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You don't hide apple pie


As American as apple pie

 In last week’s article “With friends like this”, I took renowned historian and gun rights activist Clayton Cramer to task for criticizing both open carry and the gay community in his Shotgun News column. That article was primarily focused on pointing out that the gun rights community is engaged in a civil rights battle and we do great harm to the cause when we divide ourselves.

Subsequently, Cramer wrote an article entitled “Openly Carrying Guns Can Be Unwise, Even When It’s Legal” addressing some of the feedback he received from his Shotgun News column. Even though he noted that the response from gun owners was strong, he then proceeded to further attack open carry with some truly outlandish literary imagery. He starts off by calling open carry “offensive” and “disturbing” to our neighbors.

He then makes the statement that “Just because something is legal, even constitutionally protected, doesn’t mean that it is wise.” To illustrate his point, he describes a group of open carriers who visited an Idaho zoo. He notes that while open carry is a constitutional right in Idaho, Idaho also has “a very reasonable concealed weapon permit law” and implies that those who wish to carry should not do so as is their state constitutional right but rather via a state granted (and revocable) privilege. That’s right … let’s trade our rights for privileges.

He justifies this logic by pointing out that others might have negative emotional reactions to open carry. It is at this point that I wanted to cry out “But that is the point … We have to address those negative reactions, not hide from them!

Our motto at is “A right unexercised is a right lost” and I cannot think of a better way to say it. If we allow the prejudice of others to dictate the free exercise of our rights, then we have already lost the battle.

You must remember that we are bombarded, almost daily, by a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle anti-gun media messages. It is amazing how effective this bombardment is, even for those of us with deeply held pro-gun beliefs. It is a dangerous mistake to assume that societal influences do not make an impact. They do! Mr. Cramer is a prime example of the fact that even gun owners can be influenced to treat firearms as somehow unwholesome and morally equivalent to waving around our "excretory organs." (His words not mine!)

At the risk of sounding like a sociology professor, what we are dealing with is a general populace that has had their perceptions about firearms turned into prejudices by societal pressures. Most people are not anti-gun in the traditional sense of the word, but they can be counted upon to swallow whatever drivel is presented by the true anti-gun movement because the media is complicit in presenting firearms as negative objects rather than positive instruments of liberty.

Make no mistake about it; if we do nothing to counter these negative stereotypes, then our rights will be slowly taken away. Open carry is a very easy way to begin to counter these stereotypes.

To put it simply, open carry forces those you meet, be they friends, relatives or neighbors, to reconcile their preconceived notions and prejudices regarding firearms with the fact that you are exercising this right in a safe and responsible manner.

Anthropologist Charles Springwood of Illinois Wesleyan University sums it up nicely when he commented that open carriers are trying to "naturalize the presence of guns, which means that guns become ordinary, omnipresent, and expected. Over time, the gun becomes a symbol of ordinary personhood."

What I find most ironic about this scholarly debate that Cramer and I are conducting via our writings is the fact that in his latest book entitled “Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie”, he actually documents the fact that the decline of the visibility of the firearm in modern life has coincided with the rise of gun control. And yet here he is, asking us to stay in the closet and sit in the back of the bus.

Come on Clayton … you don’t hide apple pie.

NOTE:  While Mr. Cramer and I disagree on a number of issues, he is one of America's most renowned gun rights activists and has accomplished a great deal for gun owners. 

While researching this article, I noted that he is currently seeking employment as a software engineer or academic.  I have always believed that gun owners should support one another regardless of our differences and I would ask that any reader who knows of an opportunity contact him.

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


  • FrankInFL 5 years ago

    Do you understand what this is all about?

    Good people can have differing opinions on the same topic... and both be right.

    Time to... no... 'way past time to cut CC some slack.

    We must all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.

  • John Pierce 5 years ago


    I am not criticizing concealed carry at all. I have said it before and I will say it again, "the concealed carry movement that has swept the country is the most significant public policy initiative in my lifetime and has resulted in tens of thousands of crimes being prevented!"

    My argument is with those who say that concealed carry is the ONLY option. And I agree with you that we must hang together. That was my concern with the first article in Shotgun News.

    You will note that at the end of my article I mention that Cramer is looking for employment and I state "I have always believed that gun owners should support one another regardless of our differences and I would ask that any reader who knows of an opportunity contact him."

    I hope this makes sense. Thanks for taking the time to read my column and comment!


  • RKBA Guy 5 years ago

    Hammer and saw. I think CC is better for defense, but OC is better for educating the public that we're not a bunch of mouth-breathing neanderthals. Now if we can just get states to recognize our right to CC is no more subject to regulation and registration than our right to OC.

  • D Kauffman 5 years ago

    This would not even be an issue if fed gov would abide by the Constitution.They want to apply legaleze to the founders amendments, but they were written so a common man could understand the meaning.lawyers weren't invented yet.SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED is clear.CC is an infrigement if you have to jump thru hoops & pay a fee.They just take your right and made it a privelige.But the criminal has more rights than a lawfull citizen because they cc anyway.


  • BLAADE 5 years ago

    uh-boy. We little people -not being able to see the forest for the Tree's- quibble & argue about really mundane issues while O' is soon to sign a TREATY that will override ALL ISSUES OF CONSITUTIONAL MATTER - including, and ESPECIALLY our 2nd Amend. Once that Treaty is signed, all this bickering - mundane. MUNDANE!! 'Cause "importing" ANYTHING related to firearms -including Ammo & their components- WILL SOON BEGIN TO SHUT DOWN ON US via the U.N. Security Council (which O' is a part of, by the way. uh! Shocked TWICE?!)

    BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR: u'll be quibbling about which part to THROW at a criminal instead, cause the U.N. will have redendered ALL GUNS TO SIMPLE JUNK!! CAN YA HANDLE IT, BOYS?! Hello?!!

    ...the silence is deafening.

  • Jarhead1982 5 years ago

    We all see Blaade has been drinking from the Obamalamadingdong government prescribe Prozac Koolaid dosage to excess.

    We also see how all them bans are soooooooooo INEFFECTIVE at stopping anything, ROTFLMFAO!

    So what is your next fantasy blog about Blaade as you apparently arent much of a fiction writer!

  • Melody 5 years ago

    I appreciate your willingness to write from a place of belief and to 'stick to your guns' (pun intended). I also applaud your respect for Mr Cramer despite your disagreement.

  • Kevin Wilmeth - Anchorage Libertarian Examiner 5 years ago

    John, I suspect "FrankInFL" meant "CC" as "Clayton Cramer", not "concealed carry".

    And if that is true, I most heartily disagree with the slack-cutting, for the same reasons that prompted me to comment in the previous article. It's not even about the bigotry issue, although I'm still insulted by Cramer's assumption that, because I am a "gunnie", I would somehow implicitly understand and agree with an inherently homophobic analogy. (Not hardly, buddy. That ain't how liberty rolls.)

    The issue IS, in fact, division--and Cramer is the one selling it. Legitimizing a divisive issue by retreating from principle ("hide your shame!") is simply not acceptable. If there is any hope of us getting out of this peaceably, we MUST be better men than this.

    John, keep up the good flashlight work. The need for it is not going to go away.

  • David Gross 5 years ago


    I wonder what Clayton Cramer would think of the picnic at the Lake Harriet Bandstand, then. Not only fun, but educational for the public passersby: most remarkable for its lack of any real remarkability. That's the point.

    I see both "sides" in the discussion and believe that normalizing the sight of Openly Carried firearms will help to regain lost ground in terms of the social politics of the Second Amendment. Minnesota's law was designed to blunt the criticism of the Goldilocks Antis who claimed that concealed carry was a "scary" hidden danger and that open carry is repugnant and just plain "scary." To the Goldilocks set only no carry is "just right."

    What I found most remarkable about the Presidential Visit carry was the Mainstream Media's attempt to hide the fact that the open carrier was African-American, and, therefore, making a double-barreled statement as to Civil Rights and Liberty for all Americans of whatever characteristic is used to try to divide them.