By Paul Brown
I can still remember the first time I saw a non-law-enforcement, non-military open carrier. It was at a Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and the guy was carrying a, full-size .357 magnum in a brown, leather holster on his right hip. I have always been a supporter of the right to keep and bear arms and though I had just recently moved to Virginia, I was also familiar with the laws surrounding firearms so I wasnít that surprised (or shocked). Still there was an impact, a positive one, and this is why . . .
I would not have personally been weirded out by a guy carrying a gun. Not only had I been exposed to firearms by my parents since before I could walk, but I also served for five years in the United States Marine Corps, where I grew incredibly used to the presence of firearms virtually all the time.
But despite my own level of comfort I had always wondered about how others would feel about carrying a gun in publicÖgasp! After all, I didnít want to scare anyone, or get the police called on me.
Everyone appeared to be fine though. It was a fairly crowded restaurant and people didnít even seem to notice. If they had noticed they certainly didnít seem to care. It opened my eyes. It would be several months from that point before I would ever open carry, but the seed was planted. This is something I can do safely, without scaring the masses, and without going to prison. And itís something you can do too (some restrictions apply, please check on your local laws).
But more than that, itís something you should do. And this is why.
With the recent changes in the law in Georgia along with an all-time high in national attention to all things gun-related, the antis are throwing everything theyíve got at us, most recently targeting open carry. Maybe itís just something that is so absolutely scary and absurd to them that they feel like they must go after it, or maybe they realize what a powerful tool it is in our favor. If itís the latter they may be right. Let me explain.
Sweeping, radical changes in society are pushed by effective, powerful information campaigns and propaganda. When ideas are offensive to large swaths of society, sometimes the best way to change peopleís perceptions is to normalize the subject through constant exposure to it. The civil rights movement did not move forward because proponents for equal rights stayed in the shadows. It moved forward because people refused not to be seen. They refused to be ignored. They sat at the front of busses, they sat in restaurants, they attended universities, and they were seen. Look at the gay rights movement over the last several decades. Being gay has gone from being something that could likely get you fired from your job to something that will likely get you fired from your job for expressing your own opposition.
Fun fact: These movements were not driven by legislation. They drove legislation. These movements were driven by familiarization and normalization through exposure.