I used to be a proud NRA member. Now I’m just a member. A Patron Life member, but just a member nonetheless. They won’t be getting another penny of mine any time in the near future.
My frustration with the NRA began in 2013 and was initially personal in nature. After my arrest in Temple for lawfully carrying my AR15 while on a hike through rural Texas (surrounded by my family’s pastures) with my son, the NRA refused to help. I was told that if my case went to appeal, they would be interested in helping with that. Well, the case went to appeal and again the NRA did nothing to assist with the case.
Not only did they passively ignore my open carry case, they actively opposed open carry in Texas. They actually created a blog post that called open carry in public “not only is it rare, it’s downright weird.” But, the NRA didn’t stop there. They attacked law abiding gun rights activists that were fighting to further 2nd amendment rights in Texas by calling the open carry rallies a “dubious practice” that is “downright scary!” Dubious?! Scary?! To be fair, the NRA retracted its ignorant ramblings, but only after gun owners revolted and began sending in their shredded membership cards. Unfortunately, anyone paying attention would have recognized that the NRA slipped when it admitted that “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.”
I only rehash the past to draw attention to the present. Despite supposedly opening their eyes to the plight of gun owners, the NRA has recently exposed it’s lack of spine in defending the 2nd amendment by pushing for bump stock and “red flag” legislation. They’ve already accomplished the bump stock ban and many states are instituting their red flag bills.
Just when I thought they had learned their lesson about open carry, they go and publish yet another article critical of open carry using worn out, baseless, unsubstantiated, and ignorant claims. Author Karen Hunter begins her piece hoping to convince us that her “objective is not to sway you from one side to other.” Then, after going through the pro/con arguments between open and concealed carry, concludes her screed with “Personally, I lean more toward the concealed-carry-always viewpoint” and launches a full-throated offense against open carry.
Before I tear into her points, let me make something clear: I don’t care HOW you carry. JUST CARRY!! How and whether you carry is your preference and everyone has their own. While I and Open Carry Texas have pushed for open carry as an option, we don’t tell people that one is better than the other because, as Ms. Hunter TRIED to do, there are pros and cons to each method. My main point of contention is that once again the NRA is trying to stigmatize open carry for all the wrong reasons.
My biggest objection to this hit piece is that she insinuates that our rights and carry preferences should be adjusted because “there are many people who aren’t anti-gun but are not educated on gun facts or laws whatsoever.” I thought the entire purpose of the NRA was to educate?! I know that’s the point of Open Carry Texas. You don’t educate people on something by restricting their access to it. You can’t teach people that driving is fun if you tell people why they shouldn’t drive or keep cars hidden.
Hunter then goes on to say she doesn’t prefer open carry because “I really don’t want to cause unneeded alarm to anyone or induce any amount of gun-related anxiety.” I’ve been open carrying for years (before open carry was legal in Texas, I OC’d in other states) and I’ve never had to worry about “inducing gun-related anxiety.” This is NOT how you fix this problem anyway. The best way to handle anxiety is to confront anxiety by exposing them to the elements that cause it.
For example, after a major motorcycle crash, many people are scared to get back on one. There is a lot of anxiety and fear involved just seeing one. However, the way to overcome that is not to hole yourself up inside your home, but to expose yourself to motorcycles. If you don’t get back on that motorcyle, you’ll always live in fear of it. Same with combat veterans. One of the ways that we overcome much of our combat anxiety is to expose ourselves to the sights and sounds of combat. When I returned from Iraq, I couldn’t watch Saving Private Ryan or other combat movies with realistic sound effects. However, I learned that if simply fight my anxiety by confronting it I could overcome it.
Instead of retreating to remote places on the 4th of July, I forced myself to go and watch fireworks displays so that I could overcome my reactions to explosions. I generally don’t have problems now because I expect loud noises during certain occasions throughout the year. Now, I do still have reactions to the unexpected, but I have learned how to deal with those anxieties and control them instead of allowing them to control me.
I usually open carry because I can’t stand inside the waistband holsters. I find them uncomfortable especially considering that my EDC is a full-sized 1911. However, as an activist, I mainly OC because I want to expose the public to the sight of a law abiding citizen with a firearm so they don’t fear them as much. Ms. Hunter may want to perpetuate the irrational fear of firearms, but I don’t. The NRA may be okay with it, but OCT is not.
I’m going to be 100% honest here: open carry is not really fear-inducing to the vast majority of Americans. Those that claim it is are lying. OC is not what causes fear; ignorance and a lack of education is. You don’t fix ignorance by placating it. You don’t educate people by withholding educational materials from them. When OC in Texas was being debated, all the libtard gun grabbers whined about this exact claim: open carry will induce fear! Hundreds of OCT members have OC’d in thousands of places throughout Texas (and others in others states, I might add) and no one has every experienced someone running away in fear. There have been complaints, but these have come from the gun haters anyway. Who cares what they think? My rights aren’t dependent on the irrational or manufactured fears of others.
Finally, Ms. Hunter conjures up the worn out myth about the “element of surprise.” Why any gun owner wants the “element of surprise” instead of the element of prevention is beyond me. When you need to “surprise” an attacker, you’re already being attacked. One can argue that appearing disarmed through concealed carry makes you just as much of a target as open carrying and making your firearm a target. I would argue the former is more likely than the latter. The overwhelming majority of criminals prefer a soft target and will be deterred by a visibly armed person. On the other hand, nearly all criminals are likely to target someone they believe isn’t armed. This is especially easy to understanding considering that, at least here in Texas, only about 4-5% of the public is licensed to carry and surely the criminals realize their odds are good.
The only thing that Ms. Hunter and the NRA accomplished with this article is once again splitting gun owners into two camps: open carriers and conceal carriers. I wish the establishment gun rights “defenders” would simply shut up about open or concealed carry and simply encourage people to carry. The article was great in presenting some reasoned pros and cons about each mode, but then defeated its entire purpose through its advocacy of one over the other.
Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a big deal to me if the NRA didn’t have such a history of attacking open carriers in the first place.