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With friends like this: Part II

Law-Abiding Citizens open carrying at the Virginia General Assembly
Law-Abiding Citizens open carrying at the Virginia General Assembly
John Pierce

It has been over a year since I ran a series of articles chastising Clayton Cramer for criticizing both open carry and the gay community in his Shotgun News column as well as for his follow-up attack on open carry in his Pajamas Media column.

Given the vitriol with which Mr. Cramer attacked open carriers in those instances, I suppose it is little surprise that he has once again taken aim (pun intended) at open carry.

This time, his target is Michigan Open Carry and their efforts to force the Capital Area District Library (CADL) in Lansing Michigan to comply with Michigan’s preemption law that forbids local units of government from regulating the otherwise lawful carry of firearms. And while there are a number of interesting legal issues surrounding this preemption battle that I will address in next week’s column, today I want to talk about Mr. Cramer’s latest attack on open carry.

He starts by correctly noting that two of the goals of the open carry movement are to overturn statutory bans on open carry and to normalize open carry. And while Mr. Cramer professes to approve of the first goal, he goes on to state that he considers the second goal “delusional.”

He rants that this goal “ticks him off” and makes some truly bizarre comparisons that I will let speak for themselves:

But [not open carrying] is a convention nonetheless — rather like the one that says it’s bad manners to show your genitals in public even though everyone’s got a set.

Normalizing” open carry … is about as likely to work as “normalizing” homosexuality by having two guys strip naked and have sex in the middle of Main Street.

Not being a psychologist, I will not explore the pattern that seems to be emerging here but I will note that perhaps the reason that Mr. Cramer does not like the concept of “normalization” is related to his personal bias against a certain other group that has, much to his chagrin, successfully worked to “normalize” their lawful behavior in the face of societal bigotry.

In any case, Mr. Cramer proposes the argument that the “normalization” of open carry is not possible. As introduction to his premise, he does concede the point that in Arizona and many western states that the mere sight of open carry in cities does not lead to blind panic. However, by listing those states, he attempts to imply that throughout the remainder of the country, open carry in an urban environment would indeed cause panic.

But the experiences of tens of thousands of open carriers across the country show that nothing could be further from the truth. Open carry is legal in one form or another in a whopping 43 states and it is unlicensed in 29 states which makes the majority of the United States “open carry country.”

And contrary to Mr. Cramer’s implication, open carry is very common in such diverse non-western states as Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia (including its Capitol), Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota to name just a few. In fact in urbanized Northern Virginia, open carry has become so common that the police departments there are re-training their officers to ensure that they understand basic open carry facts, such as, police have no power to seize open carriers and ask for ID. See this video of police leaders explaining this program to a gun rights group who are open carrying inside a police station.

And more on point, the open carry of properly holstered handguns is becoming increasingly acceptable based directly upon the fact that more and more people are choosing to open carry. In short, the process of “normalization” is working. If you don’t believe me, look at obviously urban Detroit’s WXYZ TV News 7’s almost gushingly favorable news report about Michigan Open Carry Inc.’s successful campaign to get nearby suburban Fowlerville, MI to repeal their local open carry ban. You can’t get much more “all American mid-western” than kids, pizza, and adults open carrying.

Societal norms are constantly evolving and the hard-working men and women of the open carry movement across the country are helping to improve the image of gun carry in public generally, not just open carry.

Perhaps the fact that Mr. Cramer is an historian factors into his clinging to the ‘conventions’ of the past. But studying the past should not require one to live there.


  • Profile picture of Grapeshot
    Grapeshot 4 years ago

    I'm reminded of the old saw: "With friends like that, who needs enemies."

    OC is a non-event day in and day out across much of the country. It is that which upsets the nay-sayers - nobody likes to be wrong, but Mr, Cramer IS wrong. Guess that gives him indigestion - oh well.

  • Carl Bussjaeger 4 years ago

    Cramer has achieved a dubious "first": The first gun owner I've known of to actually confuse firearms with genitals. Usually it's confused and troubled antis making that mistake. Despite some of Cramer's good work, I guess he qualifies as anti now. I'd hoped he'd learn after the last time he got his knickers in a twist over OC.

    Poor guy really should avoid New Hampshire; he'd risk paranoia-induced heart failure at the sight of all the open carry. Heck, I usually open carry, and only two people have ever questioned it. One was a gentlemen who wasn't disturbed by it, but simply wondered why I bothered. The other was a young boy who wondered why I had a "gun in your pocket" (small dark belt holster, dark slacks; to him it looked like the handgun was in my pocket). But neither he nor his mother expressed any worry about it.

    I know of a case when a man entered a local store wearing a holster. An employee noticed, and polite inquired if the man realized his holster was _empty_. The guy said he was new to NH and left his gun in his car because he thought people might be bothered by it. The employee informed him that he's in _New Hampshire_, not Massachusetts, and the sight of inanimate tools won't scare us.

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    Open Carry Advocate is a much better term than Open Carrier.

    "Carrier" is most often used to describe someone with an infectious disease who transmits it to people he comes into contact with.

  • HerbM 4 years ago

    Every single argument against open carry is precisely equivalent to, and using identical as well, the false arguments against concealed carry and the same false arguments against even owning a firearm in the home.

    There is not a single one that is supported by the facts.

    Let's see: criminals will take your guns, you will use them irresponsibly, it upsets the people (sheeple), you don't have the right to make other people feel afraid, guns are bad, guns are only for killing. whatever.

    Pick an argument against open carry and it has been used against ownership and concealed carry, but has already been debunked as fallacious.

    There is no evidence against open carry IN GENERAL. (This is not the same thing as saying that in some person specific tactical situations OC is not a good as CC, or vice versa. Cops both open and conceal every day -- sometimes each works out well, sometimes each fails miserably.

    But in general there no clear evidence against either.

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