Sunday, September 29, 2013

Open Carry In Texas

BobS is hosting a discussion on OC as that applies to the peculiarities of Texas.  Some good stuff in the comments, including this questionable analysis:
I think the principal factor in the principle in question is (or at least ought to be), does the action result in attraction of others to the principle being demonstrated for? IOW does what we do attract others in support of that thing or idea? There’s a strategy involved here which IMO ought to focus more on making uninvolved people aware of their shared loss of rights and less on our defiance of those rights being abused.

To that end, I think the whole “long guns carried to someone’s place of public business” thing is overly confrontational – thus not attractive behavior to uninvolved fellow citizens – and overly done to boot. The Starbucks type of gathering might still be be an excellent locale for an OC empty holster demonstration, but these need to be more than just a bunch of (mostly) guys wearing empty holsters (which is great political symbolism BTW). There needs to be some actual political activism along with the eye-catching display of manly fashion accessories; signs, placards, maybe some brochures or flyers, perhaps an actual dedicated website in support of the political principle being demonstrated for.

Toting an AR/AK around town is just threatening/annoying unless it is as an obvious prop in support of a political thesis (say, a rifle with a sign in support of 2A attached for instance).
Here’s a specific suggestion: arrange a “activism date” with some friends at a public place where firearms aren’t expressly prohibited, print up a dozen flyers for each attendee to pass out in support of open carry legislation in Texas, everyone OC an empty holster (perhaps a few carry rifles/shotguns with signs attached that mention “human rights being denied to Texans”), solicit signatures for a petition to the legislature in support of OC legislation in the next session (doing so online thru the afore mentioned website would be best here) and invite the local media – being ready to play to their particular format interests especially.
Admittedly, all of this requires a bit more effort than casually getting a cup of iffy coffee while scaring the white people proles other customers.
Most of all, what is needed is a continuous sense of change in the activity/venue involved so as to imply a continuous advancement in the message being delivered – which in turn implies a reduction in resistance to the rights being exercised in a normal, regular fashion. No, the latter doesn’t logically follow the former – its politics; emotion and a personal feeling of common perception are the driving factors.

In short, OC supporters need to become an actual political organization instead of a gaggle of well-intended but slightly scary individuals. Toward that end, association with an established organization is the key. There are a number of TSRA members here in the Tyler area (here’s one with pictures from one of their recent events; also here) that have staged events over this past summer. Finding a Texas business to structure group formation around is what is desired; maybe these guys would be interested – I doubt I’m the only member who reads your blog.
The point at issue for me about Open Carry activism here in Texas is that there doesn’t seem to be that much outright objection to the idea of people carrying guns comfortably per se, but there is a lot of lethargy about building the legal and social hoops necessary for that change to happen. And, Yes, the hoops are necessary – politics, remember? Laws, courts, judges, district attorneys, cops – there are a lot of people who are already invested in the status quo ante, and people are generally lazy about doing anything different to what they are already comfortable/familiar with.

So, we need to build an organization that provides the support infrastructure so our individual acts of 2A activism can be easily combined into a state-wide effort, that attracts general citizen notice and acceptance (if not outright support, at least no resistance) of the political principle being pursued.
Prior to all that spontaneously coming into being, maybe just individuals going around openly wearing an empty holster all the time really is the simplest way to start. Not sexy or confrontational, kinda sad really, and there’s the hook; “it’s sad so many Texans have there human rights so badly denied them, don’t you agree?” If it’s not only about icky guns, people see opportunity for their pet interest too, and as long as they don’t oppose 2A rights/legislation we win.
 My objection to many previous OC events (notoriously at Starbucks) is that they appear to focus on the defiance of existing gun laws (or maybe just defiance to the existence of those laws) and not on gaining adherents to changing those laws.  If the existence of overly restrictive gun laws is your political point, giving the (however metaphorical) finger to those who abide by those laws doesn't seem the best possible means to actually changing (and ultimately doing away with) those laws.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dum Ass Duz Dallas

From the Dallas Observer, the alternative newspaper/blog of events in-and-around Dallas County, comes this story:
"Two neighbors hear gunfire coming from the alley in the 10300 block of Plummer Drive. They round the corner to find a man with a gun standing over another man [subsequently identified as convicted tweeker and suspected burglar Jerry Wayne Hale]. When the neighbors announce that they've called 911 ..."
 That's not the dumb ass part:
"The first two officers to arrive saw [57 y/o William] Hall standing over a body. They order him to drop his gun, but he moves behind a privacy fence and out of sight. One thinks he sees him go into the adjacent house.
Three other officers, Joshua Wilson, Daniel Summers, and Julian McDaniel, arrive. They see the body lying in a pool of blood in the alley and move to provide aid. As they approach, one of the first pair of officers to arrive runs toward them, yelling that the gunman is behind him.
They turn to see Hall emerging from some overgrown bushes. They tell him to drop the gun. He racks the slide on the weapon and points it at the cops. Wilson, Summers, and McDaniel open fire."
And there you have it.  Even though the cops likely didn't roll up in their new armored assault vehicle (because a war on things-people-do-that-the-rest-of-us-really-don't-like-very-much is such a trivial and pointless distinction after all this time - crime always deserves the Catholic Option), stepping out of the bushes and racking the slide of your pistol is always the preferred option when approaching police.  Dumb ass.

In case there was any remaining question or ambiguity regarding the outcome of events:
"Both Hall and Jerry Wayne Hale were pronounced dead at the scene."
Clearly a failure to abide by gun control rules 2 and 4 because sometimes your target is willing and able to shoot at you!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Shoot, or No Shoot?

I had a disturbing thought while at work last night; how to tell the difference between an Open Carry advocate and a Somali Shopping Mall Suicide Squad member?  Before the latter starts shooting of course, as that tends to be both a bit of a giveaway and way too late to be helpful.

The last few days revelations about the makeup of the terrorist squad (at least three US nationals, one Canadian and an as yet undetermined number of UK citizens) have been tentatively identified as active shooters in the days-long killing spree in and around the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya (scroll down here for numerous links to reports on this and the terror attack generally).  All of which puts paid to the single most difficult-to-overcome aspect of putting such a terror action into effect in a N. American setting; the vast majority of active jihadists can't blend into N. American society well enough (or for long enough) to put together such an operation.  Being able to match a few foreign jihadists with a native jihadist overcomes that obstacle and vastly simplifies the logistics of organizing such an attack.  If nothing else, the Westgate Mall attack proves the viability of that tactic.

Which brings me the long way around to the Open Carry activists who carry long guns at public venues.

Yes, if doing so was legal before the Kenya terror attack it is presumably still legal now.  And, No, I'm not accusing anybody of aiding any enemy to freedom (religious or otherwise).  I am asking if this particular method of raising public awareness about our rights and freedoms might not be better retired from active use, given the general visual similarity between the terrorists and the activists as they enter a business or other open-to-the-public locale.

It seems a virtual certainty that there will be an over reaction (or just an ordinary mistake) by somebody should there continue to be individual or small group efforts to demonstrate in support of 2ns Amendment rights by openly carrying rifles and/or shotguns at non-shooting related venues, particularly as people become familiar with the images of the terrorists entering the mall in Kenya with their weapons openly displayed in a non overtly threatening manner.  Just like OC activists are prone to do.  Even if its just the cops responding to a panic'd call of "terrorists like in Kenya", the outcome of that can't be good for convincing people to consider supporting 2A efforts themselves.  And if an actual gunfight breaks out ...?

A basic tenet of strategy is to use the tactic(s) that offer least potential advantage to the enemy while still advancing your own position.  It's time for Open Carry activists to employ a different tactic to demonstrate in support of 2nd Amendment rights, there's just too much potential advantage to be gained by the opposition (not to mention the actual enemy) from continuing to do so with rifles and shotguns.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Circular Firing Squad ...

... Or showing the love, warts and all?

BobS. has a review and critique type post up on the recent Starbucks response to Open Carry activism in their stores.  He gives all sides a close look and asks useful questions.  You should go read.

My response in his comments:
I think some of what you point out is driven by the impulse not to improve or critique the opposition efforts. Most writers I’ve read on this topic have chosen to focus their commentary/suggestions on their own side of the issue as represented by the OC activists and how they might/ought to improve their efforts on all our behalf.

There is also a steady undercurrent of fear within the pro-2A community that makes these discussions ramp up quite quickly into some pretty brutal arguments. It isn’t all that long ago that the majority opinion was that 2A was all but dead as a practical matter and there exists a strong “flinch” amongst older shooters about overt political activism as a result. Since so many of the younger modern shooters don’t really have the memory of adult experience of practicing the sport under those conditions it’s almost a given there are going to be strong reactions against efforts that threaten any return to those conditions (such as giving anti-2A efforts any easy point of social disruption upon which to leverage there efforts).
I look at all this as a healthy way to continue to dispute anti-2A efforts while simultaneously strengthening our fundamental pro-rights position. The anti’s aren’t the audience; all the rest of humanity who hunger for greater individual opportunity and personal responsibility are. Our public disputes place the strength of our position on public display better than any possible paid advertising could.
 As we in the US continue our debates over the means and methods of enacting our rights, which often extend into disputes regarding the basic meaning of those rights themselves, we all ought to keep firmly in mind that we deliberately (if often seemingly unknowingly) do so in possibly the most public forum possible.  This is a good thing in and of itself (as it reinforces the very concept of "rights") and also encourages the interest and attraction of those who don't experience the reality of our contentions in their daily lives.  I will not argue for the idea that we should alter our arguments as a result, only that we should acknowledge the presence of the audience at our debates by presenting our points and contentions in as clear and open a fashion as we are each able.

And then go have fun shooting safely together after.

Update 1:12 PM, same day:  this from No Lawyers - Only Guns And Money seems pertinent. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

We're All Going To Die!

And with that bit of common sense out of the way, can we all stop panicing?  I'm the last person to object to over-the-top hyperbole to make a point on one's blog, but all the wailing about last week's Presidential Executive Orders mostly seem to assume we elected Obama to the office of God instead of merely President.

First off, both executive orders deal with congressionally mandated entities; the President doesn't have the authority to alter either acts of legislation without obtaining Congress' active assistance in doing so.  The Civilian Marksmanship Program is now a 501(c) (3) organization with a federal charter from the US Congress.  The President can order a freeze on re-importation of FMS firearms, but the rest of the CMP's chartered activity remains unaffected by my reading of the order (on a personal note, I have never bought a firearm through the CMP, but I've bought ammo in multi-hundred round lots).  Further, the effect of this latest executive order is exactly nil on the existing firearms CMP has for sale not to mention all the privately held examples people already own.  With all that in mind, just how reasonable is it to declare "the end of the National Matches" as a result?  I agree that the CMP business model is potentially severely impacted by this executive action, assuming Congress very uncharacteristically doesn't get all huffy about executive office infringement upon legislative prerogatives.  As regards the Presidential bootprints on Congressional charters, the Congress has yet to be heard from (and we all have a role to play there).

Secondly, my response to the executive order regarding NFA trusts is here.  I recommend the same course of action to all my fellow citizens.

President Obama's gift for empty bluster is certainly a matter of national concern.  I suggest a considered response that leverages the efforts of one part of our national government in support of its (and our) interests will better ensure his bluster stays that way (at least as regards our civil rights).  To that end, activities like this are much more on point and effective than they are seemingly credited with being.  Recent thoughts on influencing the political process in the context of gun rights are here.  Declaring defeat plays no part in my thinking and neither should it do so in yours.

And for the record, TSRA is not the only organization working to support gun rights in Texas - there's a decent argument to be made that they too often work in opposition to gun rights that don't directly involve National Match-related shooting (Open Carry of more than rifles for only one example).  If TSRA would support and hold IDPA/USPSA style matches for rifles (3 Gun is an obvious example here) I for one would be much more attracted to TSRA membership.  TSRA getting behind and pushing the idea of incorporating the NRA's Eddie Eagle gun safety program in all Texas schools along with sanctioned small bore (.22 caliber rifles and pistols) competition between all Texas high schools would offer numerous avenues by which to attract added membership in the group.  Having a focus on National Match shooting is an admirable and even a necessary ultimate goal for TSRA to build membership around; excluding all other shooting in pursuit of that goal confines the organization to the fringe of Texas politics and lifestyle, which is a pity.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Bob S. from over Dallas way lists the changes to Texas gun laws that came out of the most recent legislative session.  Of particular note was SB299 getting the Governor's autograph; this makes explicit that there must be an obvious element of intent to having your pistolen be seen by another.  The whole "print" thing was not part of the law as it was, but an inadvertent display got you the same response as waving your gat around in the Brookshires parking lot would.  Now, not so much, which is an important step toward getting more widespread approval of (or at least comfort with) the idea of open carry.

SB864 "Reduces the number of hours needed for a new concealed handgun license to 4 to 6 hours.", and HB48 "... does away with the class room and demonstration of proficiency requirement to renew a Concealed Handgun License."  The class time for a new license is cut in half and renewal is now just an online written test via the DPS website.  And the lack of any Class "A" misdemeanors or any felonies, of course.  :)  Bob made the point about a lot of instructors not liking these changes, which caused me to comment:
There’s a common perception that class length correlates to class price. Also, a shorter class time requires the instructor actually have some skill at presenting the information in the time available, something that hasn’t been as much of a factor up to now.
It’s still a legislatively mandated sellers market, so I’m sure even the worst of the whiners will adapt easily enough. Your point about student responsibility is true enough, but the same could be just as truthfully said about high school too.
Mad props to Bob S. for rounding up all this data, but the citizens of Texas are all over the place when it comes to guns (despite the seeming overwhelming belief to the contrary outside the state) and I tried to make the point that making political change is necessarily a gradual process if you want to avoid turmoil:
I’ve gradually come to the opinion that CHL is basically just a form of political liability insurance.

People have been trained (mostly via entertainment media – who get it wrong even worse than the news media does) to be afraid of another person wearing a gun openly. CHL avoids the in your face nature of open carry and establishes some (however minimal) standard citizens must demonstrate before going around strapped. This gets the pols off the hook electorally and allows the rest of the populace to not be disturbed by the obvious presence of more-capable-than-they people around them.
At some point the default position of fear will modify and open carry will become much more legislatively possible, but politics is always a process (and nothing is ever final as long as the legislature can come back into session :) ). I’m sure Texas will eventually arrive at open carry, but the need for political liability insurance will make that a more gradual process than any of us will likely be all that pleased about. It’s just how we make change happen without breaking things.
Getting people to adopt the belief that they are going to have to pass judgement on the person instead of whatever tool they may be wearing is going to require a pretty extensive period of adjustment.  Working out how to do that in a mutually acceptable fashion won't speed things up either.  But that's basically what will be required for open carry to become "normal", that we all ignore what the person has on and concentrate on the person's actions instead.  Once that is achieved, people actually complete the adjustment pretty quickly if events in Arizona in recent years are any measure.

Gradual modification of common beliefs through the political process necessarily will require acceptance by all of us of the lethargic nature of the legislative process itself.  Frustrating, but there it is.