were people parading around Chicago with openly carried handguns? Around Washington D.C. with openly carried and operable firearms? Around the nation with openly carried “assault riles”? Around schools with openly carried firearms? Obviously not. The government entities who passed laws that criminalize ownership and possession of firearms passed those laws because they want to disarm citizens, period.
At this point I am sure someone is saying, “But look at California! They banned openly carried loaded firearms after the Black Panthers stormed the legislature and then again after people openly carried unloaded handguns!” True. And how about all the additional subsequent bans that have absolutely no relationship to openly carried firearms? How about the “may issue” concealed carry situation in much of the state that is effectively “no issue”? Again, it is the simple fact that the California legislature wants complete civilian disarmament and is doing everything possible to make that happen.
Regardless of the legislative/legal history of criminalizing ownership and possession of firearms, let’s look at this in a simple and pragmatic way. What good is a “right” if we cannot exercise the right for fear that we will “lose” the right? Does that not mean the right is already lost? The logical paradox should be obvious and yet no one seems to see it. What kind of strategy is this? Are we hoping to save the right to carry openly until we really “need” it, only to be banned then?
Don’t think for a second that government or anyone else will be content with banning open carry. I already mentioned the continued assault on the Second Amendment in California long after they banned open carry. And look at concealed carry. Look at the lists of “prohibited places” in various state concealed carry laws. Illinois’ concealed carry law criminalizes concealed carry in something like 22 locations. Michigan’s concealed carry law criminalizes concealed carry in something like 10 locations. Other states criminalize concealed carry in various locations as well such as churches, bars, schools, hospitals, university campuses, parks, etc.
Bans on concealed carry in various locations obviously have nothing to do with open carry and yet they exist. They exist because the forces of civilian disarmament are criminalizing as many firearms as possible, in as many locations as possible, and owned/possessed in any way possible. And where they have not been able to criminalize firearms directly, they have put up as many hurdles and obstacles as possible to armed citizens.
The situation is clear. There are forces pushing for total civilian disarmament. How can we ever oppose that push if we hide our faces and our firearms at all times? What kind of a right do we have if we cannot exercise it for fear that government will infringe on that right? How will the public ever learn that good people own firearms and that those firearms do not magically turn those good people into violent criminals if they never see us with firearms?