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.