For once, I got first reply (one of the occasional benefits of working nights - you're still active when an early post goes up):
In all three of your main points I think the single greatest objection I can offer is that so many Open Carry activism efforts don’t come off as appearing especially inviting to the uninvolved (who have to be considered the primary audience for such demonstrations). Especially when the activists taking part in the event know that the opposition is going to do their best to misconstrue things, doing an event without making your message the lead story reported simply ends up not making your effort (and more importantly, your message) inviting to the uncommitted – and easy meat for the actively opposed.
If an Open Carry political activism event isn’t structured such that the casual observer can’t immediately tell that a political rally of some description is taking place, then you’re doing it wrong. And, in my opinion (and apparently many others), the Starbucks and Blue Mesa Grill efforts are both prime examples of that obvious message failure. This was not the intent, of course, but political activism is the second most common situation where the adage about making a first impression once is really important. Having the women and children direct their message (about gun safety and fun perhaps) directly to the Mothers Demand Action group would have been much more difficult for opposition efforts to disparage, particularly if an active on-line media feed was being transmitted live (or in predetermined segments via You Tube for example) while the event was happening. If your message is out first, opposition media efforts take on a less appealing appearance to the non-involved than otherwise.
Speaking for myself, the simple fact that firearms have been successfully stigmatized is simply a reality that must be directly countered for any political activism in favor of firearms ownership/use to succeed with the general (presumably non-firearms owning) public. Added to that, a political rally must look like a political rally to even the most casual observer. Unfortunately, Open Carry Texas hasn’t much succeeded in those two aspects yet, and certainly not in the two instances you cite in this post. Finally, pointing out that past efforts haven’t driven people into active opposition to your cause isn’t the objective – adding them to your belief is, and the data you present doesn’t show that to have happened at all. Sorry to be such a downer Bob, but not driving away your customers isn’t the same as winning them over (which is what activism is all about).
Social media is certainly a double edged implement, but using it to your advantage allows you both the direct use of the video as well as making "free" content for others to use in their media efforts (to their own purposes, so recognize who you're dealing with when you hand out your stuff). Being politically active requires a level of vigilance at a degree of detail that most people (including me) aren't willing to exert ordinarily. I wish Open Carry political advocates every success and sincerely hope my suggestions and criticisms are taken in that spirit (and even prove helpful). I would very much like to see the day when people openly wearing a firearm is simply ordinary behavior indulged in by some people - and nothing more noteworthy than that.
If you’re still open to suggestion after all that, consider having your members contact every politician of any description in Texas and invite them (and their family members) to participate in a gun safety and shooting outing, and offer them both limited editorial input to the resulting video content and use of the final recording for their future campaigning purposes if they wish. Open Carry Texas can be the low key sponsor for the event (and retain direct control of the message being presented) and the politician gets unique campaign material for the next election cycle. Win/win that the political opposition has a much more difficult time misconstruing to the general public (they are the political opposition, of course they think it all sucks – absolutely no one expects otherwise ). Politicians discussing gun safety (and seen on camera practicing same) along with specific aspects of Texas law regarding gun carry and ownership would seem a natural subject as part of any political campaign, so attracting volunteers shouldn’t be all that difficult (especially if you can show an example video – so make one of your members playing all the roles). Do make sure the pols understand that first showing of the video will be on Open Carry Texas’ You Tube channel (which already exists, right?).