Being Right Is Never Enough: Open Carry Advocacy Edition

 

Starbucks-courtesy-Starbucks-Facebook-Page-500x330In the most recent GLoP Culture podcast, John Podhoretz said:

There is a risk on the horizon of a return to a 2012 rope-a-dope on the part of the Democrats that the Republicans may be falling into. And that has to do with the response to the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case…

The question is, are Democrats going to go very, very hard on the issue of contraception, and paying for contraception, and government supporting contraception, and all of that, and will this then cause the Right to react the way the Right did to Sandra Fluke [and stoke the War on Women narrative]?

It’s a fair question, though I think we’ve handled the issue very well in the last week.  More generally, however, we need to remember that being correct on substance is only the crucial first step in politics and is meaningless if your opponent manages to cast you as the bad guy.

It’s a lesson the gun rights lobby needs to learn quickly. Though the past decade has seen huge advances for the movement — from the repeal of the assault weapons ban, to the Heller and McDonald decisions, to a general loosening of restrictions in the states — its progress has been wholly checked since the Sandy Hook Massacre. Though federal legislation has (blessedly) gone nowhere, many states have passed significant restrictions, with more still in the works.

More recently, gun-grabbers have discovered how to pressure the private sector, specifically when it comes to allowing customers to carry firearms openly. Worst of all, some Second Amendment advocates have been inadvertently helping them.

There are plenty of sensible reasons to favor allowing open carry. Police officers open carry daily with no issue, and there’s little reason to believe that it’s any more dangerous than carrying a weapon concealed. Moreover, there’s a solid argument to be made that requiring all firearms to be concealed greatly disadvantages women, whose clothing tends to be tighter and have fewer pockets than men’s. Regardless, the issue has mostly been a hobby-horse for cranks, smoldering away in the background, but rarely taking anyone’s notice.

Starbucks Coffee may seem like an odd place for the issue to flame up, but it’s an odd world. Like other national chains, Starbucks had a laissez-faire attitude toward firearms, essentially allowing patrons to do whatever they wish within the bounds of local and state laws. If that included carrying weapons openly, that was fine with Starbucks.

For years, gun-grabbers had lobbied the company to change its policy, even organizing boycotts. In counter-protest, some open-carry advocates organized “Starbucks Appreciation Days,” in which they’d go to Starbucks with weapons visible and enjoy a cup of coffee. Unsurprisingly, no one was ever injured by these protests, despite some irresponsible behavior.

The fire really caught this past July when Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense For America — a new, well-funded, and media-savvy organization — called for a new boycott. In response, a number of poorly-funded and media-challenged gun rights groups organized a slough of Appreciation Days. In a particularly bone-headed decision, one group planned to hold a protest at a Starbucks in Newtown, Connecticut. The event was cancelled when Starbucks announced it was closing the store early.

The moms kept pushing, so more counter-protests were organized. By September, the issue had escalated so much that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote an open letter on the matter, asking customers to leave their weapons at home, though not expressly banning firearms. The policy seems designed to be toothless, and Starbucks has explicitly said that it has little interest in enforcing the request. It did, however, put an end to the “Appreciation Days” and the controversy surrounding them. Say what you want about Starbucks, but they’re not stupid.

opencarry

Unfortunately, neither are the moms. Realizing they’d hit on a way to goad at least some open carriers into antagonizing major retailers while avoiding the blame themselves, they began identical campaigns at other retailers, which spurred identical protests from open carriers. The results — surprise! — were also identical: Chipotle announced in May that it was adopting Starbucks’s policy, and Target followed suit earlier this month.

In practical terms, these victories are minor for the gun-control lobby; people will still carry concealed weapons at these stores, and it’s fairly clear that the companies know this and don’t particularly care. In rhetorical terms, however, the damage is extensive: gun-grabbers look like even-keeled winners, while gun-rights groups are seen as kooky, aggressive PR liabilities.

Which, of course, is exactly the kind of narrative the Left loves and succeeds with, whether it’s with immigration, social issues, or guns. Beating the Left doesn’t only require that we be right — no easy task in itself — it requires that we be smart. That’s going to be a big challenge.

Photo Credits: 1) Uploaded to Starbucks Facebook Page, 2) 7 New Denver via Twitter. Though I couldn’t find this particular picture anywhere on the Open Carry Texas Facebook page, both the guys in it are featured there.

There are 98 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    This is a huge problem in general.  A handful of idiots can completely change the entire dynamic of the debate against their cause.

    As a rule I have found open carry advocates largely unreasonable in discussions about how to best advance second amendment rights.

    • #1
  2. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    The Open Carry lunatics give us all a bad name.  They seem determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and they persist in distracting media attention and public opinion from issues that matter, like the actual confiscation threats in New York, California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
    You cannot make the case that the vast majority of gun owners are responsible adults when the most persistently visible gun owners are cretins.

    • #2
  3. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    The “Moms” and like organizations have an advantage in that they’re organized and disciplined, which presents a better media message.  Those of us on the gun side have burst the bounds of our traditional organizations and are “takin’ it to the streets.”  Energy is good, but the downside is the media message is garbled significantly.

    If we were more disciplined, we would fight the battle in three stages:  1.) for concealed carry (which we’re winning), 2.) for open carry of holstered handguns, and then 3.) for open carry of big, scary looking mil style rifles hanging off one’s shoulder.

    I blame the NRA.  They should have led on these things, and they haven’t.  So folks have acted on their own.

    We need a “Moms Against Rape” to lead the way.

    • #3
  4. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Agree here wholeheartedly.

    • #4
  5. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Probable Cause: I blame the NRA.  They should have led on these things, and they haven’t.  So folks have acted on their own. We need a “Moms Against Rape” to lead the way.

     Heh.  Wayne Lapierre needs to go, he’s been at the helm for far too long now and has made the organization all about himself.  Every time he speaks against video games or rap music I just cringe.  A younger and more nimble organization would be out in front of this, but Wayne is still in this siege mentality that prevents him from criticizing his own.

    A weak leader in a weak position cannot afford to overly discipline his own side, but the NRA and gun rights in general are in enough of a favorable public opinion level that Wayne should feel confident in smacking down the fringe.

    • #5
  6. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Conservatives can’t prevent a handful of idiots from showing up to spoil any protest or public message. Conservatives can’t prevent liberal media from fraudulently posing exceptions as the norm.

    Conservatives can continue to push their way into the journalism and media markets so that they can balance liberal lies with the truth. Conservatives can anticipate liberal strategies and counter-strategies, and adapt their own tactics accordingly.

    • #6
  7. iDad Inactive
    iDad
    @iDad

    What evidence do you have that Chipotle and Target – both of which have strong leftist sympathies – would not have made the same decision even if open carry advocates hadn’t engaged in the conduct you denounce? 

    It looks to me like they leapt at the chance to cave to pressure from Moms Who Hate the Constitution, because they share the same ideology.

    I stopped patronzing Starbucks years ago because of their alarmist global warming dishonesty, and Chipotle because of their mindless “local food” nonsense.  American Signature Furniture will never get my business because of its anti-self defense policies.  Target is now added to my list.

    • #7
  8. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    skipsul:  Wayne Lapierre needs to go, he’s been at the helm for far too long now and has made the organization all about himself.  Every time he speaks against video games or rap music I just cringe.

    LaPierre always strikes me as permanently stuck in 1996.

    • #8
  9. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Punch back twice as hard.  

    The narrative against Sandra Fluke failed because when she was described as a slut the republicans cowered in fear.  

    When the Second Amendment says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, it  included long guns and pistols (and swords) in the definition of arms.  It has been gun rights advocates who have been crying in alarm about open carry, for fear that the gun control advocates might be offended.

    It’s time we stop granting the premise to the marxists.  Socialism is wrong.  Even a little socialism is wrong.  Once you agree that a little socialism is wrong, you will always lose the argument on how much to have, because a little more is always okay.

    Gun control is always wrong.  When you agree that a little gun control is okay, then you will continue to lose the argument on how much gun control to have, because a little more isn’t too much of a burden.

    There’s a saying that Marines have.  How many Marines can you fit in a truck?  One more.  How much do you cede when you grant the marxists their premises?  Always a little more.

    • #9
  10. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    skipsul: You cannot make the case that the vast majority of gun owners are responsible adults when the most persistently visible gun owners are cretins.

    By your logic, if everyone open carrying is a cretin, then you will never advance the right to open carry.  Rather than complain that some poorly dressed people are working on a good cause, you should be calling for more people to open carry.

    The way to transform a nation of sissies who tremble at the sight of a firearm is to make open carry commonplace and expected everywhere you go.  

    • #10
  11. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    iDad: What evidence do you have that Chipotle and Target – both of which have strong leftist sympathies – would not have made the same decision even if open carry advocates hadn’t engaged in the conduct you denounce? 

     That’s arguing a counter-factual.  You can’t ask that anyone attempt to prove a negative, or argue a hypothetical that never was tested.

    All we can say for certain is that Moms-Against-Guns put pressure on these businesses, baiting the OC nuts into over-responding, followed quickly by new (if somewhat informal) no-gun policies.

    We cannot argue what would have happened if the OC nuts had not been jerks, Mommies might still have carried the day.  What we can say is that the companies in question only responded once the OC crowd started to make pests of themselves, and that next time the OC groupies should restrain themselves and see if they get a better result.

    As for Chipotle, I don’t patronize them because I think their food is terrible.  Their politics could be 100% conservative and I still wouldn’t darken their doors.

    • #11
  12. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    Aaron Miller:

    Conservatives can’t prevent a handful of idiots from showing up to spoil any protest or public message. Conservatives can’t prevent liberal media from fraudulently posing exceptions as the norm.

    A strong, credible gun rights organization, leading on these issues, could publicly denounce the idiots as being “irresponsible and needlessly provocative.”

    • #12
  13. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Probable Cause: I blame the NRA.  They should have led on these things, and they haven’t.  So folks have acted on their own.

     This is why its a farce to ascribe to the NRA all the laws in support of firearms.  The support is already there, it’s the people who have this power.  The NRA simply soaks up the money from them.  

    The advances in firearms rights have come despite the NRA.  Heller was brought to court despite the objections (and attempts at sabotage) by the NRA.  

    • #13
  14. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Skyler:

    skipsul: You cannot make the case that the vast majority of gun owners are responsible adults when the most persistently visible gun owners are cretins.

    By your logic, if everyone open carrying is a cretin, then you will never advance the right to open carry. Rather than complain that some poorly dressed people are working on a good cause, you should be calling for more people to open carry.

    The way to transform a nation of sissies who tremble at the sight of a firearm is to make open carry commonplace and expected everywhere you go.

     The problem though is that this is a political and moral battle.  Gradualism in issues such as this is more likely to prevail.

    To take your analogy, would you commit an entire company of marines to capture a tactical objective if their loss (likelihood >50%) were to prevent you from attaining an overall strategic victory?

    I’m not saying that OC itself is wrong, but that its most fervent advocates are putting themselves in a dangerous salient and exposing the entire front to an energetic flanking maneuver.

    • #14
  15. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Skyler:

    Probable Cause: I blame the NRA. They should have led on these things, and they haven’t. So folks have acted on their own.

    This is why its a farce to ascribe to the NRA all the laws in support of firearms. The support is already there, it’s the people who have this power. The NRA simply soaks up the money from them.

    The advances in firearms rights have come despite the NRA. Heller was brought to court despite the objections (and attempts at sabotage) by the NRA.

     All too true.  NRA only backed Heller when the momentum was behind the victory.  They did none of the heavy lifting.

    • #15
  16. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    This problem is hardly limited to gun control and open carriers.

    In every public display of political views, there are always one or two wackos who garner all the attention and make everyone else look bad. There’s always one guy at a breast cancer walk with an “Abortion Causes Breast Cancer” sign, or a guy at a Glen Beck rally with an Obama horse head on.  And on the left, there’s also always someone with a Lenin or Stalin quote on a placard.

    Someone will always go out of their way to be provocative, and they will usually be successful at their task. Not sure if it is worth trying to prevent it.

    • #16
  17. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    What does bother me, though, is the loss of nuance in responding to the people who take things two steps too far.

    Why must we be all-pro or all-contra? Why does nobody have the spine to criticize an ally while standing firm on their main point?

    It is not difficult to say “We feel that responsible citizens openly carrying firearms have a strong deterrent effect on crime. However, we do not support the provocative display of these weapons for making political statements, as it does not represent responsible handling.” And then move on.

    There is an insinuation that attacking “one’s own side” is a sign of cowardice. I find it even more cowardly to not call out those on your side who take things much too far – are you that insecure in the correctness of your position or your debating skills?

    • #17
  18. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    skipsul: To take your analogy, would you commit an entire company of marines to capture a tactical objective if their loss (likelihood >50%) were to prevent you from attaining an overall strategic victory?

     A better analogy would be, if one squad in your battalion were to have advanced a bit further than the rest of the line and were getting attacked by the enemy and threatened with being surrounded and captured, would you shoot at them too?

    • #18
  19. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Skyler:

    skipsul: To take your analogy, would you commit an entire company of marines to capture a tactical objective if their loss (likelihood >50%) were to prevent you from attaining an overall strategic victory?

    A better analogy would be, if one squad in your battalion were to have advanced a bit further than the rest of the line and were getting attacked by the enemy and threatened with being surrounded and captured, would you shoot at them too?

     Or would you tell them to pull back and wait for orders?

    • #19
  20. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    I will agree that there’s not much we can do about individual nuts. We have open carry laws in Oregon, and lately after some shooting there’s some goofball parading around the streets downtown with his rifle out and complaining that the police are harassing him when he’s doing nothing wrong.

    Some people refuse to accept that a legal action and a wise action are not the same things. For example, in Portland it’s also legal to be naked while on your private property. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to parade around suit on your front lawn while in your birthday.

    It’s probably worse to parade around on your front lawn while in your birthday suit with an AR-15 over your shoulder .

    • #20
  21. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    C. U. Douglas: It’s probably worse to parade around in your birthday suit with an AR-15 over your shoulder on your front lawn.

     I told you the check’s in the mail, you can burn those pictures.

    • #21
  22. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    The great thing about the battle for open carry is that in many states it’s already the law.  All we have to do is gradually start exercising the right again.  As I noted above, start with modest handguns.  And for crying out loud, keep them and your cell phone cameras holstered.

    • #22
  23. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    C. U. Douglas:

    It’s probably worse to parade around on your front lawn while in your birthday suit with an AR-15 over your shoulder .

     Or even worse, on the front lawn of the house you grew up in, and is now owned by complete strangers, while yelling “It’s hidden in the walls! Let me in! I have to find it!”

    • #23
  24. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Probable Cause:

    The great thing about the battle for open carry is that in many states it’s already the law. All we have to do is gradually start exercising the right again. As I noted above, start with modest handguns. And for crying out loud, keep them and your cell phone cameras holstered.

    It won’t remain legal if you begin to get in the faces of those who didn’t even know it was legal.  Suddenly they will come down on a very different side of the issue then if people owning guns seemed a distant concern to them.

    Separately, the notion that you are safer open carrying versus concealed carrying is somewhat bonkers.  I haven’t seen the stats in a while, but something around a third of police officers who are shot are shot with their own weapon.  

    Choosing to open carry versus concealed carry is choosing to willing surrender the element of surprise for the supposed benefit of intimidating someone who might have attacked you.  Mostly you are just intimidating the 99.99% of the people you encounter who wouldn’t have tried to attack you regardless.

    • #24
  25. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Mendel:

    C. U. Douglas:

    It’s probably worse to parade around on your front lawn while in your birthday suit with an AR-15 over your shoulder .

    Or even worse, on the front lawn of the house you grew up in, and is now owned by complete strangers, while yelling “It’s hidden in the walls! Let me in! I have to find it!”

     Stupid cell phone cameras.

    • #25
  26. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    Frank Soto:

    It won’t remain legal if you begin to get in the faces of those who didn’t even know it was legal.  Suddenly they will come down on a very different side of the issue then if people owning guns seemed a distant concern to them.

    I grant there are good practical reasons to carry concealed.  But if we don’t exercise the right to carry openly, we will lose it.   I argue it is possible to carry openly without being “in your face,” in the right times and in the right places, and that that is how we ought to re-introduce the idea.

    • #26
  27. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    The picture is instructive re: the type of gun owners who get us in trouble. One has his weapon standing muzzle-first on the floor and the other has his finger loitering by the trigger.

    Poseurs.

    • #27
  28. user_697797 Member
    user_697797
    @

    Look, I’m in NJ and would love to carry concealed.  I’m trying to think of a reason where I would ever need to enter a Starbucks with an AR-15 other than to be provocative.  Armed or not, if I walk into a Starbucks with my girlfriend and these idiots are posing with AR-15’s, we’re immediately turning around and leaving.  As a for profit entity, can you blame Starbucks for their response? 

    These guys aren’t leading the charge, their sabotaging it.

    • #28
  29. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Probable Cause:

    Frank Soto:

    It won’t remain legal if you begin to get in the faces of those who didn’t even know it was legal. Suddenly they will come down on a very different side of the issue then if people owning guns seemed a distant concern to them.

    I grant there are good practical reasons to carry concealed. But if we don’t exercise the right to carry openly, we will lose it. I argue it is possible to carry openly without being “in your face,” in the right times and in the right places, and that that is how we ought to re-introduce the idea.

    I think this is backwards.  Until you give people a reason to want the law changed, they generally couldn’t care less.  At least not enough of them to change the law.

    • #29
  30. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    skipsul:

    Skyler:

    skipsul: To take your analogy, would you commit an entire company of marines to capture a tactical objective if their loss (likelihood >50%) were to prevent you from attaining an overall strategic victory?

    A better analogy would be, if one squad in your battalion were to have advanced a bit further than the rest of the line and were getting attacked by the enemy and threatened with being surrounded and captured, would you shoot at them too?

    Or would you tell them to pull back and wait for orders?

     If it’s a key piece of terrain they’re on, then sometimes you tell their adjacent units to move up.  You don’t win by ceding key arguments to the other side.

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.