Free speech open carry protest
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, file)
Previous Post
Next Post

TTAG reader TheBear writes:

I have a habit of checking out a number of online news sources on a daily basis. I try to stay informed not only of current events, but also of the talking points for various political and social issues. So when I saw yet another pro Shannon Watts article, I was not exactly shocked.

It wasn’t until I read about 700 comments under the article (yes, I actually read that many) that I was mildly surprised. It seems that the anti-gun rhetoric has changed. Not only are gun owners uneducated, redneck, racist wife beaters with small penises who are afraid of the world, now we are all BULLYING, RIFLE-TOTING uneducated, redneck, racist wife beaters with small penises who are afraid of the world.

You see, the breathless hoplophobes have recently lumped everyone who is pro Second amendment in with the folks who open carry long guns at rallies. I think this is both a good and a bad thing.

It’s a good thing because having any kind of solidarity in our fight for our second amendment rights, even if the solidarity itself is a mistake in perception among our opponents, is positive. We have to stick together. We can’t have tacticool guys disparaging hunting or FUDDs asking why we need magazines with more than 10 rounds.

Boogaloo open carry
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

On the other hand, low information hoplophobes believing that all gun owners are open carrying rifles in their local Kroger is a bad thing for a very simple reason; open carriers’ message, and especially the message of Open Carry Texas, tends to get lost in the sensational photos taken of their demonstrations.

The average American does not have a really good way to be exposed to the message of open carry folks. The anti-gun crowd in some of the most recent comments I’ve been reading in gun-related news articles have been calling the open carry people, “gun bullies”. They honestly believe that people are open carrying rifles in an effort to intimidate and silence the opposition.

Unfortunately, so far this has been a win for PR maven Shannon Watts and her ridiculous #gunbullies campaign. I think the People of the Gun have been giving Shannon and her ilk a lot of ammunition (pun intended). I believe that without a clear message, pro-gun activists can do more harm than good. However, I think there is a simple solution to this problem.

Everyone who open-carries rifles during rallies, especially into business establishments should wear t-shirts that simply and clearly state what they are trying to do or say.

“I wish I could legally carry a pistol instead.”

“I’m a normal person, just like you.”

“I am not a threat to anyone’s safety.”

open carry protest capital
A protester carries his rifle at the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Slogans that define the open carry struggle printed on shirts would go a long way toward diffusing MDA propaganda and educating the public. This way there would no longer be context-free photos of people holding rifles at the low ready in Chipotle.

Activism without organization and clear communication just creates controversy. Perhaps it’s time for the People of the Gun to accept that collectively, we need to put a little more work into our PR efforts. I believe that if we do, rabidly anti-gun folks will have to fall back on their older caricature of gun owners: the original, bullying-free racist rednecks with small penises.

This article was originally published in 2014.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. This “intimidation” crap is why you don’t see rifles in gun racks. In my humble opinion, anyone having “vapors” over the sight of a gun should really seek a mental health professional.

    • I remember way back in the day when I used to stand on the seat next to my grandfather in his single cab truck with his rifle behind our heads on the gun rack. This was way before seat belt laws. I did not spend enough time him.

  2. Golly I thought you were back RF. T-shirts won’t cut it. Voting & getting mean may. The chinaflu changed everything!

  3. “Activists Need Better PR” = the Obumer coven where “messaging” more important than substance.

    As in “we need to refine our progtard messaging” = you morons just don’t understand and accept our brillance.

  4. Gun owners are so lost in space while fraulein shannon watts has set her course to planet Gun Control.

    Instead of taking Gun Control and defining it by its racist and genocide roots and pointing at the criminal misuse of firearms, bats, bricks, knives, etc. let’s give Gun Control zealots all the rope they need to hang us. The adage, “A picture speaks a thousand words” works on milquetoast America who have a cow over a pop tart gun.

    Either define Gun Control according to its history of racism and genocide or eventually you’ll be polishing fraulein shannon watt’s jack boots.

  5. We need a message that’s clear, concise, and PALETTABLE to the average and uninitiated.

    Use the civil unrest from last year to point out government apathy, ineptitude, and the fact that they are not obligated to protect you.

    Point out the absurdity of gun laws. Many don’t understand gun laws because it doesn’t concern someone who doesn’t practice that right. The hub-bub of braces and the NFA is a starting point.

    Point out the fact that anti-gun right activist use ‘public safety’ (the thing the gov is not legally bound to provide) as the go to reason for EVERY new gun law points out that it for political points, not actual safety.

    ‘Muh rights’ in the end isn’t as powerful as ‘public safety’ to regular people, despite how empty the latter is in reality.

  6. In the 90s the Serbs needed better PR too. Anyone paying attention to who owns the media? When it gets ugly we will lose the PR war no matter what.

    • Perhaps the Taliban can ask Shannon’s PR company for her unique boutique services. It worked for Monsanto and Bloomberg.

  7. This article is from 2014…

    I think that the woke idiot rioters of 2019-20, even though most of them were not open-carrying “rifles”, had a larger affect on the general public’s perception of firearms for self-defense than anything gun owners or a PR firm could do.

    Obviously, BLM, et al didn’t need firearms to burn out and take over large metropolitan areas. Logically, however, a fairly tight contingent of citizens armed WITH them could’ve prevented a lot of it. Look at the affect the McCloskeys had on preserving their property and ‘hood, and they never actually fired a shot or threatened anyone. I believe that in 2021, a lot more in the general, non-POTG public are now starting to choose the more logical approach as proven by the uptick in first time gun sales nationwide.

    I believe a lot has changed since 2014. I also believe, however, that if one seeks to represent POTG in any positive manner as far as the general public is concerned, taking a bath, shave, haircut, putting on some clean and decent threads and not acting in a loud, brazen manner would go a long way towards it. After all, why in the hell should WE act like common ATF agents, anyway???

  8. “Gun rights activist” just doesn’t sit right with me.

    Like so many things in life, communication is key. Using catch phrases and buzz words is a somewhat misleading aspect of our society.

    I am not an activist. I am an American. That used to mean something.

  9. Screw t-shirts and AR’s at rallies. The best way to change the mind of all but the most rabidly anti-gun people is a range trip. Showing people how to empower themselves, get over their nervousness about guns and have a good time is well worth the investment, especially if it changes their outlook on guns. Money well spent.

    • “The best way to change the mind of all but the most rabidly anti-gun people is a range trip.”

      Several things must be considered, here. The 2A activist cohort is established, and remains within a narrow band of voters. 2A destroyers are an established cohort, and represent a narrow band of voters. The “undecided”, and persuadable 2A destroyers represent almost an infinitesimal band. Neither activists, nor destroyers, can gain an insurmountable majority by searching for unicorns.

      Every person who becomes a safe and effective self-defender is not necessarily, automatically, or reliably a 2A defender under all circumstances. Allegedly, there are “liberal gun owners” who defend 2A. but….regardless of circumstance? Remove the perceived threat of “gun-nuts” going crazy and shooting everything in sight, will any noticeable number of “liberal gun owners” remain 2A defenders?

      • The liberal gun owners I know of aren’t 2A defenders. They’re either noncommittal on the subject or for limited firearm ownership and use.

        • “The “liberal gun owners” I know of aren’t 2A defenders. They’re either noncommittal on the subject or for limited firearm ownership and use.”


  10. I do not agree with this article. Open carry of any firearm should be the norm across the U.S. in every state and territory. The anti-2nd Amendment groups, states, counties, and local governments have pushed for and successfully downgraded our natural rights over the last 150 years. It should be about a pistol to carry. Just carrying a pistol suggestions is the demise of our 2nd Amendment rights across this country and only play into the anti-2nd Amendment movement of no visible firearms at all. Open carry what you like should be our movement to counter them. Open carry is the norm in states like Kentucky and few others where people still have real 2nd Amendment rights and even open car carry of any firearm is legal. Leave it to articles like this to try to get people to only carry a pistol in public to appease the anti-2nd Amendment movement when they only want to get rid of the 2nd Amendment totally. We have fallen to the appeasement of them for far too long to have our 2nd Amendment rights watered down across this country. They will say you can have you pistol in the open for a few years, but in a few years more no more pistols it is bothersome to see objects on your hip. And soon, you carry a knife now that you can’t carry a pistol it is bothersome to them again and so on. The will not stop time you can not have or use anything for protection.

    Do not appease their anti-2nd Amendment movement like our so called Republicans have been doing for so long by giving our rights away. Look at our Presidents since the late 1960s willing to give up our 2nd Amendment rights including numerous Republicans in Congress and 1980s President Reagan, what a sell out. Reagan was one of the hall mark anti-2nd Amendment Presidents that signed onto a lot of historic restrictions on the 2nd Amendment and open carry as Governor of California in the 1960s and 1970s . Do not forget that the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 passed Congress with a narrow vote of 216-214 with a lot of so called normal Republicans supporting it supported by Reagan. Here are some links to these articles and bills.

    So go ahead and support these articles like this on just carrying a pistol will only lead to not having anything at all. We do need activist thou, but activists that support us to carry all firearms, not just pistols.

  11. I tend to disagree with the author.

    First of all, the other side will paint us as horrible sub-humans no matter what we do.

    Second, something like half of our populace defines your actions as “good” or “bad” based on whether or not you are part of their group, rather than on whether or not your actions are inherently “good” or “bad”. It is simple tribalism. Since the people who support civilian disarmament view us as outside their group/tribe, by definition (in their minds) almost everything that we do is “bad”.

    You cannot win someone over with coherent, fact-based arguments when they declare that you are an enemy tribe member who can do no right.

    • Yep, you nailed it. It won’t matter what we do as they are pushing the same narrative over and over. The best way to bring people over to the side of freedom is a good smack of reality. I think the activities of last year were a wake up call for a lot of people.

      • If only the talking heads didn’t say “mostly peaceful protests”.
        The activities of last year should have been a wake up call to a thinking person but not to a gullable “news” viewer.

    • This article was written at a different time. I get the point because I’ve watched politics drastically change since I was a kid. But now, things are incredibly volatile to where the only thing the leftist respects is strength. The old saying of “might makes right” had ultimately been proven correct.

  12. From my cold dead hands evidently didn’t work too well PR wise.

    What about ads featuring gun owners who aren’t white men? Show single moms or other “non-traditional” gun owners and have them say why they own guns. Maybe have Black gun owners discuss the racist roots of gun control.

    If the only gun owners people see are camo wearing white guys it’s easy to stereotype them as gun nut red necks. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that)

  13. Anyone asking why a hunter needs more then ten rounds should come hunting with me.
    My first shot is usually off by a couple feet and after that its playing catch up. If I do get lucky enough to connect its always gut shot or hit in the ass so I’ve gotta waste another ten or fifteen rounds finishing it off.
    Rabbit hunting is getting expensive.

  14. Find it ironic that they are not rallying against the police open carrying. Many gun owners are terrified of open carriers especially those with rifles, just read some of the comments here or the various other gun blogs. Unfortunately most people are terrified of freedom.

    • There is no reason to be ‘terrified’ of open carriers. But like so many other things in life, the question isn’t so much about if you can do a thing. Its often about if you should do that thing.

      Openly carrying a holstered pistol is one thing. Walking into a Kroger with a slung AR is quite another.

      • I know you are being sarcastic. I was a Police officer for thirty years and the most dangerous thing I did on the job was range qualification. Most officers never trained themselves and the only time the fired their weapons was on mandatory range day. It was just shocking how bad they were at the range. Only about 3 or 4 officers who were gun enthusiants consistantly practiced off duty as a hobby and they had very good firearm handling and shooting proficency. The rest scared me.

  15. Kowtowing to these morons is what got us here in the first place. Just say no! Just because someone else gives up their Rights doesn’t mean I’m going to follow suit.

  16. @Kevin Johnson

    The major failing with NRA was it’s attempt to become the nationally recognized champion (lobbyist) of the Second Amendment. That shift is at the core of the problem. An NRA that promotes marksmanship (“marksthingship” ?), safety, education, certifications can be effective. A political NRA is a disaster on all fronts.

    Right now, SAF has 40 lawsuits actively fighting gun control laws. How many did NRA have at its peak; how many now? The best outcome of having multiple smaller groups attacking gun control is that it will be difficult for one of them to become the next NRA lobby group. These smaller groups are about launching legal opposition, not one-stop for everything guns.

    If and when any of these smaller groups begins to lobby as a major function, the roster of donors is small enough that the donors can discipline the organization, whereas the “members” of NRA are actually only subscribers, with no power to influence the direction of the leadership.

    • “The major failing with NRA was it’s attempt to become the nationally recognized champion (lobbyist) of the Second Amendment.”

      Realistically, that was probably brilliant from a marketing perspective. It’s much easier to fundraise off that instead of marksmanship. It sort of worked in a way. They became big time donors for Republicans. Money is power. The problem was greed.

      • “They became big time donors for Republicans. Money is power. The problem was greed.”


        NRA never was a big hitter in active (law suit) defense of 2A. Lobbying politicians to simply mitigate 2A damage didn’t get us all the “constitutional carry or “open carry” ” victories.

        • It didn’t get you the victories because most Republicans suck. With people now open to the idea of paying attention to primaries and ditching the establishment losers, a big fundraising org not run by corrupt executives would come in handy. Too bad the NRA is years away from that possibility, if it’s even possible to turn things around at this point.

  17. It’s not that we need better PR… It’s that the opposition controls all media outlets and they stand in lockstep crafting false narratives for gullible normies.

    However, it would be good if anyone who open carries also wears a GOA, FPC, and SAF hat or T-shirt. Have pro-gun literature handy for anyone you meet who has questions or concerns. Be friendly and polite, and remember – – – you represent the rest of us and our movement!

  18. “It’s not that we need better PR…”

    If PR is designed to persuade and/or influence, then who is the target/intended audience? The anti-gun mob is not persuadable, the 2A defenders don’t need to be persuaded, and the unicorns of the “undecided” are not sufficient to bend the argument one way or another.

    To be nauseatingly repetitive, if the alleged 100million+ gun owners in the country were 2A defenders/activists, we wouldn’t be having all the gun control laws. If they were all “conservative”, or “traditionalists”, or “originalists”, we wouldn’t be having these conversations.

    While a few “converts” is a nice thing, do those newly enlightened gun owners/shooters commit to fealty to defending the Second Amendment against all the gun control laws? If not, then those “conversions” are irrelevant to defense of the Second Amendment regardless of the amount of money spent, and outlets for PR.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here