The Misguided Open-Carry Movement

Gun-rights advocates should change their tactics.


Having the right to do a certain something doesn't mean that certain something is always the right thing to do. For example: Death-metal bands and hip-hop artists have a First Amendment right to celebrate depravity—and it certainly is a shame that some do. The Westboro Baptist Church has a right to preach that American soldiers die because God hates gay people—but nobody should say such vile things, even if they can.

The Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms—a guarantee the Supreme Court finally and belatedly got around to recognizing in the Heller and McDonald cases. Many strong constitutional, philosophical, and utilitarian arguments make the case for gun rights nearly overwhelming.

In many parts of the country gun enthusiasts also have a right to walk around bearing firearms that are openly visible—a practice known as open carry. Lately they have taken to carrying weapons openly into private businesses (which have the right to tell them not to). And some also have made a point of parading the public streets with their firearms on view, as some fellows did the other day in Carytown, a quaint and bohemian (for Virginia) corner of Richmond.

Demonstrations like that make people nervous. This is not because the people who get nervous are gun-haters. Rather, it is because they are not mind-readers. When a man shows up at a shooting range with a Smith & Wesson .357 on his hip and a Colt AR-15 slung over his shoulder, his intent is plain. When he shows up at a Starbucks with those same weapons, his intent is far from plain. They don't generally set up silhouette targets in coffee shops.

Context matters. If you live in rural Alabama and it's hunting season, men (and women) in camo fatigues with high-powered rifles might roll into the church parking lot—and everyone will understand they just want to sing a few praise songs to Jesus. If the same crew rolls into a church parking lot in Berkeley, California, onlookers might feel rather differently.

As Jacob Sullum pointed out not long ago in Reason, there was a time in the U.S. when "openly carrying a weapon was considered manly and honorable, while secretly carrying a weapon was considered sneaky and disreputable. … Today, by contrast, the prevailing view, at least among urbanites, seems to be that secretly carrying a weapon is less worrisome than carrying it openly." Today people understand the aim of concealed-carry is self-defense. What's the current aim of open-carry?

Well, the aim of those open-carry demonstrations that have made news recently is to convey a point. But the demonstrators could convey their point just as easily in ways that do not make other people nervous. That would be the civil, respectful, and prudent thing to do. It also could prove more persuasive, since people tend not to listen very well when they are scared.

Not long ago in The Freeman, Jeffrey Tucker wrote an excellent piece "Against Libertarian Brutalism." At its best, he noted, liberty promotes peaceful cooperation rather than power and force. But liberty also permits hate and ugliness for those who want those things; their autonomy is an end in itself, even if they misuse it. Even bigots have rights, so defending rights sometimes requires defending bigots, too. But to defend only bigots, or especially bigots, is libertarian brutalism. Like architectural brutalism, Tucker writes, it "forc[es] us to look at unadorned realities, an apparatus barren of distractions, in order to make a didactic point."

The better path, he suggests, is the more humanitarian course: the promotion of liberty for the sake of "the well-being of the human person and the flourishing of society in all its complexity." As Sheldon Richman adds (again in Reason, back in April), those who treasure liberty most do so because they "care about individual persons." Caring entails compassion, and compassion extends beyond the narrow concern over which party in a dispute initiates the use of force.

Gun-rights advocates who delight in making suburban mothers nervous are practicing libertarian brutalism. They resemble those abortion-rights supporters who think it's funny to wear a shirt that says, "Why did the fetus cross the road? Because they moved the dumpster." Feeling put-upon, they have an urge to lash out at the other side, to rub the other side's nose in the dirt and teach it a lesson. But lashing out rarely achieves much. Often such brutalism does nothing but generate resentment.

Having a given right means never having to show consideration for how others feel about it, if you don't want to. But advocates for individual rights should want to. We make a more persuasive case for liberty when we show such consideration. If, as one of the Carytown gun-toters put it, they wish to raise awareness about "responsible gun ownership," then behaving responsibly would be a good place to start.

NEXT: A.M. Links: EPA Can Garnish Wages, Dems Push Birth Control Bill, More Parents Choose Cohabiting Over Marriage

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Here we go….

    1. these threads are second only to abortion threads haha

    2. Cosmotarian alert: 2nd Amendment cool, guns icky.

    3. I predict a lot of gun fetishists showing up to fapapfpafpapfpafpafpapfap about their right to illustrate their dicklessness in public.

  2. “Why did the fetus cross the road? Because they moved the dumpster.”

    I hope I’m not a bad person for laughing at this…

    Actually, I don’t care.

    *puts that joke in “Joke Rotation” holster*

    1. Sure you are a bad person, but who isn’t? I am still laughing at the IowaHawk tweet yesterday about there still being no evidence anyone in Elizabeth Warren’s family ever rode an Indian.

      1. I love Iowa Hawk! Missed that one…

        1. It was a picture from 2012 of Warren sitting on a big parked motorcycle of some sort. He recycled it and put that caption on it. It was perfect.

        2. the man is a national treasure.

          “Remember when the president said no one should be punished with unwanted children? Good times.”

  3. Sounds like someone has way too much spare time on their hands.

    1. I’ll get back to work, Anon Bot….

      *hangs head*

  4. I hope those cocktail parties are worth it, Hinkle.

    Yes, some of the open carry groups are doing it stupidly, like brandishing their firearm, posing with finger on trigger, or carrying long guns into places where it’s not prudent and leaning them up against a bench while leaving to order food. However, our actions should be bounded by common sense, not other people’s sensitivity. The point of thenopen carry movement is, or should be, to get people used to it so they don’t go into a panic every time they see a gun. We cannot give people’s irrational responses credence by bowing to their every whim just because it gives them the feels.

    1. Like I say below, if what Hinkle is saying is true, then the same thing is true for gay people who openly show their sexuality in public. Even today, a lot of people are made very uncomfortable by the site of two men holding hands or kissing. I, however, seriously doubt Hinkle would think gay men who engage in PDAs are misguided.

      1. There are PDAs and PDAs. Gay or straight, there are tasteful ones and distasteful ones.

        Behaving irresponsibly, unsafely, or boorishly in public is annoying and likely to not make you friends whether you do it with a gun, your tongue, or your words or actions.

        1. I always found the Palm Pilot PDA distasteful.

      2. Why is it a problem for *only* gay people to openly show sexuality in public?

        1. I am not a fan of PDAs in general. But the fact is a lot of people used to and some still do today are made very uncomfortable by the site of gay PDAs. It is exactly the same thing that happens when some people see open carry.

          1. Except that one type of fear is justifiable by reasonable human beings and the other is bigotry.

            1. See folks, everything is okay. Tony will decide for us what is justifiable and what isn’t.

              All hail Tony and his progressive goodness for providing us the freedom to not be a-scared of inanimate objects.


              I was worried there that I might have to make up my own mind. Thank God for Tony.

              1. Well, let’s just turn that around shall we. If it is objectively just as reasonable to be uncomfortable about being in the presence of gay PDA as it is to be in the presence of a firearm, then presumably one could utilize a gay PDA to force an overreaching government to back down, Second Amendment style. Agreed?

              2. If you need Tony to explain the difference between a display of human affection and a deadly weapon, I guess it’s a good thing he’s available.

            2. You must be new here because you’re just too fucking stupid to be a regular commenter.

              It’s real simple – my rights are not subject to approval because you fear them or don’t like them.

              1. Tony has been here for years (or at least some version of him has, even if he is a troll or sockpuppet). If he’s an actual human being, he really is that fucking stupid.

          2. I think Game of Thrones has pretty much cured everyone of that.

        2. Because gays are the gross. Except when 2 chicks get it on. Then it’s hot.


          (Not saying John feels this way, but his analogy is valid since some people would say what I did without any sense of sarcasm.)

        3. There’s evidence that disgust toward homosexual behavior has a genetic component at least as strong as homosexuality itself, maybe a little moreso. Given that, gays keeping the PDAs low-key is the polite thing to do, just like heterosexuals keeping their distaste to themselves is the polite thing to do.

          1. Link to this evidence please.

            1. “evidence that disgust toward homosexual behavior has a genetic component at least as strong as homosexuality itself, maybe a little moreso”
              Well, mah daddy was against them thar homiesexuals, and so am I. QED.

        4. Why is it a problem for *only* gay people to openly show sexuality in public?

          Because “parading it around” isn’t a metaphor.

          1. The latent homosexuality of groups of men wearing matching uniforms and carrying long guns as phallic substitutes while marching in step to rousing music and thinking how attractive they look is indeed tangentially relevant here.

        5. Why is it a problem for *only* gay people to openly show sexuality in public?

          Since, apparently, the only thing that matters is whether it makes people uncomfortable, this question is irrelevant.

          It doesn’t matter why, or if its justified. According to Hinkle and the rest of the gun pantybunchers.

      3. So you’re saying that two men holding hands makes you duck under a table because you might die?

        They are not the same. Two men holding hands can make people feel uncomfortable or even disgusted. Someone carrying a large weapon can make someone fear for their life.

        1. Sure it can make them fear for their life, if they are silly, superstitious and ignorant. That is the point, to try to educate them out of their ignorance.

          1. Yes, but not all people with guns are the same. While you may be intent on educating them, others may intend to harm them. Not all people openly carrying a gun intends to harm, but there are those that brandish weapons with the intent to harm.

            It’s difficult for people to quickly determine which kind of person with a weapon they are facing.

            There are not gay men holding hands intent on harming others. The negative externalities of male hand holding and open carry are quite different.

            1. Yes, but not all people with guns are the same.

              No all people showing affection are the same, either.

              There are not gay men holding hands intent on harming others.

              How do you know? How do ignorant people know?

          2. No, John… not if bodily fluids are involved in the PDA….just ask the fuzz. We all want to make it home safe from the Halloween and gay pride parades.

      4. PDA is always rude, but it is not especially rude for gay people to do it.

        1. His point was that to some people it is especially rude. And those people would be silly and ignorant just like people who freak out when they see a person walk into Starbucks with a gun in a holster or over a shoulder. If it’s not being pointed threateningly at anyone, there’s no reason that weapon should be especially rude.

          1. “Some people” don’t get to make up their own system of etiquette willy-nilly.

            Anyway, a gun is supposed to be threatening. People are right to be threatened when people carry them openly in public places. If they weren’t right to be threatened, then what’s the point of the gun in the first place? To advertise how small one’s penis is?

            1. If they weren’t right to be threatened, then what’s the point of the gun in the first place?

              Dunno. Ask a cop. I’m under the impression that they routinely open-carry handguns.

              1. Yes, and it’s their job to enforce law, not ordinary citizens without uniforms.

                1. And this distinction is relevant to whether people are right to be threatened by openly-carried firearms in public places because…?

                2. I swear I heard Gomer yelling something about, citizen arrest, citizen arrest….but that was a different time and probably does not apply any longer being were so much more civilized now.

            2. And Tony, the rhetorical power of your ad hominem has been assessed and you’ve convinced….nobody.

            3. If people carrying guns are not particularly threatening, then the whole Second Amendment would see to be based on false premises.

              1. How so?

          2. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m in a store and somebody tries to rob it by threatening to kiss his boyfriend.

    2. It goes back to the “responsibility” thing. I.have dinner weekly with a group of people and some open carry. I only carry concealed because I don’t is advertise that group are quiet and calm and.polite people.

      I have been out am with.other.folks in the.past who thought it was acceptable to upholstery and.pass their.handguns around the.table. needless to.say I have.not maintained contact with them.

      It is the.folks who.are assholes about this in public who give gun carriers an asshole reputation, and I do not appreciate that.

      1. just curious whats the purpose of all the periods?

        1. It regularly flushes the system of unneeded, old blood, allow new blood to lien the uterine wall.

        2. Ask my phone’s keyboard.

      2. Upholster a handgun?

        1. I like a nice gold brocade.

          1. Mmm. Diamond tuck pink satin.

      3. Oh, the appearance of impropriety bothers you with the exercise of individual rights…booo hooo. Way to distance yourself and sound so reasonable and “respsonsible.”

        How about if they each passed around a wrench would your panties still bunch up.

        If only I exercise my rights “responsibly” everyone will like me and approve. That stupidity got us to where we are today.

    3. If the point is to change people’s minds, you aren’t going to get far unless you take into consideration their current disposition. You aren’t going to get rid of people’s “irrational” responses by doing something that elicits that very response.

      1. There is no way for people to get used to something other than actually being in that situation. There is no better way to prove a point than demonstration.

        There’s also no reason for scare quotes. Going in to a tizzy and calling the cops are emotional, not reasoned, responses to someone walking down the street with a gun in the holster or slung over their shoulder.

        1. So if I’m on the south side of Chicago and see a black teenager with a gun slung over his shoulder then I have absolutely nothing to worry about…he’s just demonstrating his right. This helps. Thanks.

        2. Except I’m not so sure it is irrational. Context matters. It is true that a gun isn’t going to jump up on its own and start shooting people, but, again depending on context, it may sometimes be rational to think that a person open carrying is at the very least trying to intimidate.

      2. Psychologists would disagree. If you go to get therapy for a phobia, the therapy involves forcing you to confront the object of your fear until your irrational fear of it goes away. For example, people who have germ obsessions are treated by progressively exposing them to more and more “dirty” things. If I decided to get treatment for my snake phobia, they would start by putting a snake in an aquarium in the same room with me. Once I got used to that, they would take it out and handle it in front of me and so forth.

        Confronting the object of your fear is exactly how you overcome it.

        1. For example, people who have germ obsessions are treated by progressively exposing them to more and more “dirty” things.

          I need to update the mind reading extension on my browser, but I think I highlighted LynchPin’s point in your response.

          If someone is averse to firearms, throwing AR-15s at them and waiving a Glock under their nose isn’t going to change their position and, possibly, reinforces their existing conditioning.

          It’s when they generate a positive disposition about something and then realize that the something is related to their phobia that their conditioning begins to seem untenable and starts to come undone.

          1. It is not irrational to fear guns! Guns are machines designed to blow holes in human beings. Their entire purpose is to either destroy human tissue or make people afraid of that potential.

              1. It’s not derp. It’s a valid argument. What is it with your gun fetishists that you can’t even acknowledge your fellow citizens’ discomfort around your eagerness to overcome your dicklessness?
                Just re-join the army and shoot some ragheads if you need to get off on killing stuff.
                No wonder the rest of the world laughs at Americans. You’re all fkn nuts.

            1. Actually, guns are machines designed to accurately expel a projectile at a suitable velocity. Their entire purpose is to expel a projectile. Whether that projectile is expelled towards a human, a deer, or a thin plane of reformed tree fibers, is up to the operator of the machine.

              1. So they’re not especially efficient at killing people, and are thus not particularly useful for self-defense?

                1. How does their usefulness in one area (self defense) support your ridiculous claim (“Their entire purpose is to either destroy human tissue…”) or refute what Anon E. Mouse correctly stated?

                  Guns are great for self defense. The “entire purpose” of guns is quite plainly not to destroy human tissue. Those are not incompatible.

              2. Well put.

            2. It is not irrational to have a healthy respect for the potential of a firearm.

              The pants-pissing fear at the mere sight is a tad irrational.

            3. Having a healthy respect for a machine that can injure or kill is normal.

              Reacting to the mere sight of such a machine with hysterical, urine-stained terror to the point of demanding that someone make the bad thing go away is ridiculous animist hoplophobia.

            4. Tony, you may want to delete this last comment, it makes you sound extremely unintelligent about firearms. Anon E Mouse got it right.

              1. Tony is extremely unintelligent about everything.

          2. Well said. In the analogy above, the person also chose to go to a therapist, knowing what they would be subjected to.

        2. My snake phobia disappeared once the shrink had me understand I was a snake handler every time I peed and a snake charmer with every erection.

      3. That’s exactly how you get rid of peoples irrational response to something. You expose them to the perceived danger. Either they will realize it was not actually a danger, or eventually they get burnt out on outrage.

        1. Yeah, but isn’t leaving long guns with the safety off leaned up against a bench in a restaurant exposing people to real danger, not just the perceived danger of a gun on my hip?

          1. Some danger sure. But there the problem is mishandling the weapon not carrying it openly. If I carry the weapon responsibly, that doesn’t happen and there is no danger.

      4. One of the most important lessons to learn in life is that you can’t beat irrationality with rationality. If the other person was thinking rationally, they wouldn’t be irrational, would they?

    4. Cultural context matters. Parading naked on a beach in France is okay, parading naked down Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley is still frowned upon.

      1. Are you sure? It’s Berkeley.

    5. Get used to seeing some toothless, short-dicked gun fetishist carrying his cock-replacement in public?

  5. I understand that the people who do this are often annoying gadflies doing it to piss people off. That said, intellectually they are absolutely right. Back when society had a healthy and intelligent view of firearms, open carry was considered the proper thing to do because the only reason someone would conceal a weapon is because they are up to no good. And that make sense. The reason you carry a weapon is to defend yourself and deter people from attacking you. What good does the gun do if no one knows you have it and it is carried such that it is hard to access? Concealed carry defeats one of the main purposes of carrying a gun, deterrence against attack.

    The only reason we have gone to concealed carry is because many urbanites are frankly ignorant and primitive and attach independent agency to firearms. Seeing a gun just makes them uncomfortable. Well, that is irrational and idiotic and the country and indeed the world would be better off if urbanites would get over their idiocy about firearms. I don’t see any way to do that except forcing them to be around firearms until they get over their fear. These people effectively have a phobia of firearms. The only way to get over a phobia is to confront the object of your fear until you overcome it.

    1. I disagree that open carry deters.attack inherently. Maybe.if a group of several, all open carrying, it could act as a deterrent. A single open carrier is likely to be the first target in a shooting, and opens himself up to theft of his.firearm in other cases.

      1. Maybe in some kind of a mass shooting that would be the case. But those are pretty rare. The bigger danger is being mugged or physically attacked or robbed. In those situations open carry is an enormous deterrent. If you were out looking to play knock out or rob someone, wouldn’t the guy openly carrying a weapon be the last victim you would choose?

        1. He’d be the first person I shoot.

          1. Muggers for the most part are like any other predator. They target people who are going to give them the most payout for the least amount of trouble. Trouble includes possibly getting plugged if they miss (criminals are rarely decent shots), or immediately getting themselves a murder rap if they get caught instead of just armed robbery.

            They avoid people who show alertness and/or the ability to defend themselves, and go after those who appear weak, distracted, and unalert.

    2. Concealed carry defeats one of the main purposes of carrying a gun, deterrence against attack.

      Actually, I think John Lott (IIRC) showed that liberalizing concealed carry often reduces crime, but that you didn’t get the same effect from just allowing open carry, apparently because with concealed carry the bad guys have no idea who is armed and are therefore more cautious and likely to be deterred, but with open carry they can just avoid the people who are armed.

      1. Yes it does that in comparison to it being illegal to carry a weapon. But actually knowing someone is carrying a gun is even better deterrence than thinking he might be carrying a gun. Sure the latter is better than nothing. But in the individual case it is still not the same as the 100% certainty of seeing an open carry.

      2. I hear some herd immunity in your argument vs. individual immunity.

        I smell a research paper coming…nope, that was a fart. Back to being lazy.

    3. There is a difference between choosing to face something you’re afraid of and being forced to face it. My Mom can’t swim and is afraid of water. Pushing her into the deep end isn’t going to help her overcome that. It’s just going to traumatize her and make her less likely to go anywhere near a pool.

      1. maybe. On the other hand, something becoming common in public will force you to adjust to it.

        I have a terrible phobia of snakes. Occasionally I will see some idiot walking the streets with his pet bowa around his neck. It drives me crazy. But, if I had to walk past people doing that every day, I would eventually adjust and lose my fear of snakes whether I liked it or not.

        1. Are you arguing that people’s aversion to open carry is a phobia of guns? I certainly don’t think the being scared of snakes and being fearful of the guy with a gun over his shoulder are the same.

          One can be pro-gun, but still be uncomfortable with open carry.

          1. I certainly don’t think the being scared of snakes and being fearful of the guy with a gun over his shoulder are the same.

            Why not? Are snakes no longer dangerous?

          2. Are you arguing that people’s aversion to open carry is a phobia of guns?

            Yes. Their being afraid of someone peacefully carrying an AR 15 is no different than my terror at the site of someone carrying a snake.

            1. Actually a snake can harm you whether his owner intends it or not. So it is far more rational to fear snakes in your presence than guns. A snake in a cage, less so than a snake being carried by some guy on the street. A holstered gun is less dangerous than any vehicle on the road. The fear of holstered weapons is irrational if they wouldn’t otherwise fear that person’s ability to strangle them to death while they wait in like at checkout. Like so many things, just because a liberal thinks it is rational, doesn’t make it so.

            2. Sounds like the best way for you to get over your fear is to encourage people to start carrying snakes around you. Only your ignorance is keeping you from realizing that there is really nothing to fear.

          3. Are you arguing that people’s aversion to open carry is a phobia of guns?

            Yep. At least, if your aversion rises to the level of making you panic.

    4. What good does the gun do if no one knows you have it and it is carried such that it is hard to access?

      Actually, knowing SOME people are armed but not knowing which ones is a VERY effective deterrent. Not only for the armed individual, but for those not packing as well.

      1. Concealed carry is better for me as a non carrier. It allows me to be a free rider on other people’s deterrence. Open carry, however, is better for the carrier since it leaves no doubt they are armed. It just doesn’t do us non carriers much good. But, who says we have a right to free ride on other people going to the trouble of being armed?

  6. So, I am not sure these people are misguided at all. Think of this way, would Reason have called gay couples who went out and were publicly affectionate to each other back in the days when people really were made uncomfortable by such things, “misguided”? Hell no, they would have called them courageous. How is this any different other than Reason likes gays on a cultural level and doesn’t like these guys?

    1. Cause….gaiz. It’s DIFFERENT John.

      Like teh pot and artisanal open borders.

    2. Public gaiety conflated with being armed? Sure. I’ll go for it.

      1. Since both offend some people’s (not mine) sensibilities, and that’s what the subject is – people’s sensibilities, the comparison is valid.

      2. Think of the fireworks possibilities at the gay pride parade.

        1. what about openly carrying gay couples kissing passionately?

          *** mind = BLOWN! ***

      3. What Brenden said. The analogy is to their effect on people.

      4. The “pink pistols” should get involved! Something foe everybody!

        1. Or for.

          1. Fist is a pervasive clog, isn’t he?

    3. I’m fairly confident that the open carry movement isn’t out to win approval from Reason. They are out to change hearts and minds.

      So go back to the gay rights movement and ask what has been more effective: flamboyant gay pride parades and PDAs, or more the more subtle approach of simply being openly gay but otherwise not all that different than anyone else? It’s the latter.

      1. That is a good question. I think that gays having the courage to go out and public and be who they are has been pretty effective in forcing people to at least tolerate them. Why do you not think so?

        And open carry is not quite the same thing as parades with guys wearing nothing but assless chaps. It is not that over the top. It is more akin to gay people holding hands and such.

        1. Some open carry is like holding hands. Having a handgun on your belt is more like that, I think. Getting a big group together walking around with AR-15’s and going down to your local Starbucks is more like assless chaps, IMO. The former is someone just doing what they normally do. The latter is a group of people going out of their way to make a point in the most visible and (for some people) off-putting way possible. I’m critical of the latter approach, not really the former.

          I suspect really flamboyant gay pride parades sprouted up in places that were already very accepting of and friendly towards a gay lifestyle. That may have value in galvanizing the movement, but that isn’t what changed the minds of most people. It was the more subtle and civil approach. It was having more and more celebrities and famous people come out as openly gay, but not militantly so.

          1. First gay pride parade was in NYC near where the Stonewall Riots happened, which was a gay neighborhood.

  7. I can’t find anything to disagree with here. If the aim is to make people more comfortable with the sight of a gun, this isn’t the way to do it.

    1. Okay, then what is the way to do it? It is not like these irrational urbanites are going to voluntarily make any effort to understand guns.

      1. Wouldn’t the best way be to just go about your everyday life with your gun in your hip holster (is hip carry the best option or would the shoulder(?) carry as seen on so many cop shows be better?)?

        1. Perhaps. But carrying a long rifle responsibly wouldn’t necessarily be bad either.

        2. at least some of the problems are that open carry of pistols is not allowed in some states but open carry of long guns is allowed. I think texas is that way. it’s a dumb policy to be sure. i conceal carry and seeing someone open carry a pistol is nothing but open carry a rifle in a suburban coffee shop is definitely jarring even with my favor-ability towards guns

          1. I think texas is that way.


  8. For the Artist Formerly Known as RC Dean?:

    A. Barton Hinkleheimerschmidt.
    His name is my name, too!
    Whenever we go out
    people always shout,
    “There goes A. Barton Hinkleheimerschmidt!”

  9. “But if you go carryin’ pictures of Chairman Mao
    You ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow.
    And you know
    it’s gonna be alright….”

    1. If only that were true (see Che T-shirts).

  10. Walking around with guns is asking for it.

    1. …she shouldn’t have worn that camo shoulder harness…

      1. You know what I mean.

  11. “But the demonstrators could convey their point just as easily in ways that do not make other people nervous.”

    The tactics used to support any given rights issue often fall into two categories: those meant to argue that the minority is really just like everyone else and those tactics meant to show that the minority isn’t really like general society at all–so deal with it.

    Isn’t this what happened in the gay rights movement? One group claiming that gay people aren’t really different–and so we should all be treated the same? On the other hand, you’ve got the Stonewall rioters, the people who do outrageous things at gay pride parades, et. al., who are saying: We’re here, we’re queer, if that makes you sick to your stomach, get used to it.

    It works like that with all kinds of movements. In the civil rights movement, for every MLK, wasn’t there a Nation of Islam or a Black Panther Party (which used to open carry), too? For every Sierra Club, isn’t there an Earth First? For every PETA, isn’t there an Animal Liberation Front?

    1. So, anyway, every rights struggle involves two competing forces–1) the desire to assimilate acceptance into the dominant culture and thus safeguard that right from public opinion and 2) the desire to insist that the right exists regardless of public approval.

      It often takes both tactics to successfully defend a sometimes unpopular right, and I’m glad to see both tactics FINALLY being used to defend our rights by people on the right.

      Yeah, I believe our Second Amendment rights are to society’s benefit generally–but don’t get confused. MY rights don’t exist for YOUR benefit, and if my right to make choices for myself makes you scared?

      Then take that fear, roll it up in a ball, and shove it up your ass.

  12. In my (admittedly) limited experience.

    Open carry of a holstered handgun, most people just don’t notice (everyone is walking in their own little world) or don’t care because open carry of a handgun is not all that provocative.

    Open carry of a rifle seems a bit more provocative, at least within a town. Particularly when you don’t have it slung over your back.

    1. Sometimes you want to be provocative.

      Here’s the Black Panther Party (I understand) demonstrating for the Second Amendment.

      Very effective protest image, I think!

      After watching the police on television siccing dogs and using water cannons on black people who are peacefully demonstrating for their right to attend public schools, I’d love to hear someone explain to the Black Panthers that they should put down their weapons and just call the police to defend their rights.

      1. There is certainly a time to be provocative.
        But you also need to be able to recognize when your efforts are destructive to your goals.

        In the case of OCT, they need to stop going into businesses, fondling their rifles, and otherwise acting like a bunch of douchebags.

        By all means walk those city streets with a rifle. Do it smartly. Dress well, bring your kids, use a sling, hands off the trigger, carry a traditional looking carbine rather than a battle rifle.

        Remember the fact that businesses don’t want to be involved in political fights, so confine your protests to public property.

        1. “But you also need to be able to recognize when your efforts are destructive to your goals.”

          Like I said, sometimes people on the same side of the argument have different goals–and they conflict.

          The primary goal of the Animal Liberation Front may not be to make the masses comfortable with and accepting of animal rights activists.

          Their primary goal COULD be to defend the rights of animals by making the masses–through spreading fear–aware that they can’t disregard the rights of animals without any fear of retaliation.

          The purpose of some in the open carry movement, similarly, may not be to make the general public believe that there’s nothing to fear from gun rights activists.

        2. I agree with this. OCT’s fight is with the Texas legislature, not Target or Walmart or whatever. It’s silly to put those businesses in the middle, which opens them up to criticism/bad PR/boycotts from the fascist left.

          1. What if one of their goals is to expose the left as a bunch of fascist phonies?

            This may be a bit like anarchists sending in a black bloc to provoke the police into beating an innocent protestor, getting it on camera, and, thus, delegitimizing the police in the mind of the average voter.

          2. How about just walking down the street with OC. The business angle is a canard since they can prohibit what they want and why deny a corporation the opportunity to publicly stand for freedom on the record while it secretly lobbies to limit freedom.
            Yeah, why force a major gun purveyor like Walmart to tolerate the wearing of their wares on premises. How uncouth.

    2. I agree. Police open carry in a holster. Urbanites don’t seem to freak out over that.

      I think walking around with an AR-15 shouldered is really making a political statement. A holstered handgun, however, is much more a practical form of self defense.

      1. Sometimes you want to make a political statement.

        Yeah, I want people to understand that my rights aren’t a popularity contest, but even beyond that, don’t you want people to understand that there will be consequences to violating our rights?

        Progressives seem to imagine that all they have to do is get the votes, and gun owners are simply going to bow their heads and hand over their guns. I think it’s important for the general public to understand that would not happen, and it’s better they know now!

        Look at those Black Panthers on the capitol steps. Yeah, that was kinda scary–even to J. Edgar. …but haven’t we all talked before about how it’s a good thing if the government is afraid of the people? Isn’t that supposed to be the primary purpose of the Second Amendment? Surely, it’s better than the people being afraid of the government.

        1. I agree. Sometimes it is good to make a political statement. Good for these people for doing it.

          1. Just realize that if you walk into a restaurant with your AR I will have my 45 covering you from under the table until I decide you’re not a mass shooter.

            1. As long as you don’t point it at me, sure. If however, you want to point a weapon at me, then you better be ready to use it and make your shot good.

              Carry whatever you like, but do not go around pointing it at people unless you plan to use it.

              1. Amen, brother. Tim, remember how small your load is compared to the AR.

      2. But the police are our trained guardians, sworn to follow procedures, and to instantly assess the totality of the circumstances before drawing their weapon. Why would anyone have a reason to fear a cop carrying an implement of death?

  13. I live in a small subdivision in California where the houses are on 1.5 to 5 acres and guess what we have a lot of bears and lions and coyotes I wish I could walk down the street a mile to my mail box with my gun but I’m not allowed unless I have a permit. My neighbors probably wouldn’t say anything if I did since there is always someone shooting something around here but there is that slight chance that the sheriff will be driving by at the time. BTW I worry more about some of the pit bulls around here than I do about the bears and lions, the pit bulls are being use to protect grows and they don’t care about property lines.

    1. You should go talk to the Sheriff.

      In some of the more rural counties, they’ll actually give you a permit, right?

      Maybe you’re up near Big Bear. At that point, as far as gun laws are concerned, I guess you might as well be in San Bernardino?

      1. I have no problem getting a permit the issue is I shouldn’t have to under the constitutional right to bear arms. California used to be an open carry state, so much for the golden years.

        1. “Blame” the Hells Angels for intimidating the fuzz and Gov. Ron Reagan.

  14. Basically the article is saying we live in a less manly and pussified society and anything that scares people must be bad.

  15. The extreme open carry types don’t make me nervous because I think they’re likely to go on a shooting rampage. They make me nervous because they act like guns are toys and irresponsible gun owners are the kind who tend to cause firearm accidents.

    1. I have never been around them, so I can’t argue with you. But in all seriousness, can you link to an example of these people holding guns in an irresponsible manner? I have never seen anything like that in the news. The only time in he news I see people holding guns like toys and sticking them in people’s faces is when cops do it. If you have a counter example, please provide it.

      1. Like these two bro-dudes:…..xas-stunt/

        Posing for pictures (one with his finger on the trigger) with their mall-ninja scopes and their “I just got back from Nam” hat.

        1. That is pretty thin gruel. He had it properly pointed at the ground. His finger is near the trigger but it doesn’t look to me like it is inside the trigger guard. The other guy just has it slung over his shoulder.

          I don’t view having your finger near the trigger as that high on the unsafe scale. What matters is where the barrel is pointed, is the safety on, and if a round is in the chamber. In that picture the barrels are pointed properly. The rest I can’t tell.

          1. More on the issue:

            Open Carry Groups In Texas, You’re Doing It Wrong?

            Good point he makes that actually hadn’t occurred to me: even most firearm ranges wouldn’t tolerate people carrying rifles the way these people do.

            1. Well there’s nothing wrong with criticizing the way people are doing it.

              I’m not impressed by the guys wearing masks. 1) People could think you’re a robber and 2) It makes people think you’re ashamed of what you’re doing–and doesn’t that go against what you’re trying to do?

              But there’s a big difference between criticizing the way somebody uses some advocacy tactic and denouncing the tactic itself.

              1. There is an important point of perception that has to be considered. The political side of the question isn’t irrelevant. Making the movement anathema to people you’re trying to convince certainly seems counterproductive.

                1. “There is an important point of perception that has to be considered. The political side of the question isn’t irrelevant.”

                  It isn’t irrelevant, but making the world like them isn’t necessarily the whole intent of everyone in the pro-gun rights movement.

                  Some of them want to make the point that their gun rights exist regardless of their popularity–regardless of whether people like it.

                  1. I get it. I would call it a freedom of navigation exercise. I just know that they might be, er…shooting themselves in the foot, as it is.

            2. are there people who do things incorrectly yes just look at all the other cars on the road with people who can’t drive worth a dam and just as likely to kill someone. When I see a bad driver I use caution just as I would with a person who handles their weapon poorly. My general thought on loaded or unloaded weapons is I believe an empty gun is a useless gun and therefor if empty why carry it. Hence mine are always loaded, where I legally can that is.

        2. I think that the big guy is the Gothapotamus…all grown up and even cooler now.

        3. Are we assuming those two rifles are loaded? If they aren’t, and by the way those Brah’s are practicing what’s considered normal trigger safety(the one doesn’t even have his finger near the trigger and the other has his laying along the side of a gun, a very normal thing) then no, I don’t think they’re being dangerous. If the guns are loaded, then yes they are being dangerous and should probably drop the mag and clear the chamber.

      2. The guy on the left in this picture has his rifle drawn and his finger inches from the trigger…on the mean streets of Home Depot.


        I know I would feel safer if this douchbag was around while I shop for a new lawnmower

    2. I agree, at least about the Texas group.

  16. Granted, many of these idiots are hurting the cause. Harming the businesses of those that might otherwise be supporters is a dick-move.

    HOWEVER, not doing something that is within your rights because a bunch of pussies might get a-scared is hardly a reason to not do something.

    I really don’t care if you are nervous. I really don’t care that you are offended. Tough shit, man up, get over it.

    1. Exactly. Since when does Reason tell people to refrain from publicly proclaiming their rights because doing so might make someone uncomfortable?

      I have carried a weapon openly while deployed plenty. I found it to be a pain in the ass. For this reason I have no desire to open or conceal and carry. But I sure as hell don’t blame the people who do or think they are making a mistake. That is their business not mine and the people who are freaked out by it can go get bent.

      1. Do these stunts make people have a better or worse opinion about open carry? These guys need to think about that.

        1. I think they should always carry a weapon responsibly. So if they are as SD says above walking around like cops with no regard to the proper handling of a weapon, then yes, I have a problem with that. But my problem is with their handling of the weapon not with them open carrying.

          I think open carrying in a responsible manner will give people a more positive view of open carry as they repeatedly see that guns don’t just go off.

      2. …and the people who are freaked out by it can go get bent.

        Or they can support politicians who’ll promote stricter restrictions on guns. Guess which course of action is more likely. Yeah, I know it’s irrational that some people feel that way but it’s real nonetheless. Simply dismissing the notion doesn’t help.

        The thing about shock tactics is that they have a really limited shelf-life. Either they get boring or they become overly provocative.

        1. That is just it Susan. You want them to become boring. If openly carrying weapons becomes boring and no big deal, then there isn’t a reason to ban them is there?

          What you call “boring” I call acceptance.

          1. Think of it as “boring” as in a kind of eye-rolling, “here they go again” type of dismissal rather than acceptance.

    2. “I really don’t care if you are nervous. I really don’t care that you are offended. Tough shit, man up, get over it.”

      I want them to feel a certain amount of that.

      It’s part of the process.

      People used to get freaked out about public displays of affection between gay people, too. What if my children see it?! Boy George and David Bowie used to scare the shit out of some people.

      People getting over that is half the battle. And every time they see armed people around them and realize afterward that it was no threat to them? we make progress.

      1. If you put leather chaps on wrong, they don’t accidentally go off and make someone across the room turn gay.

        1. People’s attitudes have changed dramatically in the last 20 years, but back in the day? A gay couple kissing where children could see them might get them charged with a sex offender crime–and the people around them might very well have physically beaten them.

          There are criminal penalties for accidentally shooting people and civil courts to sue them in for damages. I fully support prosecuting those who accidentally shoot people, and God help anybody in a civil case who unjustifiably shoots someone if I’m on the jury.

        2. You haven’t met Warty I see.

      2. Ken, I get what you’re saying, but I don’t want to feel nervous while eating my burrito at Chipotle because some jackass is standing behind me with his AR-15 at low-ready. And I’ll bet that the VAST majority of Americans agree with me.

        What’s going to happen is that these kinds of theatrics will eventually encourage bi-partisan nationwide, or statewide laws prohibiting open carry in some form.

        1. I appreciate that, Eric. And I know the vast majority of Americans agree with you. As I’ve repeatedly stated, however, our rights are not a popularity contest.

          And Chipotle has every right to refuse service to anyone who walks in with an AR-15 and demand that they get off of Chipotle’s property. And if the person with the AR-15 refuses to comply, then the police should come and arrest that person for criminal trespass and every other applicable charge within the law.

        2. Thing is Eric, it doesn’t really matter if “the VAST majority of Americans” agree with you. We don’t live in a democracy, we live in a republic where rights cannot be voted away by a majority.

          People have a right to carry. They do NOT have a right to be free from being nervous. If you are truly uncomfortable being around people exercising their rights, please feel free to remove yourself from such situations.

      3. Jesus. The entire point of guns is to be threatening. They would be useless for self-defense if they weren’t threatening.

        This is the stupid contradiction in gun nuttery. Out of one side of your face you say guns are necessary for self-defense (because they are useful tools for killing people). Out of the other side of your face you claim they’re harmless trinkets.

        1. They are only threatening if they are pointed at you.

        2. If the entire point of guns is to be threatening, then I guess concealed carry is completely pointless?

          They would be useless for self-defense if they weren’t effective, Tony.

          1. I agree that they are especially effective tools for killing people. Which is why the argument that they don’t need to be regulated because they increase safety is nonsense.

            1. I think the argument is that the regulations don’t increase safety, so infringement with no purpose is bad policy.

        3. Toony, let me help you expand your vocabulary with the addition of the word, deterrence. It’s okay if you are threatened by it as it may deter you from your intellectual dishonesty.

          Not for nothing but Jesus advocated swords, not guns. Is there any history libtards won’t re-write.

    3. I think the people who can’t set foot outdoors without feeling the need to be armed are the biggest pussies.

      1. I think people who want to use state guns to force everyone else to conform to their idiotic notion of utopia are the biggest pussies.

      2. tony, you are a gay man. What would you say if some big scary straight men mugged you at 2am and beat you a la Matthew Sheppard? Would a gun be pointless then?

        I concealed carry, but only in specific times (bad side of town, late night). I think it’s a matter of judging the situation and making a decision. Why would you prevent people from having options (aka choice) on how to gauge/react to changing environments? That’s anti-choice and doesn’t really afford weaker people/women/minorities/gays from defending themselves against bad people, who according to your progressive talking heads, are us CISWHITEMALE folks

        1. Yes I am an effete urban dwelling homosexual whose upper-body strength might be underestimated. Never felt threatened enough to get me anywhere near feeling the need to kill someone. Maybe it’s different out in the hinterlands where there is nobody else but macho NRA types, but to me they just come across as the biggest pussies in the world.

          1. Yes I am an effete urban dwelling homosexual whose upper-body strength might be underestimated. Never felt threatened enough to get me anywhere near feeling the need to kill someone.

            Check your privilege.

          2. I don’t understand your argument. How can a homosexual equate pussy to a macho man. Sounds contradicktory. Quick, somebody tell the Village People

  17. I have carried a weapon openly while deployed plenty. I found it to be a pain in the ass.

    You might consider borrowing some friends CC weapons. I carry a walther pps and find it very comfortable.

    1. +1 on the PSS in .40. Picked that pistol up in March, been carrying it after my side gig ends at 3am in downtown… I pretty much forget I have it half the time.

      1. *PPS lol damnit.

    2. It is not that they are uncomfortable, it is just another thing to worry about. If I felt unsafe enough, I would carry one. I just don’t right now anyway.

      1. true, I’m a pretty stout lad and don’t feel the need to carry most of the time. But that 10% of the time when I’m in rough neighborhoods or downtown way too late (not intox, of course), it honestly is a good option to have.

        1. I think of it like a seatbelt. I never know when I’m going to get in a crash so I always have it on.

          1. The way I look at it is:
            If I knew ahead of time that I would be in mortal danger, I just wouldn’t go.

            Since I’m not clairvoyant, I carry (concealed since its IL) wherever its legal.

          2. I do the same with condoms. I don’t want to lose my boner fumbling around for it when I need it.

    3. Putting it in a holster is probably more comfortable.

  18. I guess I am to busy trying to live my own life and not control others. People carrying guns around me doesn’t worry me unless they are wearing the state sponsored costumes.

  19. As I’ve said a few times lately, I get that these guys do it because they can, as free expression. I’m free to burn a flag, too, but that wouldn’t be good politics, either.

    Some of the people who report open-carry guys may well be gun owners themselves, honestly wondering what’s going down. As we’ve heard every 10 minutes at every American airport in the last 13 years, “if you see something, say something.”

    Now, when I’m in Rifle, Colorado, which may be soon, I do want to check out Shooters Grill, as long as it doesn’t turn into a Hooters-type over-hyped and overpriced dining experience before I get there. The girls do look comfortable on the job, though, and the Facebook page says their meals are generally under $10, so I’ll give it a chance.

  20. “But to defend only bigots, or especially bigots, is libertarian brutalism.”

    The term bigot has lost all meaning, and makes zero fucking sense in this story. But obviously you have to defend unpopular positions because popular ones aren’t under attack. Reason is just as guilty as progs of equating “I don’t like A” with I want to forcibly stop A”

  21. Good article. It’s an important point that regular bystanders have no way of knowing who is a “good guy with a gun.” I think there should be a simple test to determine whether gun nuts are behaving appropriately. How would those same people react if they saw the exact same sort of demonstration happening across the street, except all the people with guns were black?

    1. What an incredibly simple test. All we need to do is read their minds to a situation that doesn’t exist. Quickly, get the mind readers, we’re headed to an alternate universe!

      1. It is a very simple thought experiment. If the only people agitating for maximum gun liberalization were blacks, the current NRA crowd would be the biggest gun control activists.

        1. Of course because they don’t agree with you they MUST be raaccciiist.

          You aren’t seriously this bigoted are you?

          1. Sadly, yes he is.

          2. Whom do you think is the hypothetical target for all these frightened white NRA types? Who tends to get stand-your-grounded?

            1. In my neck of the woods its not people of color its hippy growers carrying more weapons than most cops and they have trained guard dogs. Do not take the wrong road around here. A friend who worked for UPS as a driver was told if you don’t know the road do not go down it.

            2. So you’re saying that open carriers, concealed carriers, NRA’ers motivation is people of color? That they would be fine with being attacked by a white person? That their motivation for preparedness is racial animus? That white on black violence is very common? I’m just trying to follow your line of argument.

            3. Who tends to get stand-your-grounded?


    2. A bigot like you would wet himself and run. Me, I’d probably want to ask them about what they were carrying.

      1. I would tend to avoid armed crowds no matter their skin color. But I might understand that black people would probably have a more legitimate claim to needing them for self-defense than white people in suburbia acting like pussies afraid of someone’s labradoodle.

        1. Rights are not determined by how legitimate you think their claims are.

        2. Tony,

          What a safe and wonderful Utopia you’ve found for yourself to occupy.

          There are others not so fortunate, and these could be older and infirm people, people who carry large sums of money for work, or ladies who might find themselves faced by someone, not so nice, who is more physically capable than themselves. Your advice to the lady above would likely be to soil herself, given your irrational approach to firearms. Just because you can’t understand something, doesn’t make it illegitimate.

        3. black people need to defend themselves, but not white people. Gotcha.

    3. White southern demoncrats already took that test. Just for Tony,they failed.

  22. LOL, did Nick collaborate on this article? Typical reason, if it is not about gays or pot it’s not worth defending.

  23. I’d imagine people in Berkeley would feel differently since California doesn’t allow open carry.

  24. This article proves and does nothing but talk about how to make people feel better; get real. This is the worst reason article about guns I have ever read. There is no proof for anything the author talks about. The author states, “But the demonstrators could convey their point just as easily in ways that do not make other people nervous.” What other ways can they convey their point? You didn’t give any examples so why say this?

  25. Your irrational fear should not trump my inalienable Right.
    Deal with, get professional help.

    1. Inalienable right to prove that you have no penis?
      What are you trying to prove?
      Quick. Look over there! King George III is attacking Nantucket Sound!

      1. I have a very small penis. It sounds like you do too, with your fixation on small penises.

  26. Many years ago, for reasons we need not delve into at this time, I carried a Colt 32 Police Special revolver in the waistband of my pants, (top chamber empty), even on commercial airlines. When they finally past a law against that, I handed my gun to the stewardess when I boarded my next flight. This caused some commotion. When my flight landed at a major airport, the Airport Security Chief, who I fortunately knew, met me and explained the proper procedures to me. I’d always felt, and still do, that whether I’m carrying a gun need only be known to me and anyone in the position of looking at it from the other end.

  27. Homosexuality became normalized because people stopped hiding it. Open displays of homosexuality made a lot of people uncomfortable. Open carry is no different. As someone who doesn’t own a gun, open carry makes me uncomfortable. But making people uncomfortable is an unavoidable byproduct of political change and getting people to think; is not unreasonable or brutal.

    As for Berkeley, the good people of Berkeley are close to some pretty high crime neighborhood. Guns are all around them. The sooner they face that reality, the better for them.

  28. What makes Americans so in love with guns? Is it because so many of you were born short-changed down there? What do you have to prove? That you’re the toughest kid on the planet? Are you afraid King George III is coming ashore to rape your cattle and steal your wymymfolk?
    What a sick society.

    1. Why are you so fixated on phalluses? Are you trying to compensate for something?

  29. This article is absolute hogwash.
    First, while I am very pro Constitutional rights, I have never open carried, nor do I plan to. I don’t carry as a political statement, but rather as a safety measure. As such, I feel the advantages of open carrying are tactically outweighed by the advantages of concealed carry.
    With that said, suggesting that open carrying is a bad idea because it makes people uneasy is such a terribly flawed argument. Carrying a gun at all makes people uneasy; should I not do so because of that?
    Secondly, what is irresponsible about open carry? Police Officers open carry. Is the state the only one responsible enough to be trusted?
    Thirdly, how often are criminals open carrying (not counting an already drawn and brandished weapon, which is not what open carry advocates are doing)? Like all arguments against any aspect of constitutional rights, seeking to limit our rights does nothing to stop anyone but the law abiding.
    The fact that this article was even allowed yo be published is an embarrassment to libertarians.

  30. I respectfully disagree with the authors take in this article. The only reason to legally carry a firearm is as a crime deterrent. If I openly carry, would be criminals are aware that I am armed and dangerous, thus keeping me and my family safe. If I conceal carry, the firearm is no longer a deterrent to crime. My concern is not if the suburban housewife gets nervous, which is the goal of anti-4th Amendment crowd. Americans very often have an irrational fears (fear of flying, etc), and the left loves to play on those fears. I imagine that suburban housewife that is nervous of me open-carrying would be most grateful if that weapon stopped her from being raped.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.