Carry On

22 07 2008

By now, everybody not in a persistent vegetative state (like the District of Columbia) should be aware that the Supremes have finally given judicial notice to the existence of an individual right to keep and bear arms. To those somnambulists not familiar with this ruling, I invite you to read the decision in it’s entirety here. Briefly, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the draconian prohibition of handguns in the nation’s capitol. In doing so, Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, emphatically affirmed that self-defense (whether against Gummint intrusion or merely lesser predators such as robbers and murderers) is an inherent right of all Americans which predates the Constitution.

While I am pleased by this ruling, I am somewhat less than pleased by Scalia’s none-too-subtle swipes at the minority opinions of the Court- especially at Justice Stevens. Stevens may or may not be an idiot, but the ruling as written certainly gives the impression that Scalia considers him so. This sort of unprofessionalism is not a good idea, and might serve to further divide the Court along the lines of partisan politics. Not a good thing coming from the final arbiters of what is or is not Constitutional.

In the aftermath of this decision, a group of people from an organization called Open Carry have started a “public-awareness” campaign to demystify firearms in general and handguns in particular. These folks wear their weapons openly and proudly in an attempt to wean their fellow citizens away from the visceral panic attacks which invariably result at the sight of a firearm these days.

So far, so good. I have no problem with the organization’s stated aims. I do have a problem with the implementation of those aims.

As with any group- however noble in intent- a small but vocal minority of the Open Carry organization are apparently unhappy with the low-key and non-confrontational tactics of their fellows. This fringe group seems to enjoy confrontations with police, and go out of their way to be “in your face” about their right to bear arms. They boast about confrontations with police and ideological opponents, where their fellows would have been content with education and awareness.

I own firearms, and I have a permit to carry concealed weapons. I also live in an “open carry” state, where the right to bear arms openly is written into law. That said, I do not wear my pistol openly in order to avoid the sort of confrontation some of the “Open Carry” members seem to enjoy. In my opinion, going out of one’s way to get into a confrontation with the police is not only stupid, it is working directly against Open Carry’s stated purpose. The major media outlets may or may not be biased toward liberal issues, but they are absolutely biased toward sensationalism. Loudmouthed imbeciles with guns who boast about causing friction with the police will quickly and permanently drown out the message they are supposed to be presenting- that firearms are not bad in and of themselves. The public will only see the confrontational ass-hats, and their opinion of all guns and gun owners will be colored by this flawed impression.

Sanctimonious and self-important ass-hats are intensely irritating, no matter which side of the issue I happen to be on. If anything, the sanctimonious and self-important whackjobs on my side are more irritating than anyone else, because they tend to make me look bad by association. Also, people who seem to go out of their way to defeat their own purpose are not folks I think I can rely on.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of unreliable people with weapons bothers me. I’m willing to put up with it as part of the price for the freedoms we all enjoy, but I don’t have to like it.

 

Current status: Concerned

Current music: Roll the Bones by Rush

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6 responses

22 07 2008
Layman Pong

Don’t shoot shoot shoot that thing at me;
you know you have my sympathy, but…

22 07 2008
prairieflounder

I have to reluctantly agree with you on open carry. I live in a place where it is much more common to see someone carrying a hand gun than in a big city. We still have people driving around in pick up trucks with a hunting rifle locked in a rack on the back window. It doesn’t bother me one hoot. I think that open carry is really a mater of elbow room. When there is plenty of room there is less friction. When wadding into a crowd it it’s too much trouble to be worried about your sidearm getting snagged on some woman’s purse strap. It really depends on the social environment. Going for a hike in bear country is much different than seeing a movie in Denver. Gun owners should dress appropriately. For a night on the town tuck that nine away, out in the country go ahead and tote that wheel gun hand cannon. You don’t wear a silk suit to trim roses, or a swimsuit to the opera. Only an Asshat totes a hog-leg downtown to confront cops for fun.

23 07 2008
archvillain

pf- You definitely have a point, there. I think the cultural shift you describe may be a function of the social environment (rural vs. urban). People in rural areas are used to relying upon themselves and their neighbors to get by, and the police might be an hour away. This social conditioning may tend the population toward more familiarity and comfort with firearms. People in urban areas are socially conditioned to rely on the police and/or city services, and firearms tend to be stigmatized as tools of criminals.

These ideas are admittedly sweeping generalizations, but (as with most generalizations) probably have a great deal of truth to them.

I live in an urban area, but I have a life-long familiarity with firearms. Far too many people with in my neighborhood are the sort of people who shouldn’t be permitted to own anything more dangerous than soft gelatin- which only reinforces the urban social conditioning against guns.

As to your final comment, I agree completely.

28 07 2008
Turkish Prawn

I think the real root of the problem comes from the way most folks identify firearms. If they see them as something the “bad guys” use to kill you or the police have to kill the “bad guys” then it becomes an item to fear. Most individuals in urban or even suburban settings have never fired a gun of any type. A few might have used a .22 a few times at camp when they were young. Education and familiarity with fire arms is (I believe) the thing that will help people to see guns in a new light. I make it a goal to get as many people who know nothing about guns to the range. Within a few minutes they are hooked. On the ride home most of them start asking about how expensive it would be to buy their own. That is how we are going to both protect our rights to gun ownership and make folks feel comfortable around them.

-Turkish Prawn

29 07 2008
archvillain

Turkish Prawn- You’re right in every detail. Unfortunately, you and I (and all other responsible gun owners) are all lumped together with the loudmouthed ass-hats-with-guns in public perception.

Rights must be balanced with responsibilities. We have the right to keep and bear arms, but we must be responsible with how those arms are kept and borne, for our own safety and for the survival of our civilization.

29 07 2008
Turkish Prawn

Yup. I think we agree 100% on that one. And that is the reason why I, as a gun collector and enthusiastic shooter, will never be an NRA member.

“…From my cold, dead hands.”

These words will harm gun owners for decades to come. That, and asshats like G. Gordon Libby making statements on his NRA radio show about shooting ATF agents in the head because they don’t have armor there. IDIOT! NOT HELPING!

It’s the duty of every reasonable gun owner to ostracize these whack jobs and the groups who support them. I’m thinking here of George H.W. Bush when he canceled his lifetime NRA membership after the latter comment was made.

You can’t make people agree with you. You need to convince them that you are right.

-Turkish Prawn

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