A man walks down Cary Street in Carytown, Virginia, with a long gun and a handgun, in an attempt to educate people about gun rights. According to an article on NBC 12’s website, Jason Spitzer’s goal is merely to start a healthy debate about the situation, and for some reason, he thinks walking around displaying guns openly like that is the way to do it.
NBC 12 reports that he claims he’s been called names, like “scum of the earth,” for his efforts, and he’s been told he should be ashamed of himself. He’s also run into the police while on these walks, but they can’t do anything because he’s not doing anything illegal.
Spitzer needs to be more aware of the message he’s really sending. The entire open-carry movement really ought to be a lot more aware of the message they’re really sending. People on the streets, in restaurants, in Target, don’t know that these people walking in carrying guns are “good guys.” The open-carry nuts think their message is one of education, and of open, honest, and intelligent discussion. They think it’s a message about the Constitution and about freedom. They lack the ability to see it from the point of view of others, so they can’t understand why people might have a problem with what they’re doing. They tend to think any resistance to their efforts is from people who want to “ban all the guns,” and “take away everyone’s freedom” and ability to defend themselves.
The message they’re actually sending is one of fear and intimidation. When people see a complete stranger on the street, or in a store, carrying a long gun, they don’t know what that person intends to do with it. They don’t know whether that person’s trying to send a message, or if they’re going to start shooting the place up. This is especially true given the current climate of violence and mass shootings we live in.
A rather thought-provoking article on Philosophical Questions Every Day (PQED.org) asks just how people should react to seeing someone carrying openly. They do often react with fear, and, as PQED points out, this fear is legitimate, for the reasons stated above.
The article also mentions something Jon Stewart pointed out: In states with “Stand Your Ground” laws, people are legally able to pull a gun and shoot if they believe there’s a real and imminent threat to their safety. Since onlookers and bystanders often don’t know what the people carrying the guns are doing, it’s likely only a matter of time before someone with a concealed firearm shoots one of them, under “Stand Your Ground.” PQED is right about that, too.
The article on NBC 12 has a quote from Annalise Borrel, another Carytown resident. She said that children often hide behind their mother’s backs when Spitzer walks down Cary Street with his gun, and that’s not cool. She agrees with Spitzer’s message, but his delivery needs some serious work to her. She, too, is correct. This inflames people, because it scares them. It doesn’t make them want to sit down and talk about the issue.
There’s another bad consequence to the open-carry movement. Their actions run the risk of desensitizing us to the sight of people walking into a crowded area, or down a residential street, while packing heat. That seems to be part of their point, but it’s a really bad point to make. Seeing someone packing is something we should never become desensitized to. That will also lead to far more unnecessary deaths, as people shrug and keep shopping or eating until that person or group they thought was just part of the open-carry movement opens fire. Is that the goal that these people are seeking?
This is a movement that needs to open its eyes. They’re not putting on an image of patriotism and Americanism. They’re not making people think of the Constitution, or of trying to figure out how to make the country safer without abridging the right to keep and bear arms. They’re making people scared. And the image they present is why they get called “gun nuts,” and “scum,” and told they ought to be ashamed.