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Photo Courtesty Zazzle 2nd Amendment Gear

 Up until now, if you had asked me to suggest pro-liberty authors, my list would certainly have included Clayton Cramer. After all, Cramer has a list of pro-Second Amendment accomplishments that is truly enviable.

He has written several influential books on American gun rights, was cited in the key gun rights case of United States v. Emerson, has a regular column in Shotgun News and his work was instrumental in exposing the misinformation put forward by Michael A. Bellesiles in his book “Arming America.

In short, Clayton Cramer has historically done a great deal to support gun rights and was someone I looked up to. But no longer …

In his latest (and very aptly named) Shotgun News column, entitled “How To Lose Friends”, Cramer addressed the recent spate of open carry incidents at presidential events. Fair enough … I too have addressed the issue including the negative aspects of the trend.

But Cramer did not stop there. Oh no. He went on to conflate open carry at presidential events with open carry generally, decreeing that open carry in any city is “dumb” and makes us look “crazy.” I find this to be ludicrous, but his rant gets worse … much worse!

Cramer then equates open carry with open displays of affection between gay couples. Now … I have nothing against this analogy. As a matter of fact, it is one that I use quite often. But not the way that Cramer used it!

And this is where Cramer went completely off track …

It has been over a week since I first read the column and I still cannot believe that Shotgun News allowed Cramer to use his column as a forum to discuss his dislike of homosexuality and public displays of affection between same sex couples. The words “shocked” and “disgusted” were used. The phrase “strongly disapproving” made an appearance. He made a point of stating that having to view such public displays had made him no longer “open minded” about the issue.

I was floored! But as a heterosexual who has never had to suffer from bigotry, I cannot imagine just how upset that gay and lesbian gun owners were to see such an assault on the pages of their Shotgun News subscription.

And the very worst part of all is that Cramer seemed to believe that by couching the argument in anti-gay terms, it would appeal to today’s gun owners. But he needs to understand that nothing could be further from the truth. Contrary to the stereotype promoted by the anti-gun movement, today’s gun owners are as diverse as America. And they share a common dedication to civil liberties that is unprecedented in modern politics.

Those of us in the gun rights community have had great success prosecuting the gun rights movement as a civil rights issue rather than one of Conservative vs Liberal. This has allowed us to successfully reach out to entirely new constituencies. After all, the millions and millions of proud gun owners across America come from every social, ethnic, religious and lifestyle group and we need to support the rights of every single one of them!

I believe that when Cramer titled his article, he was thinking that he personally would lose some readers because of his dislike of open carry. And perhaps that would have been true if he had stopped at a simple attack on open carry. But that didn’t happen and he is not the one who lost. It is the gun rights movement who got a black eye from his column and it is the gun rights movement that will lose disenfranchised gay and lesbian gun owners who will see that the stereotype of gun owners as old, grumpy, and closed-minded is still at least a little bit accurate.

Stay tuned for part II of this series entitled “You don’t hide apple pie

John Pierce is the author of the children's book "Why Does Daddy Wear a Gun?"


  • Superlite 5 years ago

    I agree 100%. Gun owners are all in this together. Now, more than ever, we need to include ALL gun owners to fight for our acceptance whether we agree with how they carry, their lifestyle, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other category. We need to unite these categories. We're ALL gun owners. Cramer does nothing but sow discord and attempt to rile us up at each other based on our individual uniqueness. How anti-gun can you get? Dividing us. It's a play I would expect right from the Brady's or VPC. It's sad coming from (supposedly) "one of our own". Unfortunately he puts us in a catch 22 of having to choose.....he and open carriers are obviously on two different sides. Which one counts as "ours"?

  • OKboomer 5 years ago

    Mr. Cramer's article was certainly offensive and gun owners are lucky to have Mr. Pierce to bring the debate back on track. The gun doesn't care which way you swing, why should anyone else? For me, the debate over open carry comes down to the question of, "When did it become acceptable to let someone attack you?" Open carry will probably save lives of criminals because they will choose a different victim when they see the weapon. We need to support the right to carry for ALL, not base it on race, creed, sex, religion, or ethnicity. Mr. Pierce has always promulgated the right to carry for ALL.

  • Herb Martin 5 years ago

    Many people who generally support the RKBA, and specifically a large percentage of those who carry concealed firearms legally, make the same arguments against open carry that the Brady bunch repeatedly makes against carry of any type or even owning a gun.

    The arguments are so similar that at times it is almost like having a discussion with a Brady bunch member -- and they are just as dogmatically insistent that this does not mean they oppose (some of) the rights to keep and bear arms despite the simple fact that none of the arguments have any more validity or evidence for this special case than they do when made by gun control supporters.

    Examples include: (visible) Guns scare other people. (Openly) carrying a gun makes every one less safe. The bad guy will take your (openly carried) gun and use it against you. You don't "need" to (openly) carry a gun.

    The RIGHT to KEEP and BEAR ARMS shall NOT BE INFRINGED. That says it all if you are a supporter of the Constitution.

  • neone 5 years ago

    Open carry is about rights, concealed carry is about privilege.

  • Carl Bussjaeger 5 years ago

    I had to read Cramer's Shotgun News column three times before I could really believe what I was seeing. Homosexuality and visible guns to be feared? Wow, Hoplophobia and homophobia in one inconvenient package. I cancelled the SGN subscription, and told them why.

    When I saw that Cramer had written a follow-up, my first thought was that he was going to say, "I think you all misunderstood me..." Nope; turns out I understood him just fine.

    Unless this guy wises up, no publication carrying his columns will see a penny from me.

  • Robin 5 years ago

    I am not responsible for the fear or emotional state of anyone but myself. They need to grow some courage and not be afraid of inanimate objects.

  • Sean 5 years ago

    I am sure Mr. Cramer is just as floored as you, because you expressed disgust and shock at his attitude towards homosexuals and lesbians. While open carry at political events is a bit edgy, it should not be prohibited because some people don't like it. Peaceable is peaceable. But in case you didn't notice, more hate crimes laws have been passed, making homosexuals and lesbians more equal than most. The GLBT agenda is being forced onto our children at school, and there is no end in sight. I believe in their rights, but I believe in mine too, and one of my rights includes the right to freely associate,or not. It seems they do not want anyone else to have that right. Go ahead and feel what you want about the matter, but they are not my friends and they will never be my allies. And they do not create, nor do they "enrich" civilizations, but they do destroy them.

  • scott in phx az 5 years ago

    Why is it that everyone is misreading Claytons article?

    "Homosexuality and visible guns to be feared?"

    He never said that. He said that aggressive in-your-face open carry might drive otherwise un-decided people away from our positions (that gun ownership and carry is normal).

    I think he is wrong (at least I think the benefits of the movement outweigh the negatives - though I do think carrying an AR15 at the Presidents rally wasn't really necessary to get our point across). And I think the analogy to the homosexual rights movement is a stretch.

    But most of the commenters who are attacking him now, and some pretty visciously, are doing it now by claiming he said things that he didn't.

    If you want to disagree with him, fine. Just do it based on what he actually said - all of what he said. And don't forget, he is not a Zumbo. If Clayton is wrong here, the rest of his contributions to our fight MORE than offset his mistake.

    Don't eat your own!

  • Sean C. Young 5 years ago

    neone said "Open carry is about rights, concealed carry is about privilege."

    Spoken like a true believer of the government's unlimited power. Concealed carry is a right (remember – shall not be infringed) not a privilege, even though the government may tell you otherwise.

  • FrankInFL 5 years ago

    I'm with scott-in-phx on this. I just read CC's article again just in case I misread it the first time. Nope.

  • Ned 5 years ago

    Seems to me that Clayton went from "aggressive in-your-face open carry" which I take to mean the AR15 at President rally to open carry ANYWHERE some pantie-wetter may soil themselves. Sorry, but that can happen anywhere.

    The fact is, being frightened and offended has become a national past time. Some folks will find a tee shirt with a gun printed on it offensive. Too bad.

    BTW - none of the gay folks I know are in favor of "hate crimes" laws. Lumping all gays into a category of "the enemy" is like generalizing all gun owners as psychopathic killers.

    It's a minority of gays who are "in your face." Most wanna be left alone. Years ago my girlfriend lived in a street where every house but two were occupied by gays. None were "in your face."

    Whether he meant to or not, I think Clayton came across as described by John. I don't see how keeping guns "in the closet" helps our cause.

  • Kevin Wilmeth - Anchorage Libertarian Examiner 5 years ago

    Liberty has often been misinterpreted as fighting for the obvious rights of those who agree with you. Not true. Liberty is about fighting just as hard for the human rights of those you may detest. I know that for me, if you're a bona fide non-aggressor, you're welcome in my camp, period.

    In Cramer's case, he would probably do well to review his history again. Personally, I can't find any example--not one--in which individual human beings made progress by softpedaling a matter of principle. At this point in our history, open carry is as much political speech as it is anything else--and picking nits about it serves only to give the control freaks more conflation opportunities.

    "Don't eat your own", indeed. Scott's point is certainly well-taken, but Cramer did make a mistake here, and it is only partially that he needlessly alienated potential allies. The real mistake was in legitimizing another divide-and-conquer argument. The man should have known better.

  • Jerry 5 years ago

    Excellent, just excellent!

  • consider 5 years ago

    I think too many are reading too much into Cramer's article and analogy. I would hope most would agree there are situations where OC is inappropriate; it should be legal, but decent people would avoid it so as to avoid giving offense needlessly. Think about weddings, funerals, or other large family or church type events. Not all, but in some cases, in some families or churches, OC may simply be rude.

    Cramer draws the line in a different place than many others. But I don't read him as demanding laws to ban OC even where he thinks OC is rude. I would doubtless OC a lot of places Cramer would not. But there are times and places where I think OC is inappropriate.

    And I think we are well advised to consider--with at least as much thought as we might give to the rest of our wardrobe choices--whether OC, CC, or some other option is really the best for any given situation.

  • O. Rly 5 years ago

    I feel like Cramer's article is wasted words, and that he should know better.

    Any state that licenses concealment but not open carry is not a state with a 'better alternative' to open carry.

    A petty criminal, a government, or a foreign invader can secure your home at any time. If this is where you keep your arms at all times, you will have no arms by which to defend yourself.

    If OC 'offends' people, and government action comes of it, it is simply time for another revolution. We should always act in good conscience toward our philosophies, instead of limiting ourselves in fear of how some people might react, because in the end we shall always have liberty, whether it was easily received or it had to be violently taken.

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