It was a Tuesday night. Usually Tuesdays in this midwest college town were sleepy affairs, especially at the office I worked at after school.
This one was going to be a memorable one, and for the wrong reasons. At the time I worked in wireless sales; so I wore business attire and sold overpriced electronics. I don’t know what it was about my store which provoked a man into walking into it with an openly carried Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical, but he nevertheless did so.
Immediately the mood in the store changed. My customer, a husband watching me program his wife’s new iPhone, started keeping a wary eye on the guy. The Rock Island bearer was an overweight, excessively bearded man whose wife wore a look of practiced resignation as she carried their kid through the store. Given that I was 50% of the available staff and my coworker was himself occupied, this meant the newcomers had to wait for service.
The entire time ,I’m keeping a closer eye on his weapon then I am the work i’m doing. And I don’t care. I only take my attention away breifly once I see its carried hammer down, which mean he’d have to fumble-fuck with the gun if harm was intended.
This fact was lost on my customers, who were so upset that they followed up with the corporate office on the matter. While I didn’t personally answer for the fact that the business was disrupted by the Open Carrier’s presence, his actions nevertheless were not interpreted by anyone there as a “RKBA act of activism”.
This is the basic fact so many in the “My RIGHTS” camp fail to notice. Firearms are tools of violence, a fact every layperson understands. When they see a man walk into a social area unaccustomed to public display of guns -read, everywhere not a gun range or gun shop- they immediately set the occupants on edge. Any possible activism or evangelism is obscured by the latent fact that someone with a deadly weapon and unknown intent is in the area.
As an aware shooter, seeing a harmless guy walk into my store with an openly carried -if tactically ineffective-gun was still cause for alarm. He may have been a happy go lucky family guy. Or he could decide to pull his weapon and blow away half the customers. Nowadays when ISIL is routinely shooting up civilian areas, its hard to know the difference between Harmless Open Carrier and Imminent Threat To Human Life. The average person is not going to spend time trying to sort the two out and will default to the latter.
It is that fact which makes any sort of armed open-carry “protest” a farce on its face. What the actual motivation is of the people who walk through state capitols with gas masks and slung AKMs is beyond my time and patience to determine here. What I can state confidently is that its NOT helping.
Open carry has a place, to be sure.
Let it not be said that the entire practice is some evil sin equivalent to firearms incest. As you can see at the top of this post, I have my trusty Beretta locked into a Safariland retention leg holster. This is not done because i’m trying to be the firearms equivalent of a Mormon evangelist-the range I work at mandates yellow safety vests be worn when on duty. Said vests SEVERELY compromise a concealed carry draw, and an open carry holster in the traditional belt position only acts as a shelf for the polyester safety vest.Attempting to draw from a regular belt holster openly worn results in a handful of safety vest being grabbed along with the pistol.
The drop leg places the gun low enough to clear the yellow safety vest and thus permit an unimpeded draw.
That’s it. I’ll never wear it in a public space outside of the range I RSO at, and as soon as I leave the building its coming off. Not just because of tactical matters, or the law ( open carry in public is legal here) or because I’m somehow afraid to show the weapon and evangelize the RKBA. I take it off because rights cannot be exercised without responsibility, and we have a duty as law abiding gun owners to not only exercise the RKBA-but to do so in a socially responsible manner.
That is how we accomplish RKBA activism. Not with gas masks and AKMs in the Subway line, but responsible exercise of our rights.