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NRA article sparks debate

June 10, 2014

Here’s an idea: If you want to convince people that brandishing weapons in public spaces is a good thing, show up at restaurants, at churches, at stores, with your rifles out in full view of diners, worshippers, patrons, etc.

That’s what some gun rights advocates are doing in Texas, to protest in favor of their right to openly bear arms. It’s definitely drawn attention to the issue.

From Lucio Eastman.

Gun-toting protesters have visited a number of public businesses. From Lucio Eastman.

The debate over this type of protest took an interesting turn when an article was posted recently on the National Rifle Association’s website. The New York Times reported on the article. Surprisingly, the  NRA piece criticized gun advocates involved in these demonstrations, explaining that they might alarm those on the fence about the issue. Not so surprisingly, the gun rights organization quickly stepped up to criticize the Times article and assert its support of both open carry and concealed carry of weapons. The article has since been replaced with a video, but can still be viewed here.

In reading through the comments on the New York Times report, it’s clear that those who don’t want to see weapons in public—whether as a protest or as a legal right—have plenty to say on the issue. Some worry that when you see someone carrying a gun in public, there’s no guarantee that that person can be counted on to refrain from using it. Some say they won’t bring their families to businesses where patrons have their guns out. Some call brandishing weapons in public bullying.

At a glance, it’s difficult to understand exactly what gun advocates hope to prove with these open-carry demonstrations. Are they trying to show how safe guns are by carrying them near innocent bystanders without shooting them? Is this simply about pushing the government to amend the law, which in Texas currently doesn’t allow open-carry of handguns?

There are also comments on the New York Times report that can see the other side. One writes in favor of the right to bear arms, noting citizens have needed to defend themselves during catastrophic events, such as Hurricane Katrina. Another points out that open-carry has an advantage over concealed carry: At least that way, police and citizens know who’s got a gun. It is also noted that the right to bear arms is legally protected. If you’re carrying a gun and using it legally and peacefully, yes, it might scare or offend some people, but there’s no law against that.

Interestingly, the article mentions that “unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places.”  That includes Texas.

It seems much of the debate is over which kinds of guns belong in public, not whether or not they belong there.

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Category: Guns

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