Butter [buht-er] noun. Defined as a “supporter of the 2nd Amendment” that claims, “I support the 2nd Amendment, but…” then proceeds to tell you what restrictions he supports on the 2nd Amendment.
Over the past year, Open Carry Texas has been the subject of much “controversy.” What’s interesting is that none of the controversy really started here in Texas. I’m talking about, of course, all the media criticism involving Chili’s, Chipotle, Sonic, Target, Jack In The Box, etc. In fact, nearly every manufactured controversy originated in New York and Illinois. However, media criticism is easy to deal with – you ignore it. You remain faithful to your core values in spite of the steady stream of attacks. You remain unflinching in the face of overwhelming odds. My grandfather – a WWII bombardier over Germany – once told me that “you know you’re over the target when you start taking flak.”
As gun owners, we frequently complain about how the media portrays guns and gun owners. We hate how they have perpetuated the term “assault rifle” and feel the need to refer to guns as “semi-automatic” because that is more scary sounding. Never mind that most guns are semi-automatic unless they are a shotgun (though there are semi-automatic shotguns) or a revolver. We complain that when a gun is used in a crime, the media immediately positions the talking heads to begin the next “common sense” discussion about regulating firearms even more.
So, it’s ironic that these same media outlets that gun owners are constantly complaining about are the same media outlets that some gun owners swallow hook, line, and sinker when it involves open carry or Open Carry Texas.
I started Open Carry Texas in June 2013 after my arrest as a way to stand up and fight for our gun rights against obvious infringement and encroachment from Texas law enforcement, to demand unlicensed open carry like 30 other states, prepare Texans to see guns in public in preparation for the eventuality that open carry of handgun is legalized, to counter the “assault weapons” claim and educate the public on lawful carry, and to work with law enforcement to ensure that what happened to me last year doesn’t happen to another person.
What the media won’t tell you is that we’ve been very successful at this here in Texas. In 13 months, we’ve grown to over 27,000 members! What the media won’t tell you is that whenever did go into a restaurant with our rifles, we got permission first (OCT has had a policy for many months of NOT taking long arms into businesses unless invited in). We sent in someone unarmed to also make sure the public was okay with us having our guns in there. Hell, in the famous “Chipotle incident” we even had two uniformed cops with us! You didn’t hear about that, did you? In all of those fake controversies, no one called the cops. No one complained to management. We enjoyed a great meal, paid for our food, and left as peacefully as we arrived.
So, what do these incidents have in common besides the fact that we legally and peacefully open carried? Two things: Bloomberg funded, astroturf trolls in the gun control extremist movements flipped their lids at the audacity of free men and women exercising their rights without government permission AND so-called “defenders of the 2nd Amendment” jumped on their bandwagon. These are the people that say, “I support the 2nd Amendment, but (there’s that clause disqualifier) no one needs an AR15 in a Target.” “I support the 2nd Amendment, but you guys are hurting the cause.” But, but, but. And every time they “butt”ed in, the gun control extremists rejoiced. No one NEEDS an AR15, just like no one NEEDS a Porsche, Mustang, Jaguar, 5000 square foot house, or a fully stocked bar. The constitution isn’t about needs; it’s about rights.
What these “defenders of the 2nd Amendment” were ignorantly doing is aligning themselves with the very people that want to take away ALL our rights. You see, Bloomberg and his Monsanto puppet found a wedge issue and they exploited it. They found something that they and tepid 50%ers in the gun rights crowd who are content with begging for government permission to exercise a right have in common.
Other than making open carry a discussion on the national stage, something else that Open Carry Texas did was expose the rotten underbelly of the elitists in the “gun rights” movement. The elitists are the apologists of the National Rifle Association (of which I’m unfortunately an Endowment Life and Golden Eagles Member), an organization that won’t get another penny of my money. I’ve give then NRA much space on this blog over the years, sharing their efforts and programs. I could always tell a butter email when I’d get it because it would always start with one of these phrases:
“As an NRA life member…”
“No one is more supportive of the second amendment than I am…”
“As someone who has grown up with guns…”
“As a gun owner with 40 quadrillion guns, including assault rifles…”
You get the idea. These qualifiers were meant to somehow give the writer some sort of credibility with me on the issue of open carry. There was a time where those statements would have meant something to me. However, I’ve learned over the past year that those statements are only made to make the person feel better about the fact that they don’t really support the 2nd Amendment. They only support some of it – the parts they agree with. These are the people who tell me that carrying concealed with a license is the way to go. I hear the butter arguments all the time, but I won’t flush those out in this post. I’ve already done that on the OCT blog. They tell me, “If you want to carry a gun, get yourself a CHL and carry concealed like everyone else.” Yes, you heard that right: if you want to exercise a RIGHT, ask government for permission to do it FIRST, then, after the government has converted your RIGHT into a PRIVILEGE through an arbitrary process of licensing, training, fees, bureaucratic red tape, and intrusive background checks, you can exercise that privilege subject to the rules that come along with said license.
The NRA is the biggest culprit in all of this. They have created a system with the legislatures to line the pockets of both the legislators and the NRA themselves: NRA certified instructors! Many states require that CHL training be done by an NRA certified instructor. To earn the Boy Scout Rifle or Shotgun Merit Badge, the instructor must be “an NRA-certified instructor.” How do you become an NRA certified instructor? You pay the NRA for the training and get the magical bestowment as one! Cha-ching!
It’s quite the racket and I’m ashamed to have taken so long to figure out how it works. I first figured it out when representatives from the NRA and their surrogate Texas group, the Texas State Rifle Association, contacted me and told me, in essence, “you guys have done the grassroots work of making this a top tier issue. Now, step back and let us take it from here.” The NRA thinks it holds the patent and copyright on the 2nd Amendment and gun rights, but they don’t.
While we are growing at a breakneck pace of over 150 new members every week as a state gun rights organization, the NRA and TSRA are telling us to stop exercising our rights. Instead of standing up to the butters in the legislators, they have capitulated and joined the ranks of the same jack wagons they complain about in their pleas to you and me for more money. They have been brainwashed by the liberal media that long arms shouldn’t be seen in public because the little sheeple would complain. Instead of standing firmly beside peaceful citizens lawfully exercising their rights and serving on the front lines by directly challenging the status quo as it relates to guns, the NRA chose to condemn it and chastise tens of thousands of its own members. Instead of using its vast resources to counter the astroturf efforts to force corporations to infringe on our right to self defense, the NRA was silent and failed to mobilize its members in a counter offensive. This failure resulted in the perception of corporate bigwigs that the overwhelming voice was of these washed up hippies with nothing to do but find ways to remove guns from society. They can’t do it in the legislature. They can’t do it at the ballot box. So they do it in the corporate world of political correctness bully, emotional activism. And the NRA was silent.
Not only did the NRA completely turn its back, it jumped on the bandwagon by openly criticizing the targets of these slander campaigns: law abiding gun owners, many of whom WERE NRA members, myself included. And when the NRA did so, it’s legion of loyal followers jumped on as well.
This is the remarkable irony: the people complaining about the media and the gun grabbers were buying the media and gun grabber narratives. Email after email came in about the “wisdom” of daring to peacefully and lawfully carry a long arm even though we aren’t legally “allowed” to openly carry a handgun (we also got tons of emails of support from around the country and the world). Many of them didn’t even know that open carry of a handgun is illegal in Texas because they all live in states where it is legal. In fact, it’s legal in 44 states! Texas gun laws stand side by side with California, Illinois, New York, Florida, and Washington DC (the other oddball state is South Carolina). They didn’t bother to do their homework, but they sure were quick to complain that the gun control extremists were pressuring these businesses with their fancy memes and bogus petition drives.
Let me quickly dispel some of the myths about open carry:
People open carry because they want to bait cops and become YouTube stars. I will admit that there are those that are antagonistic to cops, but try to use half your brain and think about this (speaking to the butters, of course). Do you really have that low of a regard for cops that you think if they see someone exercising their rights they are like a moth to a porch light? They just can’t think for themselves and recognize that the individual isn’t a threat to anyone without first unholstering and slamming them against the hood? I like to think cops are better than that. So, who is really being antagonistic? The cop that is interrupting the free, peaceful and legal carry of a firearm or the free, peaceful and legal gun owner? Yes, we video our encounters because open carriers have a history of being harassed by cops and we’re fed up with it, myself included. So we protect ourselves with video documentation of police interactions. I’m lucky I even had a camera with me that day because I don’t usually have one when out on a walk around my farm. However, my son had to document his hike, so I had one on me when I was arrested. That doesn’t mean I was looking for a confrontation (out in the middle of the country among pastures?) or I would have had the camera ready the moment the officer pulled up.
People who open carry will be the first one shot. Really? Where’s that data come from? Surely, with open carry legal in 44 states, there must be SOME examples of this being true. And if that is true, why aren’t more cops shot on sight? After all, if you’re going to shoot someone for their gun, why not shoot a cop who you know also has additional ammo on his bat utility belt? Because this is just a myth that the butters use to justify their faulty “support” of the 2nd Amendment. It’s a false belief prevalent throughout the NRA. Besides, if I want to make myself a target, who are you to say I can’t? A thug targeting me may give innocents more time to get away.
If a criminal sees you have a gun, he’ll take it. Again, where is that data? This myth isn’t even rooted in fairy tales it’s so absurd. But, cops have had their guns wrestled from them! Yes, and 9.9 times out of ten, it was only after the OFFICER made contact with the CRIMINAL. There may be an anecdotal story where a criminal just decided to walk up to a cop and decide to try and take his gun, but I doubt you’ll find them outside of jails and such. Criminals are cowards. They know that by targeting someone with a gun, they are risking their very lives in the process. Yes it happens. But, it also happens to concealed handgun carriers!
Open carry eliminates the element of surprise. Okay, this one I agree with. But, I don’t WANT the element of surprise. I don’t look forward to having to use my gun to be the hero. I’d rather finish paying for my Slurpee or eating my Doritos Locos Taco in peace. I want the criminal to KNOW I have a gun because that tells him I’m willing to use it. If a criminal targets someone he doesn’t think has a gun, well the crime is already in progress when that person needs to unholster it. So, while concealed carry is a great tool for REACTING to a crime in progress, open carry is a great tool to prevent that crime from even starting. Researcher Gary Kleck has written extensively about the deterrent factor of the open display of firearms. Besides, once a crime is in progress – assuming you aren’t the victim, which brings a host of other problems – you now have to potentially deal with frightened and panicking civilians that may be in your line of fire and thus remove your ability to even adequately engage the thug.
If you open carry, you’re hurting the cause and will force politicians to pass more laws banning guns. This is my pet peeve among the butter arguments. They don’t even listen to the words coming out of their own mouths. Let me paraphrase: “If you exercise your rights, you’re going to lose your rights!” That’s like telling someone that is looking for a compatible church and goes to ten different ones in the course of a month and saying that if they don’t stop, the politicians will demand they pick a church and take away the right to choose! It’s that absurd. Besides, if politicians don’t like that an armed society keeps them from completely controlling our lives, are we going to just sit back and ALLOW them to pass those laws? There are consequences to making such decisions. If you ask me, open carry exposes the butters that need to be removed from office! We find out who the true gun rights proponents are in the legislature. Who seriously wants a politician that will ban guns just because people are carrying guns (besides the gun grabbers, of course)?
I’m sure there are many others, but those are just a few. I don’t want to make this post about dispelling the myths of open carry, but I wanted to highlight some of the excuses these butters in the “gun rights” camp use to justify their disagreement with open carry. I call them gun snobs. They support the 2A as long as it conforms to their personal beliefs on how it should be exercised and damn all other forms of legal carry.
I believe that gun rights and the right to self defense are absolute. An AK47 in the hands of a peaceful, law-abiding citizen is no more dangerous than a Kimber Ultra Carry Pro 1911 pistol. The only difference is that the gun control extremists and their lapdog media has made the AK47 and other modern sporting rifles into pariahs in the gun world and the butters are too cowardly to challenge it, besides complaining about it in opinion columns and Facebook postings. I personally don’t agree with taking a rifle into a government meeting, but if it’s legal I won’t criticize others for doing so provided it’s done peacefully and legally. It’s no one’s business what type of weapon with which I choose to defend myself. The butters would instead demand that those legally and peacefully exercising their rights cease immediately because they don’t conform to the butter brainwashing away of our rights.
Liberty is about protecting the rights with which you disagree! Liberty is protecting opposing views. When the gun grabbers see that they’ve found common ground among the so-called “gun rights” crowd on one of their agenda items, they use that issue to claim overwhelming support for what is in essence another chip away at our rights. Because these people jump on the attack bandwagon instead of the “it’s their right as long as they aren’t hurting anyone” bandwagon, it emboldens the gun control extremists to attempt legislation that removes that small piece. Then, they move on to the next wedge issue.
Right now, the NRA is siding with Bloomberg and his cronies in supporting increased background checks that include “mental health” checks for gun rights. What would qualify as a mental health discriminator? Who decides? Where does it end? If we allow blanket mental health exemptions in the name of preventing “crazy” people from getting guns, what is the definition of crazy? Sounds very “Minority Report”-like to me. Very Orwellian. Who’s to say they don’t just start adding diagnoses to the list, like PTSD? Then what? Do we take away guns from rape victims with PTSD too? Car crash victims? Witnesses to violent crime? Combat Veterans? One psychologist called liberalism a “mental illness.” Do we take guns from all liberals?
When we agree to some restrictions on our rights, we might as well agree to them all. Just because we acquiesce to one demand of gun grabbers doesn’t mean they’ll just give up and call it a day. We allowed them to ban guns in the hands of felons, so what did the gun control extremists do? They turned more misdemeanors into felonies to get guns out of the hands of more people. In Texas, they even prevent citizens from getting a license for MISDEMEANORS! They are already working on the next weak link and they will continue to use their emotional activism to convince the butters it’s in their best interests to go along. After all, “if you have nothing to be afraid of, what harm does it do registering your guns”, right?
As you can tell, I’m not too keen on the NRA anymore. I was a blind supporter for far too long. I learned quickly how they’re all talk. For example, I was told that if my case goes to appeal, they’ll help me fight the case. Nothing. In fact, they haven’t done anything to help the 17 people arrested last year for various manufactured reasons because cops didn’t like open carry when we first got started. They didn’t know how to deal with us and our members were spending thousands of dollars to get out of jail and have their cases dropped (six still remain). Thankfully, groups like Texas Law Shield and the National Association for Legal Gun Defense (I’m a member of both) filled the void where the NRA faltered.
This next legislative session (the Texas legislature only meets every two years for a limited number of days), the NRA and TSRA has already stated they’re only going to fight for licensed open carry in Texas. The NRA doesn’t really like to fight and hold politicians accountable. They like the “low hanging fruit” – going after the easy bills so they look like they’ve actually accomplished something. Instead of demanding “constitutional carry” (exactly what it sounds like, recognizing our right to carry concealed or open without government permission or license) and fighting hard for that, but in the end only getting unlicensed open carry or even licensed open carry, they are only willing to legislate away our rights by again demanding licenses to exercise a right. “We’ll get licensed open carry now and then fight for more later,” is the mantra of the establishment gun rights crowd.
Thankfully, there are groups like US Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), Gun Owners of America (GOA) and the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) who are picking up the slack and actually defending the 2A. They are dedicated to actually fighting for ALL of our rights, which means abolishing this silly notion of licensing. They recognize the 2A is the only right that stands between liberty and tyranny. We don’t require licenses to go to church or write a blog. We don’t require a special stamp to ensure Soldiers don’t quarter in our homes. We don’t need a card in our wallet that protects us from illegal searches and seizures. We don’t require permission for minorities or women to vote. So, why do we allow government to legislate our 2A rights away? A law abiding citizen doesn’t become a criminal just because he crosses an imaginary line into a school or carries one weapon over another. So, why do we treat them like criminals by creating laws that basically say, “we can’t trust you here, here, and here. And we also don’t trust you carrying this way or that weapon.”
When lawmakers begin banning the open carry of certain firearms (or all firearms), it won’t be because of open carriers. It won’t be because of Bloomberg’s puppets in the gun control movement. It will be because gun owners stopped supporting the 2A and began siding with the anti-gun media and Bloomberg in opposing certain types of carry based on emotional activism. Butters represent the most dangerous threat to our right to bear arms than any other group out there because it swings the pendulum to the left where the liberals are gladly welcoming them with open arms.
First, they came for the openly carried rifles, but I said nothing because I don’t open carry rifles.
Then, they came for the openly carried handguns, but I said nothing because I don’t open carry handguns.
Then, they came for concealed carried handguns, but I said nothing because I keep my guns at home or on the range.
Then, they came for my for my guns, but there was no one left to stand with me.
It’s time we stop piecemealing away our rights and start demanding total respect for them. Study after study proves that expanded gun rights equal less crime and more prosperity. Unfortunately, expanded gun rights also mean less money for establishment organizations operating under the cover of the 2A. Gun control is a lucrative business.