On Monday, the House of Delegates advanced the assault-style ban to its final reading, with Democratic lawmakers contending that it will not infringe on anybody’s Second Amendment rights. Republicans argue otherwise, saying it would criminalize ownership of some magazines, even after Democrats tempered penalties to a misdemeanor. At one point, police escorted protesters out of the chamber. “Whose side are you on?” they shouted at officers.
But the political fight between blue suburbs and red rural areas over the proposed ban has also bared tensions among gun owners themselves. Does open carry, as Mr. Hulbert hopes, normalize the image of an armed citizenry? Or does it further entrench the idea that the right to carry a long rifle infringes on the freedoms of non-gun owners?
Williamsburg, Virginia, resident Josiah Gray says open carry should be restricted to police officers. The parking officer says carrying a gun might make some people feel safer, but others could be intimidated or possibly traumatized, especially if they lost someone they knew to gun violence.
“You never know how it affects other people,” he says. “If you don’t have a uniform, it looks kind of off to the other people that you have a gun.”
Some gun owners share those doubts. Few gun owners question the right, but many ask about the “pragmatic aspect of open carry,” says Wake Forest University sociologist David Yamane, founder of the Gun Culture 2.0 blog. “There are many people in the gun community who really dislike open carry as a method of normalizing firearms.”
– Noah Robertson and Patrik Jonsson in Virginia’s ‘amazing moment’: The view from ground zero of U.S. gun debate