Wednesday, June 04, 2014

On Open Carry Texas

This morning on the podcast I was critical of Open Carry Texas and their strategies designed to bring attention to Texas' lack of open carry for handguns. You're all familiar with these guys by now.

I have taken a lot of heat today, but I want to make it clear that I stand by my podcast.

The central core of my argument is that OCT tactics DON'T WORK. As a longtime Second Amendment activist myself, my guiding light has been simple, "Does the tactic I've selected bring us closer to victory?" This guiding light has led me (and my oftentimes cohort Paul Erhardt) to adopt unconventional, asymmetric tactics, tactics that many times put us at odds with the Powers-That-Be. But in every case the tactics we used brought us closer to victory.

The tactics being used by OCT are failing on every count. Read this piece by Sebastian on the FACT that OC in Texas is slipping away because of the antics of OCT. I don't want to get in a pissing match here, nor do I want to launch ad hominem attacks. We are, in fact, fighting the same war. But we do need to find the line between tactics and ego...believe me, I've been there myself.


DamDoc said...

I'm with you.. At best, the tactics turn folks off.. a guy carrying an AR in a donut shop is going to scare the hell out of more people (like mom and the kids) than win any kind of sympathy.. If I see a guy carrying a rifle in the city, how do you profile that with respect to your own self defense? I would be in condition red if a guy with an AR waltzed into the store.. I am a gunny, own and shoot ARs, and have a CCW and carry concealed.. and I assure you, I would be in condition red with my hand ready to move (and leave the store if I can, with my business)... I don't know whether this guy is an Aurora wannabe or a guy just making an inadvisable statement. You just don't know who is crazy and what anybody will do. The beauty of concealed carry is just that.. you are prepared and have the element of surprise.. Id think that is what you would want; the point (or mine anyway) is to be prepared, not to scare people who don't know any better.. and who do you think those scared folks are going to vote for? And how many friends are they going to tell who vote too? It is just plain stupid and counter productive. Just like when you take a new person to the range, you set them up to shoot a .22lr, not a 3006... People need to be convinced of our right, not terrorized.

David said...

I agree with you, Michael. OCT does not pass the "helping or hurting?" test.

Anonymous said...

I also agree with you. We have to be very smart right now.

Kevin Creighton said...

Four things:

1. I open carry a pistol when I can, because here in Arizona, it's no big deal if you do.
2. Places of business are places of, well, BUSINESS, not a place for protest. I wouldn't want a political demonstration in my business, and neither does Chipotle.
3. If a cop showed up in full battle rattle with an M4 in a Jack In The Box, I'd red-shift my awareness code in a hurry, and I'm used to cops with long guns. I can only imagine what these demonstrations are doing to people who are NOT used to such things.
4. Carrying a dead-stock 10/22 on your back would have made the exact same point and freaked out exactly no one.

After DECADES of progress on making owning and carrying a gun something "normal" people do, these clowns have managed to make us into "others" (in the Simone de Beauviour sense of the word) once more. Pro PR tip: If it helps your competitors, STOP DOING IT.

CyberRanger said...

I used to belong to the Mountaineers 4x4 Club up in Fort Collins & we had to constantly remind our members that when we drove our 4x4s around w/ the club logo on it, we were ambassadors for the 4x4 world to the rest of the world.

As gun owners, we are ambassadors for the 2nd Amendment. If we are scaring or making people comfortable by our actions we are not moving our cause forward. As I've said time & again, just because you CAN do open carry your AR-15 DOESN'T MEAN YOU SHOULD open carry your AR-15.

Use some common sense.

Anonymous said...

Good reason to keep all those gun magazines behind the counter like porn. Good reason to require gun stores locate in industrial parks and have no signage. We can't have others feeling uncomfortable.

SMP-FL said...

I agree these tactics only provide fuel for the anti-gunners and put the general uneducated public against us.

Anonymous said...

IF we are trying to make "an armed society a polite society", how well does this work at persuading the middle ground folks? Answer not at all!

Michael Bane said...

Anon..."reduction ad absurdum" is a common tactic used by the Left against us..."you say you want concealed carry? So that means you believe everyone should have their own nuclear weapon?"

It's stupid when they do it, and it's stupid when you do it.

Nobody is saying or has said anything about making sure no one feels uncomfortable. In fact, if you followed the podcast you'd have heard almost an hour on why we often need to make people uncomfortable.

What I have said, and what a Who's Who of other Second Amendment activists have said, is that when a tactic is clearly failing, or much more seriously, becoming counterproductive, it's time to abandon that tactic.


Anonymous said...

Martin Luther King fought for civil rights through "peaceful protest".
But behind every one of those peaceful marches lurked the image of the armed and angry Black Panthers.
Did the "gay rights movement" gain their point by bowing to the majorities concepts of propriety ?
Was America founded by men who willingly bowed the the expectations of their opponents, or by men determined to have their rights even if meant wading in blood ?
Just a couple points to ponder.
Tom Bogan
Laconia NH

Anonymous said...

I did not get a chance to listen to your podcast, but I have to raise some questions here, that I hope you’ll consider seriously.

1) what has NRA and it’s affiliate TSRA actually done to facilitate the legalization of open carry in TX? Not what they say, not what they allude to or hint at, and not accepting “working behind the scenes”
what have they actually done? Bills on the floor of either house?

2) when you have a state gun rights group, whether affiliated with the NRA or not, and that group does nothing or practically nothing to better the legal standing of your advocacy, what practical choice is there but to have a go on your own?

3) There are a lot of “gun bloggers” who are outright hostile to machine gunners, open carry in any form, and do very little, if anything to actually lobby for legislation, or help advance RKBA. on any front. Sebastian has practically since the founding of OCT been railing online to anyone who would listen about how OCT is wrong. Hey, it’s his blog, he can have his opinion. However, the founders never intended for bloggers to spew hate on the internet :-P
seriously though, rather than trying to split the community, and pile on the pejoratives, how about trying to contact the groups in question and open a dialog? I’ve found that at least OCT is reachable, and willing to talk.

The easy thing is to blog. The hard thing is to try and work with our allies - or people who say they are our allies to change the laws for the better. It’s easy to point out the mistakes of others and when someone fails. it’s easy to criticize and ridicule those within our community who don’t do things the way we do.

Remember, Open Carry has been used successfully in Virginia to reform concealed carry laws, and Ohio - remember klein vs. leis? This included Open carry lunches, dinners, picnics, walks and all manner of gatherings which did not generate the kind of noise we have here. Admittedly, we’re talking handguns previously. And of course, just because it works there, doesn’t mean it will work outside the USA in places like MD, NJ, NY etc.

I think the very existence of the online community proves that this is a very powerful, active and motivated contingent within the gun rights movement. While the majority there are not carrying rifles, the point here is that hundreds of people on that site have used their willingness to openly carry firearms in a manner that many gun bloggers look down on, but in a lot of cases they were successful. And sometimes not, but the loudest critics tend to be the ones who do nothing to actually support RKBA.

Miguel said...

Was America founded by men who willingly bowed the the expectations of their opponents, or by men determined to have their rights even if meant wading in blood ?

Please! Do you actually think that posse of posers would actually have the testicular development to face anybody in combat for their rights? They would do a French Army, drop their SKSs and run home to mommy.

Now let's do some basic math:

Starbucks + Open Carry Handguns = No Problem.
Starbucks + Open Carry of Long Guns = Ban

Chiplote + Open Carry of Long Guns = Ban.

Jack In The Box + Open Carry of Long Guns = Ban

Chili's + Open Carry of Long Guns = Ban.

I think I detect a pattern here... Or as police say, that is called a clue.

Greg Wisniewski said...

Three things: 1.Wolf Bane was concerned about the echo or room slap in this episode, I think it enhanced the quality of his voice (think Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound") 2.Regarding the Texas Open Carry monologue I think he was spot on, & his delivery vehicle of "playing to win" not playing for fun was a good way to get the point across without hurting anyones feelings or calling them dumb.
3. I forgot!!

RMCM(SS) said...

No argument here. The only place for OC is in the woods where big-toothed creatures live. In public it just irritates people (who you might say deserve irritating) and create an opportunity for negative news coverage. I feel better when people DON'T know that I am armed.

Tim Flannery said...

I think a lot of the OC protest comes from officers exceeding their authority and harassing people that have chosen to open carry legally in a legitimate situation like hiking.

Matthew said...

The first step in achieving a goal is clearly defining it: that goal, in Texas, is -handgun- OC.

The sponsors of handgun OC legislation have been moving the bills through step by step. This is not a short process, as those of us rational adults who were around for the beginning of the shall-issue movement can attest.

You must have the non-ideological middle on your side, or at least neutral, to pass pro-gun legislation. We outnumber the anti's and can beat them on a level field, but we don't outnumber voters in general, their opposition, if riled up, tilts the numbers against us.

We win by acting underneath the radar and not handing propaganda opportunities to the Anti's and media on a platter, make them work for it. If they have to work, they will spin to hard and blow their credibility with the public.

The general public will never take the time to educate themselves in the nitty-gritty of our positions, we need to make our goal and message crystal clear and unencumbered by easy spin by the Anti's. Technical "wins", like the Chipotle message "not really being a ban", are perceived as "losses" by the public and presented as wins for the Anti's by the press. That is not subject to argument by rational people.

OCT has violated -all- of that. They carry rifles, a right they can only -lose-, to try to make a convoluted statement in favor of -pistol- OC.

That is piss-poor salesmanship from the start as rifle OC has -never- been "normal" in the US, even on the frontier it was a sign of trouble, not a day-to-day activity. they chose a method that can never be normalized to call for something that is normal in dozens of states.

The most rational way to "sell" their argument would be with empty holsters or, as some are starting to do, BP pistols. The best way to describe their position would be to say, "We already have been safely and responsibly carrying pistols in public for decades, we just want to be able to tuck in our shirts and take off our jackets when it gets too hot. Just like the folks in 30 plus states have for years with no problems."

If you say that, dressed like someone's neighbor in clean clothes, not "blood of tyrants" tees or mall-ninja camo and tac gear, you are creating an optic and message Ma and Pa Kettle can accept and not be scared by.

OCT has lost all sense of self-awareness and failed to control their attention whores. At this point, per the bills' sponsors, they are -damaging- their cause, and the cause of gun rights nationwide, by giving the Mom's public wins and credibility with the undecided middle. That is at best setting back the march toward handgun OC passage, -and- is likely to put rifle OC on the chopping block as well.

Being smart and applying forethought and good tactics is not "compromising", it's -winning-.

clark myers said...

As you say we are in this to win - there is a time and place for preaching to the remnant but this is not that time nor that place.

Just the same I am deeply saddened to observe how society has changed over my lifetime. It's true Hoplophobes now dominate and it's true we must humor them for the present. It is just as true that it's sad. There was a time - as late as the 1960's - when folks in Chicago say could and did open carry - blue steel and walnut mostly - on public transportation in Chicago. Humoring hoplophobes is one reason among many that the practice has become impractical. As a child in Texas I could run around with my own first rife - a Savage Stevens Favorite passed down from my farm raised mother when I turned 6 - it really hurts to know that such times have passed - but the pain of recognition shouldn't prevent the recognition. When outraged demonstrations are counter-productive the hot tempered acts must be replaced by useful tactics. But we can all share the outrage too.

Vince Warde said...

Michael I totally agree. Carrying long guns in public does nothing but make enemies out of people who otherwise would not care one bit about carry.

Here are my bullet points:

Long guns are not defensive tools, as you said, the are much more offensive.

Even open carry of handgun is problematical:

Tactically you loose the element of surprise.

You move yourself to the top of the target list and will likely be the first one shot.

Even if you are not the first one shot, even if no one is shot, if you are open carrying you probably will be forced to engage. If you are carrying concealed, you retain the option of doing nothing. I always want the option in a robbery of just letting it play out if it looks like they are not going to hurt anyone.

Open carry of handgun doesn't generally require a permit. In the vast majority of the country, the public is supportive of concealed carry because they know that to get a permit you have to be background checked and trained. Sure, the training is often minimal - but the average non-gun person doesn't know that. They just know that people with CCW permits have been trained - and that makes them more comfortable.

Concealed carry also has the advantage that people are not made uncomfortable because they do not see the firearm. In theory, they know that some people carry - but they do not have to deal with, "Wow, that guy has a gun." Sorry, it's still a reality. Not everywhere, but most places. In these places, open carry sure doesn't help our cause. Maybe, after we get nationwide CCW, the open carrying of handguns can be the next thing we can get the public to be comfortable with, but they are not there now.

Another reality: Your right to carry and your permit are rendered nearly useless if businesses decide to ban carry. So far, the effect of these corporate actions has been to ban open carry, but allow concealed carry. Sure that's not what they said, but unless they post whatever signs are mandated by state law that is clearly the effect and these businesses know it. However, if gun owners continue to conduct these "in your face" open carry protests, those signs will likely go up.

Finally, from a legal standpoint, the Constitution means what the courts say it means. At this point most pro-gun rights legal scholars believe that SCOTUS, if things go well, will eventually rule that states must allow some form of carry. In other words, they may forbid concealed carry or open carry, but not both. Few, if any, of these scholars believe that reasonable licensing and training also will be considered an infringement. Here in CA, we are concerned that, if and when this happens, the lawmakers may opt for open carry - resulting in "no guns" signs going up everywhere - effectively nullifying the right to carry. However the bottom line is that the courts are likely to uphold carry bans such as the one in Texas.

These are the facts, and all of us in the pro-gun community ignore them at our peril.

clark myers said...

Just realized that there is a generational shift here that I missed - with the rise of modern sporting rifles the perception is that any open carry is for the purpose of going armed a generally legitimate purpose but not a universal perception of folks with firearms when I was young.

Again time was that riding the street car to the end of the line and walking a little allowed plinking and small game hunting or shooting rats and rabbits at the dump. Maybe there was a rifle range under the local football stadium or the basement of the Eagles or the school basement to make sense of open carry - even across bicycle handle bars to get there. Renewing that possibility of innocent amusement might be a useful wedge to make open carry more popular and so more accepted.

Matthew said...


Yep, it's the difference between openly -transporting- a firearm for the purpose of going shooting at an event the community has context for.

Like Scalia's unremarked upon rifle team rifle on the NYC subway, or shouldering a shotgun on the way to hunt on the outskirts of town, or putting a .22 on your handlebars to plink at the dump. But all those places to casually shoot are gone in most of urban America. Lacking that context, open rifle transport became uncommon and thus abnormal.

Lacking the destruction of suburbia, or rescinding of indoor pollution regs, or dumps returning to be just open piles of trash, those contexts will never return. Most of our kids will never regularly see "normal" open transport and it will have nothing to do with "anti-gun" agendas. Just progress.

Conversely, open carry of long guns for the purpose of "being armed for self-defense" has never been normal in this country - maybe temporarily in time of imminent Indian uprising, til the threat abated - but never day-to-day. For US civilians, even cops, the tradition is and always has been that the rifles stay in the car or closet until you -know- more trouble is coming than your pistol can handle.

Anonymous said...

Open carry is foolish. I have a friend in NH who insists on open carrying his 1911 in spite of having a carry permit. He refuses to listen to anyone. He hurts the whole gun rights movement. We need to all get on the side of common sense.
Gerard in CT