“It’s official,” Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America jefe Shannon Watts pronounces at huffingtonpost.com, “the phrase ‘open carry’ has entered the American lexicon. That’s because gun extremists from Virginia to Washington to Texas and all across the country have started showing up in restaurants, state capitols, and other public places openly carrying loaded semiautomatic rifles. Occasionally donning kilts or gas masks and other attention-getting attire, these extremists look as though they are headed to battle instead of visiting their legislators or picking up milk at their local Kroger grocery store.” And so it begins: a rant that reveals what really worries Watts . . .
Shannon’s use of the term “gun extremists” is the first clue that she’s running scared. Deploying it here is a calculated risk, or, if you prefer, a desperate gamble. Watts is hoping the term will drive a wedge between America’s gun-owning silent majority — who’d no more open carry that appear naked in public — and gun rights advocates. At the same time, she’s appealing to her base: non-gun owners who see guns as an unnecessary evil.
Yes but . . .
Do gun owners who don’t open carry oppose open carry? I doubt it. Do gun-averse Americans share Shannon’s virulent antipathy to open carry? Probably not. In the deeply deluded heart of gun control-friendly America, open carry is a non-issue. It just doesn’t happen, Out of sight, out of mind. Blue state anti-gunners are less concerned about open carry than they are about ebola.
So why does Shannon bother crusading against open carry? Because it’s a visible, direct and growing threat to her civilian disarmament jihad.
Why are we seeing these open carry displays more and more often? Because the radical rhetoric of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) leadership tells us that “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” And that myth propels the idea that a loaded AK-47 is necessary when dining at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, just in case you encounter a bad guy.
Again, I smell desperation. Watts’ attempt to portray open carriers as deeply paranoid people powered by the evil gun lobby — standard-issue anti-gun agitprop — fails the smell test. Open carry advocates schlepping rifle into fast food joints and down city streets may look a little or a lot scruffy around the edges, but they don’t shoot people. That’s a big problem for an anti-gunner hell bent on open carry demonization.
Thanks to the gun lobby’s insidious and formerly unchecked influence in our state legislatures, open carry is legal in more than 40 states. And in a majority of those states, it’s perfectly legal to open carry a long gun with absolutely no training, permitting, or even a minimum age requirement.
See what she’s doing there? Because people who open carry aren’t criminals or crazies Shannon has to prove that they’re potential criminals and crazies. It’s the same strategy employed by the Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence; who labels anyone who isn’t an obvious gang banger who shoots someone “another good guy with a gun.”
Truth be told, Watts’ anti-open carry hysteria is completely manufactured. Again, where are the legions of open carry killers stalking the land? Nowhere. When it comes to “gun crime,” open carry is a non-issue. The following paragraph reveals that Watts understands the need to frame open carry in a wider context, to make it scarier.
Add to that cocktail of crazy the fact that our lax federal gun laws allow criminals and other dangerous people to easily access firearms. Given that millions of guns each year are sold without a criminal background check, there is no way to know if a person who is openly carrying a semiautomatic rifle is a responsible gun owner, or if that person is a threat to moms and our children (and the gas masks don’t help either).
Open carry is a scary thing – right until it isn’t. At some point, anti-gun observers realize that an openly carried firearm is not a threat to their life or liberty. At some point, the sight of a gun on the hip of a fellow citizen becomes normal. It may take a bit longer for the public to become comfortable with a slung AR, but yes, that too.
The more law-abiding people who open carry, the less guns cause fear amongst non-gun owners. The less fear they have, the less likely they are to join a political crusade against firearm ownership or carry. Open carry normalization could sound the death knell of anti-gun extremism – if you forgive the expression.
Open carry extremists have shined a bright light on the NRA’s vision for the future of America, and it’s not pretty. Moms won’t let the concerted efforts by the gun lobby and open carry extremists to put our families and communities at risk go unchecked. With rights come responsibilities, and for the safety and security of our restaurants, state capitols, and other public places, we must push back on armed intimidation. After all, there are no panic buttons for the public.
Hang on. If there aren’t any panic buttons for the public — assuming 911 service is down — doesn’t that leave the public defenseless? Shouldn’t they have a tool that allows them to defend themselves against a lethal threat? And if they had that tool, wouldn’t it be a good idea to carry it openly to deter attacks, and protect their right to have it by exercising that right publicly?
Shannon gets it. And it terrifies her. Reason enough to open carry, I reckon. You?