When I wrote my last column, I thought the controversy would be over the comparison to the civil rights activists, not who would get shot at first. When I wrote that the people with obvious weapons would be shot first I was thinking of the murders of the four police officers last November in Lakewood, Washington in a diner booth. One officer got a shot off before he died. The thrust of what I was trying to say was that people who open carry are the Freedom Riders of the second amendment rights movement. The Freedom Riders were brave blacks who rode buses across the south to challenge segregation. The Interstate Commerce Commission had already technically removed the "separate but equal" rules but interstate bus companies still segregated people. The law was on the freedom riders' side, but the practice in general in the south was to continue to segregate. The riders forced the country to face the laws and enforce them as they were written. It took brave men and women to finally get the equality the laws had given them.
Those who choose to open carry open themselves up to trouble of a similar nature. They sometimes have to explain themselves to other citizens or to local police who are disinclined to have the public stirred up by troublemakers, and that is how they are percieved. Some get arrested. I am baffled by the belief of some that if I am quietly eating my meal in a restaurant while carrying a gun openly, I am actually standing on the tabletop shouting "I have a gun! Don't you feel threatened by my really big, deadly gun?"
Several commenters have mentioned that when they carry openly, they are not hassled. That is great! We want to work toward a day where a citizen with a gun is not a source of curiosity. The lines are drawn, and Starbucks and California Pizza Kitchen are examples of the sides folks choose. Starbucks simply says they obey local laws and leaves the issue there (to the dismay of the Brady Bunch) and the Pizza Kitchen jumped through their hoop by posting "No Guns Allowed" signs in their locations. Open carry is forcing the discussion into the public forum and the marketplace, causing businesses to choose sides even when they don't want to. I believe there are more of us who support the right to keep and bear arms (or simply don't care one way or the other) than there are anti-gun advocates. The weight of history and facts favor our side. Ride on!