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Open carrier at Dallas police protest (courtesy

Texas Open-Carry Laws Blurred Lines Between Suspects and Marchers The New York Times proclaims. To save you precious time and brain cells, let me highlight the fact that The Times doesn’t offer any testimony from any police officer indicating they were confused, delayed or otherwise hampered by the presence of open carriers at the Black Lives Matter protest — the scene of the resulting police massacre.

This is as close to a front-line indictment of open carry as the Gray Lady’s troika of “reporters” get:

The Dallas police chief, David O. Brown, described to CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday the amount of confusion the armed protesters initially caused.

He said the event had attracted “20 or 30 people” who “showed up with AR-15 rifles slung across their shoulder.”

“They were wearing gas masks,” Mr. Brown said. “They were wearing bulletproof vests and camo fatigues, for effect, for whatever reason.”

When the shooting started, “they began to run,” he said. And because they ran in the middle of the shooting, he said, the police on the scene viewed them as suspects. “Someone is shooting at you from a perched position, and people are running with AR-15s and camo gear and gas masks and bulletproof vests, they are suspects, until we eliminate that.”

Open carriers wearing gas masks? That’s news to me. You might have thought that the dozens of cameras filming the scene would have caught ONE example of a gas mask-wearing open carrier. Be that as it probably isn’t, the Chief’s declamation that open carry caused confusion is highly dubious.

One of the state’s most prominent open-carry activists, C. J. Grisham, the founder and president of Open Carry Texas, disputed the extent of the confusion caused by marchers carrying rifles. In videos from the scene, he said, “you can see that police are walking right past people who are open-carrying rifles and it’s not a problem. So obviously it’s not that difficult to tell who the good guys and the bad guys are.”

The fact that there were open carriers at the Dallas protest is also . . . wait for it . . . irrelevant.

First of all, Texans have a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to bear arms. Period. If that confuses police during a mass shooting, so be it. If the cops had killed an open carrier by mistake, call me a member of Gun Nut Nation, but again, also so be it.

Second, the fact that there was an armed attack in Dallas proves that Texans were right to carry firearms at the protest. What’s more, given the threat presented — a racist madman armed with a rifle — it’s perfectly reasonable that the law-abiding citizens carried rifles in their own defense; handguns being a less-than-ideal weapon against a rifle.

Micah X. Johnson’s tactics prevented an immediate ballistic response from open carriers, but it could have gone another way. An open carrier could have seen a less well-trained attacker (or attackers) firing on the crowd and dispatched them. Or at least slowed them down.

I’ll even go so far as to suggest that the presence of open carriers may have caused the shooter to be less effective. That’s conjecture, obviously, but so is the idea that open carriers are, in general, a disadvantage to police.

Again, the fact that the open carriers didn’t shoot or slow the bad guy is neither here nor there — unless you’re someone who favors civilian disarmament looking for any old excuse to vilify legally armed citizens defending their lives and the lives of other innocents.

The legality of carrying a rifle on the streets is just one element of a gun culture that continues to define and divide the state. It is not just that many Texans are armed. It is that many are allowed to display the fact that they are armed, and more now do so than at any point in modern Texas history.

Wait. What? Who says Texas’ gun culture “divides” the state? I open carry in Austin, the very liberal heart of a deeply conservative state. While I have been asked to leave undetected “gun free zones,” I have never been assailed for open carrying.

There is no division here, save the one that The New York Times seeks to create. At least they include this:

“Doesn’t make sense to us, but that’s their right in Texas,” [Dallas Police Chief David Brown] said. He did not say whether he supported restricting the carrying of rifles on the streets.

Who is this “us” of which the Dallas Police Chief speaks? Police officers in his force or politically-appointed cops with their political handlers intent on using open carry as another excuse to attack gun rights? The answer’s obvious, at least for those of “us” who care about the truth.

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  1. Couldn’t have been much confusion since none of them were shot. Texas politicians stepped up and said there was no reason to do anything about gun control.

    • And I was listening to the police radio the whole time. “All these open carriers!” said no cop or dispatcher. Ever. Further, they keep trying to tie this to the recent open carry law change in TX. That. Law. Only. Affected. The. Open. Carry. Of. Cartridge. Firing. Handguns. Period. It’s been legal to carry rifles/shotguns openly since Texas was a thing.

  2. Well it is the NY Times. For such a big city it’s amazing they cannot find competent people to publish the stories.

    • NYC is a 12 mile long patch of meteor target. Wait for it. . . wait for it. . .

      I am FOR climate change people being correct if it means sea levels will rise enough to make NY and Chicago go swimming.

      NY does not even make the top 50% in Area of the 50 U.S. States. They could pack another 5 Trillion people within their borders and they would not represent another single square inch of America, nor its values. They should not dictate to us. They should keep their NYT media outlet from soiling itself. It doesn’t (collectively) rise to the level of being worthy of a STFU (even when abbreviated).

      • Another argument that proves the founding fathers were brilliant to think up the electoral college. Could you imagine an America where Manhattan island negated the votes of half the southern States? Luckily liberals flock together or else the GNN would be in even more trouble politically.

        • As a resident of Western New York it is very easy for me to imagine that. Case in point, last Gubernatorial election.

          The tiny little cesspool dangling into the water on the eastern edge of our state once again made the decision for us.

      • It would take a lot of water to raise the sea level over 578 ft – above Lake Michigan – in order to let Chicago swim.
        NYC on the other hand… might happen.

      • I wouldn’t wrap my fish in that tripe… I’d be too afraid it would taste like Commie by the time I got home.

  3. Diversity is what makes this country great. To bad some people don’t like cultural diversity and want every state to be a liberal socialist state.

  4. The real story is that the editors of the NY Times saw a young black man with a rifle and shit themselves with fear.
    The rest of us saw a dude and wondered if he was going with iron sights or glass.

  5. “All the agitprop that’s fit to print.”

    This is another one of those theories anti-gunners love so much but which doesn’t play out in reality. Just before I left Ohio they allowed CCW in bars (gasp!) provided the people carrying didn’t consume alcohol. The grabbers predicted an utter bloodbath with drunks shooting each other left and right. It didn’t happen. In fact I am unaware of any case of a CCW permit holder carrying a gun into a bar, getting drunk and doing something stupid.

    It’s the same here in Colorado. CCW in bars is legal, as is open carry (technically) however I doubt you’d get served OCing in a bar. No bloodbaths! Not a single CCW carrier getting wasted, having an argument and shooting someone. The only reason the liberals here don’t cry about rivers of blood flowing from the bars is because other than CCW permit holders, cops and lawyers no one knows you can legally carry in a bar. You can even drink while doing it provided you don’t attain a BAC of 0.08 or higher (which, while in possession of a firearm is a felony)!

  6. RF…

    The fact that open carriers “ran” from the gunfire is highly relevant. If we are going to claim that good guys with guns can stop bad guys with guns, we look foolish saying people openly armed did nothing to resolve the situation (which may be tactically good or bad).

    If those openly armed truly ran for cover, and did nothing to engage, how do we advertise that we gun owners are ready to run to the guns to “defend our rights”? If prudent discretion caused the open carriers (and concealed carriers) to refuse to engage, are we learning something important? Are we learning that if there is a heavy police presence, gun carriers should escape and evade, leaving the matter to the police (who, by the way, demonstrated lack of effective small unit tactics, lack of effect command and control; subject for another discussion)?

    IMHO (and who really cares?), the Dallas mess highlighted a need to seriously evaluate our skills, out choices about responding to an active shooter. If the cops lack cohesive procedures to work as an integrated team (video shows numerous cops running, alone, in all directions), how do we imagine a group of complete strangers with guns are going to effectively deal with an active shooter situation?

    Can we have a productive conversation about effectively dealing with active shooters, or are we doomed to macho statements, self-congratulations, ineffective chest-thumping – and embarrassing ourselves when we claim being armed is good for society?

    • Isn’t “Get Off The X” step one, followed closely by the step two of evaluate the situation and determine your next course of action for your own survival? Flight doesn’t seem like the wrong choice for an armed civilian in this situation, especially when it was a scene already crawling with police and the shooter wasn’t identifiable in a crowd.

      • This is the type conversation I am hoping we can have. Not disagreeing with anything you noted.

        Question: Is the logical, natural, intelligent next step to engage (when you can identify the shooter(s), or let the cops handle it (no matter how poorly)?

        Question: How do we explain (convince?) to over-emotionalized anti-gun advocates that not running to the guns is OK, after years of telling them that we have firearms to protect ourselves and others? The easy path for the gun-grab crowd is, “See, all those people with guns did nothing to resolve the situation; guns are not needed, and only add more danger to bystanders.”

        • Where this whole debate becomes moot is the idea of risk versus uncertainty. Treating what amounts to an incredibly rare and quite frankly unique situation is somewhat foolhardy. There’s definitely a few things to remember:

          1)There’s a good chance the Open Carry Texas people present were not carrying loaded firearms.
          2)It is far more important to know when not to pull a gun than when to pull a gun. A situation where someone may mistake you for the shooter is not that situation. It’s not just a risk to themselves but to officers and the general public to be cavalier about presenting and using deadly force.
          3)I am willing to guess that you’d be having this debate even if someone had intervened but instead of it being about how they didn’t stop the shooter it would be about how they confused officers and put the general public at risk.
          4)Officers were on hand to do their job. If they needed intervention (I am sure something like an AR-15 on hand immediately would have been very welcome in the Hollywood scenario) they would have asked.
          5)The lives lost were directly at the hand of the shooter, including his own if you count his refusal to surrender. They were not at the hands of a non-LEO carrier. The carriers made it home alive without major incident.
          6)It doesn’t change the fact that carriers have intervened and saved lives in other situations.

        • @Andrew Lias

          Enjoyed your response.

          My interest in this blog post is generating a discussion on two elements of the Dallas shootings: armed and open carrying individuals “ran” from gunfire; Dallas as an example of an active shooter in the presence of an openly armed group of people.

          Regards armed people running from gunfire, my question is not about whether avoiding the gunfire was prudent from the perspective of POTG (well, a little bit), but how could we successfully respond to claims that armed people cannot stop a “bad guy with a gun”. We may think the answer is self-evident and not worth addressing, but the other side is not influenced by what we think. We may think the “audience” for commentary about the response of armed citizens is ourselves, but the audience is actually media and the, perhaps mythical, “undecided” who might be persuaded to join our views.

          As to the oddity of a crowd “protected” by police, it is simple to say, “The cops were there, let them handle it.” But the episode does represent one of the only actual mass shootings where armed civilians/citizens were present, had the means to counter the shooter, but didn’t. It is possible they all coldly calculated that it was too risky to attempt a response because the cops were already there, but my speculation is that they all did the natural thing for non-combat experienced people to do – run and hide.

          So, my inquiry: how do we meet the anti-gun crowd when they get around to using Dallas as proof that armed citizens are useless at best, extraordinarily dangerous at worst; if we remove the presence of police at the event, why do we think the open carriers would have acted differently, and have we a realistic grasp of the complications of active shooters at a crowded venue?

          Notable so far, is the lack of dozens of commenters who, in the past, have been zealous to respond how they would “run to the guns”. The absence of heated comments may be temporary, but so far the discussion has been reasoned and considered.

        • We can’t convince anyone who has already decided to the contrary that guns save lives that the open carriers handled themselves exactly as they should have.

        • If I carried an AR to a demonstration, particularly an anti-cop demonstration, I would most certainly not have any ammo with me. Before these questions/accusations have a bit of merit, show us that someone had a LOADED AR. After that, I would attempt to ask a uniformed officer if I could accompany him as backup, since being alone with a loaded rifle in the immediate vicinity of the actual killer is absolutely begging for cops to shoot you. Seriously stupid, especially in light of antis claiming cops were not trained to differentiate, would just shoot anyone with a gun.

        • Very interesting input. Thanks. Had never thought about pairing-up with a cop who may come under fire (or at least trying to). Talked to a former FBI HRT member at lunch. He agreed police are not fire team oriented. We both questioned whether or not we would want cops competent in small unit tactics, but left that unanswered.

    • Would have to disagree. Carry of guns with regards to preventing a sniper is pretty useless. But most gun attacks are not sniper attacks. Regarding the gun carriers running in response to said sniper fire, what else were they supposed to do? Just stand there? Running for cover is fine, so as to establish what the heck is going on and then, if you can, return fire.

      • Agree 100%.

        Immediately raising your rifle to your shoulder before you know what’s going on makes you a target for both the shooter (you have to assume they can see you before you see them) and potentially the police who may misidentify you as the shooter. The first thing to do is find the best cover or concealment you can and then go from there.

        This not only hopefully gets you out of the shooters line of sight or at least gives you some cover, it allows other people to scatter so you’re not just some guy or gal holding a rifle up to your shoulder in a crowd of people basically begging for someone to shoot you.

        • Yes, prudent thinking.

          What happens next when the crowd scatters (maybe all go face-down on the deck), and there are several “good guys with guns” who rise up with weapons at the ready?

          Is it really likely that even in an event where no police are present that any or all the “bad guys with guns” can be identified? Is it really likely that the “good guys with guns” will be stopped by the hesitation required to now sort out who should be shot? Is it possible to coordinate the defensive fire of a bunch of complete strangers? Should the attempt even be made? Should the complete response be to clear datum, and not come back?

        • What “happens next” depends on the exact situation for each person. In such a situation it would be very unwise to shoot at something you can’t see or simply in the direction of muzzle flashes in this situation.

          I would propose this to you: In a situation like this the shooter(s) is very likely to give themselves away by firing in a way that is basically indiscriminate or appears to be so from your vantage point. They’re shooting at any target of opportunity and this makes them very different from the “good guys with guns” who are [hopefully] looking to locate and neutralize a very specific target or set of targets. To determine who the good guys are, a moment’s observation of them will usually be enough to determine what their status is. The guy crouched behind a car about to shit his pants isn’t the shooter. Such a way of doing things is clearly not perfect but it’s better than just blasting the first non-uniformed person you see with a gun. Either way, if they shoot at you then you really have no choice but to shoot back.

          “Is it really likely that even in an event where no police are present that any or all the “bad guys with guns” can be identified?”

          As I said above, likely yes. Flawless perfection in doing so is impossible. Plainclothes officers present the same potential problem to uniformed officers in such a situation. Risk can never be mitigated 100%, c’est la vie.

          “Is it really likely that the “good guys with guns” will be stopped by the hesitation required to now sort out who should be shot?”

          Yes, I would rate this as “likely” in a situation like Dallas because the shooter was targeting cops. Someone who picks targets indiscriminately will be more difficult to find because they will likely engage a lawful carrier and precipitate a gunfight. Here you will have to rely on situational awareness and a basic knowledge of the area (which you should have). If you’re in a crowd where people start dropping and you run to take cover, others will do the same and unless the shooter is using a suppressor you should be able to collect yourself and figure out a general direction for the shooter’s location. Once that is done, the people with rifles/pistols facing towards that direction are very likely not his friends. Of course this requires that your average carrier not be a total moron.

          “Is it possible to coordinate the defensive fire of a bunch of complete strangers?”

          Possible, yes. However highly unlikely. You will have to allow order to come of the situation naturally. That’s sounds crappy and yes, it’s far less that optimal, but you don’t have another choice especially if people nearby are returning fire. I don’t notice that most of these OC folks are carrying earpro (they might be) and rifles are loud and the sound will bounce around a lot in an urban environment. Hand signals are likely to be your go to and people who don’t know them basically cannot be communicated with.

          “Should the attempt even be made?”

          That is a decision you’d have to make at the time based on more factors than it’s reasonable to attempt to discuss in this post. That’s probably at least a two hour long face to face conversation.

          “Should the complete response be to clear datum, and not come back?

          Again, something you’d have to decide in the moment. I’m not religious in any way but I find Ecclesiastes 9:4 to be applicable here, as it is to the overarching conversation: “For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion.”

          Overall I would say that this is a far from optimum situation no matter what. It’s already gone completely to shit. Now you have to do what you can and make the best of it.

        • More good stuff.

          It would seem the responses we are discussing (especially the comments I am replying to) actually presume things from two very different starting points.

          The analysis you give here appears predicated on the assumption that POTG rather uniformly are skilled enough to make the judgements you identify. My assumptions are that almost all the current gun owners would flee, and seek cover every time. And that is not just when cops are present, or urban structures exist to confuse the ear, or a host of other things. Running to the guns is unnatural, abnormal, and gunfire focuses the mind on survival like almost no other event.

          Your review of potential defensive responses is useful for those who imagine they would find themselves in a real gunfight, and were forced into an active defense. Fortunately, we have time and distance to contemplate actions. The more people who spend time thinking about the “how”, the better prepared to the “crap, I didn’t think about that”. As I mentioned in another comment, Dallas caused me to include in my thinking a scenario (minus cops) that I had not considered ever before.

          I really like the Leviticus citation !

        • “It would seem the responses we are discussing (especially the comments I am replying to) actually presume things from two very different starting points.”

          I don’t really see this mattering but I’ll get to that in more detail here in a second.

          “The analysis you give here appears predicated on the assumption that POTG rather uniformly are skilled enough to make the judgements you identify. My assumptions are that almost all the current gun owners would flee, and seek cover every time.”

          First, the presence of one group is not mutually exclusive of the second. Further, those who would simply flee should do so. The fact that their immediate response to such a situation is to flee is ample evidence that they are not prepared for it and should not be engaged in any attempt at responding to it if flight is a viable option. The last thing you need is a bunch of untrained yahoos staying to fight out of some misplaced sense of duty when all they’re likely going to do is panic and cause more problems. I don’t assume that POTG are uniformly skilled. I expect people to flee and the ones that run for the hills should do so because they’re exactly the type you don’t want to stick around.

          “And that is not just when cops are present, or urban structures exist to confuse the ear, or a host of other things. Running to the guns is unnatural, abnormal, and gunfire focuses the mind on survival like almost no other event.”

          A fair and accurate statement but I believe I covered that in my response just above this.

          “Your review of potential defensive responses is useful for those who imagine they would find themselves in a real gunfight, and were forced into an active defense. Fortunately, we have time and distance to contemplate actions. The more people who spend time thinking about the “how”, the better prepared to the “crap, I didn’t think about that”. As I mentioned in another comment, Dallas caused me to include in my thinking a scenario (minus cops) that I had not considered ever before.”

          Mental exercises are extremely useful if they are done correctly. They are the foundation of preparing for various potential scenarios we might find ourselves in. Liberals like to claim this this is a “John Wayne” or “Rambo” mentality but that is far from true if such exercises are done correctly. When engaging in such mental exercises it is not only unhelpful but it is straight out harmful to assume you will be unharmed and victorious. The chances you “James Bond” this shit are slim. So, you should, in your mental preparation assume that you are wounded or even that you have potentially died. What does that mean? How does your wound (which should vary in your mental preparation) affect your ability to function? If you have indeed died, did you actions help or hinder those that remain alive?

          Something that has been suggested by some serious pipehitters with time downrange in SOF is that you approach certain situations like this on a daily basis. If you’re taking in a movie with the wife, ignore the previews. Instead think about a scenario or two involving a shooting happening right here, right now. What do you do? How do you react to that threat? What are the actual real-fucking-life options based on your situation right now if James Holmes comes in through a specific door?

          For more on this I suggest a website much like TTAG called BreachBangClear. It’s run by some guys who are serious hardasses with a hell of a lot of experience in both military and LE.

          “I really like the Leviticus citation !”

          It was Ecclesiastes but I’m not religious, so who cares?

        • Really good stuff.

          My thoughts about “John Wayne” mind-set among cops is predicated on having one in the extended family. Police are do not spend much time working in teams. Each patrol car is a distant outpost, and the one or two cops are focused on being the entire response to whatever situation. They are accustomed to thinking they will solve the problems by themselves (there is zero training in coordination with other radio units). All this makes it difficult to build a cohesive response with multiple radio units at a single scene.

        • “Is it really likely that even in an event where no police are present that any or all the “bad guys with guns” can be identified?”

          It is for me! The bad guys are the ones killing everyone around them. The guys holding rifles at the ready but not firing as people are fleeing are more good guys. If cops are not well enough trained to differentiate, their firearms should be removed until they are.

        • I should have been more clear. I was thinking about the ability of civilians to seek-out and find all the bad guys, some of whom may not have engaged, yet. Also thinking about the lone gunman who shoots and moves to new hides, vs. moving close by to shoot again.

      • A most reasonable observation. Now, are we boxing ourselves in by saying, “Well, having a gun for self-defense is a really good thing, except for (place exception situation here).”

        There have been comments here that the gun carrier is supposed to , or is going to stand up, locate the shooter, and engage. Not much discussion beyond that

        So, after taking the prudent course of covering and evaluating, how do we coordinate amongst all us good guys with guns? How do we coordinate all us good guys with guns and the police. Note that the police were initially acting as independent of each other (a natural outcome of the John Wayne theory of policing; one gang, one cop – paraphrased).

        Or do we predetermine that in crowds, engaging an active shooter may not be the most prudent course? We don’t have many examples of uncoordinated fire against an active shooter (which we would look like to each other?) that resulted in unintended casualties, but that is mainly because most mass shootings happen in gun-free zones. In Dallas, we had a mass shooter not protected by gun-free regulations, plenty of open carriers (maybe even a good number concealed).

        • The #1 thing that will put pause in any armed person’s mind that is in proximity of an attack is liability and legal ramifications.

          That is the sad truth. We live in a society of frivolous law suits. Criminals can sue victims for injuring themselves while committing crimes. People are jailed for legally carrying and defending themselves. And no one is reimbursed, reinstated, or made whole when you are caught on the crappy end of our broken Justice system. You are generally financially and socially ruined. A steep price.

          DGUs are another matter, because they are a reactive response to a crime already in progress. You protecting yourself from a criminal that is going to kill or maim you comes with very specific rules that are easy to comprehend and follow. The law is typically on the side of DGUs.

          But, being a good Samaritan and/or public vigilante is a wholly different and risky proposition. You have more chance of going bankrupt and seeing prison for helping than you do of being recognized as a hero for taking up arms against someone else that isn’t actively trying to kill you.

          And it doesn’t help the President, politicans, and the media are all anti-gun.

    • I suspect that the open carried firearms in the march were intended to have a deterrent effect on people who might intend to disrupt the group or bring violence open them. The presence of armed marchers would cause bigots and troublemakers to think twice about such activities. It is very possible that this tactic worked perfectly and no shots were fired.

      What the open carriers were not able nor intended to do was stop a determined sniper whose intent was not the protesters themselves but to shoot white police officers. Had the opportunity presented itself I think the open carriers would have gladly stood next to the police and engaged the shooter. I’m pretty sure the police in this instance discouraged that sort of assistance.

      • I had pretty much come to the same conclusions. The issues here are: fending off the anti-gun crowd who will use Dallas to “prove” all the civilian guns in the world did not deter or end the active shooter; thinking and re-thinking just how realistic are our notions about ending or preventing mass shootings. What if there had been no police, and one shooter? What if there had been no police and several shooters? Remember, most likely none of the people at a large event who are gun carriers know each other.
        Is there anything to be done to diminish any risk of fratricide among people not dressed in uniforms? If so, what? If not, then what?

        The common thinking about combat is that “the plan” never survives first contact with the enemy. We, the “good guys with a gun” don’t even have a plan. But while there exists no formal plan, maybe Eisenhower’s remark fits: “The plan is nothing; planning is everything.”

    • Easy answer:

      The open carriers weren’t attacked directly. If they had been targeted directly, they likely would’ve fired back.

      Not to mention the legal hot water you can land yourself in as a legal carrier is different than a police officer — which is part of the problem. Civilians don’t have unions or police lawyers and corroboration from peers to defend us in the event of a “questionable” shoot.

      So, it was prudent of the open carriers to let the police, who have those protections, handle the active shooter. If the police were not there, this story would’ve been in the news as a firefight and the police would’ve arrived later and who knows how it would’ve gone down.

      • “The open carriers weren’t attacked directly.”

        An interesting observation. Walk through that a bit. Location: night club; noise, smoke, congestion, distractions. Situation: one or more active shooters open fire; none is directed at you. What is your response (you are the only “good guy with a gun; you note three other “good guys with guns” [how do you know?])

        Not being provocative. Really interested in your thoughts.

        • Multiple attackers in an enclosed space = very low probability of survival. That’s pretty much a worst case scenario. Throw in crowds, panic, darkness, and you really don’t have many options.

          Your best bet to survive is to immediately retreat with cover and escape. Your worst bet is you are stuck indoors and have to fight through the ambush. And if that is the case, then all you can really do is find cover and ambush.

          The reality is once the shooting starts, people are going to be running everywhere or flocking in groups in one direction. If you aren’t trampled and are lucky enough to be hidden and not injured, maybe you can take a shooter or two out if fortune smiles on you and you can ID them. But if the shooters are coordinated or are trained combatants you’re pretty much toast unless you have some damn reliable cover, room to maneuver, and are an awesome shot. Basically you’ll have to be lucky as hell to survive.

          You also have to be willing to fight dirty and use every trick you know to survive and eliminate the threat. For example, hiding among the dead and wounded to get a good shot.

          I think the biggest challenge anyone faces in an active shooter scenario is realizing you are in one and then IDing the bad guy asap. All you can do at that point is try to figure out what type of scenario you’re dealing with and then just making the best of it with whatever you have.

    • Disagree. The open carriers were likely #BLM, and they don’t shoot their own. They prefer to shoot white people.

      • Possibly true, but the mental exercise is response to an active shooter while observing open carriers. Or multiple active shooters while observing open carriers. Add in a number of concealed carriers. Active shooters have not targeted you directly. What steps do you take? Do you have much faith in the ability of a group of gun-carrying good guys to avoid fratricide, and muster an effective defense? What “evidence” could you present to gun-grabbers that “good guys with guns” can prevail and save lives?

        • Either the #BLM open carriers saw the BG or they didn’t. If they did, they weren’t going to shoot one of their own. If they didn’t see the shooter, who were they going to shoot?

        • My thinking was not so much along the lines of “no targets; no shoot”, but the alleged running away from the guns, and the advent of a live situation where gun owners were present, loud and proud, yet none ran toward the guns, or even staged to return fire. Assuming the armed civilians were clear-headed enough to calculate the tactical folly of returning fire amidst a bunch of cops, one can see how cover and concealment (wanting to be invisible even to the cops) was the right choice. But did, in fact, only the presence of cops (and clear, reasoned thinking by the armed citizens) cause the armed citizens to flee the scene? Or did those people give us a picture of what we, ourselves, would do when actually faced with an active shooter (or two, three, or a bunch)? Do we have serious evidence that minus the cops, the citizens would return fire and mount an effective defense?

  7. While I am fully supportive of Texans’ right to open carry, I still question the wisdom of choosing to open carry at a politically charged event like this. As it transpired, their rifles were not helpful in resolving the situation, though I would be interested to know if any of the hand-gun armed cops asked to borrow a rifle from a march attendee. I think it speak well of the Dallas cops that there were no incidents with these open-carriers once the shooting started.

    • I’m not one to tell others what to do as I wasn’t there, but if it were me, I would personally only open carry my rifle at 2A rallies, on my property, or during an actual natural disaster or crisis.

      Why open carry at a political rally that isn’t specifically 2A related if it is likely that rally subject will attract extremist behavior? And when SHTF, I and other open carriers would be singled out by the anti-gun media for negative publicity. Why give them ammo?

      That’s like going to a really bad all-you-can-eat buffet when you’re hungry but on a strict diet. It’s counter-productive.

      Now, I would certainly conceal carry at any protest because if SHTF, I didn’t paint a target on myself and I can discreetly blend in and escape if necessary. If the Dallas shooter was out to kill more than the police, you can be sure he would’ve targeted the open carriers as well.

    • So were the open carriers Open Carry Texas folks or #BLM? It makes a huge difference. OCT open carries to make a political statement. #BLM open carries to intimidate people.

      • Ralph
        There is no reason to feel intimidated. For decades now black people have been told the KKK can and should march through black neighborhoods wearing hoods and bed sheets carrying guns openly. It has always been framed as free speech.
        Black people did not consider this to be polite speech.
        In fact it was speech they disagreed with. But the blacks were told you don’t have to agree with the speech to support the 1st amendment.

        In fact just last year I read many comments supporting the KKK marches right here on TTAG!!!!

        So I don’t understand why now all of a sudden if you change the color of the person open carrying a long gun, now some people have a problem with it????

  8. Carry for police is quite different from the carry civilians are allowed. They have more protections from “bad shoots” and apparently can just shoot people based on emotions rather than credible and imminent deadly threat.

    So until that is addressed, police will never have the same responsibility and fear from the law that lawful civilian carriers have.

    • Good points.

      However, the fact the Dallas incident involved a single shooter operating from concealment/cover either argues for exceptions to the notion of “good guys” saving lives using a gun (exceptions that can be usefully debated), or argues that maybe the idea of a group of uncoordinated “good guy” shooters is going to be a more difficult environment, one that challenges our snap projection of how much control we would actually be able to assert in an crowd – no matter how many “bad guy”, how they are armed, how they are presenting their threats?

      • This was why I’m addressing the disparity of gun protections, laws, and repercussions between police and civilians.

        Currently, the police have more protections when responding to armed threats than civilians. What positive outcomes are provided for the armed civilian? Pretty much zero if they are not directly involved. To choose to engage an active shooter when there are police present? Almost all negative outcomes for the civilian from friendly fire to liability. Why risk that when escape is available?

        At the very least, the civilian will likely encounter defamation from the media or face legal ramifications or prolonged scrutiny for being armed even though it is their right and then detained and questioned as a suspect. None of that time, notoriety, and detainment is reimbursed by the govt or PD.

        Armed citizens only get involved when their lives are in imminent danger, because they HAVE to, and the police aren’t around to assist or be the prime method of defense. And I believe that’s the scenario most armed civilians are addressing when they say an “armed law abiding citizen would’ve improved the situation”. They are talking about a situation where no police are present.

        Being stuck in a nightclub is a completely different scenario than being shot at out in the open. You can escape much easier in the open, which is generally the first rule of thumb for all armed civilians because of liability. Being armed doesn’t mean you are rambo and charge in. We aren’t paid to do so and we don’t have the protections the police have.

        If you give civilians the same leeway the police get when it comes to using deadly force, I think you’ll find far more criminals will end up six feet under rather than having long stays in prison. Until that day, people aren’t exactly lining up to see how crappy our Justice system has become.

  9. Guns are for self protection. Without identifying a threat to themselves the open carriers didn’t engage the shooter.
    Seems pretty legit to me. If you are under fire and cannot find the source of said fire-get the eff out.

    • Seems reasonable. Does that sort of response (non-response?) to an active shooter give the anti-gun movement more emotional legitimacy when they cry, “See, all those guns and they were of no use. Guns in private hands are never of use in a crisis.”

      We are proud of saying essentially, “More guns, less crime”. But with the Dallas situation, we cannot do more than say, “Well, it is best to hide when you are faced with chaos.”

      Dallas is what I see as the nightmare scenario for pro-gun advocates because we must equivocate, rather than demonstrate how effective gun-carrying citizens can be at stopping mass shootings. Would the outcome at Dallas have been different if there had been several shooters, in the open, hosing down the crowd?

      • As I mention in my comment above:

        When pro-gun folks mention “it would’ve been better had more people been armed”, they generally mean scenarios where no police
        (or minimal presence) are present when the attack begins.

        That’s why in all DGUs, the police and armed citizen proponents recommend calling 911 and providing a description of yourself, holstering your weapon, keeping your hands visible, and complying with the police as soon as they arrive.

  10. Again, the fact that the open carriers didn’t shoot or slow the bad guy is neither here nor there…

    I’ll give you a piece of conjecture that may very well be true.
    If one of the AR15 open carriers had shouldered his AR and pointed it at the killer, a Dallas cop would have shot at him.

      • If they were being actively shot at and had a positive ID on their attacker, I’m sure they would shoot back if:

        1) They wouldn’t put others in harms way (ie. civilians running everywhere)
        2) They were certain they wouldn’t draw the fire of nearby police.

        Open carriers have the benefit of knowing the police are good guys thanks to uniforms. The police have to make that assessment using ROE. If you aren’t shooting any civilians or police officers, then you are a good guy until you do something to flag you as bad/stupid guy. Simple enough.

        The notion you have of open carriers just standing around in an active shooter situation is a bit bizarre. It’s simply not likely. Humans have a fight or flight response. They would either seek cover or escape as soon as SHTF. And if there were armed bad guys in the crowd, they wouldn’t be standing around either — they would do what they came there to do, kill police and/or civilians.

        Good guys have successful DGUs all the time before the police arrive and they have specific instructions from the gun community on what to do when the police come to the scene. And most armed civilians avoid cop vs bad guy confrontations altogether.

    • Interesting implication.

      Remove the cops. The “bad guy” wasn’t shooting at you. You see all the open carriers. What do you do if you are open carrying; concealed carrying?

      • 1) Seek cover / concealment and assess.
        If you are with friends or family, your first duty is to get them out of the area safely. Same with any wounded.

        2) If you don’t have a clear vantage point or are unsure of the situation (who is bad and who is good), then you can take the opportunity to escape and provide intel to 911 or officers when they arrive at the scene. I personally would not run up to officers if I was open carrying a rifle, even if it was slung behind me — I don’t have much faith in police training.

        3) If you do have a clear vantage point and can ID a bad guy, then it is up to you if you engage. Take a risk assessment of the liability and make your choice.

        Simply put, if all I saw where people with guns, I would not engage anyone that wasn’t firing at me. Basic ROE.

        If I saw people that were firing at each other and they were all strangers to me, then why the hell would I risk get involved unless they were shooting unarmed people or committing an obvious crime? That would be like getting involved in a firefight with what could be gang members.

        • Agree completely.

          Until this weekend, I always considered active shooter incidents as almost exclusively a single bad guy, in whatever venue. I was skeptical of claims that even in situations where there were multiple shooters, POTG would always “run to the guns”. I had never considered an event where a shooter (or shooters) were in upper floor rooms or garages, or such. The shootings in Dallas launched a three-day consideration of my assumptions about defensive firepower. The best outcome of the “review” was to acknowledge that I had been too narrow in my consideration of circumstances possible to host and armed attack on civilians.

  11. Ah, yes … the tired, old, worn-out statement, “Police cannot tell whether a person with an openly carried rifle is an attacker or a defender.” My response is exceedingly simple:
    (1) The attacker is the person who is, wait for it … ATTACKING people. That means he/she is actively shooting people without cause.
    (2) The defender is the person who is, wait for it … DEFENDING themselves and others from the attacker. Defenders do NOT, I repeat, do NOT shoot people indiscriminately. Defenders do NOT, I repeat, do NOT shoot fleeing people — especially unarmed fleeing people.

    • Just because you are not presently shooting “innocents”, standing there with a gun does not assure anyone you are not about to open fire on the crowd.

      My inquiry is twofold: What do we say when armed “good guys” run from active shooters? The anti-gun crowd could stuff this down our throats. How effective a defense can be mounted in different scenarios when facing the chaos unleashed in the Dallas incident? Do you depend on the ability of other “good guys with a gun” to accurately determine your line of fire (not talking about filtering out people not shooting the innocent person next to them) and intent? Are we seeing a live example of how “good guys with a gun” just might be ineffective in a mass shooting event? Do we need to re-evaluate our presumptions that we “good guys with guns” will be effective just because we believe it so?

      • What do we say when armed “good guys” run from active shooters?

        We say that they are smart not to be slinging lead in all directions, which is completely opposed to the libtard message that carriers would make things worse. Carriers are judicious in their use of bullets.

        We say that the carriers weren’t the ones who were targeted, so they had no reason to return fire. Carriers carry to protect themselves. They are not vigilantes.

        We say that carriers do not interfere with police. Cops do their job, we do ours.

        We say, finally, that the open carriers were #BLM who were there to intimidate cops and anyone opposed to their message. They would not fire on one of their own. We, on the other hand, carry to protect ourselves.

        • Good thoughts. The logic appeals to gun owners, but can your ideas be put in an emotional context (grabbers are entirely emotional, and appeal only to emotions of the uninformed)? I think lack of a convincing emotional argument keeps us back on our heels.

          “We say that the carriers weren’t the ones who were targeted, so they had no reason to return fire.””
          – Truth is there are many here who would thunder that carriers should respond to any active shooter, regardless of line of fire from the shooter(s); all else is some strain of cowardice.

      • Sam I Am,

        Anyone could be about to do something with anything. We don’t employ deadly force on someone because they could be about to do something or because they have the means to inflict great bodily harm. Remember, violent attackers kill more people with their hands/feet than with long guns. Thus, every fit male has the means to kill anyone around them. Do we go around pre-emptively applying deadly force to every fit male because they have the means to kill someone and could be about to use their fists/feet at any second?

        The obvious answer is “no”. Rather, we ONLY employ deadly force on someone who has presented a credible, imminent threat of death or great bodily harm. And in order for a person to present an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm, they must have ACTED on their means to inflict death. An example of an action that represents an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm is an attacker shooting at innocent people. Standing there with a rifle slung over your shoulder is NOT an example.

        With respect to the alleged failure of “good guys with guns stopping a bad guy with a gun” … and instead opting to run:
        (1) An incapacitated good guy with a gun cannot stop a bad guy.
        (2) Standing out in the open when you are ambushed is the worst possible strategy and usually results in an incapacitated good guy.
        (3) A good guy with a gun cannot stop a bad guy if the good guy has no idea where the bad guy is.

        When you apply these three principles to the recent situation in Dallas, the best course of action with the greatest chance of success (good guys surviving) is for good guys with guns to run to cover/concealment and then begin the dangerous process of moving, from cover concealment to successive cover/concealment, to hunt down the attacker.

        Saying it another way, no one in the world, no matter what training, skills, and equipment they have, is going to immediately incapacitate a bad guy with a rifle who has the element of surprise, who is hidden, and has victims in a “fatal funnel” without cover.

        Firearms are not magic talismans. The very fact that bad guys have the element of surprise guarantees that there will be casualties. Rather, a firearm means that a “good guy with a gun” has more options and a better chance of surviving than a good guy without a gun. And a better chance of survival means less casualties.

        • No disagreement, here.

          Two lines of thought: “Good guys with guns” allegedly fled, rather than stand and fight; are we prepared to successfully defeat the anti-gun crowd who will make this the evidence that “good guys with guns” are a myth, or at best dangerously useless? Would POTG really act differently, even without cops in the mix, even if shooters could be identified? Or would we (the non-combat experienced), react naturally and flee for our lives (no value judgement here)?

        • I agree with uncommon sense. There are no guarantees in life. You can prepare, carry everyday, but it doesn’t mean that you will always succeed. The swift do not always have the race. Don’t let the left or msm set the parrimiters of the debate. They are going to argue this from an emotional point of view. Those civilians that withdrew did the responsible thing. There was a heavy police present. If they had joined in the counter attack the left would be crying that they were interfering. They withdraw and they cry that they ran away. Here is what didn’t happen. Not one armed civilian shot another armed civilian, protester, or plain clothes cop. They always scream how if there’s multiple armed civilians that their going to shoot everyone and that there will be blood in the streets. They did an outstanding job in one of the worst case senerios.

        • You have some excellent talking points. Good ideas for deflecting the accusation that armed citizens did nothing; counter with “nobody was shot or injured by gun carriers.”

      • As far back as Columbine and as recently as Orlando, we have seen armed good guys run and hide from an active shooter. That would be the cops, who then protected themselves while they listened to unarmed good guys being murdered. For hours. If the antis think they are proving something when not every armed person without any police training can outperform the police to the level of Rambo, they are just demonstrating (again) their abject stupidity. And again in Dallas, the shooter was allowed to continue, armed, for several hours before he was stopped. But somehow the protesters were supposed to stop him instantly? Ridiculous.

        • “But somehow the protesters were supposed to stop him instantly? ”

          Your statement above is not at the heart of the original question – how to handle the gun-grabbers saying that numbers of openly armed citizens did not dissuade, disrupt or deter the shooter. “Good guys with guns failed to stop a bad guy with a gun” thrown in our faces will be a challenge to deflect. We are happy to declare “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Except, in Dallas that mantra failed (the gun grabbers are not going to accept that cops are good guys with guns, and ultimately prevailed). The anti-gun crowd is likely to focus on one of our proudest claims, and use the failure of armed citizens to prove that the idea that more guns will make us safer….because the armed citizens ran from the gunfire. The issue isn’t that armed citizens should have been able to stop the attack “instantly”, but that armed citizens ran away when faced with real bullets. So, my secondary question was/is whether the POTG on hand at the protest were just a rare group of sunshine soldiers, or if they actually represent what the majority of gun owners would do in the same circumstance (minus the large cop presence)?

  12. Wow. So you are honestly insinuating that you can’t tell the difference between someone running around with a gun on their back and someone shooting you? That sounds pretty dumb to me.

    • That’s it in a (gun)nut shell.
      Rules of Force / Rules of Engagement (ROF/ROE) dictate when to escalate force and when it is appropriate to shoot. We dealt with this everyday in combat. In Iraq, as the “Sons of Iraq” Tribal Awakening militias began to form and setup roadblocks and other “friendly” assistance to coalition forces, they would often be in civilian clothing with weapons. There was absolutely no distinguishing outward indicators as to whether they were “good” guys or “bad” guys. Suspicious behavior was an early indicator. The reality is, it almost always came down to actions. If they engaged you, you engaged back. If they kept their weapons slung or at the low ready and just kept walking, than we gave them a pass. The enemy learned this as well and could just move about the battlefield, simply by blending in and acting “normal”. Maybe a bad guy gets away, but the consequences of shooting a good guy was not worth the repercussions. In the end, any confusion it caused was worth it to have those armed good guys assisting us.

  13. Open carry of rifles is nuts. You are not supposed to brandish firearms. Holster them. Good lord. Look at all the photos of people with ARs slung on the chest and people holding them including a hand on the grip with many photos of the trigger finger extended above the trigger area.

    This is fringe. Rifles need to be holstered just like handguns. No person openly carrying a hand gun is carrying it in his hand. Maybe rifles slung over the back can be considered holstered.

    It is almost like open carriers want to sabotage the open carry. I don’t see any proposed constitutional carry laws including the requirement to holstered rifles.

  14. “If that confuses police during a mass shooting, so be it. If the cops had killed an open carrier by mistake, call me a member of Gun Nut Nation, but again, also so be it.”

    Aye. Great post, RF!

  15. Interesting perspective… What if NYC had the same open carry laws and 2A freedoms that citizens of Texas share? What does the NYT staff think would happen to crime rates in their beloved metropolis? We know the truth.


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