Sunday, February 8, 2015

Open Carry; an exercise in common sense, not picking the best seat on the short bus.

So...Kory Watkins is probably one of the more visible open carry advocates, mainly because he can tell you how single pane windows have a different flavor from double pane, oh and because he takes the passion for open carry from reasonable to level-potato.  Of course hes not the only open carry advocate exercising a passion over reasonableness.  My personal opinion right out of the gate is that there is a time and a place for open carry and that time and place really isn't a political stunt on a street corner of a busy suburban street.

Now, we have all heard the now-buzzword-phrase "common sense gun control" and how what it usually means is more restrictive gun laws.  This isn't about that; the 2A community knows BS when they hear it and that phrase is usually attached to lines of thinking like the Second Amendment was written when semi-automatics didn't exist so they certainly didn't have them in mind.  Fair point, assuming men like James Madison and George Mason were not (as far as we know) time travelers and may have not been able to predict advancements in technology when drafting the Second.  To me, that point loses its edge entirely when we look at their intent in the Second which was simply that Madison;  

"did not invent the right to keep and bear arms when he drafted the Second Amendment; the right was pre-existing at both common law and in the early state constitutions." -Michael J. Quinlan

And furthermore the Second Amendment originally would have read like this;
A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.
Now debate was had because it was felt that the "religiously scrupulous" text could be used to destroy the standing militia.  The Second went through many drafts and adjustments after that, including careful attention to punctuation and scrutiny over specific words used.  If so much attention went into the structure of what has become the most controversial of amendments, one could safely assume that Madison knew firearms technology would advance and didn't address it because it is way besides the point.  After much debate, our the final draft read as we know it today:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Now, personally, I always wonder how different the debate would be if "Composed of the body of the people" had been left in, as it identifies every citizen as being supported by the Second and would have gone a long way towards killing the anti-gun crowds tired "They only meant militias" line but that's another conversation.

All this said, we have come a long way since the late 1700s and thanks to the advancements in technology, any one person can have a voice even when they have nothing interesting to say.  Anyone can make a scene and get attention nationwide as opposed to the past when such behavior may have been limited to the local population.  The open carry movement is one such example, as the common sense advocates are drowned out by the ridiculous behavior of the more, well, ridiculous advocates who make much better news copy because of their outlandish and sometimes juvenile behavior because our media is largely driven to report only the spectacle, not the boring actions of responsibility.

Are all open carry advocates irresponsible?  No, I would say not.  I know many people who open carry and they do so very responsibly in environments where open carry makes polite sense.  The mountains of Montana, a ranch in Texas, the back woods of North Carolina and many other situations where ready access to a firearm is prudent and part of a daily routine.  Hunters, hikers, outdoors-men and any number of citizens going about an activity where such behavior is accepted by society.  Open carry as an intelligent and trained decision is wise if the situation calls for it; however open carry strictly for the reasons of a political statement is foolish.  I am not the deciding voice on what does and doesn't make sense, this is merely my opinion but it is an educated opinion.  Society has the right as a collective people to find something offensive, disturbing or scary.  If you want to raise awareness for a right and that right includes the open display of a mechanical device designed to shoot lethal projectiles, one should be prepared for your behavior to offend or scare people.  The way to not offend or scare them is not to act more foolish, more brazen or scream your point more loudly.  I spent some time in Mexico and no matter how loud the tourists spoke English, the Mexicans still didn't understand English because the volume was not the issue, it was the message.  Screaming your point, either vocally or through physical displays of assholery like the Chiplotegate nonsense only serves to scream louder at someone who doesn't speak your language.

When I was in Mexico I wasn't required to know how to speak Spanish, just as the Mexican locals were not required to understand what I was saying.  It was an inability to communicate and it was my responsibility to find a way to get my message across because I needed to.  No volume of voice or pantomime of arms and hands would get them to understand me.  I needed to learn the language.

Is the open carry debate any different?  The general population receives the majority of their firearms education from TV, movies, music, "firearms experts" and journalists who cant remember what helicopter they were on, let alone be bothered to check facts.  In a nation where people usually go with the first Google result as the truth or have such a strong confirmation bias that a reasonable conversation with them is akin to pulling a mattress through a mail slot, we have to try harder to show those on the fence or those against guns that the Second Amendment right is a recognition of a natural right, not a man-manufactured excuse to compensate for the size of ones genitalia.

We live in a low-information society (some people only read these for the memes) and most of that low information is gathered visually, because seeing is the easiest way to observe.  If you don't like, or are afraid of what you see, how much work are you going to put into respecting its message?

Responsible open carry isn't a zero-retention kydex holster; a leg rig at the BBQ joint or two rifles slung.  Can you do it?  Sure; but it may be a bad idea for the same reason that I can stand across from an elementary school with a bullhorn and recite Celly Cell lyrics in between Easy E acapella because society isn't really down with my exercise of Free Speech in that case.

Responsible open carry is hard to define, but easy to practice.  Again, my opinion is that open carry should be for a purpose, not for a statement.  The tired argument of easier access and deterrence goes right out the window when you see how many police officers are killed with their own weapons and how occasionally an open carrier is robbed at gunpoint.  Responsible open carry is having been trained in weapon retention and using a retention holster.  It is a level of awareness commensurate with transporting a lethal device into every environment you go and its presence being obvious.  It is polite difference to those who are bothered by the weapon and a willingness to educate in a reasonable way that goes beyond canned slogans or raised voices.  It is a non-confrontational approach towards a protected right.  Otherwise, you might as well pick up a bullhorn and memorize the lyrics to "Hit the Hooker" before heading out to exercise your First on some 8 year-olds.

1 comment:

  1. After reading your take on the subject, i was reminded that in real world scenerio.. your absolutely correct.. open cary must be done responsibley, and is more or less, dictated by enviroment. Im an open cary advocate.. but only because i disagree with having to buy a permit to cary at all. Your approach and sensible detailed thoughts on all the second amendment topics is quite refreshing. I found you through utube tactical videos.. good stuff. Thankyou for your service.. both past and present.I will be spreading your name amongst my peers