Don’t take your guns to town:: A few thoughts on Open Carry

January 1st, 2016, Open Carry is the law of the land, here in Texas, and I can go about my day in town, displaying my firearm of choice (legally acquired, of course, for I am a law-abiding citizen, naturally), should I wish to do so. Or, were I a college student, living in a dormitory, I’ll now be able to have a gun in my room (again, legally acquired, because I am still a law-abiding citizen), to keep me safe. I’ll be able to do these things, and a few others, because the new law says that I can – that my Second Amendment rights as a citizen will be honored, and to a degree, extended.

But to what real benefit? That’s the question here – what true positive benefit does the new law really provide? Aside from the obvious – appeasement of enthusiasts and the enrichment of the National Rifle Association, what benefits are there, for the average citizen?

Let me be clear here: regardless of my own personal thoughts or feelings towards guns (to summarize: can shoot, have hunted, owned several once, no longer own, and not terribly interested), I’ve given this particular question a good bit of thought, and turning over, until finally arriving at the following conclusion:

Unless you’re in the firearms industry (gunsmithing, selling, or something directly related), or Wayne LaPierre (CEO of the National Rifle Association), the greatest positive gain of the impending Open Carry law will be…zero.

Allow me to expand on this some:

  • One point often raised in conjunction with firearms (owning, using, etc) is security. I get that. I really do. However, Open Carry won’t really address that any of those concerns or issues. One could argue that being able to openly carry a firearm would instill a greater sense of security – you’re simultaneously advertising your own ability to defend, while assuaging your own fears regarding being perceived as defenseless. That’s good, right? Not really, as really, this merely avoids the underlying cause for feelings of insecurity, and applying a very dangerous bandage over it (akin to addressing a worrying rash by amputating the affected limb). If anything, I can foresee Open Carry actually increasing the security problems, and complicating them. Now, when (and note that I say when, not if. This is 21st century America here, and we’re discussing the issues around guns – it’s always when, and not if.) a shooting occurs, law enforcement has the unenviable additional task of trying to assess the situation accurately, due to the increase of armed people in the situation.come and take it

As a citizen, well – your job just got harder, too. See a strange looking person with a gun, walking down the street? You won’t even be able to call it in because, hey, Open Carry.

  • If you think racial tension is bad now…just wait. Think of all the stories you’ve read, seen, or heard this year, and then tell me how Open Carry would not serve to inflame those tensions. If police can shoot a twelve year old boy “armed” with a pellet gun (and be cleared of all charges), just imagine what will happen with legally armed African American citizens, openly carrying as allowed by law.

Because, you see, despite whatever paranoid fantasies harbored by those of a more racist leaning, the Constitution (and its Amendments) covers all citizens. In a world that seems bent on interpreting an armed non-white person as a criminal, it would seem that this law is inviting further tension and blowback.

  • The new law would allow, among other things, greater presence of firearms on college campuses, including the dormitories of college students. College students. Let that sink in a minute.

If you’ve been to college, take a moment to think of all the less than stellar choices you made during that time. Now, think about those decisions, and what came of them, and now, add guns into the equation. If you’ve been to college, you can do the math easily enough, and see what that will add up to.

Now, with all that expanded into perspective, ask yourself – do you need to carry a gun openly everywhere? Think for a moment, and be honest with yourself; do you absolutely need to?

Are you going to shoot it out with the server who brings you the wrong food, and forgets to refill your Dr. Pepper three times in a row? Duel it out with that bitch at the grocery store, because she got the last box of your favorite cereal? No, of course, not – those are the actions of people who should be filtered out by background checks, right? Why even bring this up? Well, I bring this up, in a joking way, for two reasons – one, to highlight the utter lack of necessity for this, and to then direct your thoughts here:

 

Speaking of filtering out…

So, the theory here with Open Carry is that this applies to legal owners (the law-abiding citizens), under an extended and broader view of the Second Amendment; fair enough, I suppose, but on the heels of that comes the following question:

How does one tell?

Simple visual verification hardly seems like a reliable method, or a good one, unless blatant profiling is to be a part of this new law’s execution. Assuming that it’s not, and that there’s no additional sorcery involved in how to distinguish the intent of armed people, this seems to imply the need for an increase in police, armed guards, and possibly even the National Guard, to be in place for proper checking and vetting.  This added expense of these people would just serve to divert more money and attention from the things that Texas as a whole needs (education reform, roadworks, healthcare) in order to pander to the wants of a select few. Is this really what we want?

 

Oh, what am I saying? Of course we do. This is Texas, the Lone Star state, and home of all things cowboy, and cowboy image. I suppose I should just be quiet, face facts, and let people live out their Wild West fantasy…

…the irony being, of course, that during the days of the Wild West, people didn’t all walk the streets, guns at the hip. While there were indeed no background checks for firearms, the lawmen of the day were (akin to their contemporary counterparts) were not keen on people shooting themselves or each other in the streets. If you came into town armed, you had to check your guns with the sheriff, or risk going to jail. Most people came to view this as more hassle than it was worth, especially for non-lethal things like buying a new hat, or going to church. So, mostly, in the name of expediency, they left them at home.  

So, unless going to the store really is a potentially lethal experience – don’t take your guns to town, folks. Leave your guns at home.
(Writer’s Note: But what of home defense? What of my rights to defend myself? I’m sure some of you reading this may be thinking that, or getting the idea that I am somehow against this. To this, I say – what of home defense, or self-defense? What of it? Never once in this will you see anything suggesting revocation of firearms, or denying defense of one’s home. However, the local grocery store is not your home, no matter how often you shop there. Leave your guns at home.)

Nathan Klayman