Open Carry Challenge
By Susan Callaway, Editor
August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 22, I headed out for a busy day. First was a gun show in a nearby town. Instead of the old senior center where it is usually held, it was in an elementary school. Many hundreds of guns on the 70 or so tables, but I was required to be disarmed by federal law. I left. I had no desire to cause problems for that town or their gun club.
Nobody objected to my sidearm, or even seemed to notice as I got gas and a cup of coffee at a local convenience store. Then I headed for WalMart in Gillette, WY, where I've carried many times without problems. Not so this time.
The first greeter had nothing to say, but when I went back for a cart after using the rest room, another person was there. She insisted that I could not go into the store with the gun. I quoted WalMart national policy and the state law, but she was adamant that "customers are uncomfortable." I tried to engage her in thinking about what would happen if some customer insisted black people be thrown out simply because they felt "uncomfortable." She wasn't listening.
Then she said she couldn't allow me to enter armed because they had "fist fights" sometimes. I asked her what that had to do with me. Her response was another knee jerk, "If we let one in, we'd have to let in everyone."
I told her that yes, they would have to let in everyone (per WM policy) since only those who actually caused trouble should be excluded. But she wasn't having any of it. (I did wonder just how many openly armed people she turned away in a day's time... probably none, but that's just a guess.)
So, tired and disgusted, I did not insist on seeing the manager. I didn't fight it this time... I turned around and went away.
I did some shopping in a "dollar store" and the KMart right next to WalMart. Then I went to the shareholder's meeting for the local electric co-op. I registered and voted, then talked to some people for a while before going home. Nobody said a word about the gun in any of those places. I have to assume that none of them were "uncomfortable." Where does WalMart get all these nervous nellies anyway?
Sometimes you have to wonder where all this is going. No matter how many people have confronted the management at WalMart, all over the country, their employees continue to make problems for those of us who choose to open carry - in spite of the fact that it is perfectly legal and not in conflict with WalMart national policy. The management evidently does not instruct their employees on the policy, or they all choose to ignore it when they can get away with it.
I'm afraid that, at some point, they'll just have to get along without our business - at least those of us who refuse to play their game.
If WalMart wants to CHANGE that policy and forbid all guns, that's their business and I will certainly respect their private property. I would also never again darken their door. But until they do change that policy, it seems they should abide by the one they have. Maybe I'm asking too much.
Almost three full years into this open carry experience, I've carried every day, everywhere I go, even most of the time inside my own house. I've written a number of articles about my reasons, some of my adventures and have handed out hundreds of cards. I took the training and spent (still spend) many hours in dry fire and on the range to become a certified NRA instructor for handguns and self defense. Now I teach a self defense class at least once a month. I've written a book to give to my students and others (predominantly women), urging them to learn to defend themselves - and why.
And yet... today I am STILL the only person (except the cops, of course) who always carries openly in this town. I am still the only person I know, with a few exceptions, carrying openly in nearby towns.
Why was there only ONE person who open carried in the recent New Hampshire story, or only a few at the Arizona protest? Why are not hundreds or thousands of us carrying openly everywhere, every day - and not just to protest the latest insanity of the government? It would quickly cease to be "news" if those hundreds - or thousands - were openly carrying in the grocery store, the bank, the park, the office and every other place possible.
As long as this right is connected mostly with politcal activity and protest, far too few will see it as a normal and rational act of free people, but will continue to dismiss it as the dangerous posturing of "wingnuts." Which is not at all to say that the exercise of our right to self defense is NOT a rational, political act as well. It just can't be relegated to that and remain viable.
If the right to self defense is important to you, what are you doing about it? Writing letters to editors and legislators? Posting to various gun rights blogs and fora? Sending money to GOA or NRA or whoever? Do you shoot regularly, hunt, reload, even teach shooting or self defense?
Wonderful, but do you also carry your firearm at all times? Are YOU prepared to defend yourself and those around you right now? Are you willing to go out of your way to explain to others why you carry, helping them to understand and accept both your and their right to and responsibility for self defense? Are you trying to help others realize that ordinary people can go about their business openly armed, without threatening or harming anyone?
Do you open carry, or is it just a little too uncomfortable - too inconvenient - too controversial for your friends and family? What's your excuse? Who IS responsible for your safety (and that of your family) if you are unarmed? (The whole issue of open Vs concealed carry is outside the scope of this article, but well worth thinking about.)
Or are you carrying and just not telling anyone about it? That would be okay, of course, but if you do open carry, even occasionally, please write about your experiences - even about why you do or don't carry regularly - please send it to me and I will publish it.
Let's encourage one another and, in the process, perhaps we can encourage others to join us. Let's be the shining example of self governors, peacefully going about our business - but ready to respond appropriately to any threat. In order to do that we must be seen. We must be seen carrying openly, often and everywhere.
Your comments and feedback are welcome!
Links from the previous articles:
Predator Nor Prey, by Mark Spungin
Self ownership essay: http://www.mises.org/rothbard/ethics/eight.asp
The Ludwig von Mises Institute: http://www.mises.org/
What about the "poor?" - Reinventing America: http://www.mises.org/freemarket_detail.asp?control=289
Advocates for Self-government: http://www.self-gov.org/home.shtml
John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime"
Second Amendment Sisters -- Self defense is a basic human right.
Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership -- Learn more about the real meaning of the Bill of Rights and the people who have fought to preserve it.
Keep And Bear Arms -- a grassroots movement of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is a call to action, a call for self-education, and a 21 gun salute to the many good men and women who fought and died to bring America into being.
Gun Owners of America
-- "Gun Owners of America was instrumental in mobilizing the grassroots
to fight the crime bill."
Opencarry.org - Great forum for those who open carry.
The Cornered Cat
Reality: What Every Woman Must Know
These will lead you to many others.
ArchivesThey Hate Our Guns?
Another Open Carry Day
[Susan Callaway is a Certified NRA instructor for handguns and Personal Protection in The Home.
Classes can be especially geared for the novice woman, especially those who are afraid of guns]