Thoughts and Follow Up On Open Carry

Hey friends.  I got called on the carpet by Bob S. regarding a post I made last week regarding Open Carry of firearms and the Mom’s Demand Action pressure being applied to Kroger..  While I actually agree with him, my wordingIMG_0905 was not as clear as it could have been.  I’ve already responded to him, but that response is also a great opportunity to further the conversation.

Here is Bob’s comment:

There were repeated incidences of Open Carry in Kroger. The difference was not Open Carry but how pro-rights advocates responded to the protests and extortion attempts by the anti-gun groups. In the case of Starbucks, the pro-gun side flooded the stores with messages of support, images of them carrying firearms in the stores, images of firearms and Starbucks products together. Pro-rights advocates flooded the social media sites of Starbucks with thousands of statements and messages — many completely mis-stating Starbucks position.

That is the difference. We learned from the problems we created at Starbucks and didn’t do the same at Kroger. But it wasn’t simply just ‘Open Carry’

I wasn’t referring to incidents of open carry, at all, so I agree on that point hands down. As far as the second position?  I.e. what went wrong with Starbucks and some of these other places?  That’s exactly what I meant and is the whole point of the post.  Let us NOT forget the lessons we learned.  It’s particularly important in this case, because I believe MDA is doing their best to try and incite the kind of response you detailed so well.

Allow me to clarify my OC position a bit.  I know it’s a touchy subject in the gun community over the last couple years.  I have not problem at all with the principles of open carry.  In some cases concealed may be best, in other cases, open carry.  We should have the option to choose what is best for the circumstances.

How_to_open_carryI’ve posted elsewhere – such as The Truth About Guns – my thoughts on Open Carry activists.  There are two kind out there that I’ve seen.

There’s one group that is a formal organization that organizes rallies, protests, activism, etc.  The public open carry marches, for example, set up by OCT would be in this group.  I think such events have done a good job in educating people about the problem in Texas.  Some of the informational open carry events, such as how a group in (I believe it was) Ohio was passing out educational flyers in neighborhoods was another positive example.  The Florida fishing trips are another clever method of activism that I think has helped.  It wouldn’t be hard to come up with plenty of other positive examples of Open Carry activism.  As you noted, these groups have made some mistakes in the past and have learned from them.  These were not the people to whom I am referring.

There’s a second group out there.  These are the “We gonna do sum open carry” people who glob together, treat making a scene the same as holding an event, then post their selfies and YouTube videos from their phones.  God love these people!  I’m sure most have their hearts in the right place.  I don’t think most are simply attention seekers.  I am concerned that some are simply looking for a fight, or at least payback to Shannon and Bloomberg for the trouble they’ve caused.  These are the people to whom I was writing.  They are not helping the cause, in my opinion.

Just to give a bit of further clarification, the single incidents of open carry such as have already happened with Kroger I don’t consider “activism.”  I don’t even put it in the category of “exercising his/her rights.”  True, these may be the reason they are carrying.  But they may also be coming in from the field.  They may have been in a seedy neighborhood.  They may simply carry openly simply on principle.  That FNX-45 may just not be concealable.  There are lots of reasons to open carry.  For me, it’s simply a matter of someone merely going about their business.  I’m not worried about the guy I see carrying a gun.  I’m worried about the bad guy with any type of hidden weapon – gun or not.

I had the opportunity to put action to words with my 11 year old son recently on this subject (and, yes, that’s him in the picture).  Now, I live in the St. Louis area.  In fact, I drive through North St. Louis county daily going to and from work.  My son had seen someone in the Ferguson/Florissant area wearing a pistol on his hip.  He’s comfortable about guns, but since open carry is not legal on the Illinois side of the river where we live, he was a bit concerned.  I was able to point out to him that in Missouri it’s Ok to carry openly.  I also was able to point out that the guy is almost certainly a “good guy” because the “bad guys” carrying in that part of town are going to invite scrutiny.  It was also a chance for me to talk to him about choosing when to open carry, conceal carry or carry at all.

For the record, this was months before all the unrest out here.

Jefferson on gunsAs I said, I’m fine with open carry.  I do have a problem with people who don’t really understand the nature of this fight.  The general public is our mission field.  They are ripe to be won over, and there has been great success in that regard.

MDA, MAIG, Shannon Watts, Michael Bloomberg, however, are enemies to be destroyed politically.  Utterly and without mercy.  That, by the way, is very different from getting revenge.  If your goal is revenge, you will fail in the large game.

This presents us a very fine line to walk.  Know and understand the enemy.  Remember that Shannon Watts is a PR professional.  That tells you right there the kind of battle in which we are engaged.  The reality is that it’s not ultimately about what our rights are, it’s about the hearts and minds of the public.  Making false associations or creating a scene in order to make a statement is generally not going to help win those hearts and minds.

Notice what I said twice?  “Hearts and mind.”  We won’t win with just one or the other.  We need both.  Even though we easily win the mind part – i.e. the facts – we cannot neglect the heart – the emotional side.  Nothing blinds the mind to fact quicker than the emotions of the heart.  Shannon Watts understands this and is skilled in abusing it.  We, however have both the legal and moral high ground here.  If we really wanted to think about it and put some effort into communicating, we also have the emotional argument.

Want a bit of help on getting the message to people?  Probably the best tool you will ever find is Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book of Rules.  It has served me brilliantly for decades.  The Dale Carnegie Course is something that everyone should take if they get the opportunity.

I’ll try to be more specific in the future.  Or at least make sure I reference back to this article to avoid confusion.  I am glad I’ve got readers like Bob who care enough to call these things out.

What are your thoughts on Open Carry?


About Raul

Mad Scientist (honestly!) and engineer by day. Soundman by night. Tech geek always! A love and passion for Christian apologetics, Fringe, Doctor Who and Babylon 5.
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5 Responses to Thoughts and Follow Up On Open Carry

  1. 3boxesofbs says:

    First your example of the Right and Wrong way to Open Carry continues your theme that I previously discussed.
    The guys carrying the rifles?
    THOSE are the only things we can Open Carry in Texas. Those two are from an Open Carry March that happened in Dallas. Now, do they dress the way to allow everyone to think they are just off duty cops? Nope.

    We can not Open Carry handguns in Texas as your well dressed people in the other image. Of course, those guys do appear to be Open Carrying in — STARBUCKS!. Yeah, the very thing that lead that company into requesting gun owners not carry into their restaurants.
    So little bit of a mixed message for those who really know what is going on, eh?

    he general public is our mission field. They are ripe to be won over, and there has been great success in that regard.

    I’ll agree with you on this to an extent. I’ll say that I think we can improve the image of those Open Carrying and still do something that many people aren’t willing to recognize — that most gun owners aren’t going to identify with the buttoned down, starched shirt images your highlight as the right way. Yes, it looks better and may be better marketing — but how many people will think “Hey they are folks just like me?”

    Our goal will be easier to accomplish if more of the general public is behind us. But that is a dangerous road because it opens up the idea ‘if most people don’t want to see Open Carry, then we can prohibit it.’
    And that is where I depart from the idea we have to win them over. We do have to let people know we want to win them over but when it comes done to brass tacks, we will have our rights respected. I think this is where we can learn something (and adopt tactics) from the LGBT struggle. It wasn’t until the “We’re queer, We’re Here” marches, parades and attitude became well known that much progress was made. Yes, we have people who make the general public nervous just like the LGBT community does but mostly people just like the ones you live, work, shop, drive in traffic, etc next to you.

    The out and proud marches of the LGBT community brought attention to the issues that so many people wanted to ignore or did not know about. The same can (and frankly should be said, especially by gun bloggers like you and I) of the Pro-gun rights marches and activism. Then we use those conversations, those opportunities to instruct the general public, not attack the activists.

    My thoughts on Open Carry, simple. It gets to be 105 degrees or more all too often where I live (North Texas). Several years ago we had over 70 days of 100 degree temperatures — Open Carry makes sense. Not just for comfort but for medical reasons also. I have Asthma. A condition aggravated by the heat; I shouldn’t have to jeopardize my health in order to exercise my rights.

    People can either understand that, accept it or disagree with it but not stop me from exercising my rights. Isn’t that the same thing we expect out of so much of the rest of our society?

    Bob S.


    • Raul says:

      If you have a better graphic if be more than willing to swap it in. The point for the graphic was entirely in how we present ourselves. Anything you have that would improve that message, I’ll take.

      I do appreciate your position in Texas. I live in Illinois and can’t even OC a long gun. We just got concealed carry recognized. You’re actually a lot further along than we are.

      There are two types people we deal with out there. One is John Q. Public. The other is the Progressive elites. With those elites, you strategy works. Those people need to be destroyed politically. They have an irrational hatred of not only firearms but the basic principles of liberty.

      They also have a weakness. Ok, actually they have many, but in this case I’m talking about emotion. People like these abandon reason for emotion. It’s not hard to use that to our advantage. They are easily driven to shrill hysterics and/or displays of arrogant superiority that destroys their credibility and their case.

      But that other group? John Public? We DO have to win them over. They are the best ally we will ever have. Think about it. I’m here in Illinois across from St. Louis. With CC forced by the courts against Chicago’s best efforts, we should have ended up with something that looked like DC or New Jersey. Instead, we got something that is a reasonable start AND that we can and will be able to chip away. Why? Because we had won the general public.

      On the other side of the river from me, the just passed gun laws that are moving MO headlong towards being a constitutional carry state. They had to override a veto to do it. They succeeded because the people as a whole we’re won over. It’s a victory that could never be won in a court. Nor by force if arms without destroying the very thing we are trying to save. Believe me, the Antis fought it to. The did t want that precedent set.

      I interact with people from all over the country. The pictures of my son shooting on my work PC wallpaper give me lots of chances to answer questions. I know first hand that the general population WANTS to be on our side. Fill the emotional need then appeal to their reason and you’ve won.

      It’s not that hard to do both at the same time, actually. There was that OCT rally in Texas that MDA published that photo where the marchers looked like the were threatening. Accompanied by a lot of shrill screeching. The OCT folks released the REAL picture, then. The OCT group looked good, normal, “one of us.” We won. Big time. It was brilliant.

      You can’t put a price tag on a victory like that. Not the beating Shannon part. That’s easy. They won the people there. Maybe not in TX, but I know it had impact out here. That was the turning point where the public had the chance to see MDA were loons.

      It’s not just enough to win. I want to win on our term not theirs. Anything less isn’t a real victory.


    • Raul says:

      Oh… And I was serious. If you have a better image, I’ll use it.


  2. 3boxesofbs says:


    I appreciate your offer of finding a better image but that isn’t the point. The point is we, the gun owners, are trying to enforce this perception of what a gun owner, gun carrier should look like. And like in advertising, it may look good on screen but is it connecting with the average person?

    Those clean cut well dressed guys — sure I would like to see very OC event present an image close to that — but how many people will look at them and go “That’s great for the YUPPIES, but I’m a blue collar guy from Indiana. I don’t look like that, don’t want to”.

    This is where I feel the gun community is failing. Not in presenting a good image but in our inability to make the argument “We want everyone to be able to exercise their rights. The clean cut, the slobs, the farmers, the urban dwellers…..and our groups show this diversity’

    They are easily driven to shrill hysterics and/or displays of arrogant superiority that destroys their credibility and their case.

    I agree. That is a great observation and another failing in the gun community in my opinion. We allowed Moms Demanding Attention to control the direction of the conversation using the OCT images. Instead of pointing out “Hey, look at MDA having fits over people like you, your kids, etc exercising their rights, participating in the political process — they lie when they say they don’t want to deny people their rights”. Nope, we talked about how bad of an image they presented.
    Go to a range in most of the states — which image better fits the majority of the people at the range any given day?

    I know first hand that the general population WANTS to be on our side. Fill the emotional need then appeal to their reason and you’ve won.

    I realize that I stated my position badly. Yes, I do want to win over. I would love to have people supporting and actively engaged in expanding our rights. We will never get most people to do that. What we will get is people simply accepting our rights and the exercise of them.

    That is where I say I diverged from you — We don’t have to win everyone to our side. We simply have to get people to say “Hey, doesn’t bother me what they do. No skin off my nose. Why are you set against them”. Neutral at least. Look at the LGBT community – they have successfully negotiated that line. Most people are not going to be actively supporting, (definitely not actively involved in a LGBT relationship) their rights to simply exist. They won’t go out of their way to restrict their rights but they will make sure to vote against people restricting them.

    It’s not just enough to win. I want to win on our term not theirs. Anything less isn’t a real victory.

    We agree on this. That is why we are debating — it isn’t about the terms of surrender (complete, unconditional) but how best to get those terms out of. What I want to see is us gun owners stop beating ourselves up when there are so many other targets like MDA that we could use that time against. Open Carry is one of those flash points that divide the pro-gun community in a big way. Go to the gun blog or any of the other major sites and see how PRO-GUN folks talk about the OC movement. They use the same language, the same logic, the same venom in too many cases that the antis use toward gun owners. It is incredible to read the comments denigrating the actions of Open Carriers.

    The OC picture in your example — Did anyone take the time to explain that it was taken during the Summer in Dallas Texas? That the temperature outside was in the upper 90s or low 100s? That we can’t Open Carry pistols, that we attract a diverse crowd — or did most everyone jump on them for presenting a ‘bad image’?

    Did anyone use that image to point out that NOT A SINGLE person at Chipotle complained despite the hysteria MDA tried to create later?

    This are the ways we can win over the general population — by pointing out the cynical, deliberate, professional (Shannon Watts is a professional PR flak), manipulation attempts by the antis,

    Bob S.


    • Raul says:


      Sorry for such a delay in replying. It’s been crazy with work plus a sick son plus getting a podcast out plus… well… you get it. 🙂

      Truth is, there isn’t a thing in your post with which I’d disagree. What both of us are saying to a large degree is that it is all marketing. Once you get into that realm, you cannot just “do,” you have to think about your target and the image you want to project.

      We do agree, too, in that it’s making the argument not just the image. But what both sides of this debate are forgetting is that the two go together. Well, not all. OCT has learned this through the school of Hard Knocks. I’ve been impressed by the folk in Ohio, as well.

      Truth is, neither of those images look like the people at the ranges in the St. Louis area. The ranges here look exactly like the people in that OCT group picture. Our version, not the MDA’s. I’d go further and hazard that that one looks like most of Middle America. To deliver that message you want? A group like that is one that will get the opportunity to do so.

      I have seen the way a lot of the pro-gun sites rag on you all. Frankly, it sucks. I’m not saying we all need to be in lock-step, but we do need to be aware of what each other is doing. And we need to respect that we’re on the same side. If we actually talk about things we have a better chance of coming up with winning solutions. Allowing it to be a “flash point” just give our opponents a powerful weapon. People also need to remember that while policy may be national or statewide, the actual politics are local. National strategy and local tactics should take each other into account.

      Of course, that failure seems to be pretty widespread among the conservative movement which makes it easier for RINO’s to keep a lock on party leadership, but that’s a different article…

      Do not mistake that I’m defining a “win” by getting everyone on our side. We don’t need that, as you say. That said, I *believe* that most want to be on our side. It’s all a matter of that basic American mindset and worldview that sets us apart from the rest of the world.

      Now I just wish there were more people reading this. Rather than the finger pointing one sees on the gun sites, maybe a little honest conversation like this would accomplish something.

      Oh, and it looks like there is an OC walk planned here in St. Louis this weekend. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to either walk or watch, but I am going to follow it. Some are a bit nervous because of all the Ferguson mess, but honestly I think it may prove a good idea BECAUSE of that. I understand there’s been outreach to the black community to participate. If so, it will give two positive messages.


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