Why the government should be fine with Open Carry

September 17th, 2013, my town’s (Castle Rock, Colorado) council debated removing a local ordinance which prohibits open carry in most publicly-owned places.  The local ordinance has been on the books since 2003.  There may be video of the hearing on the internet somewhere.  Here’s the ordinance itself:

9.04.165 Open carry of firearms.

It is unlawful for any person, except law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties, to
openly carry a firearm in any Town-owned or -operated building, or on any Town-owned or -operated
park, recreation area or property upon which the Town Manager has directed to be posted a
notification that the carrying of firearms is prohibited. (Ord. 2003-41 §1, 2003)

If you want to look it up, here’s the link.

Several of us tried to make the case for repealing this ordinance, and so far it looks like we failed.  But since I hadn’t planned on speaking during the public hearing, I’m using this as my outlet to get my thoughts down.

Along the way, we heard several insane arguments about how allowing open carry in town buildings and parks would cause mass chaos and total hysteria.  During the meeting, we weren’t allowed rebuttals.  But on my blog, I can say absolutely anything I want.  🙂

  • (actually said by a town councilman) “If a citizen is upset with his water bill and open carries into the town water department, there’s going to be a conflict.”

This was clearly one of the more insane arguments of the evening.  It’s not based on fact, only on this strange hatred of guns themselves (hoplophobia is the irrational fear of guns).  According to the Castle Rock Chief of Police (who I got a lot of respect for during this process for fairly presenting the case), a neighboring city (Parker) which has no restrictions on open carry in public places, has had ZERO incidents.  Ever.  Apparently you missed that, Councilman.

Every single time a state argues for fewer restrictions on guns, the Controllists come out in droves to make the point that there will be shootouts in the Walmart parking lot (or, in fairness, actually more shootouts in the Walmart parking lot than there are now).  Yet every single time, the crime rate FALLS.  Interesting.  Next point – menacing, as defined in the Colorado Revised Statues says this:

18-3-206. Menacing

(1) A person commits the crime of menacing if, by any threat or physical action, he or she knowingly places or attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Menacing is a class 3 misdemeanor, but, it is a class 5 felony if committed:

(a) By the use of a deadly weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to cause a person to reasonably believe that the article is a deadly weapon; or

(b) By the person representing verbally or otherwise that he or she is armed with a deadly weapon.

Guess what: if I walk into the water department to argue a bill (not a crime), but I start gesturing with my firearm or toward my firearm in a manner to cause fear or alarm (which is what the Councilman implied), do you think that’s menacing (is a crime)?  It sure seems so to me!  Menacing is a crime, even if I don’t have my firearm… or even if I’m concealed carrying.  If I waive my fist in your face to put you in “fear of imminent serious bodily injury,” guess what – that’s menacing.  Should we also remove everyone’s hands so that they can’t ever commit menacing?  Actually, I’m sure I could menace with my feet, too.  Nevermind.

If someone goes crazy and starts threatening physical harm to another, here’s a tip: call the cops.  If they have a gun, here’s what you do: call the cops.  I don’t want to deal with crazy people any more than you do.  That’s why we have the police – let them deal with it.  They’re trained for this, they’re professionals, and I trust them.  Maybe you should too.

  • Speaking of the police, here’s another argument we heard “If anyone was here open carrying tonight, I’d be too intimidated to speak and I’d leave.”

The word “anyone” is a funny thing.

After hearing this one, my friend Marc and I immediately looked around the room to count the police officers that were open carrying.  I counted six.  SIX PEOPLE ARE OPEN CARRYING HERE ALREADY, you moron.  So clearly it’s not about the guns themselves.  You’ve made a decision to exclude police officers from your argument.  Why?

My guess is that there are plenty of half-brained people around that DO get freaked out when they see a police officer open carrying his firearm.  Are you trying to group yourself in with those people?  If so, congratulations.

But lets look at this a little more deeply.  On some level, I can understand being terrified of the gun itself.  I hate snakes.  But this “I’m only afraid of snakes on Wednesdays and Fridays” makes no sense.  Let’s dig even deeper.

The perception, rightfully so, is that law enforcement are much more highly trained than your average citizen.  And they are… for what they do.  But the training that makes a cop a cop goes WAY above-and-beyond your pure “gun skills.”  In fact, just looking at the tools a police officer carries, most cops will tell you that the most important single tool they carry is NOT a gun!  The radio is FAR more useful and far more effective at saving lives.  Knowing you have backup around the corner makes what they do reasonable – they wouldn’t put themselves in harm’s way without that backup.

But back to the gun skills.  I have some law enforcement friends that go shooting ALL THE TIME.  They’ve had a zillion hours of formal training.  If you’re going to get into a shoot-out, trust me, you’d want them on your side.  But I also know of some in the law enforcement community who are what I’d call “significantly lacking” in the gun skills department.  That doesn’t mean they’re bad cops – many cops will go their entire career and never pull their firearm a single time.  But shooting a 225-out-of-300 every 6 months (or whatever the re-qual schedule is these days) is all that’s needed to stay current… and I know plenty of underage shooters and brand-spanking-new shooters who I can spend an hour with and get them to a higher proficiency than that.

The difference is the training.  Where I’d like to focus this conversation is that many of us civilians are VERY concerned about about our responsibility to the community.  THAT is why we keep taking new classes, we keep studying, we practice, and we’re constantly learning.  You’ve heard me say this many times, but with great freedom comes great responsibility.  So please don’t assume that just because I don’t wear a badge and a uniform, that I don’t take my responsibility seriously – and I think many of the Controllists miss that entirely.  I take my firearms responsibility deadly serious – and so should you.

It’s your right.

  • “Justice Scalia himself says there are reasonable restrictions to the 2nd Amendment and that not everyone can just carry a gun wherever they want.”

We hear this argument a lot.  But hear me now: Justice Scalia was referring to felons and the mentally ill.  Justice Scalia also said that “arms” mean (paraphrasing) “anything carry-able by a single person.”  So the 2nd Amendment applies to all firearms that I can personally carry myself.  So a belt-fed crew-served machine gun is out, so is a M1A1 Abrams tank.  But that also means that I should be able to go into Walmart and purchase a suppressor for my AR-15, or a select-fire AR-15 (which has a full-auto mode, in case you didn’t know).  That means that the National Firearms Act and all the related laws are openly unconstitutional.  So if you want to start quoting Justice Scalia and which firearms laws are constitutional or not, bring it on.  Hint: you won’t win that one.

  • “My kids will just be so terrified, we won’t know what to do.”

Well then maybe it’s time that you teach your kids a thing or two about guns, don’t you think?  Sounds like a parenting issue, not a public safety issue.

  • “How will I be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys?”

Hmm… let’s start here: if they’re trying to hurt you, they’re probably not good guys.  If they’re walking the dog, they’re probably not bad guys.  And here’s an interesting tidbit: can we all agree that if you’re open-carrying a firearm that you’re likely to draw attention to yourself?  If you were a bad guy, would you want that kind of attention?

We now know that when right-to-carry laws are passed in a state, violent crime drops.  Concealed Handgun Permit (or ccw or chl or cpl) holders are significantly less likely to commit a crime than the general population.  From “Control: Exposing the Truth About Guns:” (p. 91)

“A lot of sophisticated studies have been done on this topic and they virtually all reached the same conclusion: violent crime falls after right-to-carry laws are adopted, with bigger drops the longer the right-to-carry laws are in effect.

While there is tons of evidence to support this conclusion, some of the most interesting is produced when you compare change in crime rates in adjacent counties on opposite sides of state borders.  In general, the county in the state that adopts a right-to-carry law sees a drop in violent crime, while the adjacent county in the state without the right-to-carry law sees a slight increase.

The evidence that right-to-carry laws work is so persuasive that someone attempting to identify some other factor that’s responsible for the results would have to answer these questions:

    • Why does the impact of this new factor increase over time?
    • Why is this new factor so well correlated with the rate at which right-to-carry permits are issued in different states?
    • Why would this new factor have a greater impact on violent crime relative to property crime and on individual murders relative to mass (multiple-victim) public homicides?
    • Why does this new factor affect adjacent counties on opposite sides of state borders differently?”

But it’s also reasonable to conclude that an open-carrier is a good guy.  THIS is already a crime:

Yee haw!

Actually, that reminds me of this video.

OTHER

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of open carrying, personally.  I wrote an entire blog post on that exact topic.  The difference is that I make decisions about what’s best for my life – the GOVERNMENT makes decisions for each of us!  There’s all sorts of things that I disagree with:

  • Motorcycles.  I’ve solved the “Motorcycle = Death” equation.
  • Small gum.  If your gum is 1/3 the size of normal gum, I hate you.  Grow up and make your gum the normal size again.
  • 2-door SUVs (here and here).  For all those people who want to appear larger, but clearly don’t have any friends.  Perfect!
  • Joe Biden.
  • Black widow spiders.  We had 5 at our house a few years back.  We also had this guy recently, which I took care of with half a can of RAID (this is him deader than dead… and trust me, he’s bigger than he looks): wolf_spider
  • Tattoos on your face.  I’m not a tattoo guy at all, but this show is making me feel a little differently.  But on your face?  Really, Mike Tyson?
  • The Wiggles.
  • T-ball coaches who teach baseball fundamentals by having water balloon fights.
  • Mushrooms.  Nothing that squishy (and yet chewy) should be edible.  So I’m fine assuming they’re all poisonous.

But as an individual, I have no ability to stop other people from doing what they’re constitutionally protected to do – even if I think it’s disturbing.  The government on the other hand…

That’s why the default setting for any governing body MUST BE LIBERTY.  There is no constitutional right to NOT be offended!  THIS is disgusting:

Sexy!

But as offensive as those might be, you can’t outlaw stupid.  You have no right to outlaw purple hair and Hawaiian shirts.  Put on your big-boy pants and get back to work.  I can’t use the power of the government to suppress a minority group for being “offensive.”  Take a look at the Bill of Rights sometime.  They’re predicated on protecting the minority from the majority, and especially, from the government itself.  Think about that when you re-read the Bill of Rights.

OTHER, Part 2

This perception of safety is a funny thing.  One of the women who spoke said “My house overlooks the park and I spend 10 hours a day looking out at the people in the park and I just have no idea what I’d do if I saw one of them with an assault rifle.”  You know those moments when you wish you could duct tape your head together to keep it from exploding?  Well she’s living in perception, not reality.  The real questions she should have been asking are a) how can I get a job like the rest of you and b) of all those “normal” people in the park, how many were carrying a concealed weapon?  And yet the people themselves were exactly the same – they weren’t messing with you, they weren’t acting in a manner to cause fear or anxiety, and yet you perceive them differently than you would if the exact same person in the exact same situation were open carrying.  Funny, don’t you think?

In a society so focused on diversity and understanding, maybe we should examine what those words actually mean.

(sorry, I just love that movie – and posting the same video clip twice in one blog post seems perfectly reasonable to me)

The government has no right to ban something they disagree with on a personal level.  The default MUST be liberty!

Carry on, Colorado!

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8 comments on “Why the government should be fine with Open Carry

  1. Sam says:

    Found out about this after the fact from Marc. Would loved to have been there. The trick about the no rebuttals Jeff is to delay signing up to speak for as long as possible. That way, even if you are not the last, all of the over used arguments will come out. With a correctly worded response you can make those who have gone before you and those who come after you that say the same thing look like fools- including the council members. Been there done that- it works.

    I plan on being at the next one notepad in hand hopefully speaking near the end.

    Everything you say is true, but you are not only dealing with controllists, but regular people who’ve had the irrational fear put into them by the media. Some of this can be overcome with facts, but more effective is to shame them into realizing they are being led by their emotions because they have been “influenced” to act that way, and for those worried about the kids to point out they are negatively influencing their kids in the same way (can be done politely).

    Lots of ways to respond, but the best is to have a strong turnout and use the controllists tactics. Divide up the topics and have people sign up and speak in a specific order. Have your best, “off the cuff” speakers sign up to speak last. They can refute trash thrown out by the council members too.

    If you’d like help setting something like that up, Marc can give you my contact info.

    Sam

  2. Marc says:

    Hi Jeff, Everything you write seems to be very informed and well thought out. Just a point about someone walking into the water office with an open carry to contest a water bill and the council man’s opinion that it would cause conflict. Conflict might well be the wrong word but I could see how it could cause concern: Like gun point diplomacy.If you are on a nudist beach a guy/woman approached by a man who is aroused would probably not be as troubled as someone in an office/public place or even your home. The man might innocently not mean anything by it but the person seeing it would be put in a state of doubt unless they were actively seeking that kind of attention which would depend on the situation they placed themselves into and whether they encouraged such actions. It would just seemed better that the man had better intentions with concealing his weapon so as not to place the person dealing with his complaint in a state of fear. I think we are always judging others and their motivations and are affected by their appearance and actions.

    I’m from the UK and try to follow the gun debate as the different opinions (not emotionally exploitative ones) are interesting to understand the differences between cultures.

    Marc

  3. […] current ordinance which prohibits the open carry of firearms in town buildings and parks.  See Part 1 in this series for more information.  Both meetings will be held at 100 Wilcox St, Castle Rock, […]

  4. […] the existing open carry prohibition.  Here is the text of the proposed ordinance, my thoughts in Part 1, Part 2, and Part […]

  5. […]  Here is just such an opportunity.  To read some of my thoughts on this issue, click here, here, here, here, here, and […]

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