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Thread: UK Guardian Covers the Open Carry Movement Sweeping the USA

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    Comment section now open:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/jan/02/texas-open-carry-gun-laws
    Packing heat in plain sight
    It's frightening enough that Americans can carry concealed guns. Should they be allowed to wear them in the open too?
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    A few weeks ago, my wife and I had some friends over for dinner. I'm not quite sure how we got on to the subject, but it transpired that one of them carried a gun in her purse. Now this freaked me out slightly, not just because I'm British, but also because I didn't think any of our friends in Texas felt the need to carry guns. She tried to reassure us that she'd been to the firing range earlier that day to practice (in case, presumably, we thought she was a bad shot).

    Quite aside from the question of why she was even carrying a gun (to defend herself, she said, even though in Austin, a city of just under 750,000 people, there were just 30 murders last year, compared to, say, the London borough of Lambeth, population 273,000, where there were 23), at least she'd left it in her car. The law in Texas states that you must conceal your gun if you own one. But a group of gun advocates is targeting lawmakers here to get them to permit wearing handguns in plain view.

    The Texas legislative session begins in mid-January. In the meantime, the people behind the website opencarry.org have placed ads on billboards and taxis in cities across the state to make sure Texans get all hot under the collar about the issue. One of the site's founders, Mike Stollenwerk, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Get ready for a showdown in Austin come January." He insists that the open carry movement is "sweeping the country".

    But why, in a country where gun ownership is enshrined in law, are there people who want to have them on display? Surely as long as the man standing next to you in line at the grocery store isn't visibly packing heat, you won't start sweating and making for the nearest exit. Back in 1999, a friend and I hitched a ride in a Long Island suburb, and five minutes into the journey we realised our driver was wearing a pistol. It turned out he was a plain-clothed police officer, but the damage to my nerves was already done. I think if Americans must exercise their right to bear arms, they should do so in private where it can't hurt anybody (or have I missed the point?).

    I decide to call Stollenwerk to find out more. Stollenwerk is a retired Lt Colonel from the US army, and he is currently studying for a second career in law at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he's also the founder of the pro-gun-law student group called the Georgetown Law-Militia.

    When I tell Stollenwerk my theory that I'd feel far more comfortable not knowing someone has a gun on them, he calls me an ostrich. "You prefer to stick your head in the sand – that if you don't know about it you won't be scared," he says. "But think about it for a while. Think: 'Maybe some of my neighbours and friends do carry guns. And I might like it someday if there's an active shooter in Wal-Mart and they disrupt him while I run out of the front door.'"

    I ask why it's so important to him and his followers to be able to carry a gun in full view. "It's straightforward," he says. "You can walk around with a shotgun on your back in a mall. (I ask why anyone would want to do that, but I think he is just making a point.) But we're talking about handguns which the supreme court has said recently are the quintessential self-defence weapon."

    Essentially, Stollenwerk says the gun laws in Texas are all messed up. He owns a house just over an hour from Austin in Killeen. He says that if I visited him there he could take his coat off and display his gun, but I couldn't "because Texas law says you can only carry a handgun openly on land you own or control".

    He says it's fairly easy to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Texas if you're over 21, but you can carry a concealed weapon if you're travelling in your car without a background check, permit or training. "And that's weird," he says. "You can't even take your coat off in your car if you have a gun underneath. It must be concealed."

    Stollenwerk understands my unease about open carry laws. He says he was in the army "forever", but the first time he went to a gun rights meeting in Virginia and saw people "with guns tucked in their pants", he was a little shocked too. "I was like, this is cool but it's new, it's a little bit different", he says, adding that the point of the open carry movement is to get "gun carry out of the closet."

    Open carry was always viewed as the honourable way to bear arms, Stollenwerk says. "We want reform and we want to enforce our rights. There are six states that ban open carry completely, and Texas is, oddly, one of them. But Texas is pro-gun. Most of the south is pro-gun. And the south has more gun carry restrictions than the north or the west, believe it or not." He says almost 15,000 people have signed his online petition to decriminalise open carry.

    Opencarry.org, which has a picture of a sultry looking woman standing with her arms folded wearing a gun in a holster, includes a quote from anthropologist Charles Springwood of Illinois Wesleyan University. Springwood says open carriers are trying to "naturalise the presence of guns, which means that guns become ordinary, omnipresent and expected. Over time, the gun becomes a symbol of ordinary personhood."

    In a nutshell, the arguments boil down not just to a desire for the law to be clarified and cleaned up, but to whether it's a more effective deterrent to see a gun on show than if it's concealed. Ultimately though, Stollenwerk thinks people should have the right to choose, and he concedes that even the pro-gun lobby disagrees on which is preferable. He likes to compare this to the Miller Lite commercial in which two people argue whether the beer is best because of its great taste or because it's less filling.

    On one internet discussion board, someone calling himself Grassy K Badge Man says: "I am a supporter of firearms, but not really in social settings", while Marksman says open carry is not good from a strategic standpoint: "You don't want to give a violent criminal the tactical advantage of taking out the biggest threat they can openly see first. The vast majority of police officers carry concealed while off duty. It's no longer customary to carry guns openly in American society; therefore, there is no reason to draw attention to yourself by making others nervous when you don't have to."

    Steven Gunn (that's his real name) of the Gun Violence Prevention Centre of Utah, believes open carry is about "pure ego" and simply results in "inconsiderate boors walking around on the street carrying firearms openly, (most of whom) are trying to make a statement about the second amendment".

    I tend to agree. Although I sympathise with Stollenwerk that the law needs clarifying, I think if people must play with big boys' toys, they should do so at a firing range or otherwise keep them under lock and key. If our friend had turned up and put her Glock on the kitchen counter while she enjoyed dinner, I think I would have been more than a little nervous – particularly if I'd said something to offend her.

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    "I think if Americans must exercise their right to bear arms, they should do so in private where it can't hurt anybody (or have I missed the point?)."


    definitely think he's missed the point.



    oh- and make sure you tell that to the criminals roaming our streets...i'm sure they'll understand. maybe next time they'll think twice about armed robbery, or premeditated murder, and leave their gun at home, locked up in a safe place.



    and on another note- wait, i'll just post a topic about it...that atheist guy who wants "so help me God" out of the inauguration address
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    hammer6 wrote:
    "I think if Americans must exercise their right to bear arms, they should do so in private where it can't hurt anybody (or have I missed the point?)."


    definitely think he's missed the point.
    Yes he seems to miss it. I suppose we should only exercise our right to free speech in private also. No wait, then it wouldn't be free.
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    Mike wrote:
    If our friend had turned up and put her Glock on the kitchen counter while she enjoyed dinner, I think I would have been more than a little nervous – particularly if I'd said something to offend her.

    This goes right back to Projection.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

    Someone he calls a "friend" he feels there is a chance that she might shoot him if they got in an argument or if he offended her? What he is really saying, is that THIS is what HE would do or think about doing if he had a gun and is in the same situation.

    What the author needs is some serious education on the facts, anda serious session ofself check. Again and again I read about how he was "nervous" when he saw or heard about a gun.

    Thesimple truth hasbeen said, again and again, and again...

    The gun is a tool and left on a table, loaded or not, it will not kill anyone or pose any danger no matter how long it sits there. Its only when a PERSON comes along and takes it in hand does it become dangerous in any way. The author needs to look at himself as a PERSON to "get the point".




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    FMCDH wrote:
    Mike wrote:
    If our friend had turned up and put her Glock on the kitchen counter while she enjoyed dinner, I think I would have been more than a little nervous – particularly if I'd said something to offend her.
    This goes right back to Projection.

    Someone he calls a "friend" he feels there is a chance that she might shoot him if they got in an argument or if he offended her? What he is really saying, is that THIS is what HE would do or think about doing if he had a gun and is in the same situation.

    What the author needs is some serious education on the facts, anda serious session ofself check. Again and again I read about how he was "nervous" when he saw or heard about a gun.

    Thesimple truth hasbeen said, again and again, and again...

    The gun is a tool and left on a table, loaded or not, it will not kill anyone or pose any danger no matter how long it sits there. Its only when a PERSON comes along and takes it in hand does it become dangerous in any way. The author needs to look at himself as a PERSON to "get the point".


    you know, there's a website out there that has a webcam of a gun just sitting there. and the point is to catch the gun in an unlawful act. to this day, the gun has been a great law abiding little boy. haha
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    I submit that his citing of the homicide rates in Austin vs Lambeth proves our point: maybe they'd have fewer yet if the now-disarmed Brits had the option of not submitting. In any case, the law isnow going after gardners with long-bladed tools in the absence of legal guns to confiscate - and their crime rate has hardly diminished for all their "progressive" social engineering.

    -ljp

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    Mike wrote:
    Quite aside from the question of why she was even carrying a gun (to defend herself, she said, even though in Austin, a city of just under 750,000 people, there were just 30 murders last year, compared to, say, the London borough of Lambeth, population 273,000, where there were 23), at least she'd left it in her car.
    Yea, those ultra strict gun laws in the UK are certainly proving his point for him.

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    Here we go. This is the perfect example of liberal brainwashing. A case study in British gun ban. The mere sight of a gun makes him nervous, when theonly time anyone should EVER be nervous at the sight of a gun is when it is pointed at you.

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    15,000 people signed the petition? Just slightly more than that, guy. Try 50,000

    Anyhow, because you're not secure enough in yourself to trust yourself with a gun, does not mean that no one should. Don't project your feelings of inferiority onto us, seeing a firearm as more than a tool to a certain purpose; immediately seeing a carried firearm as some extension of ego. Also, I find it endlessly entertaining that you bring up the number of murders in Austin and Lambeth. Firearms are completely banned in one of the places, and one of the places has a staunchly higher murder rate. Connection? Yup. Funny that I know that after firearms were completely banned in your country the crime rate has skyrocketed, but you somehow do not. Or you choose not to see. Or perhaps you believe that this was caused for some other reason.


    BTW, That your precious nerves are so sensitive that they could be damaged by merely seeing a gun speaks volumes about you.

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    GumiBear wrote:
    Here we go. This is the perfect example of liberal brainwashing. A case study in British gun ban. The mere sight of a gun makes him nervous, when theonly time anyone should EVER be nervous at the sight of a gun is when it is pointed at you.

    Im not going to be nervous of the gun, Im going to be nervous of theindividual pointing it at me.

    Case in point...once the gun is no longer in his possession, Im still nervous of the dangerous individual who threatened me, not the hunk of plastic and metal I just took from him.



    People always want to blame the object and let off the individual influencing the object. Why, why, why do people insist on not holding the individual accountable for their actions?!

    Because people want to believe that they can beredeemed by something outside of themselves and their own choices.


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    FMCDH wrote:
    GumiBear wrote:
    Here we go. This is the perfect example of liberal brainwashing. A case study in British gun ban. The mere sight of a gun makes him nervous, when theonly time anyone should EVER be nervous at the sight of a gun is when it is pointed at you.

    Im not going to be nervous of the gun, Im going to be nervous of theindividual pointing it at me.

    Case in point...once the gun is no longer in his possession, Im still nervous of the dangerous individual who threatened me, not the hunk of plastic and metal I just took from him.



    People always want to blame the object and let off the individual influencing the object. Why, why, why do people insist on not holding the individual accountable for their actions?!

    Because people want to believe that they can beredeemed by something outside of themselves and their own choices.

    because people like our president select believe in reintegrating criminals into society with help of the government....give them a second chance without punishment...
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    Posted a comment - for what it was worth.

    I stated that I couldn't get past the subtitle without addressing rights vs. privileges.

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    Hcidem wrote:
    Posted a comment - for what it was worth.

    I stated that I couldn't get past the subtitle without addressing rights vs. privileges.
    nice- i didn't want to sign up
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    Hcidem wrote:
    Posted a comment - for what it was worth.

    I stated that I couldn't get past the subtitle without addressing rights vs. privileges.
    Reading all of the comments was hilarious

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    Comment posted along with VCDL link. :P

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    Quite aside from the question of why she was even carrying a gun (to defend herself, she said, even though in Austin, a city of just under 750,000 people, there were just 30 murders last year, compared to, say, the London borough of Lambeth, population 273,000, where there were 23), at least she'd left it in her car.
    So let me see, some math makes it okay for this woman to be a victim of violent crime, as long as she's just one of a few. Unbelievable. I guess it never occurs to guys like this that for the actual victims, there is 100% probability of being a victim. But hey, you know, from a social engineering standpoint, those poor devils are just a few broken eggs in the Big Omelet, right?

    I want to slap this man in the face.



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    [quote]edit: oops

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    [quote]

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    ..

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    you know, there's a website out there that has a webcam of a gun just sitting there. and the point is to catch the gun in an unlawful act. to this day, the gun has been a great law abiding little boy. haha
    Not my P220! Just yesterday, I caught that German rascal try to sneak out the front door, with magazine of 8 FMJ rounds. P220 almost made it to a waiting car to join up with a Glock 17 and a S&W 1911, both with plans to go downtown and shoot up the city.

    I gave the P220 a good spanking. It's grounded for 30 days -- no indoor range time for that bad gun!

    (sarcasm mode off)



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    Tomahawk wrote:
    Quite aside from the question of why she was even carrying a gun (to defend herself, she said, even though in Austin, a city of just under 750,000 people, there were just 30 murders last year, compared to, say, the London borough of Lambeth, population 273,000, where there were 23), at least she'd left it in her car.
    So let me see, some math makes it okay for this woman to be a victim of violent crime, as long as she's just one of a few. Unbelievable. I guess it never occurs to guys like this that for the actual victims, there is 100% probability of being a victim. But hey, you know, from a social engineering standpoint, those poor devils are just a few broken eggs in the Big Omelet, right?

    I want to slap this man in the face.

    Yeah it seems that a maniac wielding a knife can't do as much damage as a maniac with a gun. I'm sorry but dead is dead, whether you are the only victim or not. Try telling the family of the one dead person that was killed by someone with a knife "Hey at least he was the only one, just think if the guy had a gun there would have been more dead than just your husband". Yet if the guy being attacked with a knife had a gun to protect himself the outcome may have been different. Why is it that they want to stick their chest out and say "see since the ban gun violence has decreased", yet crime is on the rise, that is why now they are banning knives with blades longer than 3 inches.Before it is all over with they'll be eating withtheir fingers becauseplastic sporks will be banned next.

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    So per 1000 citizens thehomicide rate in Lambeth(no guns)is roughly double that of Austin (guns). Definitely more dangerous in Lambeth.
    The thing about common sense is....it ain't too common.
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    richlub wrote:
    Tomahawk
    I want to slap this man in the face.
    You are going to have to catch him first... I'm sure he will run and hide under his bed at the sight of a man approaching him with anything similar to a balled up fist
    No, you don't need a balled up fist. Simple posession of a hand should suffice - after all, it has the POTENTIAL to be used against him.

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    he doesn't get it and he never will.

    his government has trained him to be a servant. and he'll probably never shake it.

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    truck2201 wrote:
    Mike wrote:
    Quite aside from the question of why she was even carrying a gun (to defend herself, she said, even though in Austin, a city of just under 750,000 people, there were just 30 murders last year, compared to, say, the London borough of Lambeth, population 273,000, where there were 23), at least she'd left it in her car.
    Yea, those ultra strict gun laws in the UK are certainly proving his point for him.
    10 per 250,000 in Austin (with the ability to carry at all), or 23 per 273,000 in a gun free zone. Almost 2.5 times higher rate where guns are not supposed to exist. Hmmm

    Love those stats...



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