25 April 2014

Open Carry Texas

Dear Open Carry Activists: You're Doing it Wrong.

Let's get this out of the way first: I think it's perfectly clear that I am about as pro-gun as anyone can be. You can just look at my Facebook page, and not have to scroll more than a page before seeing some sort of firearm in my hands. I'm a CHL holder, but even that irks me, having to get a license to exercise what I consider a Constitutionally-protected inherent human right. I would love to see open carry in Texas, in addition to concealed carry (I much prefer the latter, truth be told - it's the doubt in the mind of the bad guys that serves best as a deterrent), and I will support any legislation to that effect.

Lately, there have been grassroots Open Carry movements in several locales. There are videos galore of groups and individuals exercising their right to openly carry (typically long arms). Usually these videos are of encounters with various law enforcement officers, and depending on the attitude of both parties, the encounters tend to run the range of emotion and excitement you'd almost expect when law enforcement is called to investigate people openly carrying firearms.

This past week in Texas, there was an incident in Arlington involving open carry advocates distributing pamphlets with text of the Constitution and literature promoting gun rights. They were also openly carrying rifles and presumably other long arms. This presented a problem for a number of people, and now the Arlington City Council passed an ordinance that prohibits groups from handing out pamphlets on street corners. The unintended consequence of this action is that other groups will presumably be affected by this same ordinance.

While the Open Carry advocates mean well, they're going about this in completely the wrong way. Rather than using our legislative process at the state level to promote their agenda, they're taking the same route as the people who wave "Honk to Impeach Obama" banners from the overpass of a busy freeway. The only thing these people have ever accomplished is to slow traffic for people who just want to go home. 

They accomplish nothing, because they're doing nothing. Nothing from a practical perspective, absolutely nothing to change existing laws in a positive manner.

In fact, they are actually working against their own movement, because they're inciting the ire of local municipalities. And what is the result of this ire? Local ordinances imposed by city councils and other municipal organizations, which are typically comprised of their neighbors and peers. Their answer to "problems" like people who are otherwise legally exercising their First Amendment rights? Ban it. Make it go away. Make it illegal. They can do it, and they do, just the same as banning skateboards in supermarket parking lots.

Open Carry folks - stop helping by creating local sensations. Stop helping by going on the local news stations and looking like extremists. Stop helping by making a bunch of noise that does nothing more than slow down local traffic.

If you want to help, do it at the state level.  Pick up the phone, go online, drive to Austin, and visit with your elected representatives. It's their job to create legislation that will get signed in to law. State legislation can't be overruled by local municipalities, and that's what we all really want. Several states have recently signed this type of legislation into law, and we can do it here in Texas. Yes, it will take longer, but it can actually be done. Parading around and talking about it does nothing.

Save the energy you waste on yelling about your rights in public, and spend it on creating and supporting actual legislation.