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Thread: "Normalcy Bias" and how that applies to Open Carry in Wisconsin

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    Regular Member jpm84092's Avatar
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    "Normalcy Bias" and how that applies to Open Carry in Wisconsin

    Psychologists have defined "Normalcy Bias" as a tendency for people to see things as they have previously been, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

    Wisconsin citizens are used to seeing other Wisconsin citizens as "normally" unarmed. Thus, seeing an armed citizen who is not wearing a uniform creates "cognitive dissonance" and is difficult to process. Thus, "normalcy bias" goes a long way to explain why many citizens of Wisconsin who open carry are not even noticed by their fellow citizens. It also goes a long way to explain why store clerks, left leaning citizens, and the uninformed, sort of "freak out" when they do notice an armed citizen who is not also wearing a uniform. They strain to find a badge or other "data" that would confirm their personal belief that only Law Enforcement should be armed.

    By way of example - I wear a black pants and a black shirt with my (Cloth) Utah Concealed Firearm Instructor Badge (issued by the State of Utah) on my shirt when I instruct a Concealed Firearm Permit course. When I stop for food or gas along the way, I am greeted with "good morning / afternoon Officer", even though I am not a law enforcement officer. The cloth badge and open carry firearm fit the image that people have of "authorized firearm holders" (translation: Law Enforcement) so they make the "leap" that authorized means Law Enforcement. I suspect that many people who notice a Citizen who is openly carrying a firearm MUST be a law enforcement officer, since they are not trying to hide the fact that they have a firearm.

    Let us hope that the Open Carry movement in Wisconsin makes the general populace of the State used to seeing people who have handguns strapped to their sides. Only then, will a real ground-swell of the general population support the concept of permit-free carry, open or concealed (Constitutional Carry).
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    "Permission Slips" from Utah, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. _ Verily, thou shalt not fiddle with thine firearm whilst in the bathroom stall, lest thine spouse seek condolences from thine friends.

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    Regular Member XDFDE45's Avatar
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    Interesting analogy. When people have asked my if I ever get hassled I say no but they hear about officers who get a bit over zealous when they come across people who do OC. I tend to think that for SO LONG they have been instructed/trained that anyone who is carrying a gun other than LE must be a threat. After reading about some of the more positive posts about LE encounters by people here hopefully that will start to swing the other way. Granted those positive encounters seem to be a small minority but if Constitutional Carry were to pass maybe, just maybe, more LEO will start to realize we are not a threat to them or the general public. Unless you're me where some seem to think I am ATF so I must be okay .
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    Regular Member bluehighways's Avatar
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    Interesting how you are presumed to be an officer when wearing black (with some kind of official looking logo) and your sidearm. I have had similar experiences. I ride a motorcycle EVERYWHERE I go, 3 seasons out of the year. Due to the law of averages, with riding in traffic all the time, the high number of miles I ride each year, and the inherent danger of riding, especially at night; One of the suits I wear is in HI-VIZ yellow, with big reflective bars on the back and legs.

    I am presumed to be a firefighter almost everywhere I go once I'm away from the bike, even though I carry my helmet in my hands. People have said "Thanks for saving lives!" to me while in a checkout lane. It is unnerving the first time it happens. This goes hand-in-hand with your observation of the psychological phenomenon known as 'normalcy bias'.

    Admins- sorry for going off-topic. I just wanted to add my feedback to the OP's observation.

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    Regular Member CalicoJack10's Avatar
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    Part of this is also the psychosis of a precieved threat. People who associate a firearm with a set standard for the person possessing it almost require them to search in order to calm themselves in the case of fear. The only manageable way to do that for an uneducated person is to look for some additional marking that would tell them if the person carrying is a threat or not.

    Ironically, the same thing applies to those that are educated. Once someone has a fair amount of training, we look at mannerisms instead of looking for bases or uniforms. Unfortunately, it is always going to be there for all those that associate with firearms, whether by accident or intentionally, will always have a set of pre programmed responses when this happens.

    Fortunately, the fact that someone takes the time to search for that verification gives us the opportunity to stop and talk with a majority of those that are unsure. And many times the way we present ourselves will provide the comfort that those that are unsure will be looking for. If you act like you are supposed to be carrying a side arm, people will naturally default as explained in the OP.

    The psychology involved in carrying is far more important than anything else. That's why psychology is the absolute most important thing I teach in regards to firearms.
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    Campaign Veteran Flipper's Avatar
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    Very interesting. Explains why the anti's are fighting open carry tooth and nail.
    When in danger you can dial 911 and hope for the police to arrive a few minutes later armed with guns.
    Why do police carry guns?

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    Regular Member jpm84092's Avatar
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    Further Clarification

    To help readers get a true picture of this post, I am offering the following information so that you can sort of visualize what I encounter when traveling to and from a Concealed Firearm Permit Class:

    The Utah Concealed Firearm Instructor Patch is black with gold printing and it is round in shape. It measures 3-1/2 inches in diameter. There are two rings of "information". The outer ring says:

    Concealed Firearm (upper rocker) - and - Permit Instructor (lower rocker)

    The inner ring says: Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification.

    And the center has an outline of the State of Utah with a Utah Bureau of Criminal Investigation Badge super-imposed on the image of the State's geographical outline. (The Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification does not have anything similar in Wisconsin. Think of it as Utah's version of the FBI.)

    This badge/patch was authorized by the Utah Legislature for wear only in teaching the Utah "permission slip" class and travel to and from said class; provided I am also carrying my Utah BCI Concealed Firearm Permit Instructor Identification Card - or - Certificate of Appointment.

    The patch is sewn on a black shirt and worn with black pants. I open carry a Springfield XD in a black leather pancake holster.
    My cats support the Second Amendment. NRA Life Member, NRA Instructor: Pistol, Rifle, & Personal Protection - NRA Certified Range Safety Officer, Utah BCI Certified Concealed Firearm Permit Instructor.
    "Permission Slips" from Utah, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. _ Verily, thou shalt not fiddle with thine firearm whilst in the bathroom stall, lest thine spouse seek condolences from thine friends.

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    As I've postulated before, I think an incredible number of people get their ideas about "normalcy" from television. Excluding old westerns and hunting shows, television generally shows only two groups who carry guns; cops and bad guys.

    My thought is if the average non-firearms sort of person sees someone walking by armed, and the armed one is coiffed and dressed in an otherwise "normal" manner, they're inclined to think more cop than bad guy. On the other hand, if the armed one is dressed, let's say not so much mainstream, they're more likely to be linked with "bad guy". All this has to go through their microprocessor brain and get balanced with all the other inputs. The more they experience open carry and realize it's not just cops and bad guys who, the more likely they are to regard it too, as normal.

    Anyway, when biases get stacked, it's hard to get someone to see the light, it's just human nature.

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    Regular Member jpm84092's Avatar
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    When I come to WI to give McX the UT CFP course, it might be very interesting to see how WI residents react to my "Utah Teaching Clothes".
    My cats support the Second Amendment. NRA Life Member, NRA Instructor: Pistol, Rifle, & Personal Protection - NRA Certified Range Safety Officer, Utah BCI Certified Concealed Firearm Permit Instructor.
    "Permission Slips" from Utah, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. _ Verily, thou shalt not fiddle with thine firearm whilst in the bathroom stall, lest thine spouse seek condolences from thine friends.

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    Regular Member GlockRDH's Avatar
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    I think ive stated in other threads...ran into a friend of mine (who is a Dane Co. WI deputy) in walmart on several sundays after church...he told me hed never noticed that i was OCing...I thouhgt it was kinda flattering...LOL

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    Regular Member CalicoJack10's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpm84092 View Post
    When I come to WI to give McX the UT CFP course, it might be very interesting to see how WI residents react to my "Utah Teaching Clothes".
    Let me know when you are coming. I have talked to Utah, and it was just like you said, they are now requiring that I get their permit prior to getting certified as an out of state instructor.

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    Regular Member jpm84092's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CalicoJack10 View Post
    Let me know when you are coming. I have talked to Utah, and it was just like you said, they are now requiring that I get their permit prior to getting certified as an out of state instructor.

    This is a defacto truth since the new Utah law takes effect on May 10, 2011 and all classes prior to that date are already completely filled. (And, there are few if any no-show students. Typically 90 - 95% of the students are not Utah residents and typically 1 - 2% of the Utah residents are renewal students.)

    Due to weather concerns, I still have not yet set a date for my visit to WI. You can wait for me to visit WI and take the course from me, or, you can pay one of the instructors in Northern Wisconsin or one of the ones from MN who teach in WI to take the course.Just be sure your NRA Firearms Instructor - Pistol is current before applying for the Utah Instructor rating. You will need to include a copy of your current NRA Instructor ID with your Utah Concealed Firearm Permit Instructor application.
    My cats support the Second Amendment. NRA Life Member, NRA Instructor: Pistol, Rifle, & Personal Protection - NRA Certified Range Safety Officer, Utah BCI Certified Concealed Firearm Permit Instructor.
    "Permission Slips" from Utah, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. _ Verily, thou shalt not fiddle with thine firearm whilst in the bathroom stall, lest thine spouse seek condolences from thine friends.

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    Regular Member CalicoJack10's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpm84092 View Post
    This is a defacto truth since the new Utah law takes effect on May 10, 2011 and all classes prior to that date are already completely filled. (And, there are few if any no-show students. Typically 90 - 95% of the students are not Utah residents and typically 1 - 2% of the Utah residents are renewal students.)

    Due to weather concerns, I still have not yet set a date for my visit to WI. You can wait for me to visit WI and take the course from me, or, you can pay one of the instructors in Northern Wisconsin or one of the ones from MN who teach in WI to take the course.Just be sure your NRA Firearms Instructor - Pistol is current before applying for the Utah Instructor rating. You will need to include a copy of your current NRA Instructor ID with your Utah Concealed Firearm Permit Instructor application.
    I do appreciate the heads up.
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