Is that a gun on your hip or are you just happy to see me?

22 Aug

As an open carrier I have found that there are tangible benefits to the practice that transcend simple self defense measures.  Open carrying of firearms, where legally permissible, offers an opportunity to change perceptions and politics.  Of course, like many things, this is a double edged proposition.

I have been openly carrying in Pennsylvania since about 2005.   Mostly in Pittsburgh but also throughout the state when I travel.  Actually, to any state that it is legal to OC in, I do.  But back to PA for now.  In the Commonwealth it is legal to open carry on foot without a license or permit in every municipality except for Philadelphia.  You need a PA License to Carry a Firearm or a CCW from another state with reciprocity. 

Over the years I have been subject to a great deal of police officers trying to assert dominance over me, by pressuring me to forfeit not only my 2nd Amendment rights but also my 4th and even my 5th.  I would be threatened with jail if I did not give them my identification even though they had no reasonable articulable suspicion of any crime.  Since OC is legal in Pennsylvania I was committing no crime and was under no obligation to show any jack booted thug “my papers”.

I even got brought up on an unenforceable Pittsburgh law that was unenforceable due to pre-emption just because standing up for my rights infuriated a few officers on a power trip.  The result of which can be read here.  

I had a bunch of interactions with the police like that over the years, but over time, by standing my ground, being seen regularly by the public, and threatening to file lawsuits when my civil rights were in danger of being violated, they have decreased and it has been a few years since I have been confronted by the police.  Now, this doesn’t mean that some gun-control zealot isn’t going to call 911 and make up a story about a guy with a gun waving it around in the open (that happened once, I was drinking tea), but nowadays a cruiser may roll by, make sure amok isn’t being run and continue on their way.

I don’t mean to take full credit for this, a great number of people throughout the state, who had greater civil rights violations against them and who had harsher thuggery laid upon them all contributed to the eventual update to the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission book.

Now, outside of some hold outs in Philadelphia who believe that by hassling OCers they will stop OCing, the police have been made aware of the legality and have handled themselves well in relation to my legal rights to Open Carry.

But beyond the police, I often get approached by people who have been so brainwashed by the liberal media and the gun-control zealots that they are mystified by the idea that carrying a gun is legal, let alone to do so openly without a license.  I enjoy these encounters because it offers me the opportunity to throw a little education at them and encourage them to purchase a firearm and take control of the defense of their own lives.

To add a little more personal touch to this, I went to the University of Pittsburgh and I had a great deal of, if not gun control zealots, friends who didn’t understand the need for me to carry a firearm.  But after time, as we went out and lived our lives the firearm on my hip just became another bit of life.  Nothing scary about it, nothing intimidating, the fear that had been bred into them by years of liberal indoctrination slowly seeped away.  I wasn’t doing anything actively to open their minds, just the fact that someone they knew, who wasn’t a criminal, was armed made the idea of people being armed an ok thing.  I of course took them to the firing range and squeezed off some rounds thus making them converts, with a few buying their own firearms soon after.

But that is what Open Carry does.  It allows for the opening of minds by people who have been fed the same line of BS for years that only cops and criminals have guns.  If you never see anyone else with a firearm then why would you think that that isn’t the case?

Of course, there is the flip side.  I spoke of a very passive approach to OC that doesn’t shove it in anyones face.  Sometimes when you push your advantage you end up shooting yourself in the foot; I’m looking at you California.  Time was, I could visit California and openly carry my firearm.  Of course, Cali being Cali, I had to do so unloaded but it was still better than nothing because I could still have the magazine at hand to load quickly if necessary.

But a group in California decided to push it.  When Starbucks corporate HQ stated that their chains would follow state law and would not ban openly carried firearms in their stores the gun control zealots protested.  Instead of just going about their business as usually and enjoying Starbucks coffee the OCer’s of California started counter protesting and rallying in groups to go to Starbucks while OCing. 

To be honest, I’m behind them on that…if it was somewhere other than California.  I mean, you’re not even close to having the backing in the legislature (or even the gun community) to rub the zealots’ nose in something and not get retribution from it.  Because of these counter protests the legislature moved to ban open carry of handguns in the state, it passed overwhelming and Gov. Brown signed it.  Now, when I come to California I cannot carry at all…unless I want to open carry a shotgun around all day…which I don’t.

Here’s hoping for National Reciprocity (until we get Universal Constitutional Carry)

My point is that Open Carrying is a great way to slowly and in small steps make a community and eventually a state better accept an armed public.  But when you jump the shark and try to shove it down California’s throat you get it regurgitated back onto you.

Now, maybe the idea is to get all forms of non licensed carry banned to make a better case for the infringement of the 2nd Amendment before the Supreme Court, that may be the case…but until then I can’t OC in Cali…and I am none too pleased.  Like I said, I am all for OC and despite what some in the gun community may say, it’s not going to “ruin it for us all”. 

But sometimes, slow and steady wins the race.  Aren’t turtles protected in California?



Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


7 responses to “Is that a gun on your hip or are you just happy to see me?

  1. Justin

    August 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Excellent piece, and several valid points as to why we should OC more within the firearm owning community. Unfortunately national CCW reciprocity will never become law. Obama will win another term and veto it, Romney most likely would do the same. Nevertheless, OC when you can and be responsible, dress well, and help change public opinion!

  2. gunowners

    August 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Justin, I hope you’re wrong on the National CCW thing…not saying you are but i feel that it would be the step in the right direction to acknowledged universal constitutional carry.

    But as you say, until then, continue to open carry when you can. Changing hearts and minds, one poor misguided gun-control soul at a time!

  3. Marc

    August 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Obama’s 2nd term is far from a done deal. You can’t believe ANY of these polls… just look at 2010 or better yet, Wisconsin recall election…. it was a toss up in the polls, most had him losing… yet he won in a landslide.

    And I don’t agree that Romney would veto it. I think Romney is going to surprise alot of people with just how conservative he turns out to be. He had to get elected in MA… he couldn’t do that being a die hard conservative, with a platform and environment that allows it, I think he’s going to do well and prove alot of people wrong.

  4. Mark

    August 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I enjoy open carry here in Wyoming, where we are more open to the idea, at times I get strange looks from people I can only assume are from out of state. I even experienced a young mother tell her young son to never be like him……pointing at me…. yes I had my pistol in full view. I have yet to pull it in defense of myself or family, or to threaten or bully anyone with it. It has never harmed anyone, and hopefully the need for it is to practice at the range.

    • gunowners

      August 22, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      I was recently in Cheyenne for Frontier Days and OC’d without any issue. It was a fun time too. And you’re right Mark, its probably out of staters. When I’m in eastern PA the new jersey and new york tourists sometimes get all huffy. But in other cases they are really receptive to the idea of you know…freedom.

      Hearts and minds my friends…hearts and minds.

  5. Clifford Joe Cordell

    August 24, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Thanks for this post. I am going to share this with my wife because she is uneasy about me OC’ing here in Wisconsin. She is always worried about others getting upset over it. I am used to being stared at since I migrated to Wisconsin from Texas. People are not used to seeing someone different and some are not taught, as I was by my mother, that it is rude to stare at someone.

    OC’ing in church is welcomed by our pastor, his wife, and many of our other members; however, there apparently are some who did not like it. I was helping a little old lady carry some items to her car after service a few Sundays ago and she made mention to me that, initially, she did not approve of my OC’ing, especially in church. Then she said that in light of the recent temple shooting spree down in Milwaukee, just a week or so earlier, that she was reformed and very much in favor of my OC policy. One person’s mindset successfully changed without having to speak a word.

    On a side note, my CCW friends and church members are all in favor of me OC’ing as they believe it will extend their life expectancy in the case that someone does try to shoot up the church since I will be their first target. I simply told them that it would be my honor if it means that my family and more of them survive.

  6. RKBA

    August 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    People always talk about thinking outside the box; but you’re someone who is acting outside the box.

    I salute you.


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