When I was growing up on a series of Marine Corps bases across the country, the phrase “man with a gun” was comforting, not scary. Yet as the anti-gun movement gradually took control of the public debate, it became not just frightening — especially to those who knew nothing about firearms — but a matter for instant police action. Today, with open-carry laws proliferating — Texas is about to adopt open carry — the sight of a civilian packing heat may be the New Normal. But what are the etiquette rules so we don’t frighten children, horses and the Pansy Left?
Jim Cooley says he just wanted to make a point when he brought his AR-15 assault-style rifle out in public. He went bigger than most so-called open-carriers, though, bringing his mean-looking weapon to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airfield in the world, to drop off his daughter.
Mr. Cooley was confronted several times by law enforcement, even though the Georgia legislature last year made it legal to carry properly licensed weapons at airports in the state. Cooley took affront to the attention, citing a common refrain among public-carry advocates: that he doesn’t need to account for other people’s feelings or fears when conducting lawful activity. He’s correct, and he was not arrested.
Yet for many travelers, some coming through on international flights, his act still felt threatening and, perhaps more important, given the lethal power at his disposal, irresponsible. The incident has brought to light an emerging dynamic that could affect the evolution of open carry in the United States: the role of tact, etiquette, and ethics for those who carry personal arsenals.
Here you have the basic leftist argument: they “felt threatened” even though, in fact and in law, no one was actually threatening them. But the Left has long dwelled in a fantasy world, in which all manners of terrors — except real terrors– lurk just beyond the precinct of their psychiatrist’s office.
Today, even as gun-free zones are shrinking, many gun owners maintain a strong sense that gains made on Second Amendment rights could be quickly lost. In that way, many open-carry advocates, especially, are attempting to make gun-carry policy politically palatable by changing what Americans think of as normal, à la gay marriage laws and legal marijuana.
“This is what lefties have done for decades, and it works,” writes University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds on his “Instapundit” blog.
“Maintain”? Hell, with the waning Obama administration ready for a new round of anti-gun edicts, we know. Which is why my friend Glenn Reynolds — the great Instapundit — is absolutely right. The Left takes to the streets at the drop of a hat in order to “demonstrate” on behalf of its various pet anti-American causes, and mayhem often ensues. Gun-rights people cannot afford mayhem, but if by carrying they assuage just one little lefty’s fears, then it will be worth it. Right, lefties? Isn’t this how you see the world:
Even inside the gun rights movement, the issue of open-carry decorum is looming larger, given high-profile incidents that paint at least some gun owners as unstable, paranoid, and just plain rude for introducing potential weapons of mass mayhem to Little League games and airport check-in counters… the complaint still reverberates for many gun owners, according to Second Amendment scholar Dave Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute in Denver.
“The people who open-carry and want it to be viewed as normal, which it obviously was for most of American history and is again, should do it by acting normal and not by being attention-[seekers],” Mr. Kopel says.
Be sure to read the whole thing, to see the other leftist excuses trotted out: that having a gun is an obsession of “older white and male” gun owners, who feel threatened by changing demographics. This is what we are dealing with — and this is what we are defeating.