“I know a lot of us get a lot of negative attention because they think we are here trying to scare people, and that we are tough with my gun,” Come and Take It marcher Courtney Bohlman told kvue.com. “But in reality, I just don’t want people to feel afraid of guns, because guns are not what’s scary, it’s the people who wield the guns inappropriately, that’s what’s scary.” True but – wouldn’t a couple of people strolling down main street with their firearms, doing what normal people do, be better for normalization? Don’t get me wrong. Open carry marches are extremely important on a number of levels. But I don’t think they reprogram fence straddlers. Am I wrong?

132 Responses to Question of the Day: Do Open Carry Marches Normalize Guns?

  1. I think it creates a sense of extreme discomfort for those who aren’t accustomed to guns. The best way I’ve seen to initiate non believers is to take them shooting and demonstrate how safe it is

    • I agree. You only normalize guns if you look like you are doing a normal activity. That is a fun shoot, a shooting competition, hunting, or gun safety course. The best way is to make the gun games public and out in the “square” per se and then they get normalized.

    • Yes, but how exactly do you take a stranger to the range, especially when he doesn’t want to go?

      Being able to take someone to the range implies at least some curiosity on their part and a possible willingness to overcome their hoplophobia.

      For them to get to that point, they have to actually see guns and realize that they aren’t objects of extreme fear.

      • You’re right Ralph, but these same folks are not going to positively influenced by an open carry march. Open carry provides ammo for the anti’s as the media is always going to put these events in a negative light.

        • We don’t need them to like guns; just to accept them as a normal part of life. Two different things.

      • Literally EVERY person I have ever ohhhh-so-casually mentioned the words “would you like to go sometime?” to has jumped at the chance.

        Showing people that guns are not these evil machines that jump up and murder given the first opportunity is a big step in making people feel comfortable around fire-arms and thinking for themselves.

      • I agree with you and it is a valid point, but I just don’t feel that open carry rallies (which I’m not saying are bad in themselves, I’m just referring to their relation to this particular subject) will do anything to promote a sense of normalcy about firearms. If anything, a lot of these anti gunners will only view an open carry rally as a gathering of lunatics waving their super deadly high capacity clip assault weapons of death around. Trying to promote a sense or normalcy is important, but dealing with hoplophobes is difficult as they have a fear of firearms and those who carry them that you and I both know is irrational

      • “Yes, but how exactly do you take a stranger to the range, especially when he doesn’t want to go?”

        At gunpoint. Duh.

    • Absolutely. Invite people who are non involved in the pro/anti debate to go to the range and they have a great time every time. Big smiles all around. If they are already an anti it is much tougher to get them to go and have a good but it is still possible.

      Taking people to the range is our secret weapon for ultimate victory and restoration of our guns rights: when you could order rifles and pistol from the Sears Catalog and have them shipped to your house, when every single high school had a shooting team and not one was ever hurt, when ROTC students would have rifles in their lockers….

      Also help Boy Scouts with their Riflery Badge every chance you can. Also take girls shooting cause they become “Mom’s Who Don’t Demand Action cause why would they”.

      • This is pretty off-the-topic here, but I wanted to comment on the Boy Scout thing. I am an NRA instructor, and have looked in volunteering with the Scouts, but my recollection is they allow only single-shot .22s or bolt-action magazine-fed .22s (no tubular mags, no semi-auto) and no pistols of any kind. I’ve taught a lot of teenagers to shoot and I wouldn’t dream of taking a teenager to a range and limiting them to a bolt-action or single-shot .22 rifle. Most would be bored to tears. This policy seems silly to me, and is why I have never volunteered.

        • I don’t disagree, but for some youngsters this will be there first if not only exposure to shooting. In both cases it can be the spark that lights a lifetime of interest. “If it only saves one kid” from a life devoid of guns isn’t it worth it?

        • My BS experience was that we went to the range, had a single shot bolt action, and got 10 rounds at a time per target round. It might not seem like crazy fun to a jaded lifetime gun owner, but as a kid it was amazing. And when we got “bored” of the targets, the worst we did was start shooting the clothespins that held the targets.
          We also did skeet shooting, but that was limited more by cost, since 22lr was so cheap back in the early 80’s.

    • I totally agree. I’ve never had someone refuse a range invitation, ever.

      As to the OC marches, I’m equivocal on sidearms. I really wish OC advocates wouldn’t march with long guns, though. I don’t routinely carry long guns around, the police don’t do it, security forces don’t do it (unless you’re talking about Los Alamos or something). Frankly, I’m as pro-gun as you get, and I don’t want to “normalize” carrying long guns. I was always taught you carry a handgun when you are not expecting trouble, and if you know trouble is imminent, you grab a rifle. When I see someone with a rifle who is not hunting or at the range, my immediate thought is: “That guy is expecting to need a weapon.”

      Going to Starbucks with an M4 on your back, in my humble opinion, makes us look like loons.

      • When I see it, I think “That guy is using the only means available to him to advance his agenda, while complying with the law.”

        Legalize constitutional carry and this open carrying of rifles business will go away in an instant.

        • I guess we just disagree. My threat radar goes off when I see a long gun in suburbia. Even if it’s a cop, I think, “Something bad is going down – that cop has his rifle out of the trunk.”

    • That works, but it’s not practical. Peaceful, public demonstrations worked for every other aspect of the civil rights movement. Gays rights didn’t come about via a series of Take Your Straight Friend to Key West excursions, afterall. It was court fights and parades and nonthreatening portrayals in the media.

      We need to distinguish between bringing people into the POTG fold, and simply convincing people to leave us and our rights alone. Nobody’s personal safety is harmed one bit by my or anyone else’s lawful use of self-defense firearms.

    • Why do I have to watch two men make love on television just because I am watching a major network television show but my firearm is offensive?
      When I drop my son off at school every morning, why is it OK for a 14 year old girl to display her ass and camel toe because the fashion these days is to wear tights as outer wear?
      Why is it acceptable to have “tent city” full of garbage under a highway overpass because we let insane people roam the streets?
      But I can’t open carry because it is scary.

  2. They just make non-gun-people think you are strange. Same as the “stand strong” photos and such.

    • After 20 years of open carry marches, they won’t think we’re strange anymore. They may not agree with us, but we won’t appear strange. That will be a victory for our side.

    • why does everyone bring an AR?

      I put it forward a while ago and I’ll say it again – bring something unique. It’s like watching a bunch of Camry’s drive in a parade.

        • Oh, yea. Can’t be putting no sling on that!!! A nice leather sheath would get a lot of comments. Soft, not a saddle boot, and if it is made from the hide of something you killed with it? That is just bonus points!

      • Yea, what you said!

        All manner of weapons to choose from, and some are beautiful works of art.

        The point a lot of OC marchers are trying to make, though, is about “scary black guns”(the racist angle should be used against leftards at every opportunity) that are the images used by media f**ks to push their anti-American agenda. So, that is what you see most. Oh, and because AR/M16/M4 is such a yuppie status symbol. too. All the “cool” kids got them, don’t ya know?!?!?

  3. The thing about an organized march is that an unsuspecting hoplophobic bystander is much less likely to panic and think it is a lone nut with a gun. More likely to recognize that it is a protest. Less likely to get hot and bothered and feel like they or the community is in danger.

    • Yeah, it’s kind of a catch-22. If you gather in a large group and march, it gets attention, but doesn’t do much for “normalization”, because it’s a special event. If you go out open carrying a rifle by yourself, you’re likely to spook the soccer moms and get negative publicity.

      We’re kind of screwed in Texas until we get open carry of handguns. There’s really no way to “casually” carry a rifle around in this day and age. It’s always going to look odd, so open carry of rifles doesn’t help with normalization much, no matter how it’s done. Open carrying handguns, though, will go a long, long way in that regard, as long as people just do it while going about their business and not drawing attention to it. Slowly folks will get used to seeing holsters on belts and stop even noticing it.

      • Exactly. I won’t open carry a rifle anywhere. I don’t need to. I will open carry a handgun, though.

        I will keep a rifle in my car, however. I doubt any defensive situation will arise that I can use my rifle any more effectively or “legally defendably” any more than my glock 17.

        But that’s not to say you shouldn’t have the option. People do weird things sometimes and we shouldn’t chide or restrict their rights to be different. If it doesn’t infringe on your rights? What does it matter?

        I think the person quoted in the article above was spot on.

      • Perhaps we licensed Texans could organize OC handgun marches right across the Red River in Oklahoma where we, even as out of state licensees, may do so.

        If it were organized, publicized and specifically branded as Texans demonstrating for their rights, then if could attract some media attention from the DWF media.

        • Media coverage would be the key, otherwise no point. You’d be normalizing Oklahomans who have no say in Texas state law. But if you could get good media coverage and make sure they mention that you had to actually leave the state to legally protest, that might help shine the stupid light on the no OCP law.

  4. open carry is good for gun rights . it combats the irrational fear in those who have never been exposed to them . those who do it should be applauded , they risk harassment and scorn to further our second amendment rights.

    • It either combats that irrational fear – or it causes the phobic to confront it, then write or call their legislators to “do something about it.” Few people with mental problems admit the problem is within themselves – they project the problem onto someone else. Hence, situations like California, where the open carry handgun brigade succeeded in getting open carry shut down, ’cause they scared the hoplophobes.

      My advice – only risk stirring up the anti-gunners when they can’t hurt you. If you try to “normalize” open carry in a decidedly hostile (demographically) location, the fact that they outnumber you is going to backfire politically.

      • That was OC by a group already regarded as marginal and to be dismissed. Blacks protesting with guns in the 60’s got open carry taken away. Blacks doing so now could help get open carry restored.

  5. The parades work eventually. The process takes years. Not many people showed up to the first March for Life events in the 70’s. Now there are routinely hundreds of thousands who come.

    • Ah yes, the anti-abortionists. Marching since the 1970s for the right of the underclass to produce more Trayvons.

      I really do think that lawful second amendment rallies are in a somewhat different category.

      • Look up the word “analogy” and then read again what I wrote. My point has nothing to do with whether the pro-life movement is correct.

      • >Marching since the 1970s for the right of the underclass to produce more Trayvons.

        Is that you, Margaret Sanger?

      • Tangentially related to the pro-life vs. pro-choice movement, it baffles me that the righties don’t want the lefties to have free contraception. One would think they’d be secretly pleased to offer free contraception to the welfare class and anyone they disagree with politically as a way to limit growth of opposing ranks. Or did I just out the big lie?

        • Problem is they DO NOT use that free contraception, it is money pissed away. Tax payer subsidized “free” contraceptives have been widely available for 20 years, and it is a total failure as far as reducing unplanned pregnancies or the spread of STDs. So, your little racist spew is just that, only thinly veiled racism.

        • Easy now. Lot’s of folks here are way too free with that label, and no “side” is blameless. Further, an observation is not necessarily personal opinion. Interesting to me how you took my comments and distilled them to racism on my part. You took liberties with that specifically, and you assumed you know where I stand politically. You can safely assume you know where I stand on one issue only.

        • Sorry, meant that to be a twofer, you and olorin, did not separate them properly. Doing 3 things at once is not conducive to properly placed comments.

          My point on your comment was that they don’t use what they have been given for free, the abortions performed stats bear that out. In cities/regions where the full on sex ed curriculum and condom and pill distribution is pushed, the rate of abortions performed is still high, mainly because abortion is pushed as a part of the contraceptives package, and has been for quite awhile..

          As long as they pay for their abortions themselves I don’t care. Still don’t like it, it is none of my business. When tax dollars are used for it, that is where I have a problem with it all.

        • Agreed! I’m happy to support prevention where society benefits, but abortion following indiscriminate sex by partners too lazy and/or ignorant to protect themselves, I don’t like. Gee this is starting to sound familiar, all this talk of self-protection and responsibility.

  6. A march is by definition something one does to get attention. As such you aren’t showing people that it’s “normal” to carry a gun; you are doing so in a way that says “this is unusual.”

    There is tension between two different groups in the Open Carry movement.

    One group insists that we should carry openly whilst going about our daily business, in a way that would be normal, and that that’s how we “normalize” it. Act naturally, in other words.

    The other group is much more in-your-face about it; they will (for instance) carry a long gun simply to make a statement. They probably wouldn’t do so otherwise. They are making a plea for attention and don’t much care whether it’s positive attention or not.

    Anyone who has been here for a while will have seen the argument between the attention-getters and the act-naturally crowds in the comments, or rather between non-open-carriers and the attention-getters; many have tarred all open carriers as being attention-getters, which is far from the truth.

    • I think there’s some space for both approaches, but it depends on the situation in a particular state.

      The short answer to the article’s question is no, open carry marches do not “normalize” guns. What they do is attract attention to an issue. I think marches are fine in areas where open carry is severely restricted or prohibited (e.g. Texas), because the objective is to attract attention.

      What normalizes firearms carry is “normal daily boring” open carry – in short, carrying a firearm openly while doing normal stuff (getting gas, groceries, eating at a restaurant, shopping, etc.). Normalizing firearms carry means making carrying a firearm a normal activity. Marches are not normal activities – they are political activities.

      As I mentioned in another comment, open carry is legal in my state, and a bunch of us will get together for a normal activity once a month (eating at a restaurant). It does attract some attention from other restaurant-goers but it is still following the mantra of people doing “normal things” while openly carrying. I don’t think there’s much of a purpose for marches in my state, unless there is a legislative threat that we need to confront – in which case a march is political action against that threat.

  7. I think marches can do the opposite, you’re gathering many like-minded people in a group with others looking on. It can show the level of support and grant awareness on the issue, but I don’t think it helps to normalize the practice. There could be a march on the issue of (for or against) abortion, illegal aliens, environmental protection polices, or gay marriage but it won’t really influence me. Seeing people in a normal atmosphere helps normalize things, conversation one-on-one helps normalize things, a mob of people with a different view does not necessarily help normalize things. It may get people to stop and think once they see how many people support the cause, though.

    The problem we face with normalization is that people have no experience and want no experience with firearms. If I see someone carrying I would be interested in talking to them about what they’re carrying, how they like it, how long they’ve been shooting, and all kinds of things. For outsiders they only see the gun and are stricken with fear because to most only criminals have guns or they think it’s an off-duty cop. I don’t know when or where the idea “good citizens don’t have guns” came from, but it’s a terribly unamerican concept.

    • Fred wrote, “I don’t know when or where the idea ‘good citizens don’t have guns’ came from, but it’s a terribly unamerican concept.”

      The absence of good citizens having visible firearms in public is the reason that lots of people think that good citizens don’t have guns.

      People see things one of two ways: either in real life or on television/movies. We all know that television/movies NEVER portray good citizens who are visibly armed in public. They only portray cops or criminals. And we never seem to see visibly armed good people in public in real life. So it should not be any surprise that people do not see good people who are visibly armed in public (whether in real life or on screen). Since we have no control over television/movies, we must exercise control where we can: in real life. That is why we have to carry openly as often as is practical.

      Important note: a recent prime time television show actually portrayed an armed citizen in the story line. The setting was a violent criminal holding a hostage in a convenience store. Of course the show portrays the armed citizen as a bumbling idiot who struggles to uncover and draw his handgun in a manner that alerts the violent criminal to his actions … resulting in the violent criminal fatally shooting him and two innocent bystanders. And then it should be no surprise that law enforcement quickly and safely stopped the violent criminal after the armed citizen messed up everything.

      If we are concerned about enlightening the masses, then we have to actually enlighten them. That doesn’t happen if we keep everything in the closet.

  8. I agree on both counts.

    Open carry marches serve their purpose. Peaceful gatherings have always been an effective way of affecting change in government. They get the headlines and pols love headlines.

    Open carry by only a few individuals going about their normal day-to-day business would do more to convert fence straddlers. The non politicians among us, the ones whose hearts and minds we need to win, don’t care about headlines. They care about their own emotions. And being able to say “that guy ain’t so bad” in regards to an individual open carrier is more effective in that realm.

    • So, in short, both the open carry marches and the “normal daily boring” open carry serve their purposes. Sounds good to me.

      The group I’m with hasn’t done any marches (at least none since I’ve been with ’em) but we do meet once a month at a restaurant somewhere in the state. We give a business some business, and are able to let other folks know that yes, the guns are real, and yes, it’s legal. In my state, OC is generally legal with no permit required (with a few exceptions, of course).

      Two days ago I was eating at a diner and ended up having a conversation with one of the waitresses about open carry. It’s simple interactions like that which help get spread the word about OC.

      I’m not sure whether or not open carry marches would help in my state, since open carry is already legal here. I think the approaches that we take here are good for us – the “normal daily boring” style and “get together to patronize a business” style. We’re not only educating the other patrons but educating the business folks too.

      • I didn’t think about that, but maybe that’s where the line is…

        In states that don’t allow open carry we need to push to get it allowed. That’s a legislative action, and marching and demonstrating would be effective.

        In states that DO allow open carry marches will just scare people. Rather we need the normalization approach to make sure we don’t LOSE open carry.

        I like it.

        • That makes sense. The only exception I might throw in is if there is a potential legislative threat to remove open carry, it could make sense to do a political demonstration/march in that case.

  9. Public demonstrations in general are remarkably ineffective, and there are better ways for us to spend our time. Those involved in the recent Colorado recall efforts are much more in tune with what works.

    Public demonstrations that include displays of weaponry just make us look like a bunch of nuts and make it easier for gun control zealots to marginalize us.

    • “Public demonstrations in general are remarkably ineffective”

      Really!!!!!!! History proves you wrong. Try again.

  10. My gut instinct is to say that it depends on the situation, and the effectiveness as an advocate of the person doing the carrying.

    If someone is going out there every day to the strange looks and questions of passersby, and suspicious conversations with the local constabulary, and comes out of those interactions unscathed and leaves those he interacted with feeling that he’s a decent guy, then it’s a gain. If not….well, it’s a loss.

    My feelings change a bit when it comes to rifles. Handguns are inherently a defensive weapon. Rifles, on the other hand, are an offensive weapon. It behooves any citizen to master their use, but my inclination is to not bring mine out in public unless I’m going to the range, going to hunt, or am heading for a fight that I can’t otherwise avoid.

    A mob of protesters armed with rifles kind of makes me uncomfortable unless I know exactly what they’re intentions are.

  11. I don’t think these gatherings are supposed to reprogram any fence-sitters. The show is more for the police and the politicians. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a carrying marcher maced and hauled off in quick cuffs. Police love to whomp the Occupy types and spray the college students. They are uncharacteristically polite to the armed marchers. And the politicians get to see just how many folks there are who are willing to stand together and shout “hell no!” while carrying their rifles.

    Reprograming the fence-sitters is best done my the average Joe/Jane just carrying about their day and not drawing attention to it. It’ll also result in better police training as it has here in NH. Several cities with transplant hoplophobes and Massholes have had to retrain their police to the fact that open-carry is perfectly legal in NH and carriers are not to be stopped, questioned or otherwise harassed simply because they are carrying.

    Normal behavior being reinforced through consistent application of said behavior. Not highlighted for grandstanding and media attention.

    So they both have their own purposes.

    • Great insight! I agree that the fence sitter isn’t the primary target audience for these rallies.

    • They are uncharacteristically polite to the armed marchers.

      If by polite you mean bullying them, handcuffing them, proning them out, stuffing them in the back of police cars and arresting them over trumped-up charges whenever possible, then yes, cops are polite to open carriers when they can pick them off one at a time.

      If by polite you mean avoiding confrontation with twenty armed men while cameras are rolling to expose the hypocrisy of police officers who are supposed to protect and serve but who actually instill fear and suspicion by violating the law, then yes, cops are polite when they have no choice otherwise.

  12. I think open carry marches do more harm than good.

    As other comments have pointed out, it make pro-gun people look like a bunch of nuts.

    You want a better solution to normalize gun ownership? … have a meeting of senior citizens, handicap and gays who conceal carry.

    Show doctors, lawyers, accountants, legislators and moms who conceal carry.

    When you get a bunch of guys in cammo walking around with AR-15’s slung on their backs, they promote the notion that pro-gun people are ‘gun nuts’.

    Instead, we need to promote the people who are normal every-day people who also happen to be CPL holders and pro-gun.

    • there is no reason that people at OC rallies cannot appear as every day people, as all of them are already.

      the largest OC rally I have been to – Jan 19 ’13 at the WA state capital – was predominantly people carrying in their average winter street clothes, some even in business clothing. very normal.

      however I agree on the camo and tactical clothes: KNOCK IT OFF. take a shower, and shave your disgusting “duck dynasty” beard. these are the people that are a minority at many OC events, but they stand out like a sore thumb of a stereotype, attracting the attention of the media above all others.

      many of these types seem to loudly proclaim that they don’t care what others think of their appearance. they should.

  13. Well, hard to say. Open Carry in Arizona is pretty much a normal thing now and hardly anybody even bats an eye when somebody walks in carrying something. Its pretty much a norm at this point… But of course we’ve always sorta been firearm friendly around here.

    • “But of course we’ve always sorta been firearm friendly around here”

      AMEN, execpt for some of the Tucson city council, we are a very firearm friendly state.

    • Where does one go to see a lot of open carry in AZ? I am not sure I saw it a dozen times in as many years where I live.

      • Usually in smaller cities and towns outside the metroplex areas. Even sometimes in Tucson which is not known for being “Liberty” minded, but I’ve only open carried in city going to and from guns shows or the range. Usually I discreet carry.

    • “But of course we’ve always sorta been firearm friendly around here.”

      Kinda sorta. I have been in Arizona since the late 80’s, and back then we fought pretty hard to get to where we are today. I recall that open carry was well on the way toward being demonized. Some people in Yuma saying “we do not want *that* kind of image”. I recall openly carryng about 1994 and shocking people at the DMV when I asked them to check my pistol, as was required by law because they had a “no weapons” sign on the door. I recall an open carry picnic, pretty much an open carry march in place at Sacaton rest stop near Tucson on I-10, to protest the illegal “No Weapons” at rest stop signs.

      We had to fight hard to get to where we are. The rest of the country can do it too, especially Texas. We may have to drag California and New York there, but that will eventually happen.

  14. Open carry marches are a terrible idea because they have a tendency to upset morons and gungrabbers, and we certainly don’t want to do that. What we should be doing is begging the authorities for our rights, because then the government would love us and pat us on our heads like good little pets.

  15. I don’t think they do much to change minds. The average person who doesn’t like them doing it, upon finding out that it’s perfectly legal, will simply say, “Well it shouldn’t be.” In that way, open carry marches that are “offensive” may actually create anti-gun sentiment. There are some people out there that are completely blissful in their ignorance, but once they know about the thing they disagree with, they attempt to change it.

    • There’s a world of difference between the OC march in Austin recently and the mercifully aborted OC march/debacle that Kokesh got sent to jail over.

  16. I don’t see it normalizing open carry anymore than any other march normalizes what they’re marching for. That is to say, little to none.

  17. Normalize? Nah, not yet. It’s going to to take many years and many OC protests to normalize firearms carried openly. To my mind, one of the best things these protests do is show how safe firearms are and how sane gun owners are. When there are no negligent discharges and no running gun battles, even the most hoplophobic hoplophobe has no choice but to admit that firearms are extremely safe when handled appropriately. They might not like how gun-owners look and act, but it’s harder to be opposed to something just because you don’t like it than because it really is a dangerous activity. So for the love of God, if you’re taking part in one of these protests, make sure your firearm(s) is/are well-maintained, safe, and, as a bonus, nicely groomed, just as you should be. When you march you speak for ALL gun-owners, not just yourself, so please be professional and courteous. Make it hard as hell for the other side to hate us.

  18. We need to remember that the non-gun owning public includes true hoplophobes, advocates of goverment power and folks we can loosely describe as fence sitters. Do we have any idea of the percentages involved? I don’t, but I think it would be helpful to know for this discussion.

    If someone has a snake phobia, you just make it worse if you get in their face with a big snake. They might even get angry and wish to get even. Slow and gentle range therapy is what they need.

    If someone believes that only agents of the government should be armed, nothing will change their mind except being a crime victim.

    If someone really hasn’t thought much about the issue, they may be open to persuasion. in this case, I think it is important that the open carriers try to present themselves as safe, friendly, smart neighbors who are approachable rather than intimidating. Large group demonstrations do not lend themselves to this mission. One or two well dressed open carriers in a restaurant would do more for our cause.

    We should remember that people have been programmed by the media to see gun owners as ignorant, dangerous, right-wing, rednecks. If you do decide to carry openly for political reasons, you should try not to play into this stereotype. It’s a trap the gun grabbers have set for us.

    Avoid the boots and camo clothing. I would also suggest avoiding “scary” black rifles and even the American flag. Make sure you shave and have a fresh haircut. Wear a tie if you can. Think of it like you were going to a job interview where you will be judged by your appearance, because you will.

    • If someone has a snake phobia, you just make it worse if you get in their face with a big snake.

      It’s even worse when someone who calls himself “Doctor” doesn’t know the difference between a gun and a snake.

  19. Normalization means that you have made the sight of guns “usual and customary.” Marchs don’t do that because they are special events. Eventually people will get used to the marches as they see that people with guns aren’t bug eyed monsters. That’s a good thing but it doesn’t make the bearing (display) of firearms “usual and customary.” For that to happen people have to observe law abiding citizens going about their daily business and when crime drops because of the presence of obviously armed law abiding citizens all but the most dedicated gun grabbers will accept it.

    I am also agree with people who don’t think the open carrying of an AR or any rifle in an Urban/suburban environment as normal order of business are making us any firends. I understand the plight of those who live in the faux gun owner’s paradise of the Texas Republic who can only exercise their right to carry with a long gun but it will be the open carrying of hand guns that will make open carry “usual and customary.”

  20. The open carrying of a long gun in largely populated areas won’t ever become normalized, and nor should it be. Unlike a holstered weapon, a rifle slung over a shoulder presents many safety issues in populated areas. I wonder how many gun safety rules were violated during that public march. Sure, the organizers probably insisted that all weapons be made safe and unloaded, though I didn’t see any chamber flags. I wonder how many people were muzzled during that march? The media and the anti-gun establishment (is that redundant?) is just waiting for a negligent discharge. I know I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable walking among compete strangers with rifle and shotgun muzzles flailing about.

  21. I agree in the with the thought process that goes with an open carry march, but working with the fence straddlers by taking them shooting is better.
    Also, I think that if you conceal carry, and just go about your day in a completely normal way, when people find out you own firearms they’ll realize that fun people aren’t just a bunch of wackadoos.

    On a completely unrelated note, what defines normal anyway

  22. I’ll give you the example of my home state Michigan. Open Carry has always been legal(well, in the sense there were never nor are there now laws against it…either handgun or rifle). You didn’t see it much until Open Carry advocates started doing things like this probably 10 years ago. After some of these marches, lawsuits against Cities/Counties whose police arrested/harassed open carries(and lost)…it’s pretty normalized now. Not saying you see if often like in Arizona but all the local govts/police know it’s legal and rarely if ever stop or harass people who do it. There’s no news stories, etc like there was in the beginning of the movement ten years ago…no calls to make it illegal. So yes, I’d say that Open Carry activism has helped normalize it.

  23. I hear what many oc people say, and I can see the sense in a lot of it. But as I have said here before, I believe that open carry is one of the most negative things gun rights people do. People who fear and hate guns will always be spurred to more emotional heights by it. I enjoy being at a show ,or a shoot , and seeing it, and I understand it is empowering for the group, but i believe it will always provoke a negative response.

        • Let me ask a question …

          Given a state like Texas – in which long gun OC is legal but handgun OC is prohibited – what would be your suggestion to them as to how they should attract attention so that they can promote the idea of open carry, if you do not approve of the marches?

        • At a minimum, the marches aren’t discouraging the gubernatorial candidates from taking a stand for open carry – at best, they are encouraging it.

          I’ll repeat my question – what would you suggest as an alternative?

    • Seeing as how both candidates for governor in TX have come out in support of open carry, I’d say they are making a difference.

        • Where is all your proof that marches hurt the Civil Rights movement? The Gay movement? We will just talk among ourselves while you get all that data together.

      • Oh, I’m sure they’re just randomly coming out in support of open carry for no reason.

        It’s not like people have been protesting and getting arrested for legal behavior in Texas recently. Nope.

        Politicians, out of the goodness of their hearts, decided they wanted to make open carry legal without any prompting.

        That must be it.

        • So, you have no proof.

          You are simply speculating that people walking round carrying rifles openly will move the population of Texas to support their desire to carry openly handguns.

          Check, got it.

  24. Yes,

    They have done much to advance gun rights in Ohio, Virginia, and Michigan.

    They have also shinned light on CCW restrictions in Nevada (but OC is legal) and now people OC in so called “gun free zones”.

      • Michigan State police update 86.

        Virginia repealing restaurant concealed carry ban.

        Nevada department of motor vehicles moving open carriers to the front of the line to get them out ASAP since the public building ban only applies to concealed carry.

        Michigan LEO’s don’t do felony stops on anyone for Concealed carry anymore… Being a LEO in MI, I can tell you cops view concealed carry as normal and appropriate, this was not generally the case at all before open carry was pushed here.

        Before open carry was normalized here, if your concealed gun became exposed, you would eat pavement first and then have your wallet pulled out to check to see if you had a CPL.

        Now, they simply ask if you have a carry license… This is a complete paradigm shift.

    • The open carriers in Virginia were engaging in civil disobedience. They got themselves arrested so they could get their cases before the Virginia Supreme Court. The Court ruled that under the keep and bear arms clause of Article I, paragraph 13 of the Virginia Constitution the open carrying of firearms is a protected right. Article I is also known as the Virginia Bill of Rights.

  25. I just got home from my usual open carry fishing day. Sidearm and a .22 bolt action. Plenty of folks came up to see why I was carrying; everyone from fence straddlers to ardent gun owners. I can’t say if I changed any minds, but I know they all left knowing that at least one gun owner was a polite, friendly guy who was more than happy to stop and chat.

    And in the end, I’d say that accomplishes a whole lot more than a mass march ever will.

  26. My opinion:
    Open carry marches normalize guns in the same way that circus parades normalize elephants.
    Think about it.

  27. Marches seem to be popular where single open-carrying individuals get arrested for disturbing peace. This leaves no other choice.

  28. I don’t think it really does anything to “normalize” guns. I also don’t think that the purpose for most in participating in such marches. Simply put, a “march” is a political protest or statement. It’s not targeted towards fence-sitters, it is targeted towards politicians and their political opponents.

    That is an important message to send, too. Our political leaders need to hear it. It may also have another useful side-effect. Even a peaceful and low key march can drive gun grabbers into a rabid frenzy. THAT can affect the fence sitters because it strips the thin veneer off them and allows the public to see who the sane ones really are.

    If you want to get the fence sitters off the fence, take them out to the range. After you invite them into your home to teach them how safety and how to handle a firearm. Use good sense in which gun(s) you teach and take out. Make sure it’s something they can handle for a fun afternoon. One of my pet peeves is taking someone out to the range and all the training they get is little more than the pointy end goes towards the target.

    Of course teach them good safety and the function of the gun. But also teach them how to shoulder the rifle, good stance, how to aim, how to breathe, good trigger pull, etc. They’ll have a much more enjoyable experience. A fun time in a safe manner is all you need. The experience will do more than anything you could say.

    • ^This^

      A march, rally, call-in campaign, etc. is a demonstration of current numbers and intensity, aimed at the overlords. Quietly being sane, normal, and interesting while still a gun-guy is how you convert individuals. Of course, how well you do either matters at least as much as your intentions.

      “Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

      “…preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” – St. Francis of Assisi

      “If you would convert others to your ways, first make yourself admirable, that you may be heard.” – Me.

        • Of course he didn’t say that–he didn’t speak English. He did speak Greek, though, and what he said was “Men of God don’t do sneaky stuff; they carry their guns on their hips like honest men.” Or something like that; οὐδὲ καίουσιν λύχνον καὶ τιθέασιν αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ τὴν λυχνίαν, καὶ λάμπει πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ.

  29. Instead of asking the same rhetorical question over and over in blog posts, perhaps TTAG should organize a “Come and Shoot it With Me” event. If people stood around on a street corner with a big sign that said “Want to know about guns? Let me take you to the range sometime.” You might get a more positive outcome, and likely a much faster normalization.

  30. I don’t really care for “open carry march” that much all that much. Its too much “in your face” type of thing that puts many off. That said there is other ways of normalizing weapons being seen in public without that in your face appearance.

    In Texas open carry of handguns IN PUBLIC is a no-no thus far, and isn’t what the march supposed to normalize? Your marching with the wrong weapon!

    Look, I carry at work all day, every day, openly. That means OWB holster with a full size 1911 in it. In my work uniform and dealing with customers in a normal manner. I don’t put it in your face, stand in such a way to draw attention or try to stand to hide it. In fact the owner, manager, and a couple of other employees do the same, for the last several years. Not a SINGLE person, not ONE, has been troubled by the fact we are armed. The only comments that have been made is the questions of what brand and caliber they are, compliments of them, to most not even noticing it at all. If they did notice it wasn’t important enough to distract them from the reason they are here.

    For several years this has been the practice of this shop (not a gun shop and this shop has nothing to do with guns at all except for the wearing of them) has been proof positive enough that the open carry of guns in a normal way has already been accepted and is not alarming in anyway. We have plenty of repeat business that also proves that point. The people here are dressed in common service shop uniforms and the management are in professional style shirt and slacks. No camo printed stuff, not looking like bums or thugs and only promote our business itself.

    So yes, in Texas you can open carry a sidearm legally in a private business that serves the public. And it has not ever been a problem. So if you want to “march” for the cause, taking a different tactic about it may be a better way to go.

  31. No. Like it or not, firearms carried openly (especially rifles) in public will never be looked upon as normal.

  32. The Oprahfied culture and leftist media have succeeded in making the sight of an openly carried, slung rifle, all perfectly legal and proper, the cause of great anxiety, if not panic. Those who believe in the RKBA better support this type of legal acivity.

  33. I went to my first “march” this year and my S&W 500 got its pic taken! It look so purdy, and at the end just before getting into the car broke my belt… as a note don’t trust the reversible belts to last long. It is in the green kydex holster my friend made to my request, I wanted to be able to draw straight out the front because it is so long, 8 3/8 inch barrel after all.

    My 500 is pic 14 of 23
    http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/03/open_carry_march.html

    One of my friends is the one with the blue NRA “keep calm and carry guns” shirt.

    I did see a guy who was cross draw duel carrying two FNFiveSevens. Did not get to talk to him however.

    One cop drove by and all ~85 people stopped turned and waved, he just looked straight ahead and kept driving.

  34. “Do Open Carry Marches Normalize Guns?”

    Open carry of holstered handguns? Yes. Open carry of long arms? Not so much.

  35. Open carrying in ones and twos seems more hazardous. The police show up, call for backup and now can pretty much do anything they’re in the mood to do to you. You got 40 or 50 protesters and most of the time the police back off. Until the police is edumacated about our rights, large groups is the way to go. Once they’re on board, feel free to strike out alone.

  36. This is what I hear when reading comments like the ones here:

    “I wish those Bostonians wouldn’t protest in the open, it makes the redcoats and sympathizers jumpy.

    We’d get a lot farther with the king if we sat quietly and petitioned for redress of grievances.”

  37. I agree wholeheartedly with the very first comment. You want people to like guns, take them shooting to the range.

    All these open carry rallies do is turn people OFF guns. I love the second amendment, I love my handguns and I like the ability to defend myself if necessary and play in the range with them. I don’t generally carry unless I am hiking outside of civilization, but respect those who do on an everyday basis.

    I don’t however want to live in a society where walking with long guns everyday on the strret is the norm. If you do, please move to Afghanistan or Iraq. I want my children to grow up in America.

    These open carry rallies are misguided and utterly STUPID. The FIRST Amendment to the constitution, guarantees us the freedom of speech and expression. That does not mean we go around in civil society calling people names or saying rude things to them or talking trash to everyone and anyone although the first amendment does give us that right. Similarly the SECOND amendment gives us the right to bear arms. It does not give us the right to be ***holes or force our children to be raised in perceived war zones.

    *Hopefully the moderators will let this comment stay – Thank You! *

  38. Marches, demonstrations, rallies do have positive effect. Just ask the Justice Brothers, Jesse and Al. And don’t forget the gay crowd, that would be leaving them out, hurt their feelings and whatnot.

    As many have stated here, getting people to a range is THE way to bring them into the light, so to speak. Problem is GETTING them there. At any OC/RKBA event there should be folks signing up folks to go shooting. Have a day long event with Basic Safety Course taught to groups as needed, multiple types of weapons with operation and handling instruction and, of course, bang bang time. Throw in a grilling/BBQ/chilli competition and you are sure to draw a crowd.

    Printing and distributing copies of the actual local laws and ordinances is something else that should be happening at all OC/RKBA marches. Does not have to be organized, hell, we are all sitting in front of computers right now, an hour or so worth of peck&search and print out 10 pages each of local/state regs on firearms and hand them out to people. Its scary how many people DON”T know what laws are in effect in the areas they live. That is a point with which you can connect to non-gun people.

    Ok, I’ll be done hop-ed down from the soap box and let someone else have a turn. 😉

  39. A reasonable person will tend to associate seeing weapons of war on the street with there being an emergency condition of some kind, thus it makes them uncomfortable. I know ‘weapons of war’ is a loaded term, but my point is that an AR looks like a military battle rifle, and thus makes people not part of the OC movement think in those terms. I believe that this response is very deep-seated and doesn’t have anything to do with scary black rifles per se. You’d have the same reaction to a broadsword OC march in the 14th century. So to the extent that I’m right about this, it’s probably counterproductive for gun rights in general.

    Stick to pistol OC. There’s history and gut sense with most people that a pistol on one’s hip doesn’t represent an alarming scenario. A rifle on your back just isn’t the same.

    • And exactly who the f**k gave you the authority to command me to behave in the manner you want? F*ck you.

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