The recent kerfuffle in the Lone Star State over Open Carry Texas activists and the seminal picture of the “Chipolte ninjas” got me thinking a bit on the OC situation. I’m of the mindset that OC is tactically a bad idea, but I understand that is a heavily debatable topic. I’m fortunate to live in a state where open carry is available to anyone who can legally own a gun. You need a permit to carry concealed, but open carry is unencumbered. That said, I also happen to live near a couple of states that prohibit open carry and, in fact, can prosecute you for brandishing or even assault if one of your fellow citizens so much as sees your gun tucked in its holster. In those states, concealed means concealed and if you accidentally flash someone a view of your holstered gun, you may have problems . . .
With that in mind, I get the importance of reminding our fellow citizens that gun owners are not dangerous whackjobs and a person who carries a gun is no more (and possibly much less) dangerous to their health than your average police officer. In a place like my state, OC activists can walk around with holstered pistols. Sure, people will see them, but the sight of a holstered pistol is really not that alarming to the average person… even if they even do happen to notice it. Rifles, on the other hand, are a lot more divisive.
The problem is that in states like Texas which prohibit the open carry of pistols, but allow open carry of rifles, activists are left in a bind. The purpose of open carry activism is to both exercise a right as well as show ordinary people that gun folks are also, well, ordinary and there’s nothing to be afraid of. That said, irrespective of your position on gun rights, it’s safe to say that most people would agree that a person walking into a local restaurant in a metropolitan area with a rifle slung over their shoulder is an unusual event (in rural areas, such a sight would be more commonplace).
If you’re not a gun rights person, you may be alarmed. Even if you are a gun rights supporter, you don’t immediately know the person’s intentions. He might be an open carry activist or he might be planning to do something unpleasant with that rifle. Granted, the position in which the rifle is carried can be a tip-off, but if you only saw the dude on the right in the photo above with his hands on the grip of a rifle with a magazine, you’d be foolish not to watch him closely for a bit.
As gun rights supporters, one of our goals is to convert more people over to our side, or at the very least move them away from an anti-gun stance. We need to make our presence and numbers known, but ideally do it in as non-threatening a way as possible. So, the question is, are there alternative ways to raise awareness for OC rights without carrying things that will make the average person (voter) rather nervous? Let’s face it, neither of the two Chipolte ninjas necessarily projects the calming, neighborly image that gun owners want to convey.
What if some enterprising folks printed up some brightly colored shirts, maybe a neon orange that carries a respectful pro-2A message on it? Anyplace you want to present the pro-gun message, get 50-100 people wearing these shirts to just show up. Encourage people nationwide to wear them on the second of every month. Show the masses that there are a lot of us out there and we are their friends and neighbors. Imagine 100 or so people showing up to a Mothers Demand Action rally. It would be a great way to silently show our disapproval and disagreement in a way that they couldn’t claim was particularly threatening. No visible weapons, just 100 or so similarly dressed folks bearing silent witness to the stupidity of their position.
We could even go a step further — print out little handbills with the contact info for local shooting clubs. Have members of those clubs schedule some “welcome to the shooting sports” sessions on the weekends, print that info on the cards and offer one to anyone who engages us in conversation. Let’s show the friendly non-threatening, fun side of gun ownership.
Do you think it would work?