The rest of that song by Stealers Wheel goes “here I am stuck in the middle with you.”
That is how I’m feeling about the whole open carry fiasco in Texas. I doubt that there are many readers of this blog that don’t support the extension of open carry in Texas to include handguns. Many states including my own North Carolina have unlicensed open carry.
What is incredibly frustrating is watching Shannon Watts and her fellow gun prohibitionists at Everytown Moms for Illegal Mayors making hay out of the bumbling ineptitude of groups like Open Carry Texas. Sonic, Chipotle, and god knows who’s next have issued “Starbucks-style” statement asking the open carry activists to leave them out of the argument.
The attention whoring of these OC activists has caused such backlash that the NRA issued a statement last Thursday which said, in part,
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.
Chris Cox of the NRA-ILA backed away from that statement yesterday saying it was the personal opinion of some unnamed staffer and not the NRA’s official position. He apologized for any confusion it caused. Others such as Charles Cooke of National Review disagreed saying that it was what needed to be said. I think I and the majority of the gun blogging and gun podcast community would agree that it needed to said.
Bob Owens had an interesting observation on this at BearingArms.com. He noted that often in cases like this where a statement is retracted that it is the original statement which reflects the internal thinking of the organization. In other words, it was what we called back in my political science days “signalling“.
As Michael Bane emphasized today in his Downrange Radio podcast, our goal in the gun rights community needs to be winning. We no more win hearts and minds with these open carry demonstrations in restaurants than the US Air Force did with carpet bombing in South Vietnam. I would send a copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People to everyone in the Texas open carry leadership if I could.
I can’t, so in the meantime I will implore them to cut out the narcissistic displays, clean up their websites and Facebook pages, and, as Michael suggested, think before you do stupid. Those of us stuck in the middle would appreciate it.