I would love to open carry in RI. Coming out of the closet would be the single most effective way to defend and extend Ocean State gun rights. It “normalizes” firearms. Unfortunately, many members of the open carry movement see the police as their enemy in this. They are not. I repeat, the cops are not the problem. Fellow citizens who fear guns and vote against them are the real problem. Yes, the po-po need educating as well. As well they might, what with open carry advocates openly carrying firearms. So educate them. Not by being a dick. By calmly following their requests and then suing the shit out of them when they get it wrong. Or . . .
just say “I will give you my license, but I want you to realize that I am under no legal obligation to do so.” Then, afterwards, when everybody’s calmed down, providing you’re not under arrest, you could say “Officer I’d like to talk to you about open carry for a minute, would that be alright?”
You don’t have to, but why not follow police instructions? Why make it an “us” vs. “them” deal on the streets? Again, if Johnny Law roughs you up, confiscates your gat, becomes verbally abusive or violates one of your rights, feel free to pursue legal redress (another form of gun rights education).
Like ’60’s protestors who had to be tear gassed to maintain their credibility in the peace movement, some open carry advocates feel they must have a run-in with the police to earn their bones. And make the point. Crap.
This kind of behavior is irresponsible. It risks a shooting, which could harm or even kill innocent bystanders, ruin the cop’s life and career (affecting his family), and potentially end the open carry advocates’ life. Check out the cop’s gun hand. That’s not something I ever want to see up close and personal, no matter how strongly I feel about, well, anything.
Even without a cop drawing his weapon, an open carry open confrontation with the police makes gun rights advocates seem like the enemy of the police, who are the friends of the people we need to convert. Try and see this from a non-gun owner’s POV. Like Ted Nugent’s invitation to suck on his machine gun, it’s not helpful.
Surely the point of open carry—at least from a political perspective—is to show normal people that “normal” people carry guns. Not to compete for a spot on “Caught on Tape: America’s Biggest Dickhead Cop.” I reckon open carry advocates should try to minimize contact with the cops, not make it the centerpiece of their struggle.
The American gun rights movement doesn’t need martyrs. It needs millions of responsible gun owners who are willing to show fearful citizens the personal and social advantages of gun ownership.