Open Carry and Open Carry Activism, My Position

There are plenty of hot button issues in the U.S. Each one of them has at least two strongly polarized sides that are willing to fight to the death to win their position.

The open carry of firearms is one of those issues. That isn’t new to me, but I have been brutally reminded in the past 24 hours about how polarized, and how nasty, the fight can be.

Safety Solutions Academy has always been an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment. We support concealed carry, open carry, castle doctrine and stand your ground laws and would like to see all States move to Constitutional Carry. All of these important movements assist the law abiding citizen with either easier access to firearms, (which are an important tool for self-defense,) or an easier battle in the criminal and/or civil court systems should they need to use their defensive firearm.

When it comes to carrying a firearm I consistently recommend that my students carry their handguns lawfully concealed whenever possible unless they are in an environment where open carry is welcomed and superior in some way to carrying concealed.

One of the biggest reasons that I support open carry is that it allows those who have an immediate need to carry a handgun for self-defense and do not possess a concealed carry permit a way to carry RIGHT NOW. In addition, open carry laws help to protect Concealed Carry Permit holders when they inadvertently fail to conceal their handgun. This can happen to anyone that carries a handgun concealed. Again, I am also in favor of Constitutional Carry which would also resolve these issues and provided that added advantage of concealment.

Open carry laws are important and they should be expanded to all 50 states and should not require permission of the government. That permission has been granted by our Creator and is guaranteed by our Constitution. It should be treated that way.

Although, most people that are pro Second Amendment would agree with my sentiments about open carry laws, some might disagree with my thoughts on an appropriate way to help proliferate these rights. I disagree with the “in your face” open carry protesting that is carried out by some open carry advocates.

In general, the open carry, especially of long guns, draws considerable attention and concern from those that become aware of open carriers. The attention could be a good thing. The concern, on the other hand, tends to hang a negative air around those that really mean to do well. It simply comes down to the idea that the open carry of long guns scares more people than it educates.

I am pro open carry. I am pro firearms education. I am against scaring the average citizen. It doesn’t help our cause and in many cases harms it.

Recently I posted a link to an article on how average citizens in Ferguson, Missouri open carried long guns and handguns in order to protect a local business from looters.

I fully support their right to open carry and believe that these men made the right decision to open carry that night. It worked as it was supposed to and as it has worked in other places around the country when civil unrest has reared its head.

When I posted the link I tagged Open Carry Texas and asked, “where was Open Carry Texas in Ferguson?” It was a foolish tag. I expected it would generate an opportunity for conversation about open carry protesting and the importance of open carry laws.

That was not the result. Instead I have been bullied by a group much larger than I.

I have received a large number of comments on the original post. Many of which are offensive and/or vulgar. A large number of negative reviews of my FaceBook page have been posted by individuals that have never interacted with Safety Solutions Academy in any way before they partially read this one post. In addition, comments have been posted on other Social Media outlets including on YouTube videos that are unrelated to open carry.

When I expressed my disappointment in how these folks were behaving I was labeled a, “Whiner.”

I am far from complaining. I am happy to reap what I sow and maybe this event could actually do good for the fight for Second Amendment rights.

You see, those that are busy tearing me down are misdirecting their energy. I would imagine that if I were having a cup of coffee, sharing a beer or breaking bread with any of those that aim to destroy me we would find that we agree on much more than we disagree. If I had to guess, I would imagine that we agree on 90-95% of the issues that surround the Second Amendment. I would also wager that the differences that we had wouldn’t be about the end goal, but instead about how we get there. That means that we are pretty much on the same side.

While these folks are beating me and my pro 2A company to the ground, there are folks out there that are on the fence about the Second Amendment. When they express their beliefs are they treated in the same aggressive, disrespectful manner?

I fear that is a real possibility. If I am correct, those they attack will never see the fact that our way of thinking, our forefathers way of thinking, is indeed correct.

I will close with this what I think is an important idea:

When it comes to converting someone else to your view, brawn will never work. Disrespect will never work. Fighting over your differences will not work.

Find common ground. Celebrate common ground. Then build from there.

I failed to take my own advice with a FB post today. This concept deserves more of my attention. Maybe the advice will help you too.

17 replies
  1. Chris Imel
    Chris Imel says:

    Well said Paul. I agree with your opinion. I know from other conversations we have had that you are a true supporter of the Second Amendment.

    Reply
    • Chris Imel
      Chris Imel says:

      Most instructors that truly care about teaching would rather have students in class because they want to be not because the state requires it. The state or government should not decided the standard of training. The Firearms Industry should set the standard.

      Reply
      • PaulCarlson
        PaulCarlson says:

        No doubt Chris. My concealed carry courses exceed Ohio’s requirements because the training is what is important. Customers routinely select instructors that require less. That’s ok with me!

        Reply
  2. Richard Nascak
    Richard Nascak says:

    Paul, your view of OCT has been intentionally and negatively influenced by Bloomberg/MDA turning a state protest action and promulgating it as a national crisis. Look at the photos from the OCT events. You’ll see people in the background carrying on business as usual. No panic, no mass exodus. Why? Because the events happened in Texas.

    Texas law forbids the open carry of handguns, yet open carry of long guns has never been illegal there. Texans generally support open carry, and OCT is simply protesting the current law. It worked, as the issue has been placed on the legislative calendar with priority status, and the Governor-elect has publicly stated he would sign such an open carry bill.

    Then along comes Bloomberg and the Moms minions saying it’s a national issue. It isn’t. It’s Texans protesting a Texas law in Texas, and open carry of long guns doesn’t scare Texans. Here in Florida, we don’t have open carry of any firearm, with only a very few exceptions. We at Florida Carry hold monthly open carry fishing events at multiple locations to educate the public on the laws here. I’m sure that Bloomberg/MDA would be screaming about that too, if they had a mind to.

    The point is that state laws differ, and so long as no law is being broken, non-residents should butt out.

    Richard Nascak
    Executive Director
    Florida Carry, Inc.

    Reply
    • PaulCarlson
      PaulCarlson says:

      Thanks for the comment Richard.

      I’m aware of Florida Carry and your open carry fishing events. Since there is no open carry in Florida I would assume that any firearms that are carried at the event are concealed. Is that correct?

      I spend a good deal of time in Florida each year and other than the lack of open carry Florida has great laws. I just flew out of TPA today and maybe my next trip Wil coincide with an open carry event!

      I respectfully disagree that non-residents should but out. My rights are at stake in several ways:
      First, as I mentioned I spend time in Florida. In addition to my Ohio resident permit, I have a Florida Non-Resident Permit. I carry a handgun while I am in Florida. I want open carry to pass in Florida, not so that I can open carry, that just isn’t my style, but instead to help protect myself and other law abiding concealed carry holders should we screw up and accidentally expose our handgun. A brandishing charge could really ruin a guys day.

      Second, we know that folks like MDA are watching the every move of gun owners and exploit any activities that could be construed as negative in the press. This directly reflects on every gun owner because it is turned into a national issue. I don’t suggest we kowtow to Bloomberg or anyone else, I do however think that approaching activism from the least exploitable, effective means makes sense. So yes, it is a state issue, and since news crosses state lines actions in Texas, Florida and Ohio effect American gun owners every where.

      Finally, and maybe most importantly out of towners need to get involved because we are stronger when we are united. In the events of the past 24 hours I have been told to mind my own business. To leave Texans and now Floridians alone. At face value it makes sense until you realize that your opponent is smart enough to know that New York, D.C. and California money spends just as well in anti gun campaigns as Texas and Florida money. Why in the world aren’t you recruiting me to your side? Why aren’t you soliciting me for membership? Why aren’t you asking to come on my podcast that reaches TENS OF THOUSANDS OF SYMPATHETIC EARS?

      Our opponents are united across the nation.

      We are stronger together…

      Open Carry Texas Has their wish. I’m butting out. Is that really a win?

      Again, thank you for your comment.

      Paul

      Reply
      • Richard Nascak
        Richard Nascak says:

        Greetings Paul,

        There are fourteen exceptions in FS 790.25(3) during which unlicensed open and concealed carry are authorized, fishing being one. Of those, only about half apply to the ordinary citizen. The same subsection excepts law enforcement and other local, state, and federal government officials. I love getting the “deer in the headlights” look when a LEO finds his unlicensed open carry is authorized in the very same subsection.

        As to OCT affecting you, I disagree. It can only affect you if you permit it and acknowledge the concern as beung based in reality. It’s all hype, and has been pretty much confined to a very small but vocal minority. Frankly, few care and even fewer notice. Have you noticed the left’s mass exodus from these types of fringe groups? They are an embarrassment even to solid democrats.

        Want to join Florida Carry? Easy.

        http://www.floridacarry.org/join

        Send me an email regarding your podcast proposal so I can forward it to the board.

        Best regards,

        Rich

        Reply
      • Richard Nascak
        Richard Nascak says:

        Greetings Paul,

        There are fourteen exceptions in FS 790.25(3) during which unlicensed open and concealed carry are authorized, fishing being one. Of those, only about half apply to the ordinary citizen. The same subsection excepts law enforcement and other local, state, and federal government officials. I love getting the “deer in the headlights” look when a LEO finds his unlicensed open carry is authorized in the very same subsection.

        As to OCT affecting you, I disagree. It can only affect you if you permit it and acknowledge the concern as beung based in reality. It’s all hype, and has been pretty much confined to a very small but vocal minority. Frankly, few care and even fewer notice. Have you noticed the left’s mass exodus from these types of fringe groups? They are an embarrassment even to solid democrats.

        Want to join Florida Carry? Just go to our website and click join.

        Send me an email regarding your podcast proposal so I can forward it to the board.

        Best regards,

        Rich

        Reply
      • Benjamin Lonstar
        Benjamin Lonstar says:

        Hello Paul,

        I want to thank you for clarifying your position. I don’t know if you would remember me, I’m sure you’ve read a LOT of Facebook commenters lately. I am one of those who tried to have a calm discussion in one of CJ’s posts, I tried to allay your concern over people’s fear of open carry.

        I would like to take a moment to try to tell you why OCT and its tactic of openly displaying firearms is in fact working. Despite our reputation as a gun friendly state, Texas actually has fairly restrictive carry laws. Concealed carry with a license was passed 20 years ago, as Texas rode the bandwagon late in the game – and even then, it wasn’t until George W Bush took over as governor that it finally got passed. Since then, a few small advances in gun rights have been made a little at a time, but nothing major. Up until last year, open carry was so much a crime that, if the wind blew your shirt and your gun was briefly visible, you were guilty of failure to conceal and your license could be suspended. Now it’s been eased such that a crime is only committed if you intentionally expose your gun. But regardless, despite having no law against the open carry of long guns, Texas is one of only 5 states left that expressly forbids open carry of a handgun, with or without a license. And unlike Florida, there are no exceptions (unless you’re a cop and have your badge visible). You can openly carry anything you want on your own private property, but that is the limit.

        Texans have been fighting for years to get open carry passed, with zero success. Enter OCT and the open carry movement. When we began openly carrying our firearms, naturally there was a lot of concern. It was new, people hadn’t seen it before, because generally there’s no reason for anyone to carry an AR-15 down the street, so it hadn’t been done. But the more we did it, the more we got on the news, the more we got our message out there, people gradually came to realize what many of them never knew about their own state – open carry of a handgun is forbidden. Over time, the concern and fear dissipated, and the illusion of widespread fear was carried only by MDA and their ilk.

        But the results in the above paragraph are largely subjective. What is not subjective, what is hard fact, is this. Earlier this year, the Texas legislature held a special session (their normal sessions are in January of every odd-numbered year, so they will meet this coming January). On their agenda was hearing testimony for and against open carry – or as they themselves phrased it, “removing barriers to Second Amendment rights, to include open carry.” CJ was a special speaker, along with MDA and a couple others, and they opened it up to hearing from the public. No laws were made, but this was an opportunity to get our message directly where it was needed the most – to the legislators who would ultimately be deciding the fate of our mission. The NRA and other gun rights groups had not been able to accomplish this. Later on, the GOP held their state convention in Fort Worth. OCT had such a large presence there that we were able to accomplish something that had never been done before. Open carry was named a top priority on the Republican party platform. Nothing had ever been prioritized on the platform before this. Finally, during our recent elections, all major candidates for governor, even Democrat Wendy Davis, campaigned on their support for open carry. After he won, Governor-elect Greg Abbott stated he would sign any open carry bill that came to his desk.

        Whether open carry causes fear among the people or not is subjective. What has been accomplished in Texas by OCT is cold hard fact. We have several pro-gun bills already filed for January’s legislative session, including HB 195 which would allow open and concealed carry without requiring a license. We are confident we will get open carry passed this session, and the general population and even the media is starting to agree. The NRA and other gun-rights groups will say this has been accomplished *despite* OCT, but not since concealed carry was passed 20 years ago have they accomplished anything to the level as has been done this year alone.

        MDA and Bloomberg want to do everything they can to shut down open carry, because that more than anything else will open the gates for gun rights. And nothing makes them happier than when pro-gun people turn on each other. When it’s done in the relative obscurity of Facebook and online forums, it generally gets looked over by the general public. But when comments are made on tv news by an obviously pro-gun person in opposition to other pro-gunners, the anti-gunners cream their pants with excitement. Because they know that pro-gun “butters” (I support the Second Amendment, BUT…) and fence-sitters will hear those comments and think that means open carry would be a disaster so we should maintain the status quo and let the NRA fight for our gun rights. It is for this reason that OCT members became so impassioned against you and your business. Because of your position as a concealed carry instructor, your words against open carry cause more harm to the advancement of handgun open carry than MDA could have dreamed of doing themselves. And because it was a news clip, your support for Constitutional Carry was completely ignored.

        I apologize for getting long winded. I hope I’ve been able to show you how OCT and its practice of openly carrying long guns in public is in fact doing more to advance gun rights than the harm that MDA would have you believe it is doing. It is unfortunate that the subject became as heated as it did. If you truly support Constitutional Carry in all states, I invite you to set aside whatever disagreements you may have with the methods of those activists who do more than write their legislator and hope for the best, and support Texas HB 195, the Constitutional Carry bill. OCT is heavily promoting this bill, along with other organizations like Come and Take It Texas. I would rather have you by our side fighting for our rights together than standing across from us fighting each other while the anti-gun agenda waits for us to tear each other down.

        Reply
  3. Travis Kuenstler
    Travis Kuenstler says:

    Kudos. I wanted to stop by and read your recent post becuase in reading some of your previous statements regarding open carry, constitutional carry, and Open Carry Texas in particular, I have been disappointed in your stance. Today you have surprised me in reading what you’ve got to say I have more respect for you and your position. I do not agree with everything, but most definitely respect your right to your opinion. You have done something that many would never do, address an issue directly with humility. Semper Fi

    Reply
  4. John Hendon
    John Hendon says:

    You’re either pro-freedom or you’re not. If you support *any* restrictions on small arms *you are anti-gun and anti-freedom*. If you don’t support open carry, constitutional carry, the legalization of machine guns, and the repeal of the NFA then don’t call yourself pro-gun because you’re not.

    Reply

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