As I’ve said before, I’m generally a supporter of the right to own guns, within reasonable limits and with necessary safeguards. This is the position of most Americans, I imagine. But the gun nuts who are showing up en masse in restaurants with AR-15s over their shoulders aren’t helping their cause at all. When even the NRA puts out a statement calling you scary, it may be time to reconsider your position.
Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places.
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.
Update: And perhaps cognizant of that fact, the NRA quickly backed down from its statement:
But on Tuesday, NRA official Chris Cox was quick to renounce the statement, describing it as a “mistake.”
“It’s a distraction,” Cox said during an interview with an NRA radio show. “There was some confusion, we apologize, again, for any confusion that that post caused.”
He continued: “It shouldn’t have happened. I’ve had a discussion with the staffer who wrote that piece, and expressed his personal opinion. Our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners.”
Cox’s repudiation came shortly after Open Carry Texas, a major proponent of open carry laws in the state, leveled harsh criticism at the NRA for disparaging the protests.
“If they do not retract their disgusting and disrespectful comments, OCT will have no choice but to withdraw its full support of the NRA and establish relationships with other gun rights organizations that fight for ALL gun rights, instead of just paying them lip service the way the NRA appears to be doing,” the group wrote on its Facebook page.
No wonder they feel the need to carry automatic weapons at all times: they’re obviously cowards.