Carytown is the sobriquet of a stretch of Cary Street in Richmond, Virginia know for its bohemian atmosphere and trendy retail shops but the name recently has taken on a whole new meaning as a small group of young men have begun to stroll along the street in the neighborhood openly carrying long guns.
The “movement” may have stalled however. More than 300 Facebook invitations to an open carry event on Independence Day elicited a disappointing response — the only people who showed up for the event were the two organizers.
Organizer Jason Spitzer, 29 has described his campaign as an attempt to “spread Constitutional awareness” of our right as Americans to bear arms and when asked to explain the anemic turnout for the event he replied, “I don’t know why.”
“But even if nobody came I’d still walk,” Spitzer said, holding an American Flag in his hands with a rifle slung over his shoulder, “It’s the Fourth of July and I love my country.”
Spitzer and his companion, Scott Royle, 26, likely attracted attention, not because of the weapons they carried but because of the two television news crews that followed them as they walked through the neighborhood.
“I thought it was some Independence Day thing with the flag,” a street singer said as the two passed by her open guitar case.
Under Virginia law the handful of ammosexuals who have taken this “cause” to heart are doing nothing illegal, there is no prohibition against carrying an unloaded long gun in public although business owners may refuse to allow them to enter their place of business.
Most of the shoppers interviewed on Friday seemed to be unconcerned with these two young men marching down the street displaying their weapons although most of them did have questions as to what motivated them to do it and questioned the timing and choice of locations.
“People need to be aware that they can carry a weapon, but at the same time you’ve got to be mindful of your environment and who else you are affecting. It’s not just about you,” said Carytown merchant Christopher Turner, 29.
“It’s a little weird in Carytown on the Fourth of July,” said Bryan Walthall, 30. “I think they are a couple of dudes looking for attention.”
Of course Spitzer has all the standard answers to the obvious questions, “If you can’t tell me when the next crime is going to happen … then I’m going to protect myself the way I see fit,” he told reporters when asked if he felt that he needed a gun to feel safe at midday in Carytown.
While Spitzer and Royle were largely ignored or avoided in Carytown the same cannot be said for the response online where one resident posted a comment saying, “Carytown is my neighborhood, If I see you (or any other gun-toting low-lifes) strolling around with your rifle I will presume you are a terrorist threat and call 911 immediately. I encourage others to do the same.”
“Why is it that we get threatened like that,” Spitzer asked, “when we’re just exercising our rights like everyone else?”
Maybe because you are seen by others as threatening when you carry your weapons around at inappropriate times and locations, Jason.
Watch a report from CBS6 below.
h/t: Roanoke Times.