Open Carry of Firearms

I have long been a proponent of judicious open carry of firearms, commonly just called “open carry.” There are a number of reasons for this, some practical, some legal, and some philosophical.

There are some folk out there strongly opposed to open carry (as opposed to those who are opposed to carry in general and only mention “open” carry because, well, concealed means concealed and they have no idea how many people might be carrying concealed).  The reasons, other than just “I don’t like guns” fall into three categories:

  1. It makes you the first target of the criminal.
  2. Someone will rob you for your gun.
  3. You’ll freak out the locals and law enforcement.

Let me dismiss the first two right here.  While they might happen, whenever anyone has cited them I’ve asked for examples.  Lots of theoretical possibilities thrown up but actual case of an armed citizen being attacked first?  Or someone robbed explicitly to get their gun?  Nobody’s been able to come up with more than a bare handful of cases ever.  In a nation of more than three hundred million people, I’m not going to worry about something as rare as that.  There are too many low probability things that I could worry about if I were so inclined.  Yes, it’s easy enough to avoid those two items as “low probability” by simply carrying concealed instead of open, but not enough, in my opinion, to outweigh some other factors.

And, really.  Consider the argument made by many for concealed carry:  the idea that someone might be armed acts as a deterrent to crime.  If the idea that someone might be armed will get someone to hesitate, how much more when they know, because they can see it, someone is armed?  Unlike the movies, there are rarely reasons that a criminal has to attack a specific target at a specific time.  If they decide the scene is too “hot” they can always back out and come back later.  This factor does not get noticed because crimes that don’t happen don’t get added to statistics.

The third reason?  Well, that depends to a large extent on where you are.  New Jersey (yes, actually legal under at least some circumstances)?  Not a good idea.  Rural Arizona?  Whole different ballgame.  And there are factors in that which I will get to in a moment.

There is a fourth reason, and one I will not challenge for anybody.  That reason is “I don’t feel comfortable open carrying.” That’s fine.  Don’t.  If you’re not comfortable with the idea of having your gun visible to the world, then don’t.  Cover it up.  I would be the last person to tell you that you must open carry.  It’s part of that “freedom” thing I’m so big on.

So, with those reasons not to carry, which may be modest but are still real, why would anyone open carry at all?

The first reason is comfort and convenience.  A jacket to cover a pistol at your waist or in a shoulder holster might be uncomfortably warm in summer.  An “inside waist band” holster that you can tuck a shirt around and thus keep concealed in a shirt and shorts (for hot weather) can be designed to be reasonably comfortable.  But it won’t be as comfortable as a holster sitting on the outside of the waistband.  Likewise, if you need to get to the gun (criminal didn’t notice the presence of an armed person–more common than you might think) or decided to go for it anyway?  Having to move clothing out of the way to get to the gun may only take a half second or so, but that half second might well be the difference between life and death.

Not likely to be that critical?  Perhaps.  And, indeed, one can make the same “low probability” argument I made about the first two reasons not to carry.  And there would be considerable justice in that.  But then there are other reasons convenience can come into play.  You might, for instance, be going into a place where carry is legally barred and have to set your gun aside.  No untucking shirts to get access to the gun so you can remove it, then retucking to look presentable afterward.

Small things, perhaps, but still reasons why one might want to open carry.

A second reason is that very deterrence aspect I mentioned above.  Sure, folk talk about folk open carrying being “targeted first” and “robbed for their gun” but I am firmly convinced the more likely scenario is criminal approaches intent on crime, sees individual with visible present firearm, decides “not now” and walks away.

Now, the third reason is the big one.  In large parts of the United States when people see someone with a gun it’s either a police officer, or a criminal engaged in committing a crime.  Television, Movies, and the News Media emphasize that impression.  So the picture people have of someone carrying a gun is police or criminals.  This image has been built up over a long time, at least a century.  Law abiding citizens interested only in going about their business in peace and are armed against those who would prevent them from doing so are unseen, unremarked, and largely forgotten.  Now, people may know intellectually that people other than police and criminals carry guns, but if that’s all they see then that’s the emotional connection they’ll make.  And emotional connections influence people’s behavior in ways that intellectual arguments rarely can.

That image could be changed if major entertainment and news were to take a more balanced view on the matter, talk about law abiding folk who carry for self defense as something normal and reasonable instead of “paranoid idiots” who are “a threat to everyone around them.”  (Paranoid?  Average person has an 83% likelihood sometime in his or her life of being the victim of an attempted violent felony.  In about half of those, the crime will be completed not just attempted.  And about half those numbers will be attacked more than once in their life.)

If the image in people’s heads that only police and criminals carry guns is to be changed we “in the trenches” so to speak have to be the ones to do it.  And one of the main tools to do that is judicious open carry.

The key word there is “judicious.” Look, that guy who exercised his “open carry” right by open carrying an AR pattern rifle into a Walmart just days after there was a highly publicized shooting at one was an idiot.

While I won’t dispute the matter of rights, he remains an idiot.

Use some gods forsaken judgement people.  There is a time and place.  Some cost benefit analysis would be well worth the effort.

Places which are friendly to guns?  Open carry to your heart’s content.  Just don’t pull the gun out and wave it around. (That’s “brandishing” and is generally a crime.)

Places actively hostile to guns?  Probably better to keep it concealed.  Only dare it if you’re really sure you can remain calm under extreme provocation (which you are likely to face) and are willing to face legal harassment, up to including arrest and charge for things like “disorderly conduct”.  If you’re prepared to deal with that, then evoking legal charges for the express purpose of showing the unjustness of those laws and the hope of judicial nullification, that’s a fair approach–just remember that it is a gamble and you might well lose which could lead to conviction and loss of rights.

And remember that “SWATting” is a thing and, depending on what the police have been told shooting might be their first tactic.  That’s the risk you could be taking.

It’s places on the cusp, where the people average at uncertain or slightly uncomfortable with the idea of people being armed for self defense where open carry can be the most beneficial activism tool.  Seeing people simply going about their business with a handgun discretely, if openly, holstered at their side, can help “normalize” the idea of people carrying firearms.  Their first reaction on noticing someone armed might be nervousness and fear but repeated exposures to the soft-spoken guy taking his daughter shopping, or the young woman selecting flowers at the nursery, or the middle aged gent washing his car, all with gun, and nothing bad happening can help to normalize the idea in people’s heads.

Just remember that when you open carry you are an ambassador for all of us.  Your actions, and reactions, will have a disproportionate influence on the populace about gun owners and their rights.

So use some judgement, okay?

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Some Musings on the Ice Follies.

Went to the ice rink for public skate.  For various reasons it was a relatively short session.  I didn’t get to do a lot of technique practice because the rink was a bit too crowded, with a lot of kids (at least one party) and since the big practice I’ve been doing is backward skating, I didn’t figure it would be safe.  If there was a collision and I landed on one of those kids, well, I’m not little so there would have been nothing left but a red spot.

So I mostly did the skating in circles bit.

Out of the about 50 minutes that my daughter and I were there I spent about forty of them on the ice and skating.  I needed a short break about ten minutes in to let my feet recover.  The arch issues I have aren’t going away and while my feet have adapted a bit (and the skates got broken in) it’s just going to be an issue.  A couple of other short breaks to catch my breath but I did most of that time actually skating.  And that’s a big thing.

You see, I can remember, not that long ago (earlier this year in fact) when circling the rink five times, with breaks every half-lap, was an accomplishment to be proud of.  I can remember when two were a breakthrough for me.  And now, just a few months later, I’m skating around for forty minutes with only a few short breaks (hey, got to cut this 58 year old body some slack).

I first learned to skate when I was 18.  For various reasons I was living in Phoenix Arizona, crashing with friends while I tried to find work while still attending my last year of High School.  That didn’t work out and I ended up having to go back to Ohio but that’s another story.  In any case there was an ice rink that the friends I was staying with went to regularly.  It was there that I learned to skate.  I was purely self taught.  I didn’t do too bad considering.  I learned to skate forward, two foot and one foot glides.  Most of the people at the rink didn’t do a proper stop.  Some did hockey stops (my friends did) but not many.  Mostly they just dragged the toe picks of one skate to stop, which is strongly frowned on most places I’ve skated since (not like there are a lot of them).  I started working on a T-stop:

I could do forward crossovers pretty well:

 

Indeed, my friends and I would sometimes play “tag” on the ice.  That was strictly against rink rules but…teenagers, what can I say.  My friends skated on hockey skates.  I used figure skates.  Now, they were faster than I was, with more acceleration, but using those crossovers, I could turn inside them.  I’d catch them at the ends where they were forced to turn.

But there were things I did not learn.  I didn’t learn the “swizzles” I discussed in early “Ice Follies” posts.  And I didn’t learn backward skating at all.

The real big gain in my skill came over the labor day weekend.  The rink hosted a 24 hour skating marathon for Muscular Dystrophy (this was back in the days of the Jerry Lewis Telethon fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy and related diseases).  I started the session wobbly and barely able to keep upright.  I ended it smooth and well balanced.

When I had to return to Ohio, ice skating mostly ended.  The only “rink” we had was an outdoor basketball court that was flooded in the winter and allowed to freeze–provided weather got and stayed cold enough.  If that sounds horrid it’s because it was.

Another brief episode when I was in the Air Force and assigned to a base in England.  I discovered Queens Ice Club in London and would take the train down from time to time.  Actually bought a pair of skate there (long since lost).  Once I returned to the US, that was it.  No skating for the next 35 years until my daughter expressed an interest and we got her into classes.  I found that I’d essentially lost everything I had learned when younger.  I was having to start completely from scratch. (No, it’s not like riding a bike.)

Soon thereafter, I started taking classes myself.

And here we are.

But the big thing was, just a few months ago, a couple of times around the rink was a major accomplishment.  Now, forty minutes of skating before I’m too tired to continue safely.  I’m not even trying to count laps at this point.

Not bad for an old fart.

 

“The Problem isn’t Guns it’s Mental health.”

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(Yes, I’ve used this picture before.)

A common response to more gun control in the wake of high-profile shootings is to claim that the problem isn’t guns, but mental health.   We need to work on the mental health issue and leave the guns alone.  There’s more than a little truth to that.  I have, indeed, talked about the need to address mental health issues as part of a comprehensive approach to crime and violence.

But there are issues as well.  Like all simplistic “fixes” it can be as much problem as solution.  The problem I have with this new clarion call about mental health as the “cause” of violence is this:

Not. All. Mental. Health. Issues. Are. The. Same.

Only a tiny fraction of mental health issues lead to a propensity for violence in some individuals.  See “tiny fraction” and “some individuals”?  Most people with most mental health problems are no more a threat than anyone else.  But when people talk mental health in connection with curbing violence, either in general or in the specific case of gun violence, they tend to use a very broad brush indeed.  The details, and nuance, get lost in the rush for quick, simple “fixes.”

The push in some quarters is for broad expansion of “prohibited persons” to people with mental health problems of all types. This has two immediately apparent bad effects: 1) denying rights to people who should not have their rights denied and 2) creating an incentive for people who have problems to not seek help for fear of losing their rights.

So, while I can agree with the basic concept that the person and their particular characteristics (including some mental health issues), I fear the execution is going to be another rights grab, another excuse to deny the common individual their rights.

Quite frankly, allowing the government to set “mental health” qualifications for the exercise of rights has never gone well.  Never.  The temptation is there to use it as a means to shut down the rights of anyone not in favor with those in power.  And sooner, rather than later, those in power give in to that temptation.  There’s a reason why “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law” made the top ten “don’t do it” list of the Bill of Rights.  The bar against depriving someone of their rights is high.  It’s supposed to be.  The arbitrary power to do so without strong protections against abuse leads to tyranny always.  If not with any current administration (after all, they’d only take those powers if they have the purest motives, right?) then in one soon to follow.  And governments are not so easily induced to relinquish powers once they’ve grabbed them.

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s coming from the “right” or the “left”, a rights grab is a rights grab and a power grab is a power grab.

“Nothing Moral about Work”

I’d like to think that this is actually a parody–and maybe it is–but I’ve run into entirely too many people for whom it’s an entirely too real attitude.

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Nothing moral about work? But apparently there’s something moral about forcing other people to work to provide that food, water, shelter, health care and other things that you want to have without working for it.  After all, those “basic human rights” you’re claiming don’t fall like manna from the skies.  Someone has to work to provide them.  And if you’re not going to work to provide something that they’ll voluntarily exchange for the product of their work, then you’re going to have to force them.

There is a word for that.

I’m going to go with you’re basically an entitled scumbag and you need to be kicked to the curb to make your own living or not (and if not, to starve–in the words of Paul, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat”). I’m good either way.  I have absolutely no caring whatsoever for people in smug self-righteousness refusing to work because they have a “right” to have other people provide for them, people like you.

There are people with real difficulties who need help. Them, I’m more than willing to help.

You’re not one of them.

Why Do You Oppose Social Justice?

This question was asked of William Shatner and he gave what I think is a pretty good answer.

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The thing is, most of what people call “social justice” is neither Social nor Justice.  This does not mean that the term itself can’t have valid meaning.  Somebody over on the Book of Faces said that using a modifier with “Justice” diluted and destroyed the meaning with “Social Justice” as the prime example.  I disagreed.  Modifiers on “Justice” are not necessarily diluting or destroying so much as rather calling out subsets within the larger field of “justice.”

Properly used the expression [modifier][justice] is not a case of the modifier changing what is meant by “justice” but rather means “Justice”, in its own meaning as. applied. to. the. topic. indicated. by. “modifier.”

A good example is “Criminal Justice”, as the term is properly used (which is not to say that it is properly used all that often) is the application of the concept of justice to criminal law and the courts. Things like proof beyond reasonable doubt before instituting legal penalties. None of this “we all know he’s guilty” and certainly no Queen of Hearts’ “penalty first, verdict later.”

The modifier simply what elements of justice we’re talking about.

Thus, “social justice” can be a perfectly valid term. The application of principles of justice to the topic of “society.” Abolishing Jim Crow is an excellent example of “social justice” (as the term should mean). Ending Apartheid is another. Working through persuasion and argument to end and reduce prejudice and discrimination is yet another.

What it it not, what it cannot be without corrupting the term “Justice” beyond recognition is to use force to take what someone has earned either directly or though investment, and give it to someone else who didn’t earn it. That is injustice however you slice it.

As economist Walter E. Williams put it:

“But let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you – and why?”

― Walter E. Williams, All It Takes Is Guts

But that’s not what we have.  That’s not how it’s used.  Indeed, it’s used in the exact opposite:  to take from those who have earned to give to those who haven’t.  To try to level “inequities” in ways that don’t reduce the root causes, but in ways which exacerbate them.

It’s not “Social justice” in any rational meaning of the term.  It’s simply injustice.  It doesn’t become justice because of previous injustices going the other way.  Putting artificial barriers in front of one group because previously barriers were in front of another does not render such barriers just.  They’re just as unjust whichever group they’re in front of.

The problem is that changes in society take time.  No matter how much one might wish to wipe away the injustices of the past and move forward into a perfectly just future.  Unfortunately, that’s not an achievable goal in the real world.  We can try to move toward it, tapping our feet impatiently at the slow progress, but that is all.  Attempts to hasten the process, by implementing new injustices in an attempt to “right the injustices of the past” do not serve that end.  All they do is add to the injustice, and invite backlash as the new injustices are seen by those, now being unjustly treated, to perpetrate yet more injustice now to “correct” the injustice they are not experiencing.

And so it goes, injustice breeding injustice moving further away from the goal of a more just society.

Further, justice must always be an individual matter.  Injustice committed by one individual, or even a group of individuals, never justifies reprisal against individuals who did not commit the injustice simply because they happen to possess certain characteristics (like skin color or ethnic forebears) to the ones who did commit the injustice.  Collective punishment is itself extreme injustice.

If you want justice, you must promote justice not new injustices.  It may take longer than you like to fully right the wrongs handed down from the past.  Indeed, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see a perfectly just society in this imperfect world.  But that’s no excuse to perpetrate new injustices simply so you can “get yours.”

So is the ideal you strive for actual justice, or an excuse for injustices in your favor.

I tend to prefer justice.

 

Why I Do It.

I’ve touched on this a couple of days ago, but I thought this deserved its own posting.

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Over on the Book of Faces someone said that one of my posts made some good points but “too bad the people who need to hear it won’t.” He then went on to point out that the people on the “other side”, and particularly politicians, are simply not interested in the facts of the argument.

This is true.  True Believers aren’t going to be swayed by any argument I can make here (or elsewhere).  They’ll reject anything I say out of hand.  Even, if as has happened more than once, they accept an argument that I present they’ll be back the next day (if indeed they wait that long) stating the same positions that they had just acknowledged that I had refuted.  It’s all in one ear and out the other to use the old metaphor.

So, I was asked, “why bother?  Those who need to understand this won’t listen.”

Here’s why I bother.

Since at least 1990, on the order of four million babies have been born in the US every year.  Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less, but in that ballpark.  that’s four million brand new people that haven’t “picked a side” yet.  And since it will be some years before any of those “new people” settle into unpersuadable “true believer” status, that means there’s a large pool of millions, tens of millions, of people who might be reachable by arguments such as those I make.  That’s more than enough to sway future elections if we liberty-minded people can reach them.

For a long time the Left has had control of the media.  Oh, back in the day they played pretend that they were “objective” but they could only get away with that because there was no one else to refute them.  Time and again I sat and watched Walter Cronkite, “the most trusted man in America,” lie about Southeast Asia.  I have no reason to believe he was any more truthful about anything else simply because I wasn’t familiar with the material he was covering.  They’ve had control of Education, of Entertainment, and much of both major parties. (People forget that “Neocon” came to describe more hawkish leftists disenchanted with more pacifistic leftists who switched parties, bringing their other leftist views with them.  When people started using “Neocon” as meaning some “arch” or “uber” conservative, well, that just showed how far “left” even the “right” had gone.)

While that was the case it was easy for folk like me, folk who believed in ideals of Liberty, to think they were alone or in a tiny minority.  But as the stranglehold on the media got broken, that became less the case.

So, there are three reasons why I “do it.”

  • To attempt to reach some of those tens of millions (at least) of people who haven’t become “true believers” in the other side, the ones who are amenable to persuasion.
  • To provide others on “my side” (at least partly–“I’m not altogether on anyone’s side because no one is altogether on my side.”) with facts and arguments they can use to persuade others.
  • To show those on “my side” that they are not alone.  They’re not the tiny minority of “extremists” that the media portrays.

So that’s why I do it.

Fogo de Chao

Last month I got an email ad about a special being run at the Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao.  Normally, I ignore such things but I had long been curious about the place and the deal seemed like a good chance to try it out.

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I made reservations (do, if you plan to go there) and went there with my daughter.

Even with the reservations we had to wait.  Which is not unexpected.  After all, they don’t have control over when people who are already seated leave so they can seat the ones who’ve just arrived.  Ended up being about a fifteen minute wait.

Drinks.  They have an extensive wine list.  I can’t drink wine.  It spikes my blood sugar.  I didn’t look to see if they carried distilled spirits.  What they do not have is fountain drinks and certainly no free refills.  They did, however, have Diet Coke in bottles.  The bottle was a little teeny thing.  Eight ounces maybe?  I didn’t find a size written on it, so that’s a guess.

My daughter had some canned soft drink.  I don’t know what it was.  Some imported thing.

While talking about drinks, when you sit down, there are these little red disks at the place settings.  They are not coasters.  I’ll get to them in a moment.  Just remember, they are not coasters.  You have a knife, fork, and tongs.  I’ll get to the tongs in a moment as well.

You can order a meal off the menu but that’s not the way to do Fogo de Chao.  Instead, what you want is the service that regular price is just over $50 per person.  The special that brought my daughter and me here was less than that ($39), and did not include some of the higher-priced meat cuts, nevertheless that’s what we ordered.  The person who explained the setup and took our drink orders explained the difference but didn’t press when we demurred on the higher cost item.

You start with the “Market Table”, basically a very upscale salad bar.  You get a plate.  The Market Table has vegetables, a number of cuts of cured meats–I think I saw Salami there along with others and the cured leg of some animal, don’t know what–cheeses, fruits, and so forth.  I got a few vegetables and a bit of tomato mozarella salad.

Once you bring your plate (whether you get anything at the market table or not) the fun begins.  Those little disks I mentioned?  They start red side up.  You turn them green side up once you’re ready to have some meat.  What they have are people circulating with skewers of different cuts of meat–or plates in the case of the pork ribs.  When they see green side up they come to your table and offer you some of the item they’re carrying.  If you don’t care for that one, they move on.  If you do want some of that one they’ll start to carve a piece off, then you’ll grab the meat in the tongs so they can finish the cut, and you transfer it to your plate.

You continue in this way until you’ve decided you’ve had enough.  We had several cuts of beef, chicken, and pork.  All were delicious.  The marinated chicken drumsticks were particularly interesting.  They weren’t the full drumstick, just the “head” portion which they said were marinated overnight.  I’ll admit, my daughter didn’t care for hers but I thought they were quite good–although, given a choice I’ll generally go with beef over chicken pretty much any day.

When you’re done, or if you need a break to finish what you already have on your plate simply flip the card over to the red side and they’ll know not to bother you.

It’s expensive, yes, but the food is excellent and there’s plenty of it.  So, I consider this a “special occasions place”.  And I can highly recommend it on that basis.

One thing.  If you’re on any kind of diet, just assume that any day you go to Fogo de Chao will be a “cheat day.”  Food that good should be savored without having to worry about whether you’ll eat too much or what the effect will be on your waistline.