Off Target: Open Carry Effort Could Hurt Gun Ownership More Than Help

Staff File Open carry protests have become common events at businesses around Texas. With businesses starting to ban guns, are they helping or hurting?

I have one question for those involved in these open-carry protests going on around Texas.

What are you thinking?

I am sorry, I am a gun owner but I don't get what this whole movement is trying to achieve other than 15 minutes of fame.

Open-carry protests are public rallies at which owners of large rifles are encouraged to carry them near and inside stores and restaurants (such as Chipotle, Target and Home Depot).

I understand the ultimate goal is to change Texas law so those with concealed gun permits can openly carry pistols in public rather then always being concealed. At present only long guns can be legally carried in plain sight. I just don't get their tactics.

I do think I see where this is heading, and it isn't the outcome they are hoping for.

I normally try to stay out of these issues about conceal-carry and open-carry because they are a world away from hunting. Yes, there are places and people involved where the issues intertwine, but hunting is not the same political hot potato.

However, when you start holding protests at Home Depot, well, you have quit preaching and gone to meddling.

Legal gun owners of all kinds are walking a very thin line these days not because of their actions, but because of the actions of others. Unfortunately, in this country it has always been easier to pass laws creating more collateral damage on the innocent than solving the real problem.

Gun owners in the U.S. are nowhere near a majority. Like hunters, gun owners draw a large amount of support from those in the middle, like mothers and grandmothers eating at a Dallas-area Chipotle, where a group decided they needed to carry their rifles in to order a taco. They are the silent majority in this debate, and with their support there will be hunting and there will be gun possession for protection.

Here is the problem. You will almost never get an anti-hunter or anti-gun owner to change their views. You can change those in the middle, and someone needlessly walking into a restaurant or down the street carrying a rifle scaring people is going to do it -- in a negative way.

People may dislike how Mark Cuban recently tried to say it, but we all have perceived biases and fears. Sometimes it is based simply on what makes the hair on the back of our neck stand up.

Quite honestly, I wouldn't stay in a restaurant if someone walked in like that, especially the ones that look like they are fresh off the People of Walmart website. I don't know them. I don't know their mental state, I don't know why they are carrying a rifle and I don't know their skill with a gun. I don't even want to be on a 5,000-acre ranch hunting with people I don't know.

I know others, especially non-gun owners, are going to feel the same way, and I certainly couldn't blame a business for banning guns in favor of getting customers in the door.

I get wanting to continue being a gun owner. I understand concealed carry. I don't understand the need for this type of a show of force. I am not comfortable with it from law enforcement much less some Joe on the street.

I mean, isn't it easier to stay out of locations or situations where you feel threatened? That is what most people do.

With their carnival atmosphere, it almost seems these protestors relish the idea of someday getting to use their guns. Some, not all, don't seem to understand the seriousness of the responsibility.

I know people who have had to use a gun in self-defense, but none who enjoyed it or wanted to do it again. If those kinds of people do exist, maybe they shouldn't be armed.

I thought part of the idea of concealed handgun permits was the psychological threat. The bad guys wouldn't come into a place to rob it because they really didn't know what they might be facing.

At the end of the day what have these guys achieved? Have they turned any political heads in their favor, or are they going to make it harder for supporters to defend gun ownership down the line?

This bunch is pretty insignificant in numbers, but potentially dangerous to those wanting to own guns either for sport or personal protection.

Much like the Occupy Wall Street crowd, they appear clueless about how to win any political public relations war.

Now they have gotten themselves in the crosshairs of a group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Trust me, when it comes to winning votes in Austin or Washington, the open carry crowd will find it is greatly under armed against these ladies.

This dissenting opinion from a gun owner will have its critics in this era of my way or the highway.

But watching programs on the 70th anniversary of D-Day last week left me with this thought: Those who fought and died at Normandy and elsewhere around the world did so as much to protect my right to see things differently than to protect somone's right to walk into Chili's with a rifle.


Have a comment or opinion on this? Email Steve Knight at, follow him on Facebook at TylerPaper Outdoors and on Twitter @tyleroutdoor.





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