Stigma of Open Carry
There has been a lot of conversation here at work about the second amendment and even the rights to carry since the tragedy in Colorado and again in the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI. In Oregon, you can’t carry your firearm unless you have gone through the “handgun safety class” and you have a permit signed by your friendly Sheriff. Because of the stigma of seeing someone with a gun, Oregon only allows you to carry if you have a concealed permit and your handgun is hidden where no one can see it. In some states, however, it is perfectly fine to carry your firearm on your hip… out in the open. This is technically called “open carry” and because it can easily be seen by all, no concealed carry permit or special paperwork is required. I think that carrying an open handgun should be no more outrageous that driving a car. However, if you see a beat up old van with no windows driving up and down your street repeatedly. Parking long hours outside the elementary school…does that not raise suspicion? The driver isn’t breaking the law by doing so, but something doesn’t seem right about it.
To that point, if I see a person I don’t know walking around my neighborhood with a gun, well, that is going to be cause for alarm. I didn’t say it was illegal or even against that person’s right to do so. I said it raises suspicion – and suspicious activity warrants intervention. (at least in the eyes of most people here in Oregon).
There you have demonstrated the stigma that society has placed upon gun ownership. In a way it’s understandable, because the movement to discredit gun owners has been subtle, pervasive, and continuous for a very long time.
Society now equates anyone who carries a gun to a strange, paranoid unstable nut-job. Society has painted “the average American gun owner” as someone that is inherently not to be trusted. As someone that probably means others harm, even if it can’t be proven. I’m tired of it!
There shouldn’t be anything suspicious or untrustworthy about the mere act of owning or carrying a gun… because frankly there isn’t. Owning and carrying a handgun is no different than possessing any other tool that, while potentially hazardous, also carries the great potential for good.
What we should all see when we see a gun owner is, very simply, a person embodying the high virtue of personal responsibility. Each person should know that they, themselves are the first line of defense in times of crisis. It has been documented that you cannot depend on anyone else to save your life in times of crisis. Even if you dial 911, The Supreme Court has proven in “Warren v. District of Columbia” that the police cannot and will not be responsible for your safety. If the police has no responsibility for your safety, then you are truly the only one that can be accountable. There is no greater
protection to the individual, and shield against evil, than a well practiced sidearm. My hope is that as a society we begin to remember these things, and stop the “soft demonization” of the gun owner.