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One of the primary purposes of the Second Amendment is the ability to assemble militias to enforce public order. The formation of informal militias during times of disorder, such as during natural disasters and riots is a completely natural activity in a civil society. Productive people have invested their lives in their property. When they are threatened, neighbors band together to protect themselves and each other . . .

You do not see riots and looting in the suburbs and small towns because there’s no incentive to destroy what has been painstakingly built. In the urban cores, riots occur because a large class of largely property-less people have have little to lose, and the possibility of gaining a little loot and excitement offers some escape from an existence without responsibility.

In Ferguson, responsible people, black and white, gathered together to protect private property. They could do so, in part, because of the Second Amendment and the recent restoration of open carry in Missouri. Only a few weeks ago, the Missouri legislature overrode Governor Nixon’s veto, restoring open carry for those with a concealed carry permit.

It’s hard to deter lawless looters if you cannot display arms. And it can present legal difficulties if every property owner has to be constantly telling police that they have given permission for their friends and allies to bear arms on their private property. Those who push for more and more concentrated state power don’t want people to be able to defend their property, because that would mean they’re not as dependent on the state. And not as easily cowed into subservience and obedience.

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Machiavelli summed up the mindset rather well:

 There is no comparison whatever between an armed and disarmed man; it is not reasonable to suppose that one who is armed will obey willingly one who is unarmed; or that any unarmed man will remain safe…. – Niccoló Machiavelli, The Prince. 1537.

It has been reported that federal agents in Ferguson have ordered some Oathkeepers to stop protecting property, under the pretext that they need a license to do so. No such license is needed for volunteers who are not being paid.   Stewart Rhodes, President of Oathkeepers was quoted as saying:

“They want to create a false paradigm… They are presenting a false choice between lawlessness, looting, arson, assault, murder on the one side, unrestrained, or a hyper-militarized police state on the other,” Rhodes said. “They are failing to do the intelligent thing and protect businesses without trampling on rights.”

Broomhandles and baseball bats aren’t effective tools for dealing with a mob of looters and arsonists. They have sticks and stones and Molotov cocktails. It’s much easier to destroy than to create. But firearms are another matter.  Looters are likely to look for easier, unprotected targets when there’s a chance they may lose their lives when a shot from the crowd can be answered with a volley in return.

Fortunately, the grand jury in Ferguson did its duty. They didn’t buckle to the intense pressure to indict, no matter the facts. The law-abiding citizens of Ferguson knew that they were likely to prevail if they, like Officer Wilson, were required to use deadly force in defense of themselves.

Ultimately, this is a major reason why disarmers hate open carry. If you can’t openly display a firearm, you can’t form informal militias to protect your property and livelihood. You become dependent on the state for local (and even national) national security; and if the state withdraws protection from you, as happened in the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, or on the first night of the Ferguson riots, you suffer.

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It would be against the law for people to gather together to protect themselves in New York City as they have in Ferguson. Open carry is illegal there. It would be illegal in Chicago as well.  Open carry is illegal there. People in New York City are almost entirely disarmed through decades of strict enforcement of the Sullivan Act, a statute that was put into place to protect organized crime. Chicago continues to fight the courts on allowing its residents to be armed. Unarmed people are more dependent. That’s how many politicians prefer it.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch

75 Responses to Ferguson: Where Open Carry Leads

  1. Good article. Going to share this with some people who are pro-gun but anti-open carry.

    Open Carry is the only way to go in book.

    • Ever since the other article came out I’ve been open carrying everywhere. More Comfortable, bigger gun, and I can preach the 2a gospel without ever saying a word.

      Course, now I’m looking at different guns since most of mine are for cc.

      • I used OC back when I first got into guns but then I fell out of the habit for a long time. But after Sandy Hook I decided to stop being a chicken and get back into it. I’m glad I did, its been a great experience. I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback and questions as to caliber, etc and just general chat. I even had one guy in the parking lot of Costco ask if I would show my gun to his kids so that they could see “a real live gun, for shooting bad guys”

        Of course part of it is that when I carry I go out of my way to be a good citizen, I open doors for old ladies, offer to put away shopping carts, let people go ahead of me in line, basically make sure I act like gentlemen so that no one could ever question my motives and do what I can to show open carriers as the most polite and friendly people you could hope to meet.

        • Open carrying here has been a positive experience. Often, people come up and thank me for doing so. Some have used it as an instructional opportunity for their children. Of course, I encourage those who approach me to likewise become educated on the law and open carry their own firearm.

          I’m polite by nature so it’s the same for me OCing or not. I’m OCing 99.999% of the time though.

    • There is a time and place for everything, and obviously facing dowm vandals and looters is a prime example for the need to open carry both handguns and long guns. Carry open or concealed, whatever you feel comfortable with and is appropriate for the area and people around you, but carry. I like to be flexible in my thinking.

      • Practically anytime in public is the appropriate time and place for openly bearing long guns and handguns. If everyone waits until there is a problem then it isn’t going to be something law enforcement and others are accustomed to seeing. The public won’t be accustomed to doing it. Carry long guns and handguns openly in times of peace so that enough will be familiar with it in times of strife. This increases the odds that there will be enough prepared to do so and there is less of a chance of hassle by law enforcement.

        • @ John in Ohio, where do you open carry in the state? I am in central Ohio. What pistol do you carry, and in what holster? Have you had any encounters with law enforcement?

        • Primarily, I open carry in SW Ohio. I have OC’ed over much of the area; Greater Cincinnati, Greater Dayton, and Greater Columbus. I open carry when I go to other parts of the state but rarely end up in the Akron-Toledo-Cleveland areas as I don’t often have business there.

          There has been some trouble from law enforcement but a lot of work has been done to “educate” departments and I haven’t had any negative officer interactions in a long while. Nowadays, most officer interaction is in which the officer is expressing appreciation and/or asking what caliber. Typically, I carry 1911, Vaquero single action, AK, or (rarely) shotgun. My EDC is usually an atypical short barreled Ruger New Vaquero in a Tom Threepersons holster.

        • Thanks for the perspective. I haven’t OC’d at all but am thinking about giving it a try in certain situations.

        • I suggest beginning with an experienced couple of people or a group. I wholeheartedly believe that you will be glad that you open carried once you give it a few tries. I haven’t encountered one person yet that regrets doing it; not one.

          Most of all, thank you for even considering it! It’s one thing for us to get out there and tell people that it’s a legal activity and constitutionally protected right and, in some situations, the duty of liberty minded citizens. If that same public doesn’t actually see people engaged in open carry everyday, it weakens the message.

  2. Informal militias are actually outlawed in NY completely. The only legal militia in NY is the state guard, which is controlled by Cuomo.

    • I always figured a load of no. 6 shot would be just the ticket for a molotov coctail. The containers is usually glass, full of flammable liquid with an ignition source already lit and attached. Just break the glass while still in the mooks hand and the liquid and flame source do the rest.

      • The same thing has occoured to me though out of a sense of mercy I would prefer a clean shot with lead and copper. They may die or live and probably suffer either way but I don’t imagine any bullet would cause the kind of agony massive burns will. Though in a riotous situation a dramatic deterrent may be the more merciful thing if it turns the other assailants away.

        • Try imagining the suffering and horrible death of people caught in burning building set on fire by that molotov. It might help you to decide.
          I have heard that arsonists were thrown in the flaming house they’ve set ablaze. Seems like fitting punishment.

        • Try a clean shot when you’re in the middle of a riot. Ad hoc ammo selection would be the least of my concerns.

        • @Drew- Hey don’t worry about mercy in gunfight since staying alive is the only positive outcome. If an evil person were to threaten harm upon you or others show said person the same amount of mercy he was about to show you.

  3. Well said, Dean. Obviously the state decided that it was not in its interests to protect private property in Ferguson. The fact that the governor activated the national guard and then failed to deploy them when the burning and looting started is telling. Obviously he could have deployed them, but equally obviously he decided not to. It begs credulity to think that failure was anything other than deliberate.

    We may be seeing a new paradigm emerge where government decides it’s best to let an aroused mob burn and pillage until it exhausts itself rather than using governmental force to merely protect property. No doubt that governmental force would have resulted in people getting arrested, perhaps fights with police or national guard, and quite possibly people being shot. That would have undoubtedly produced ugly visuals which would have angered the liberal base of a leftest national government. Were the small shop owners in Ferguson sacrificed for political gain? Probably. Should we trust government to protect us? Probably not.

    There are now two competing dynamics on a collision course: states are encouraging citizens to arm themselves while, paradoxically, the federal government (if Ferguson is an example) can be counted on to attempt to keep those same armed citizens from defending themselves, their property, and the property of others. This is not good.

    • Well, Nixon did deploy the National Guard. They were protecting — you guessed it — the police station.

      Meanwhile, Ferguson was immolating itself.

      • That’s what I read. I understood that the NG was deployed primarily to protect government installations. (Not that I necessarily disagree with that strategy as long as government isn’t going to harass those protecting property and life.)

      • I think the priority of the NG was protecting Government property, but I did see some pictures of a few NGs outside a few private shopping and strip malls. Don’t know what they would have done though if a mob showed up since I didn’t see them with riot gear on.

    • The new strategy of letting people burn the town down not only exhausts the energy of the protesters, it also creates jobs in construction. Of course, if the government buildings were to be allowed to burn, that would burden the taxpayer, but when it’s a business that is burned, the insurance companies provide the funding for the construction crews, so, win/win.

      • I’ve seen some truly ridiculous stuff posted in these comment sections, but this one bubble sorted it’s way right to the top.

        Just wow.

        A bunch of riotous thugs burning a town is win-win because SOME of the people MIGHT have insurance? Destroying a city is good because it creates jobs in CONSTRUCTION? Do you analyze what you type AT ALL? I’m guessing a resounding “no.”

        Insurance is no replacement for prevention, but I don’t expect many of contemporary co-citizens to understand that….not in this day and age and after the complete proliferation of government controlled education.

        Here’s a newsflash for you: Ferguson has been damaged. Not just the buildings hurt, but the COMMUNITY has been damaged. What businesses would want to build or rebuild there now? Who would want to invest in such a place? Who trusts the cops, or the city government?

        What person with money to invest would look at Ferguson…the town government, the police force, the surrounding county or indeed even THAT STATE and say, “Yeah, that’s where I want to go to risk my capital.”

        Ah, but I get it. You are a pacifist at heart, apparently. Weren’t you the one not only vehemently advocating not getting involved to stop a crime in progress but making fun of someone else who would choose to in another article here recently.

        That attitude and this one are entirely consistent…with what they are consistent with I’ll refrain from posting.

        • Gee whiz, I guess you’re right. Thanks for explaining that to me, I get it now.

          In the end, things will work out. Haven’t you ever seen the end of Do the Right Thing?

        • after saying all of that, Cowboy here is still factually correct, even if it rustles your jimmies.

        • @Hannibal, …however if someone LOVES being offended all the time and making melodramatic speeches about it, the the internet is EXACTLY they place for such a person.

        • Barstow Cowboy is wrong and here’s why. The concept that destroying property creates wealth and prosperity is known as the “broken window” fallacy. Let us say you’ve broken all the windows in a town: this is supposed to be a good thing because the glass industry has more work to do, as do construction workers. The problem is the act of destroying private property doesn’t create any new wealth. Currency must now be paid to the glass makers and construction workers that would have been spent elsewhere in an activity that actually does improve standard of living (better shoes, medical research, more efficient energy generation technology etc… ). People who tote the broken window fallacy don’t even believe it themselves or else they’d burn down their own house and destroy their own belongings in the belief it would improve their standard of living.

        • Velocity of money without regard to wealth creation. The same money is moved around the system and some escapes thereby reducing net overall wealth.

          A Ponzi type system perhaps?

        • “A Ponzi type system perhaps?”

          Thank-you. This exactly.

          Willful stupidity is offensive. When someone makes the claim that destruction is “good” because things can be rebuilt, that person shows a distinct lack of understanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

          Or, as Heinlein is often credited for putting it…TANSTAAFL.

      • I just thought B.C. was having a jab at the sort of government programs that dig and fill a hole, rather than being 100% serious.

      • I’m taking it that you were being sarcastic (I could be wrong) but a further point is that if your business got burned or ransacked numerous time, what’s the chance you are going to set up shop in the same spot again? Ferguson, regardless of the actual outcome, has advertised itself as unsafe to do business. Reputation does more to damage the area than anything else, because future business will hesitate to open there.

        • Yeah, I was kidding.

          However, if you ever wanted to buy your own street in an economically downscale Midwestern sh!thole town, now might be the time to visit Ferguson, I’m sure you could get an entire cul-de-sac for a real bargain.

      • Sorry to be the one to point this out but…….There will be Zero insurance payouts in the instances of Social unrest and rioting. Read your policies for your house,car or business.

  4. I thought open carry was generally allowed if you were on your own property or at your place of business or had permission from the owner? Why would not having open carry prevent them from standing on the roofs since that is “private property” and they had permission to be there?

    • It wouldn’t. The police are completely in the wrong. They are trying to use their authority to enforce illegal policies…as usual.

      FYI, open carry in public is allowed in the vast majority of states. Its only in deeply anti-states…..and Texas, that its illegal.

      • My understanding was the the cops shut them down for operating without a license. It sounds like a matter of semantics to me.

        • You don’t need a license if you’re not getting paid, and you have the property owner’s permission.

        • That’s makes a lot of sense to me, and I just can’t figure out how the cops are getting away with this. Maybe they threatened them with arrest and that was enough to run them off. I wouldn’t imagine an Oathkeeper would have a lot of friends in a correctional setting, and even if they beat the charges they still wouldn’t beat the ride.

        • @Rambeast: I don’t want to go too far off topic but that’s how we ended up with driver’s licenses. Government is notorious for licensing that which they would like to posses a monopoly upon. AFAIK, Ohio concealed carry licenses began, in part, with a case of a private investigator who relocated here and found that he couldn’t conceal his sidearm because he possessed a private security investigator license. Because he was getting paid, he couldn’t carry a gun without a license and that license prohibited him from carry concealed (?). I don’t even want to get started on liquor licenses…

          Simply put, the license argument in Ferguson was a typical government lie under the color of law.

      • Right, I live in an EXTREMELY pro-2A state which I’m grateful for. And I’m originally from Texas where hopefully they will be passing open carry very soon.

    • The story I read was that the Oathkeepers were at street level protecting businesses, and were told to disperse. Some then took to the roof tops where they were free of police interference.

    • Generally correct, but ymmv in urban areas. There is a (single) case out of the Appellate Department of the Superior Court for Los Angeles County (one step above a Superior Court, one step below a court of appeal) holding that an unfenced area of your own property, e.g., an unfenced front yard or driveway, is “quasipublic” and a lawful arrest can be made their for carrying a firearm in violation of state law. The logic is inherently flawed, but it was obvious that that panel was after a particular result, not a legally defensible position. A fence is not the sine qua non of the right to exclude others.

  5. Broomhandles and baseball bats aren’t effective tools for dealing with a mob of looters and arsonists. They have sticks and stones and Molotov cocktails.

    And, you know, guns – in case anyone missed the hundreds of rounds fired during the “peaceful protests” the night of the Grand Jury decision.

    • Yeah, many of which undoubtedly came from the AR-15’s liberated from the trunks of police cars before they set them on fire. Apparently it never occurred to these “trained” officers to properly secure these “assault” weapons. Go figure.

  6. There are several problems with this:

    1) This website is again trying to find any possible excuse to say “this is why open carry is good.” The pros and cons of open versus concealed carry have been hashed and rehashed. It’s one thing to take a side or give an opinion, but it’s quite another to reach for something that don’t exist, i.e. proof that right now is the best time to open carry. The difference between fans and zealots is that fans don’t rush to any possible justification, even illogical ones, to further their goals.

    As usually, I expect #1 to turn into “you don’t support the second amendment!!!” Which is nothing more than the lies of those who’ve lost their minds. I just got back from the AT&T store, and I was concealed carrying the whole time, and no one was the wiser. So before you rush to accuse people of not supporting the 2A (like both this website and the people who comment on it have done repeatedly), check yourself. Don’t comment on what you don’t know.

    2) While I am not against militias, I would like to remind people that militias can very quickly become posses, hunting down people accused of bogus crimes and lynching or shooting the innocent without a fair trail. I would like to believe most militias won’t do this, but I’ve met far too many people who are members of militias that have quite extreme viewpoints, viewpoints that would very quickly move them into being nothing more than street gangs.

    3) This whole discussion is pointless because when martial law is declared, you’re already in a state where militias can be formed and you can open carry, at least in my opinion. I would assume most logical-thinking cops would agree with me, but that remains to be seen. Me, if they declared martial law, it would be open carry season for me.

    4) I will agree it’s hard to deter lawless looters without open carry. That’s why I support open carry. Guess what? In my state, that’s legal on my own property already, and especially in martial law.

    But I doubt some of the tactical necessity of being armed in plain sight: that would definitely open you up to being shot at by snipers, if they exist. Sure, the average looter isn’t going to have a high power rifle with a scope, but I don’t know if I buy the concept of standing out in the open with a gun, especially when looters have already started acting like pack animals.

    I like the picture of the people with the sign. That’s more my style. But I’d also be doing things more military style, like single point of entry and barricading all the other windows and entrances. Someone stupid enough to come in would get shot and their lifeless body tossed outside. But I agree that my perspective here is very limited, as I’m not in the middle of Ferguson’s chaos right now. I’m miles away. So regardless of what my opinion is and what I think, only experience would prove or disprove my opinion on all of this.

    So yeah, I don’t like how this website recently has been trying to shove open carry down everyone’s throat. Sure, I’m in favor, and I’d vote for it, but I’m not going to buy people saying that if I don’t open carry I’m somehow an evil communist. Riots and looting like Ferguson don’t happen every day, and when they do, IMHO martial law makes open carry legal, whether it was beforehand or not. But the rhetoric needs to stop. Maybe “The Reason Why Open Carry Is Great For Ferguson” would’ve been a better subject matter.

    • So much to disagree with here.

      “. . .but I’ve met far too many people who are members of militias that have quite extreme viewpoints, viewpoints that would very quickly move them into being nothing more than street gangs. . .”

      It seems to me that the government’s deliberate decision to let Ferguson burn for a second time was an example of some “quite extreme viewpoints”. Effectively, government colluded with rioters and looters.

      There’s nothing wrong with open carry.

      • “There’s nothing wrong with open carry.”

        Well, apparently it frightens the delicate sensibilities of quite a number of people that claim to be 2A supporters and gun owners if some of the comments we see around here are any indication.

    • I thought that martial law was when the government got to make up new rules. Apparently, martial law is when everyone gets to make up their own rules. I learn something new on this site every day.

  7. So now it has come to government agents telling us that they will arrest us for protecting life and property from rioters and looters. That makes those agents accomplices to the rioters and looters. We should therefore treat them no differently than the rioters and looters themselves.

    • If we’re going to treat them the same as rioters and looters, I guess that means they can now burn and destroy without fear of prosecution.

  8. Title 10 U S Code says the U S Militia consists of all U S male citizens between the ages of 17 and 45. I suppose it’ll need Defcon One to call it out. The UCMJ will undoubtedly apply then. I’m way older but I’d probably be recalled any way.

  9. Good article. I just saw Sheriff Clarke from Milwaukee on Cam & co. He applauded the Oath Keepers. Not every cop is the bad guy. But it is obvious we are on our own. And this Ferguson s##t could happen anywhere…

  10. THE PEOPLE are just going to have to assert their right to protect themselves and their property.
    If the government doesn’t do it YOU are going to have to do it anyway.
    If the government tries to stop you, then ABOLISH that government.
    You have the RIGHT and the DUTY to to take it upon yourselves.

  11. Nobody needs an AR-15 with a 30 round magazine, until they do. Looters might think twice if you have close to a full combat load within arms reach as they know you have the firepower to deal with a great deal of threats. If you have a few buddies with you, you can bet you will be left alone for the most part. Hardened targets are less likely to be attacked. If you look like you are ready for a fight, attackers are also less likely to attempt something. This is one reason why open carry should be legal in all 50 states and all cities. You can’t bear arms if you can’t carry any due to unconstitutional and restrictive laws.

  12. Open carry is great, but I’d like the option to conceal. It would be nice to carry when wearing a Tux or a nice suit.

  13. “You do not see riots and looting in the suburbs and small towns because there’s no incentive to destroy what has been painstakingly built. In the urban cores, riots occur because a large class of largely property-less people have have little to lose, and the possibility of gaining a little loot and excitement offers some escape from an existence without responsibility.” Interesting hypothesis but then there is also the fact that some rioters are from outside of the immediate area they attack and burn. They are not going to burn down their own hood. Then there’s also the “hobbyist”and “professional” anarchists that gravitate toward this sort of situation from states away because they get off on it. They probably would burn down the town they live in but then just move on with no remorse.

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