TheBear: Gun Rights Activists Need Better PR

(courtesy startribune.com)
TTAG reader TheBear writes:

I have a habit of daily checking out a number of online news sources. I try to stay informed not only of current events, but also of the talking points for various political and social issues. So when I saw yet another pro Shannon Watts article on ultra-progressive Yahoo!, I was originally not exactly shocked. It wasn’t until I read about 700 comments under the article (yes, I actually read that many) that I was mildly surprised. It seems that the anti-gun rhetoric has changed. Now not only are all gun owners uneducated, redneck, racist wife beaters with small penises who are afraid of the world, we are all BULLYING, RIFLE TOTING uneducated, redneck, racist wife beaters with small penises who are afraid of the world. You see, the breathless hoplophobes have recently lumped everyone who is pro 2nd amendment in with the folks who do open carry rallies with rifles. I think this is both a good and a bad thing . . .

It’s a good thing because having any kind of solidarity in our fight for our second amendment rights, even if the solidarity itself is a mistake in perception among our opponents is positive.  We have to stick together. We can’t have tacticool guys disparaging hunting or FUDDs asking why we need magazines with more than 10 rounds.

On the other hand, low information hoplophobes believing all gun owners are open carrying rifles in Kroger is a bad thing for a very simple reason; open carriers’ message, and especially the message of Open Carry Texas tends to get lost in the sensational photos taken of their demonstrations.

The average American does not have a really good way to be exposed to the message of open carry folks. The anti-gun crowd in some of the most recent comments I’ve been reading on gun related news articles have been calling the open carry people, “gun bullies”. You see, they honestly believe that people are open carrying rifles in an effort to intimidate and silence the opposition.

Unfortunately, so far this has been a win for PR maven Shannon Watts and her ridiculous #gunbullies hashtag campaign. I think the People of the Gun have been giving Shannon and her ilk ammunition (pun intended). I believe that without a clear message, activists can do more harm than good. However, I think there is a simple solution to this problem.

Everyone who open-carries rifles during rallies, especially into business establishments should wear t-shirts that simply and clearly state what they are trying to do or say.

“I wish I could legally carry a pistol instead.”

“I’m a normal person, just like you.”

“I am not a threat to anyone’s safety.”

Slogans that define the open carry struggle printed on shirts would go a long way towards diffusing MDA propaganda and educating the public. This way there would not longer be context-free photos of people holding rifles at the low ready in Chipotle.

Activism without organization and clear communication just creates controversy. Perhaps it is time for the People of the Gun to accept that collectively, we need to put a little more work into our PR efforts. I believe that if we do, rabidly anti-gun folks will have fall back on their older caricature of gun owners:  the original, bullying-free racist rednecks with small penises.

comments

  1. avatar v v ind says:

    Geez that guy is fat, everything in Texas IS bigger

    1. avatar Taylor TX says:

      Been all over these great states, seen a whole lotta fat people 🙂

      1. avatar Mike_M says:

        Been all over this WORLD and seen a whole lotta fat people. The fat of the U.S. are in good company globally.

    2. avatar TheBear says:

      Gun rights people are always fat in anti gun political ads. They’re usually middle aged, male, white, and insinuated to be racist and have small penises too.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “Gun rights people are always fat in anti gun political ads. They’re usually middle aged, male, white, and insinuated to be racist and have small penises too.”

        In comparison to Bear penises? 😉

        (running away)

        1. avatar TheBear says:

          I can neither confirm nor deny any comments made about bear penises.

        2. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

          Pretty much sums up every gun show I have been to.

      2. avatar Daniel Silverman says:

        While I agree with the need for better PR. And certainly running endless Shannon Watts watch articles is not helping. Heck the pro gun folks give better PR to MDA than the MSM!
        Now having said that, just point all those people who call us racist, white, wife beating, small penis people over the the Huey P Newton Gun club and their march in Texas.
        Let them know if they got issues with open carry to take it up with them lol
        http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20140820-huey-p.-newton-gun-club-leads-open-carry-rally-in-south-dallas.ece

      3. avatar Joe R. says:

        The irony is thick in comic though, the ccw ‘gentlemen’s’ fellow shoppers are offended but they are shopping at “Target” where there are approximately 1 Zillion bullseyes for them to choose for purchase and carry to the parking lot.

        I think pro-gun adds need to have more realism: Label these “anti-gun” and pass them around.
        http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=pictures+of+isis+mass+killings&qpvt=pictures+of+ISIS+mass+killings&FORM=IGRE

        1. avatar Esemwy says:

          I feel for the poor folks working “Asset Protection” there. They’re unarmed, and *literally* have a target painted on them.

      4. avatar Indiana Tom says:

        Well Shannon usually has young white kids holding the guns in her adds.

  2. avatar TT says:

    The only problem with this idea is that your body armor will cover up the slogan on your t-shirt.

    1. avatar AnonInWA says:

      🙂

    2. avatar Grindstone says:

      Paint it on your surplus PASGT helmet.

  3. avatar JR_in_NC says:

    So, we should submit to their vastly wrong selection bias?

    They read hupo and related “news” sources and wrongly conclude

    (a) Those pictures represent all gun owners,

    and

    (b) those pictures represent all OC activists.

    Gee. Somehow I think playing into their WRONGNESS is not the answer for us.

    We gain NOTHING by acquiescence on ANY issue.

    In other words…who gives a flying rat’s backside what a bunch of “low information” Yahoo commenters say, especially when it is wrong?

    Can’t we just stop playing to the lowest common denominator and actually..you know…stand up for our rights?

    And, this is wrong, too:

    “so far this has been a win for PR”

    If there were even remotely true, they’d have more than 10 people show up for their activism.

    There is nothing successful about Watts’ PR campaign. It is a glaring, colossal, embarrassing failure, and validating it like this is a nothing more than enabling.

    1. avatar Excedrine says:

      I could not have said it any better myself.

      I, for one, refuse to play to the lowest common denominator and will not do it, and I certainly will not acquiesce to the inane mumblings of a few de facto racists like Shannon Watts and other such bought-and-paid-for sock-puppet mouthpieces.

      Neither should anyone else here or elsewhere.

      Even for all the billions of dollars of liquid assets and disposable cash available to the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex, they’re losing both the PR and the ground war. Period.

    2. avatar mirgc says:

      A business will not be successful if it cannot properly market its product and bring in customers to spend money. If they have lousy marketing it doesn’t mater how good their product is. They eventually go out of business.

      In the same way; the 2nd amendment advocates need to market their message not to themselves, but to the uneducated voters we want to support our causes when they are standing alone in the voting booth, filling out their voting ballots.

      1. avatar Wes in KY says:

        You’re spot on, sir. I don’t think any of us want to cave in to the whims of low-information voters, or anyone else for that matter. When marketing, you want to make your message concise and easily understandable to as many people as possible. If the OCT folks were a little bit more organized and presented a concise message that was readily understood IMMEDIATELY upon seeing then, then it would serve several purposes. It would curb their usage as parody material for the Watts supporters. It would begin to change the conversation from, “These are crazy gun nuts,” to “These crazy gun nuts want freedom to do something other than carry around those guns people use in mass shootings.” Through clever message presentation, we could eventually change the perception to, “These folks want to be free. Who doesn’t want to be free?” Think about your own experiences with marketing. Read a book about marketing. Subtle changes in perception and can eventually lead to massive dividends. How did the antis gain such traction in America? Go back 100 years and these people would probably have been laughed out of existence. But they’ve slowly used marketing and tragedies to make their message palatable. Over the years they keep telling the same lies in the same way, and now everyone knows their message. What message are us freedom-loving folks spreading? We think it is that we want freedom and respect for the constitution, but what people see is far from it; especially when our efforts are left easily distortable by the antis.

    3. avatar Ing says:

      You’re missing the point.

      It’s true that by any rational standard, Watts’ PR campaign is a massive failure. Hardly anybody cares, and they can’t mount a decent crowd at a public rally even with bribery. Yet the mainstream mass media loves the Moms Demand Action narrative and is keeping it alive despite the group’s impotence — and in turn, they’ll gleefully rape the facts if it makes gun owners look bad.

      So, rather than playing right into their purposefully unfair selection bias, we exploit it. Subvert it.

      You know they’re likely to take pictures, so you make sure their pictures say what YOU want to say. That’s not capitulation, that’s a win.

      1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

        They forge photos and lie about what happens. What on earth can WE do to stop that? Ask them nicely not to do it?

        The whole Chipotle thing (for example) was grossly misrepresented. It was not those guys’ fault. It could have been me showing one of my children to shoot at the range. Or anyone here, for that matter…photoshopped, lied about, misrepresented.

        So, no, I did not miss the point. The point is it does not matter what we do. The point is they lie, cheat, fabricate and vomit emotion in order to manipulate.

        We neuter that strategy by stopping to play into it. Stop letting them dictate the terms of how we express our rights.

        1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

          Addendum: My larger point is t-shirts and other stuff won’t change what THEY do. They could ‘shop out the slogan or use creative camera angle, etc.

          I’m not saying don’t wear the t-shirt with the slogan. I think it’s a good idea. I just don’t think it will stop them at all…they will get their mileage out of posting it their way before they are called on it and it’s ‘corrected.’ Once online, always online, as they say.

        2. avatar MattC says:

          JR_in_NC —

          I agree with this: “…it does not matter what we do. The point is they lie, cheat, fabricate and vomit emotion in order to manipulate.”

          but what I don’t know is how big is this segment of the population — the screaming anti’s who generate 700 comments on Yahoo.

          There are other segments of the population that are more or less open, and that’s who many of us are concerned about when we ask for a little more tact in how guns and gun rights are presented to the public. We can call these people any number of things: low information voters, independents, emotional, fickle, irrational, et cetera. Some or all of those labels may be true. Nevertheless, I’d like to think we could persuade some to vote on our side, but I don’t think ordering a chicken burrito with an AR is the way to do that.

      2. avatar Garrison Hall says:

        Basically, you have paid, anti-gun public relations professionals trying (and failing) to present themselves as grass-roots moms who are just concerned for the safety of their children. In contrast, you have grass-roots open carry advocates attempting to compete in a high-stakes media arena where their inexperience and general lack of good communications skills continually mutes their defense of 2nd amendment rights. Both appear to be strangely tone-deaf, their efforts at reaching influential voters halting at best. Of the two, the OCers appear to be best able to sharpen their game and become more effective. The moms, not so much.

    4. avatar Carry.45 says:

      Taking a lot of the fuel away from the antis would certainly further our cause. By wearing a t-shirt saying “I only have a rifle because I can’t open carry a handgun” instead of a bullet-proof vest may be a good start in reducing people concerns and removing fuel from the fire.

      1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

        As I’ve stated before in the past, I think the T-Shirt idea is a great idea.

        But in the end…it won’t matter for what they do. If we go into it thinking it will somehow stop them in their tracks from lying and manipulating, we are fooling ourselves.

        That said…do agree…there is no downside and a lot of “up” to the t-shirt message.

    5. Yeah, I’m not exactly sure what my next course of action should be here. I don’t see either side of the issue being in the mainstream. I guess…carry on.

    6. avatar JC says:

      How has our movement been more successful? Who cares that only 10 people show up to Shannon’s rallies when millions are exposed to it in a positive light by the media? They have succeeded in getting guns banned on a ton of private property nation wide. I support open carry but it’s the rally part that i don’t love. The only reason to rally is to drum up positive exposure to your issue…why do it and then keep doing it when it’s reducing places you can carry?

      1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

        “They have succeeded in getting guns banned on a ton of private property nation wide. “

        Um, name ONE single private property nationwide they have gotten a “ban” on.

        Ban = legal, posted property. NONE of the big stores in these stories have done that.

        Nor have they even set official corporate policy to disallow customer firearms.

        I can legally carry in Target today the same as I could this time last year. Where’s the ‘ban.’ The CEO issuing a stupid “request” than he can’t prove anyone heard is not a “ban.” It’s a request. It’s a request that carries no legal or formal weight whatsoever.

        If you choose to follow it, that is your decision. A ban is something you don’t have a choice in.

        Counter examples? Forget Heller as a win, I guess. Look at the current pressure in DC. Colorado recalls AND governor’s race. Peruta has some traction in CA. UnSAFE is very unpopular in NY. How about the USACE getting a smack in federal court, saying they can’t ban certain carry on CE properties? CT semi auto registration is apparently not being enforced. MO recently had some positive results. Gun Control pressures in WA state are meeting strong resistance despite large expenditures of money by the anti’s. MDA is being made a fool of by Kroger’s in MULTIPLE states.

        I know if my own state, the laws have gotten progressively better over the past several years, and there is both Constitutional Carry and armed teachers in schools bills being considered. I KNOW neither would have been entertained for a SECOND a few years ago.

        And, we come to TX. OC of handguns has some momentum there, and may just pass. THAT will be the test of efficacy for these OC demonstrations.

        Do I think all of the above examples are “caused by” OCT? No, of course not. Some predate OCT efforts. But, to claim that we do not have some solid momentum despite Watt’s and CO outspending and out-twittering and out-hyperventilating our side, we are gaining ground.

        Any claims of equal effectiveness or that they are “doing better” are going to be extremely difficult to support with factual evidence.

        1. avatar Christopher Hall says:

          Yup, you can debate the procedure of the message. You can not debate the effectiveness of the message.
          Texas wasn’t expanding gun rights much. Now there is a real chance for open carry, besides if the message wasn’t getting out there wouldn’t be people talking about it. So, you can say its hurting our cause all you want. The truth is most that say that will never open carry ever.

      2. avatar Chip Bennett says:

        They have succeeded in getting guns banned on a ton of private property nation wide.

        Really? What places are those? I can legally carry in Chipotle, Target, Starbucks, Panera, etc. – because none of them have actually banned anything.

    7. avatar Chip Bennett says:

      Can’t we just stop playing to the lowest common denominator and actually..you know…stand up for our rights?

      Amen.

      We’re doing more damage to our own cause then Shannon Watts could ever hope to do.

  4. avatar Mister Fleas says:

    That’s all great and all Farago, but the people toting “assault” rifles into Kroger and Starbucks don’t seem to be so much interested in furthering the cause of Second Amendment rights, but rather to make a spectacle of themselves just for the attention.

    If they wanted to make their point, why have they carried AR-15s and AK-47s instead of say, a Kentucky rifle or a Tower musket? They could make their point just as well with some antique looking, but not nearly as “scary” looking muzzle loader, that the mere presence of a legally carried is not cause for concern. They are just showing off their cool toys.

      1. avatar TheBear says:

        Leonard does not count… anywhere.

      2. avatar Don says:

        Trying to normalize the right to open carry by standing in front of a school with a rifle is like trying to normalize the right to free political speech by reciting hitler speeches in front of a synagogue.

        1. avatar TheBear says:

          LOL- great analogy

        2. avatar Geoff PR says:

          *THAT*, Don, I like!

        3. I don’t like it. A better analogy would be:

          Trying to normalize the right to open carry by shooting children in a school with a rifle is like trying to normalize the right to free political speech by reciting Hitler speeches in front of a synagogue.

          You thought of the worst thing you could do with speech but did not mention the worst thing you could do with a rifle.

        4. avatar Don says:

          nah Michael GA. The worst thing you could do with speech would be to demonstrate in the way I described and also believe it and be intending to rally people together to be antisemitic and kill Jewish people like the nazis… rather than making a point about the freedom of speech with a provocative demo.

          They are the same. Demonstrating in an intentionally provocative manner to make a larger point about free speech rights vs doing the same for gun rights. People open carrying rifles don’t believe they’re going to get in a literal rifle fight.

          It’s a right to illustrate arguments about rights and freedoms any way you want, but some particularly provocative methods alienate even your philosophical allies, let alone the people you are trying to convince. This happens when you fail to take into account how the audience will feel about your provocative demonstration… again your right to not give a shit, but that’s a pretty poor strategy to win any kind of acceptance.

          If your goal is not to win people over and just to rub it in people’s faces that you get to do things that they don’t like, essentially ego stroking and trolling people who don’t agree with you, then maybe this strategy has legs. And you get to excuse yourself by pretending you do it for educational reasons. That’s an airtight troll right there!

        5. Glad you responded because you reinforced my point. We agree that that is the worst thing you could do with speech, because it would tend to rally antisemitism. Whereas open carry demonstration at a school does not rally gun owners to kill school children.

        6. avatar Don says:

          No, you missed the point entirely. You are equating actions with different intents. A person could use provocative speech to purely to demonstrate the extent of the right to free speech, OR they could be using it literally. Those intents are different and completely change the context of what the person is doing.

        7. Right is right no matter who you piss off. Do you think when Hosea Williams staged a march in Forsyth County to protest the lack of black people living there that he did not expect to piss off a bunch of white separatists? I guess that is what you are saying because your logic is hard to follow. You seem to contradict yourself. Are you saying that all free speech and open carry protests should be done in a manner that can’t possibly irritate your target audience? What dream world do you live in. Been to a Pro Life or Pro Choice rally?
          If the gun grabbers want to use school children to make a point, I don’t see a problem with a man ,around those same children, showing that the rifle is not the issue. Hell you have probably said that.

        8. avatar Don says:

          Michael, right is right but right doesn’t win just because it’s right. Smart tactics win regardless of whether or not your cause is right or wrong. Sure the anti-s use children, but they get away with it because of HOW they do it. I’ve been to many effective and ineffective protests and studied the strategy of many movements. What I’m saying isn’t a contradiction, I’m trying to explain a nuance inherent to winning a PR battle that seems to be invisible to or lost on particular protesters on the right side of this war. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever piss people off who don’t agree with your cause. That has a time and place. But if you are pissing off people who agree with your cause then you clearly have a problem in the tactics department.

        9. avatar Chip Bennett says:

          Trying to normalize the right to open carry by standing in front of a school with a rifle is like trying to normalize the right to free political speech by reciting hitler speeches in front of a synagogue.

          Godwin’s Law, invoked so early?

          Your analogy is specious. There is absolutely nothing inherently offensive or incendiary about standing in front of a school with a rifle. Sometimes I wonder how our movement has attracted so many closet hoplophobes.

        10. avatar Michael in GA says:

          Word!

    1. avatar An English Person says:

      Also, one must wonder whether even half of these open carry demonstrators (OCD?!) could defend themselves against an UNARMED person attempting to relieve them of their weapon.

      1. avatar TheBear says:

        That’s not the point.

        It’s not about a show of force or even about open carry itself (at least in Texas).

        Open Carry Texas is advocating for Texans to be able to carry pistols again. Right now open carry of handguns is illegal in Texas.

        The fact so few people seem to understand this is just further proof that gun rights advocates need better PR. If all we have is spectacle with no message, what are we collectively accomplishing?

        1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

          “The fact so few people seem to understand this is just further proof that gun rights advocates need better PR. “

          PR may not be the problem. The context of OC demo’s in TX have been talked about again, and again, and again.

          People still don’t get it.

          And, some here, quite a few at times, even go so far as to say, “Context does not matter. Just stop.” That is, they KNOW why it is being done and don’t care.

          I get that you are trying to offer solutions, and hat’s off for that. I just want to caution that what ever solutions our side tries, the other side is playing by a different set of rules (that don’t involve the same rationalness)…the “problem” they are trying to solve is very, very different.

          So, whatever we do, it will still be mischaracterized. Shoot…they mischaracterize DGU’s, for crying out loud.

          At the end of the day, the ‘fence sitter’ will still see both your attempted solution and the anti’s nonsensical screed. I’m not saying “don’t try;” I’m just saying it is more efficient to discredit the screed. THAT seems to be working…exposing the progressive lies for what they are…their “solutions” don’t solve anything that people in general want solved.

          Stop the misinformation at the source.

        2. There is no better PR than story after story after story of DGU. It doesn’t matter. This is not about guns. It is about control and right now the elitists see the right to bear arms as the single most hindrance to achieving full tyranny. The courts have failed us, our legislators have failed us and the media have failed us. I don’t think there is anything else we can do but go out and scare enough people so we get noticed. It took a long time to erode these rights and it will take a lot longer to restore them if we don’t shock and awe here, there. and everywhere.

      2. avatar Chip Bennett says:

        One must wonder also if your question is derived from the projection of someone from a society who already allowed itself to be disarmed.

    2. avatar Bernard says:

      My idea is to carry just the lower receiver.
      “Huh? What’s that?”
      Now you’ve piqued their curiosity.

      1. avatar Lobby says:

        That’s actually a pretty interesting idea.

      2. avatar MarkPA says:

        Wow! That’s brilliant!!
        Or, how about one guy carrying an upper receiver+barrel; another the lower receiver and magazine?

        The OP’s suggestion is really a wonderful insight.
        Maybe a parenthetical “(That the Supreme Court guarantees I can have at home.)”

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          To the firearm ignorant, the upper will be a complete gun in their eyes…

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    It’s easy to control the PR when the entire Democratic Party and its media lapdogs control the news. It’s not so easy for POTG to get the message out there. Any pro-gun news is intentionally buried by the MSM.

    Under the circumstances, we’re doing fine. We could do better if we kick out the Democrat bast@rds in November and switch off MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC and the rest, while not buying the newspapers that parrot the leftist/statist line.

    1. avatar Mister Fleas says:

      +1,000

      That’s another point I wanted to make.

    2. avatar Accur81 says:

      Amen to that.

    3. avatar TheBear says:

      But Ralph, my point in the above article is that by literally wearing the message they are trying to get across, the media cannot simply put photos of people walking through Kroger up with whatever caption they want bereft of context.

      It would be a lot harder for Shannon Watts to tweet pictures of OC people with #gunbullies and emotionally connect to her audience when the “gunbullies” are wearing t-shirts saying, “I’m a normal person just like you.”

      We have have HAVE to remember that the opposition does not operate on facts – they operate on emotion.

      We can preach facts all day and it won’t accomplish anything, but one tear jerking special interest story and suddenly we are OK people.

      Collectively I think we are bringing the wrong weapons to the fight, and in a fight for our freedom, that is not good enough.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        @TheBear, I feel you, bro. But the problem is that whatever happens or doesn’t happen, the MSM will just make sh!t up.

        1. avatar TheBear says:

          You got me there. :/

    4. avatar MarkPA says:

      Yes, and when the MSM sees to it that the OC’s are presented in the least favorable light, what is the impact.
      A couple commentators observe that the ranks of the “Moms” aren’t growing; while this is true, it’s also not relevant. There are roughly 3 camps:
      – the decided Pro-2A
      – the decided Anti-2A
      – the uncommitted.
      We will never lose to the decided Anti-2As. We will lose with the uncommitted. Those who drift from uncommitted to uneasy. If we are to win we need to move those uncommitted to unopposed.
      Our efforts are going to turn on our “PR”; are we drifting the uncommitted to uneasy or to unopposed? We can’t count these results in the size of crowds. We have to count them in the privacy of the voting booth.

      1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

        Someone asked on here a while back who the so-called “fence sitters” really are. Do they even exist?

        How big is this “uncommitted” group?

        The truth is, we don’t know. But it seems like we get a lot of folks here that say “I used to be actively anti, now I’m POTG” and I can’t recall many (if any) that have said, “I used to be ambivalent, now I’m POTG.”

        Not saying they don’t exist…but it has been brought up before – where ARE these mythical middle-grounders?

        And, if they are so non-committed to this issue, why court them? (Not saying we shouldn’t just asking the question). They have ‘committed’ their voting focus to another, or other, causes. What makes us think we CAN reach them and convince them to care about Open Carry in Texas?

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          The gun issue is so polarizing and divisive, most people have an opinion. What’s helping us now, more than anything else, is that damn few people trust the government, so anything that the G does is regarded with suspicion. As it should be.

        2. Many of them can be found right here bad mouthing OC demonstrators.

  6. avatar Paul53 says:

    Precious! And too the point! It’s the “creeping out other shoppers” part that causes problems. STOP IT or ‘ll tell mom and dad!

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      Two big problems with this thinking:

      (1) There’s no evidence that it is creeping out anybody except anti-gun activists.

      The famous “Chipotle” incident? No in the store cared. Bruce at Starbucks? Who cared? It’s not like that shop was empty.

      The squeaky wheel control freaks “care,” but that leads to the second problem.

      (2) It does not matter. If the OC activists DID stop what they were doing, the anti’s just shift the bar. Today, it’s OC of long guns. What’s next? OC of handguns? Then CC of handguns? Then possession of guns in your own home?

      They don’t CARE that it’s a long gun. Don’t fall for their manipulation that “If Bruce just would not carry his AR into Starbucks, we’d be okay.”

      There is NOTHING in their past behavior to suggest any truth to the assumption that stopping OC (in any form) will pacify their bleating.

      Likewise, there’s no evidence on record showing it’s hurting us, either. I kinda take exception to the gun ban sign in the cartoon…since posted “No Carry” has not happened.

      1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        “(1) There’s no evidence that it is creeping out anybody except anti-gun activists.”

        You may want to check with the 911 dispatchers who answer the calls from creeped-out people.

        1. avatar Matt in TX says:

          I have been to two Open Carry Texas events. No one called the cops. JR_in_NC has it right.

        2. avatar MarkPA says:

          It’s not the callers to 911. Could be that all 12 of the tap-root Moms each call twice. It’s the impressions of the uncommitted who watch the news.
          I could believe that customers in stores where OCers are demonstrating are unconcerned. These are Texans for God’s sake; they are mostly made of pretty hearty stock. Alternatively, I could suppose that lots of these customers are annoyed; but, if so, I wouldn’t care. A few dozen votes against us who saw the OC’s with their own eyes couldn’t kill us.
          What counts? It’s the tens-of-thousands of voters who see the news item on TV. Most of these are not Texans or gun-friendly people. Some are Anti’s; I don’t care about them – they just get a little more Anti. Now, how about those voters who were uncommitted before they saw the news; after seeing the news they are a little uneasy. That is what counts at the polls.

        3. avatar JR_in_NC says:

          “It’s the impressions of the uncommitted who watch the news.”

          Serious question: How much attention do you pay to news stories in which you have little interest?

          The ‘negative press’ from these events does not seem to be hurting our cause in terms of increased anti-gun legislation (directly tied to the events) and there is a LOT of evidence that momentum is continuing to shift our way.

          I question the premise that these events are really hurting us wholesale, especially in the form of “middle grounders” migrating en masse to the other side.

        4. That can be helpful. Keep scaring people and let more of them call 911. I want 10,000 calls to 911 to cause a system failure. I want all the cops on duty and off duty backup police to investigate every single call just to find out that it is a legal OC. How long before the community gets the message who the antagonists really are? Hint…it ain’t the guy with the AK in low ready. It is the lady with County Police on speed dial.

        5. avatar Chip Bennett says:

          You may want to check with the 911 dispatchers who answer the calls from creeped-out people.

          Statistics, please?

          11 million people lawfully carry firearms. How many are the subject of 911 calls?

      2. avatar Paul53 says:

        Wow, you really thought that out. My compliments, and total agreement. I live in El Paso so everytime I hear the phrase “Open Carry Texas” now, I feel the urge to puke, or shoot an OCT member (strangely similar feelings). Glad we have people like you. I was just reacting to the title that we need better PR. Thanks for the reply. Ever in West TX I’ll buy you a beer.

        1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

          …everytime I hear the phrase “Open Carry Texas” now, I feel the urge to puke, or shoot an OCT member (strangely similar feelings).

          So, you admit that you feel the urge to use deadly force against someone who is lawfully exercising a constitutionally protected, natural right?

          Have you considered that you might want to seek professional help for your psychological issues?

      3. avatar DaveG says:

        Indeed.

        MDA was against all guns WELL before they had the optics of a rifle carried in or around any Starbucks’ location.

        Before that (like in the fall of 2009), CSGV was there, and was boycotting against all guns.

        And even before them, way back in 2009, Brady was looking for a wedge point for their anti-all-guns campaign. They thought they had a sympathetic demographic in the Starbucks lobby.

        Did OCT start it? Nope. Did they finish it? Not really. I can (and do) still carry concealed on my way to getting another venti Pike’s.

  7. avatar Mina says:

    It doesn’t matter what we say or how we present ourselves, Alinsky’s rule book says to demonize us and demonize us they will.

    Meanwhile every activist should behave exactly as he/she pleases within the bounds of the law.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      Thank-you.

      If we don’t understand this basic point, we have already lost because we’ve given up.

    2. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “It doesn’t matter what we say or how we present ourselves, Alinsky’s rule book says to demonize us and demonize us they will.”

      As utterly despicable as I personally find Saul Alinsky and Rules For Radicals, use every last bit of his filth against him and his Progressive ilk in F-ing SPADES.

      Mr. Nice

  8. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Sure I guess. Then again JR above hit the nail on the head. We get 3000 protestors in Springfield Illinois on 3 hours notice. The antis get 20 or 30 if they are paid and bussed in. And I recall a very recent exchange between you and Chip Bennett. Something about perception vs. reality. I also check up on Huffpoo and yahoo often When sites in the public interwebs don’t censor comments the overwhelming number are pro 2A. But I get the OFWG thing with all the trappings. You can’t please everyone…

  9. avatar Tori S says:

    My OC advocacy is in regularly wearing my 1911 on my belt while I go about my business, without it seeming to draw any comment or fuss whatsoever (in NH where OC is legal). I’m hoping that by people seeing me – a woman in my 40’s – I can help renormalize the idea of open carry and help dispel the stereotypes. I find it difficult to believe they could show my picture and call me intimidating.

    Although it’s not for me, I do like the idea of positive-message tee shirts for OC activists. Then when the picture makes the rounds on Facebook or huffpo, we can at least get a message across while we’re being called paranoid redneck racists with small penii who deserve to be shot.

    (Ever notice how ironic it is that they all want us shot and we just want them to leave us alone?)

    1. avatar TheBear says:

      It must be nice to be able to OC a pistol.

      In TX we can’t legally do so. 🙁

      1. avatar Matt in TX says:

        West Texas here, I wish I could open carry a pistol also.

        1. avatar RT says:

          Ditto

          DEEP South Texas for me though.

      2. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “It must be nice to be able to OC a pistol.

        In TX we can’t legally do so. :(”

        Yet. But soon, maybe during your next hibernation. 😉

        Texas is high on my short list of places to re-locate.

      3. avatar Grindstone says:

        Oklahoma here:

        Neener neener!

        Saw a guy carrying a Glock at Crest not too long ago.

        He was also in a wheelchair.

      4. avatar Alexander B. says:

        I don’t even live in Texas and I can’t open carry a pistol!

    2. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “(Ever notice how ironic it is that they all want us shot and we just want them to leave us alone?)”

      I am very glad brought this up.

      This is exactly the point.

      It is us they don’t like, because we are not “allowing” them to control us. It does not matter if we OC, CC, home carry, hunt, target shoot or even turn in our guns.

      They want us cowed and acquiescent. That want us “tamed and trained.” If it’s not guns, it’s something else. (Queue references to Prohibition and the late stages of the temperance movement).

  10. avatar Will says:

    “You see, they honestly believe that people are open carrying rifles in an effort to intimidate and silence the opposition.”

    Um, that’s what they ARE doing. That’s WHY they do it.

    Basically, “if They(tm) don’t let me OC a pistol, then I’m just going to keep doing this”. That’s why it’s a “protest”.

    “If you don’t do what I want I will continue to be disruptive”. Historically, we have called that “Bad Behavior”, I don’t know if we’re allowed to call it that any more.

    MOST folks find people bearing rifles casually in public to be intimidating. Not “carrying from my car to my house or the gunsmith or the range”. Not “carrying to go hunting”. Carrying in public. It’s not a purse, it’s not a knapsack, it’s not a man bag. It’s a rifle.

    What’s the quote? “Why are you carrying a pistol, are you expecting trouble? No, if I were expecting trouble, I’d bring a rifle.”

    If it were NOT intimidating, if it were NOT disruptive, then the protesters would not do it. If it caused no ire whatsoever, it wouldn’t be done.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “MOST folks find people bearing rifles casually in public to be intimidating. “

      Data to support this “most” assertion? Or projection?

      I disagree with your assertion. I’ve been working on a little submission on this very topic. Lots of people don’t respond to OC of a rifle – depending on “who” and other contextual elements.

      It’s not about the rifle.

      The anti’s respond (and hyper-respond) to rifle OC because of who is doing the OC…it’s not someone on their own personal “approved list.”

      1. avatar TheBear says:

        I completely agree with JR.

        Well said.

      2. In light of what just happened to the young man carrying a pellet rifle in Walmart, I say a great deal of people are intimidated. Especially the police.

        1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

          You mean, the guy holding it by the pistol grip, waving it around, pointing it at people (as reported by the 911 call)? That’s not carrying, that’s menacing.

          That has what, exactly, to do with people who carry a rifle slung over the shoulder?

        2. avatar Michael in GA says:

          Yes, that guy, but he really did not point it at anyone yet the caller and the police were intimidated.

        3. avatar Chip Bennett says:

          Yes, that guy, but he really did not point it at anyone yet the caller and the police were intimidated.

          But the 911 caller claimed that the guy was “loading” the rifle, and that he was pointing it at people. I cannot fault the police for responding in the way they did, based on the information they were given. It’s not that they were intimidated by the carrying of a rifle, but rather that they were responding appropriately to reports of menacing with a rifle.

          In any case: it is improper to conflate the actions of that guy, and the response to those actions, with the actions of a lawful open carrier, and the response to those actions.

          (By the way: I do think that carrying in “low ready” or pseudo-low ready when open carrying is inappropriate. The gun – whether a handgun or a long gun – should only be in the hand when needed to be used. Or at the very least, in the case of a long gun without a strap, carried in a way that is obvious – i.e. the hand nowhere near the grip/trigger.)

        4. avatar Michael in GA says:

          But you realize that a loose gun in a WalMart is there for any inexperienced person including a minor to pick up and handle in a manner that you and I would consider careless but death is not warranted for that carelessness?

        5. avatar Chip Bennett says:

          But you realize that a loose gun in a WalMart is there for any inexperienced person including a minor to pick up and handle in a manner that you and I would consider careless but death is not warranted for that carelessness?

          I’ll admit that my knowledge of all of the facts of that case is quite limited. But unless I’m mistaken, the AirSoft rifle in question does come with packaging. Someone removed the rifle from the packaging.

          Was death warranted? Were the police justified – or, at the very least, excused – in the use of deadly force, based on the circumstances? I’ll leave that up to the grand jury, because I don’t know all of the facts.

          (IIRC, the 911 caller later recanted some of what he said during the call. If the caller gave false information, and that false information led to the police’s use of deadly force, then perhaps the caller, and not the police, should bear some liability?)

          But again, in the end: the guy wasn’t carrying that AirSoft rifle in the manner that a lawful open carrier would carry a long gun – that is, slung over the shoulder. He had it in his hands, in a manner that could reasonably be construed to be menacing (i.e. unlawful). So, I maintain that he is not a valid comparison to long-gun open carriers.

        6. avatar Michael in GA says:

          I’m sorry. I thought you were aware of the latest information in that case. The grand jury decided not to indict and the surveillance video has been released. It didn’t look good for the cops. Close to 300 comments on TTAG.

    2. avatar Chip Bennett says:

      MOST folks find people bearing rifles casually in public to be intimidating.

      First: I keep seeing assertions like this, but I’ve never seen any evidence to support it. Just because MDA says it’s true doesn’t make it true.

      Second: so what? If true, then “most folks” are idiots. No law-abiding citizen is legally or morally bound to restrict the lawful exercise of his rights because other people are idiots.

  11. avatar Don says:

    except for the garb and accessories, looks just like michael moore

  12. avatar Jus Bill says:

    I often wonder just how many of the seemingly endless legions of the breathless hoplophobes have graduated from Middle School?

    On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Uhm, *woof* 🙂

      Dog-Faced and proud of it…

  13. avatar Grindstone says:

    “BULLYING, RIFLE TOTING uneducated, redneck, racist wife beaters with small penises who are afraid of the world”

    My gun-owning Mexican wife will be quite surprised to hear that she’s not actually brown or female.

    1. avatar TheBear says:

      She does not match the narrative so she does not exist… or she must be like Colion Noir and was created by and paid for by the NRA.

      1. So why are we beating ourselves up over our image when they only see what they want?

  14. avatar Mediocrates says:

    Really? Where have you been? Better yet, where has your head been?

  15. avatar TwinReverb says:

    They don’t need better PR. They need to be disbanded. They do not understand the concept of can versus should. Massad Ayoob and everyone else worth listening to has said that their actions are hurting, not helping their cause. They’re making us all look retarded. They are adult teenagers. I do not and will not support them.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “everyone else worth listening “

      Translation = only people that agree with me are worth listening to.

      It’s called “confirmation bias.”

      We also have this: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/appeal-to-authority

      Ayoob is not infallible. I disagree with a lot of what he says. If he says that about OCT, I disagree. I would ask him to put his data to support it.

    2. avatar Chip Bennett says:

      They don’t need better PR. They need to be disbanded.

      Who appointed you gatekeeper of the right to assemble, or the right to keep and bear arms? What are they doing that is unlawful?

      I despise covert control freaks on our side of the gun-control debate just as much as I despise the overt gun-control Bloomberg types.

      They do not understand the concept of can versus should.

      And apparently, you don’t understand the concept of right, or shall not be infringed.

      Massad Ayoob and everyone else worth listening to has said that their actions are hurting, not helping their cause.

      What “hurt” have they caused? I keep asking this question. Thus far, the best answer has been that the Arlington city council has banned open carry from their council meetings. I don’t think I’ll lose any sleep over that one.

      They’re making us all look retarded. They are adult teenagers. I do not and will not support them.

      Then you’re part of the problem, and are playing right into Shannon Watts’ hands.

  16. avatar Steven says:

    Good thing they did not say LGBT gun owners uneducated, redneck, racist spouse beaters with small penises who are afraid of the world. Because we all know that would not be politically correct.

    Still not sure why it is politically correct to bash anyone who supports the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      Just a guess: it’s their way of bashing the Constitution and Bill of Rights while smugly acting superior in the process.

    2. avatar JasonMfromSoDakota says:

      Thankfully our founders of this great nation had experienced tyranny by their fellow man and learned from it. They guaranteed us access to the tools that combat the attacks upon liberty, which have been allowed to continue through the indifference of good men. It is sad when folks will sell their morals and betray their belief systems just so they can conform to what they are told is politically correct. These conformists are the ones who time and effort is wasted upon by us just so we can educate them on what the supreme law of the land grants every free American. The anti-gun people try to strip other freemen of the right to be armed and have no issue being politically incorrect when advocating violence upon gun owners. Anti-gunners needed better parenting because somebody should have told them not to pick a fight with armed united Americans, as history has shown it does not work out well for those who tread upon us. Unfortunately the lines are being drawn and political correctness is going to meet patriot correction.

  17. avatar TxGal says:

    Nice group of women doing an Open Carry event in San Antonio this past week.
    Texas ‘Goddesses’ rally for open-carry http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Texas-Goddesses-rally-for-open-carry-5771209.php
    Goddesses With Guns a new womens gun club for women who primarily get together to shoot Clay Targets. I really like to see more women at an Open Carry Rally. Women with a long guns strapped to their shoulder is lot less intimidating.
    Texas Department of Public Safety reports the number of women who were issued concealed carry permits nearly doubled last year from 2012, with 67,000 people qualifying. That is a lot of women who have taken responsibility for own protection.
    Open carry would be effect those women who would like to have the option of more comfortable means of carry. I would open carry in certain situations, if it became legal in Texas.

  18. avatar Micah says:

    I’m torn. I cringe inside when I see the media and the MDAs of the world trot out their stereotypical gun owner or “that guy” at every conceivable opportunity. But then again, why should we need better optics to placate a bunch of liars? We have the constitution and truth on our side, right? Maybe we don’t need better PR, just more of it. Lots more.

    1. clap……………………..clap………………..clap…………clap……clap…..clap….clap…clap..clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap YEA!!!!!!!

  19. avatar GS650G says:

    Just wait until ISIS or ISIL or what ever they are called now adays starts trouble in the US. First thing suggested will be disarming all of us so ISIS can’t steal our guns. Open carry , while not my preferred method of tooling up, does send a message to our rock bowing friends from over there that they might get popped

    1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

      You mean, like the Muslim who beheaded a woman in Oklahoma City this week?

  20. avatar neiowa says:

    PR
    Crafting” (message or legislation)
    optics
    focus group
    message

    All metrosexual do nothing bilge but the “reality” for the current failed presidential administration. Not really working out is it?

  21. avatar pod says:

    I’m not a dyed-in the wool veteran POTG – I got into all this on a real level less than five years ago, even though I’ve had experience and a lifelong interest in firearms. From where I sit, yes, the pro-2A movement/scene needs better PR. Some are doing it, and doing it well. A lot of the manufacturers have really good campaigns. Magpul comes to mind. H&K, Beretta, and GLOCK do as well. Colt has stepped it up in recent months. The NRA finally got the message and has Noir and the others as commentators on their Youtube and Vimeo channels.

    Which brings up the biggest thing, and even though sometimes it’s annoying and noisy, is that the POTG need to take to the social media platforms with a vengeance. MDA and the other antis are entrenched there, with the tacit and explicit support of the platform owners themselves, who are often well-financed spoiled children who think guns should only be in video games. Mark Zuckerberg would probably faint if he saw a real gun in the hands of a civilian.

    Which brings up another point. The kids are all on their mobile devices and social channels. The POTG need to get mobile and get on the channels the youth are most likely to be on. It might ruffle some feathers, but if every Open Carry advocate was sporting an iPhone and Instagramming the hell out of their rallies, it would make a huge difference in the PR department. Like someone above said, you could have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it, what’s the point? Marketing and PR is akin to professional lying, yes, but it’s a necessity for something as critical as our Second Amendment rights. Poorly Xeroxed flyers and OFWGs grumbling at the range aren’t going to win converts. If some kid sees an Instagram post of someone like him at the range that could make him a convert. Imagine that times a million, or a hundred million?

    And yes, I’m keenly aware that all the major social outlets can and do specifically screen content that isn’t in line with their political beliefs. That’s why independent blogs with good SEO like TTAG are essential as well. Have your home base blog, but then use the social channels to amplify your message. Get the kids coming to your blog and Facebook can do whatever the heck it wants in terms of screening. My keen desire is to see TTAG throw up a “traffic alert” splash page from the number of kids trying to find out more about responsible firearms usage.

    I need to take more of my own advice though. I’m definitely slacking in the “PR” department. I have a fair amount of followers on all the social channels, but rarely post gun stuff. I’m gonna change that.

    1. avatar TheBear says:

      Glade to hear it. 🙂

  22. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    This:
    “Everyone who open-carries rifles during rallies, especially into business establishments should wear t-shirts that simply and clearly state what they are trying to do or say.”

    My vote goes for:
    “Now day ZZZ of open carry without shooting anybody. You are as safe around me & my gun as I am around you.”

    Maybe this for me since I don’t own a gun or generally even carry, front:
    “Guns don’t scare me. Scary people scare me.”

    Back:
    “These guys aren’t scary.”

  23. avatar 7.62x54r says:

    If the gentleman in the cartoon is supposed to be a member of OCT how come he is OCing?

  24. avatar C says:

    “You see, they honestly believe that people are open carrying rifles in an effort to intimidate and silence the opposition.”

    because that’s precisely what they, the antiguns (and leftists in general), aim to do with demonstrations.

  25. avatar Mike_M says:

    I’d like to mention, once again, something that nearly all of these articles suspiciously omit.
    In the state of Texas a rifle is the ONLY weapon that you can open-carry. That’s kind of the entire point. If you find it ridiculous (and unconstitutional) that you cannot open-carry a more-sensible pistol, what better way to demonstrate it than by open-carrying the only thing that you legally can?

    This may not change your mind on the subject. I still find myself ‘on the fence’ about the whole thing. However, I think it’s an important perspective that must be considered before passing judgement on these people.

    1. avatar TheBear says:

      ‘“I wish I could legally carry a pistol instead.”’

      It was not omitted.

  26. avatar GuyFromV says:

    I say everyone should OC their asses off and purposefully try to dress and look as much like the caricature they seem to have in their minds’ as to what they think, or want others to think, gun owners look and act like. So much so that it becomes evident how stupid and biased it is. At the same time it might lighten the situations up and we’d have a chance to dress up and act like fools…the perfect time to catch the undecided onlookers unaware and probably get an opening to start a dialogue and engage people from a position of humor. Jesters in medieval courts and settings played a very crucial role in how they encouraged others, through humor or artful self-deprecation, to see things from different points of view. They also were free to call attention to the errors the listeners or even their own sovereign and his toadies showed in their thinking…as long as it was entertaining and they did so in ways that were novel and finally and probably most crucial: the jester had to be the one who was seen as even more ridiculous or have the most attention on himself as the most ludicrous and absurdly stupid so there was no loss of face to those watching. It was in these subtle ways that the looniest member of society could change the way kings and mobs saw themselves and made them think about their preconceptions of what was right and wrong. …Could work…you never know…

  27. avatar Wilsontx says:

    Why must they keep throwing out the term “small penis”,,,,

    Oh wait a second I get it. Kind of like the vilification of cigarettes. Make it socially unacceptable and there will be little resistance to bans.

    All firearm related purchases will require a universal background check along with an on the spot medical exam, Sorry, no high capacity mags for low capacity penis. Move along.

    Like MPG requirements, there will be legislation that will keep raising the limits until only the most well hung can own firearms.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Oh wait a second I get it. Kind of like the vilification of cigarettes. Make it socially unacceptable and there will be little resistance to bans.”

      Bad news for MDA – Guns *are* cool. Hollywood and the shooter video games prove it. The Doc that defended himself proves it.

      The POTG *are* the cool kids…

  28. avatar rlc2 says:

    Good idea, Bear. Also signs that explain why you are protesting. And in a disciplined group, appropriately dressed, walking with respectful peaceful behaviour, including over shoulder muzzle down carry. And advance notification to LEOs who can intervene when the oddball MDA Grandma shows up pointing fingers. And advance notification to local media with briefing papers that provide short, succinct statements about why you are there, and what does it mean to ALL TEXANS/Americans.

    This is what works, as has been proven over and over.

    What does not work is the lone ranger wandering around a playground in a vest with an AR type pistol with an orange tiipped barrell, or goofy game boys in camo posing for Instagram in a restaurant with ARs in low ready muzzling everyone, or a bushy haired guy in a Walmart carrying a baby in chest rig and AK in the other….

    Organized disciplined group wiyh signage, vs disorganized odd duck in an inappropriate place…one way gets you positive attention, the other gets you shot.

  29. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    According to numbers compiled by John Lott, some 11 million Americans lawfully carry firearms. According to numbers compiled by FBI, those 11 million Americans who carry lawfully carry firearms are the most law-abiding of any demographic, committing gun crime at a rate an order of magnitude less frequently than even law enforcement officers.

    We don’t have a PR problem; we have an ignorance problem, fueled by lies from anti-gun advocates.

    Further, we know the end game of the anti-gun advocates: complete civilian disarmament. We do not need or want to get into a PR battle with them. We do not need or want to engage them on a playing field of their choosing, according to rules of their choosing.

    Rather: we need to defeat them, utterly and completely. No quarter, no compromise. That starts by ending our infighting and self-division. We need to stop calling our law-abiding brethren “douches” and “jerks” and whatever other pejorative, simply because we disagree with the way they choose lawfully to exercise their rights. The only “douches” and “jerks” are the people trying to control, and ultimately to deny, the rights they are exercising.

    1. avatar Michael in GA says:

      Chip, if you were on my 4×400 relay team, you would run the anchor leg.

      1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

        Chip, if you were on my 4×400 relay team, you would run the anchor leg.

        That might not be too smart. I’m a 30-something FWG…

        1. avatar Michael in GA says:

          You’ve seen the competition, right?

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