Solving the Open Carry Protest Dispute

By Jeff Knox

Shooters Grill Girls
If every Open Carry Demonstrator looked like these young women we would not even be having this conversation.

Buckeye, AZ –-( The announcement by Target Corporation that, while they are going to continue their practice of respecting local firearm laws, they “respectfully request” that customers not bring firearms into their stores, has brought to a head a long-brewing conflict within the firearm rights community.

That issue is the use of open carry of firearms as a form of political protest.

Some folks just oppose open carry in any context. Their reasons may be tactical, i.e. being an obvious target, or they may dislike potentially making others uncomfortable. Some oppose it only in the context of political protest. Some are okay with open carry of handguns, but adamantly oppose open carry of long guns under any circumstances.

Even those who see open carry, whether long guns or handguns, as a valid form of protest are divided. Some think the only appropriate place for “political open carry” is in organized marches and rallies on public property intended to raise awareness of the issue. Others insist that marches and rallies just scare people and that routine open carry, including long guns, should just be part of life to get people used to seeing it and accustomed to the idea that a gun doesn’t make a person a threat. Yet another camp defends the right of property owners to bar people who are visibly carrying.

And, naturally most of us are particularly disturbed when we see apparent safety violations being committed by protesters carrying long guns.

The already-complex stew is made even more complicated by the fact that a Texas law dating from Reconstruction prohibits open carry of handguns. The Lone Star State has been the focus of much of the controversy lately as protesters work to get the old law reformed.

The complexity of the issue has led to a lack of unity among the rights movement. The volume and tone of much of the criticism has been deafening. It seems that a brigade of armchair quarterbacks has decided to keep their skills honed in the off-season by bashing open carry protesters. What’s worse, they are basing their critiques and corrections exclusively on photographs and short video clips that only capture momentary glimpses of what’s really going on, and which are often put out by anti-gun activists looking not only for carry prohibitions, but to ban the guns themselves. (Editors Note: As well as divide our ranks.)

There’s no question that some people have said and done things under the banner of open carry advocacy that have been unhelpful and sometimes detrimental to their own side. A very few seem to just enjoy stirring the pot and doing something shocking that they heard about on the Internet. They are what the online community calls “trolls.” Characterizing the entire open carry movement based on the actions of a few trolls is just as wrong-headed as judging all gun owners based on the actions of a few criminals – or anti-rights propaganda pieces designed to put open carriers in a bad light.

I’ve been giving this issue some serious thought, and I think I’ve devised a solution for the problem of the gun rights movement being portrayed as a bunch of hairy, unkempt, irresponsible, young men with bad attitudes.

The solution is for well-groomed, nicely dressed, responsible men and women to join them – in droves.

The focus right now is on Texas and the ban on legally carried, visible handguns that the Yankee carpetbagger government instituted following the First War for Southern Independence, so let’s stay in that sandbox.

Rather than sitting behind our keyboards ridiculing Texas open carry advocates, it’s time for gun owners and lovers of liberty to stand with them and push for the long-overdue repeal of the 1871 ban on open carry. Those in Texas need to get connected with groups like Open Carry Texas and Texas Carry to find out what’s going on and how to get involved – especially by attending rallies and events – well dressed and groomed, of course..

The Texas State Rifle Association needs to get off the sidelines and out of the criticism business and step up to their responsibility to be leaders in this fight. TSRA members should be lobbying their leadership to make that move. Whenever there is a rally or march or meet-up, there should be hundreds or thousands of carry supporters in attendance. And those supporters need not be carrying a gun – or even be gun owners – but those who are comfortable doing so should, and should set an example of how a model citizen and responsible gun owner looks and behaves.

Keyboard critics around the country need to shift their focus away from what Texas protesters are doing wrong and focus on what they are, could, and should be doing right. The critics should also be using whatever influence they wield to encourage responsible gun owners to participate and demonstrate tactics and approaches that will advance the cause.

In any movement, there are always some socially challenged individuals who want to go too far, argue too loudly, or who have an aversion to bathing. In a demonstration of 20 people, a couple of these problem kids really stand out and are magnets for the media. But add 100 upstanding, responsible, respectable, respectful people to the event (as most gun owners, and most of the people currently engaging in open carry protests are), and suddenly the few problem kids fade into the background.

As I told my newsletter subscribers, it’s time for more of us old guys to get out of our BarcaLoungers and get in the fight. It’s time for more homemakers to get out of the house and more competitive shooters to come off the range. Democracy is not a spectator sport and it’s too important to be left only to the young and energetic. Some of us were the young Turks a few years ago being guided and mentored by the older, more experienced folks, now it’s our turn to be the village elders.

We all need to do our part – and sitting back throwing rocks isn’t it

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit:

  • 11 thoughts on “Solving the Open Carry Protest Dispute

    1. We don’t allow open carry in FL but we go to the extreme beyond TX we don’t allow ANY open carry be it long or pistol. Of course we do allow reciprocity for CCW with almost every state that has such a law. Would love to be given the opportunity to carry open again. Since spending many years in law enforcement always with atleast one weapon in open carry mode I miss having the ability to see my weapon without moving a layer of clothes around. Although I am not sure I would go as far as below the hip as the brunette is I sure would carry on the hip. Now we need to get Tallahassee to agree and that simply isn’t going to happen any time soon. Dr D

    2. Good thing they aren’t in TX, where, as the article pointed out, open carry of handguns has been illegal since the Civil War. Down here, all 4 of these ladies would have been legally arrested on sight, no matter where their hands or index fingers were.

      The big debate/disagreement (currently) with open carry, is going on mostly in TX, because the advocates of OC down here have to carry long guns (or antiques) if they want to make a point of carrying in public and stay within the law. I’m not aware of any other states with this ridiculous restriction. However, most of the opposition to the OC movement in TX has been coming from people in other states, who may not realize this. In any case, I agree with the authors of this article that we all need to hang together (or, as old Ben said, “We will surely hang separately”) on this issue. It would also be wise to look up Mr. Weingarten’s July 10th article in Ammoland, which both exposes the propaganda style photos published by the MDA types, and points out how effective the OC movement has actually been in TX so far. The “bad press” from MDA etc, has not actually caused any problems for the movement here, and his article makes this very clear.

      1. They would not be arrested in Texas. They can carry on private property as long as the owner or person in charge says it is OK.

    3. @Jack, You obviously haven’t been paying attention to the publications. These ladies are the owner and three employees of a restaurant in a town called Rifle (which I believe is either in Colorado or Oklahoma, I don’t recall which. At any rate, open carry is legal in their jurisdiction). The story ran a few days ago and it outlines that these ladies are pro-gun, obvious to even the thickest head among us, and they are not involved in ANY “open carry” advocacy groups. At least not that was pointed out by the article. They carry while at work and encourage their patrons, that wish to do so, to do the same. So, before you go about showing the general population your lack of investigative skills, you may want to just do a quick search before letting your fingers fly across the keyboard. Oh, and case in point, your comments are exactly what the author of this piece is writing about. Excellent job on adding credence to his argument.

    4. Jack,these hard bodies are just putting emphasis to the handguns on their hips.It’s just a publicity photo for OC. Index fingers are perfect. I would rather see them like this than having their arms crossed with some stupid serious game face on ! Or they could be practicing their quick draw !

    5. The picture of the four lovely ladies is a nice try but no cigar. Posing with your hand on your gun is not a good open carry move. In addition to being well groomed those participating should learn how to safely carry without giving the impression they are about to draw on you if you give any indication that you don’t like what you are doing.

    6. TN,yep,you’re a real expert in human behavior and OP aint you ? I’m 100% for OC,I just prefer to carry concealed is all.It dont have shit to do with your ‘obvious target’ nonsense !

    7. “Some folks just oppose open carry in any context. Their reasons may be tactical, i.e. being an obvious target,”

      There are two types of people who use this argument for their opposition to open carry, those who make their living by selling concealed carry training and those without brains (many times one in the same). Every time this argument is presented it is challenged by asking for one example of it happening. Of course since it has never happened, the concealed carry only bigot (a greater danger to gun rights than gun grabbers) devolve into raving lunatics.

    8. Open carry will finally be coming to Texas first part of ’15 ! I will still carry concealed though ! In my mind I dont want to advertise I’m packing !

      1. Jan. 1, 2016. TX DPS requested a delay until then. They have to get new training manuals and videos ready for the police.

    Leave a Comment 11 Comments

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *