We haven’t written much about the open-carry protests in Texas, in which pro-gun activists carried rifles into retail establishments in order to make a point about gun rights in one of the most pro-gun states in the union. The effort ended up backfiring, as two retailers — Jack In The Box and Chipotle’s — ended up having to make explicit rules banning firearms from their establishments. Last Friday, the NRA appealed to common sense in asking activists to ool-it-kay with the arry-kay and quit frightening people who might otherwise be sympathetic to the cause:
The second example comes to us from the Lone Star State, which is second to none for its robust gun culture. We applaud Texans for that, but a small number have recently crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness.
Now we love AR-15s and AKs as much as anybody, and we know that these sorts of semiautomatic carbines are among the most popular, fastest selling firearms in America today. Texas, independent-minded and liberty-loving place that it is, doesn’t ban the carrying of loaded long guns in public, nor does it require a permit for this activity. Yet some so-called firearm advocates seem determined to change this.
Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places.
Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.
Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.
As a result of these hijinx, two popular fast food outlets have recently requested patrons to keep guns off the premises (more information can be found here and here). In other words, the freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior. To state the obvious, that’s counterproductive for the gun owning community.
More to the point, it’s just not neighborly, which is out of character for the big-hearted residents of Texas. Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners. That’s not the Texas way. And that’s certainly not the NRA way.
The activist group involved in these protests, Open Carry Texas, isn’t exactly convinced by the argument:
It’s a little unclear exactly what point OCT had in staging these demonstrations at retailers who either supported or at least tolerated firearms on their premises. The protests made them a target for anti-gun activists, and raised their profile to the point where they had little choice but to respond. Whatever one thinks of carry issues, few dispute that private-property owners have at least some legitimate rights in setting conditions for service and access. and these protests made it significantly more difficult for common-sense gun owners to do so in these establishments for no real clear purpose … other than gaining attention.
John Ekdahl warned about this last September at AoSHQ, when a similar demonstration convinced Starbucks to change its policy on access:
Gun rights activists started “Starbucks Appreciation Day“, which encouraged people to open carry in stores where the law allowed. Frankly, I think this is where it started to go off the rails. Gun rights is an issue we’re winning pretty comfortably. The left seeks to paint gun rights supporters as “gun nuts” and nothing helps their case more than pulling stunts like this.
Now tell me, what was the point of that? Any CCW class, or NRA gun safety program you take will relentlessly preach the importance of responsibility. There are few things more irresponsible as a gun owner than bringing a rifle to a business with the express purpose of creating an argument or altercation, all for the glory of your YouTube channel.
Apparently, Starbucks didn’t want to continue to have their stores be ground zero for a political debate. You know what? They are completely within their rights to make this call as a private business. …
Notice, this is not a ban. It’s a polite request they are asking customers to honor (It’s a little unclear as to whether this applies to just open carry or concealed as well). Some are claiming he just buckled to liberal pressure and he’s lying through his teeth. I’m willing to take him at his word, because I assume the company just wanted to sell coffee without the endless headaches that go along with people making a spectacle of the previous policy.
Like John, I fully support must-issue carry laws, including open carry as a means to defend one’s self. As readers know, I have a carry permit myself. It’s important to defend those legal rights, but it’s even more important to do so intelligently, in a way that extends sympathy to the cause rather than fear of law-abiding gun owners and their motives. The NRA has offered good advice in this case, and hopefully activists will give it due consideration before they convince even more public businesses to ban firearms altogether in their locations.