I see many critical of the Californian open-carry movement and quite a bit of heated discussion on the subject. (See some great discussion over at the PAGunblog.com). I, personally, am of the opinion that California has pushed to the point where we need vocal and disruptive action, and perhaps even civil disobedience.
People forget that there was a time not so long ago where in many places you could not carry a firearm. Ironically, I grew up in San Diego in the 80’s where you could actually carry (if done openly).
What are Californians to do? It’s not like the activity is eroding their rights. Their rights have been continually eroded. (Carry bans, ammo purchasing limits, etc, etc, etc.)
I believe that Americans in California have four options:
1. Give up their rights (Bad, bad, bad)
2. Peacefully protest and object through traditional channels (fairly ineffective but there is some hope, Federal court system, etc).
3. Civil Disobedience (Breaking of laws you feel are immoral. Carries many consequences, but sometimes we have to bear the consequences for change. If not for civil disobedience we might still have segregation.)
Recently, I even considered the possibility that certain rifles and handguns might be able to be carried despite the bans on carry – using BATFE’s own regulations. Take the Sig P250, which receives the serial numbering is an internal trigger component. That is the part that is OFFICIALLY the gun. An AR15 has the serial # on the lower, this allows you to buy uppers without the need for an FFL transfer. So what happens if an individual carries a pistol or a rifle but leaves the serial # portion at home. It would seem to me that they would not legally be carrying a firearm. And perhaps this is the next protest we should expect to see in California.
4. Armed Opposition (This is the last route we want to take. And I believe that while things like Open Carry, etc stir up the pot. That such activism is indeed necessary. But the truth is, there is a point, and may we never reach it again, in which the rights are so infringed that the only choice is armed opposition.)
There was a time when we practically lost carry in much of America. We could have easily found ourselves a disarmed nation akin to Great Britain.
Realize, we could very easily be having this same debate regarding “The need to carry, versus not having the need to carry” OR the “need to own a firearm versus not having the need to own a firearm”.
There are many people who feel as opposed to firearm ownership in general, as feel opposed to open-carry.
And let’s be brutally honest here. Open carry is the AR debate ALL over again. Let’s rewind to the 80’s and 90’s. “Why no one needs more than 10 rounds and no one needs an military style weapon.”
How much was the gun community split on that? How many top dogs in the industry split on that or even came out on that end? Be it Bill Ruger or Jim Zumbo?
Imagine if the gun community came out and said “No one buy AR15’s or even Mini14s. We know they’re just semi-auto rifles. But well, their presence and ownership might get all semi-autos or even all firearms banned.” Where would we be today? Would the AR15 be the #1 selling rifle platform? I don’t think so…
My position, is if you’re going to open-carry. Be respectful. Be polite. Respect private property. Be a Norman Rockwell Boy Scout.
For safety considerations I tend to advocate “open carry” only when two or more gun owners are out and about. Less you present yourself as a target.
As for activism, I believe open-carry is better in a group activism and when that activism has cleared all hurdles ahead of time. By this, I mean – do not go to a restaurant chain and argue it’s a public place blah blah blah. Rather, approach the management ahead of time in a polite fashion. Receive the okay of the private establishment’s manager. Than proceed…
Guess what, not only will this reduce likelihood of an issue. But it will make for a much better witness as well.
For those who feel open-carry causes no good. I am reminded of an incident at a Costco in recent memory where an individual engaged in concealed carry had his firearm accidentally seen by a passer-by. The Costco was evacuated, the cops called in, and the man in question unwittingly walked out not even realizing he was the concern – he walked out to his death as the cops gunned him down and questioned later. Sure, different actions on the gun owner’s part might have avoided this situation. But had there not been such an immediate fear on the mere sight of a man carrying a firearm, this and other similar incidents could be avoided.