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 Clayton Cramer on open carry 
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 Post subject: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:35 pm 
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He thinks it is a big political mistake.

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How To Lose Friends

Perhaps this column will be an example of how to lose friends–but this is really important. There are times that being right isn't as important as being tactful. Over the last few weeks, as I write this column, there have been at least two incidents where those showing up at political events to protest Obama's health care reform program have been openly armed–one of them at an event in Phoenix where President Obama was speaking. 1

People who have not had anything to say about guns suddenly are asking questions such as, "Do Guns At Political Events Disturb You? Then Consider Skipping Arizona For Now." 2

Now, I am aware that the man carrying an AR-15 slung over his back in Phoenix didn't fit the redneck stereotype that news accounts tried to portray–many of which implied that the armed protesters were upset about a black man was in the White House. (The man with the AR-15 was about as black as his rifle.) 3

And yes, in both these situations, in Phoenix, and in New Hampshire, open carry is not just completely legal–the courts of the respective states have recognized that open carry is protected by the right to keep and bear arms provisions of the respective state constitutions.

But I want you to think back to some television commercials run some years back that emphasized the importance of both defensive driving, and being a bit less aggressive in your driving style. They emphasized that, ìYou may be clearly in the right in an accident you are involved in, dead right. î This is one of those times.

Americans have become very squeamish about guns over the last several decades–and it isn't just because the mass media have been propagandizing for gun control. There are a lot of people who have been victims of violence, or who are next of kin of victims of violence. In my experience, survivors of violent gun crimes respond in one of two ways: "Guns are evil. They must be banned!" or "I will be armed next time, and that monster won't survive." The reactions, in both cases, tend to be quite strong.

You and I can engage the first point of view with rational discussion of the failure of gun control laws to disarm the bad guys, and over time, we may be successful in persuading such a person that restrictive gun control doesn't work. But even if we win them over to our side, do not expect someone who has looked down the barrel of a gun wielded by a criminal to react dispassionately to seeing a gun over which he or she has no control in a public place. The next of kin of victims of violent gun crimes seem to be far more likely to respond with the first reaction than with the second–and it is part of the reason that under the best of conditions, gun control groups seem to have so many grieving parents and siblings in them.

I've had my share of conversations with gun control advocates over the years, and I've listened to their stories. Overwhelmingly, they didn't just wake up one morning and decide that guns were bad. There's usually a tragedy that struck close to home. You and I can look at their reaction and see that they came to the wrong conclusion–but you can understand that once someone has come to that wrong conclusion, seeing guns is going to provoke a strong and negative emotional response.

I have long felt that open carry, if you have some other choice, is a political mistake, and for this very reason. There are lots of Americans who have discomfort or misgivings about gun ownership. They may know that lots of Americans have concealed handgun permits, and that they are probably walking the streets with people that are armed. But it isn't obvious; the gun isnít proclaiming its presence. The visceral reaction that some Americans have to seeing people openly armed is not going to win you any friends–and may turn some people against gun ownership.

Let me draw an analogy that a lot of you may find unpleasant. About 3% of Americans are homosexuals. I don't approve of homosexuality, for a variety of reasons. I know that a pretty sizeable fraction of Americans share my views on this. We know what homosexuals are doing behind closed doors, and we generally accept that, however much we disapprove of that conduct, it isn't the government's job to tell consenting adults what they can do in private. Most homosexuals in America appear to know this; like you and me, they are more interested in living their lives than they are in making political points.

A small number of homosexual activists make rather a point of going the opposite direction. They hold "kiss-ins," with very public displays of affection, intended to desensitize straight America. I used to be pretty open-minded about homosexuality, but living in the San Francisco Bay Area, and seeing video of the San Francisco gay pride parades, so shocked and disgusted me that I am now pretty strongly disapproving. (And my guess is that many of you who are as open-minded as I was, would probably change your opinion, if you saw those videos.)

Open carry in an urban setting, when you have some realistic alternative available (such as concealed carry), is rather like a homosexual "kiss-in." The supporters are convinced that doing so makes Americans more tolerant and open-minded to the subject. I'm convinced that for every person who gets used to it, there are two who are repelled. In July of 2008, one of the open carry advocacy groups held an open carry event at the Zoo here in Boise, carrying loaded and holstered firearms. This is about as gun friendly a city as probably exists in the USA–and the reaction to it was about the same as if a bunch of same-sex couples had started passionately kissing and necking in front of the monkey cage. It wasn't illegal–but it sure took people that didn't think about the issue much, and made them unhappy.

Carrying a holstered handgun in Phoenix is apparently pretty common. It isn't the norm, but it isn't particularly shocking. Carrying an AR-15 slung over your back in Phoenix, however, I'm guessing is pretty unusual. Carrying one outside an event where President Obama is speaking? This is equivalent to some of the really disgusting stuff that you see in gay pride parades.

It is shocking and disturbing not because President Obama is black, but because there is a long history of assassination attempts on the President, starting with the January 30, 1835 attempt on Andrew Jackson's life,4 on former President Teddy Roosevelt,5 on President Truman, President Nixon,6 President Reagan, and former President George H. W. Bush. 7 All of the successful assassinations–such as the deaths of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy–were carried out with guns.

There are places where open carry is perfectly sensible. No one is terribly shocked to see Americans armed while hunting, while target shooting, or in rural areas, in many states. I can remember a time when I would hike in the forests or the deserts of California with a Colt Government Model in a hip holster.

There are circumstances where concealed carry is not legal, but open carry is allowed. In some states, people started to carry openly as a way to remind the legislature that it needed to pass a concealed carry permit law. In a few cases, I know of people who were over 18, but under 21, and thus ineligible for a concealed carry permit. Yet they had reason to be concerned with their safety, and chose to carry openly, because they had no legal alternative. I'm not talking about those situations when I criticize open carry–I'm talking about the situations where open carry is considered disturbing, you have the option of having your gun concealed, and you choose to carry openly.

If we reach the point where we need to be armed to engage in the terrifying scenario that the Second Amendment was written to make possible–the overthrow of a tyrannical government–then I expect everyone who loves his country to be armed and ready. But as a form of political statement, in cities, and especially in proximity to the President–this is just dumb. It makes gun owners look crazy, and drives some people who are indifferent into opposition to gun ownership. Don't be stupid.

Clayton E. Cramer lives in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho. His most recent book, Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie was published by Nelson Current in 2006.


http://www.shotgunnews.com/cramer/

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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 2:39 pm 
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Clayton Cramer is one of the founding fathers of second amendment rights in our generation. When he has an opinion, it means something.

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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:07 pm 
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Yup. Doesn't mean that he's right, although it's an interesting analogy. On 2A subjects, he's always worth hearing out.

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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 4:53 pm 
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It's no secret that I stand with Clayton on this issue. Overall, it's a bad idea.

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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:32 pm 
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Clayton's own comparison undermines his argument. Acceptance of homosexuality has increased considerably since gays came out of the closet.

Image Image

Guess what? "We're here, we're queer; get used to it" worked.

Gun rights and carry rights won't be advanced by all of us, all the time, pretending we don't carry.

That doesn't mean we should always open carry, everywhere: the Arizona event was carefully thought out and staged, which I think kept it from being a strong negative.

Measured, careful open carry does a lot to demystify guns and to get people used to the idea that there are people who are neither cops nor criminals who carry guns.

I have open carried quite often in the last few years, and I have had many pleasant and cordial conversations with people who were surprised to find out that "civilians" can carry. And some of them ended up taking my carry class.

In 2003 and again in 2005, lots of people were briefly aware of the new carry law. But today, it's no-guns signs and open carry that cause people to think about it.

We're adding about 1000 permit holders per month, net, but maintaining that will require reaching out to people that simply haven't thought about it.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:11 pm 
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I've got to agree with Andrew on this. The Gay and Lesbian community activists "in your face" attitude has worked.

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This is about as gun friendly a city as probably exists in the USA–and the reaction to it was about the same as if a bunch of same-sex couples had started passionately kissing and necking in front of the monkey cage. It wasn't illegal–but it sure took people that didn't think about the issue much, and made them unhappy.

In many urban communities, no one will even blink if they see a Gay or Lesbian couple kissing in public. This is especially true of the today's college-age generation. My generation might disapprove more but most of us are not going to say anything about it to the couple. I don't approve or disapprove. My attitude is that a person's sexual orientation is none of my business. If I see a young heterosexual couple kissing in front of the monkey cage at the zoo, it doesn't bother me. Why should it bother me if the couple is Gay or Lesbian? It certainly doesn't "make me unhappy" as the author says. I think that particular attitude is a generational thing.

I don't open carry and I might be wrong but I think if more people open carried, people would get used to it. Right now, its hard to even get the overall gun community's approval for open carry, much less the general public's.


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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:46 am 
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+ 1 to Andrew

When it is well thought out and planned I think it can be a net positive.

I long for the day when I can tuck my shirt in :!:


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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:56 am 
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realtor_packing_heat wrote:
+ 1 to Andrew

When it is well thought out and planned I think it can be a net positive.

I long for the day when I can tuck my shirt in :!:



I concur. Would love to tuck my shirts in again and buy pants that are the right size, not 1 or 2 inches bigger. The open carry debate is one that I have been on both sides of the fence over time. Currently, with all of my guns I practice IWB everywhere I go.


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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:11 am 
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Dee wrote:
I've got to agree with Andrew on this. The Gay and Lesbian community activists "in your face" attitude has worked.
In many urban communities, no one will even blink if they see a Gay or Lesbian couple kissing in public. This is especially true of the today's college-age generation. My generation might disapprove more but most of us are not going to say anything about it to the couple. I don't approve or disapprove. My attitude is that a person's sexual orientation is none of my business. If I see a young heterosexual couple kissing in front of the monkey cage at the zoo, it doesn't bother me. Why should it bother me if the couple is Gay or Lesbian? It certainly doesn't "make me unhappy" as the author says. I think that particular attitude is a generational thing.

I don't open carry and I might be wrong but I think if more people open carried, people would get used to it. Right now, its hard to even get the overall gun community's approval for open carry, much less the general public's.



I don't think you're correct on this. I open carry about 90% of the time when the temp is over 60 degrees outside. I've got hassled once about it, but it was more of an intense questioning by the parts guy at the tractor dealership that was interupted by the service manager asking if he could borrow my gun "just to shoot Jack (the parts guy) a little bit". :lol:

As far as objecting to hot wimmen folk kissing, I have never been opposed to that. Actually I think I'll stop and stare. :mrgreen:

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Last edited by mnglocker on Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:14 am 
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kimberman wrote:
It's no secret that I stand with Clayton on this issue. Overall, it's a bad idea.
Well, I agree, on balance -- because, on balance, it's not just folks who do it thoughtfully and judiciously doing it.

Clayton's analogy to the gay community is, I think, on point. At one end, there's the completely closeted gays who, by hiding who they are, let a lot of straights believe that they just don't know any gay folks, and that, therefore, non-het sexuality is this strange and foreign thing that they've never been around. At the other end, there's the sort of behavior that Clayton spends far more time writing about than I'd care to read about.

If everybody carries discreetly all the time and goes beyond that to keep their status as permit holders quiet, most of the public will never learn that they encounter permit holders daily, without incident; if everybody with a carry permit routinely straps a huge hogleg to his thigh before heading over to pick up the kids at the Y, lots of folks will freak out, to no benefit.

I suggest a more moderate course, m'self.

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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:23 am 
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I think his point STARTED to be that open carry was a bad idea specifically at a presidential event, but he lost me at the comparison to gay rights.
I think Andrew makes a good point that the gay rights method has worked, network tv regularly has gay characters kissing in prime time.

I carry concealed as a tactical matter, I think open carry done for strategic reasons is another matter.
I would be right there if we were going to have an open carry walk at the capitol, but let's be thoughtful and organized about it , not just 1 guy at a rally.

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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:44 am 
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You do have to be careful. Thousands of folks protested the war at the RNC in St. Paul, and their messages were almost completely lost because of a couple broken windows and the fact that somebody filled bottles with gas. As a result, the peace protesters were thought to be violent.

Its likely to be the same with us.


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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:15 am 
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Or, to pick another thing, not quite open carry related . . . There's nothing at all wrong, if you're going to protest, or counter-protest, outside of an arena where a politician's giving a speech, to carry a gun if you'd normally do that. After all, such places aren't mugger-free zones.

Anybody think that point was actually made, for purposes of the public, when that moron Josh Hendrickson got his fifteen minutes?

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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:56 pm 
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Guns, Boobs...covered in public.
people are confortable with that.


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 Post subject: Re: Clayton Cramer on open carry
PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:43 am 
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Andrew Rothman wrote:
Guess what? "We're here, we're queer; get used to it" worked.

Now if we can just get some hack scientist to come up with "evidence" that we are genetically predisposed at birth to carry handguns we'll really be on to something.

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