Gun Laws & Legislation
Photo: AP Photo: AP  

NRA Did Not Cave On Open Carry

By Jorge Amselle

The mainstream media, and left wing journalists and websites in particular, are acting like a kid with an early Christmas present over the recent kerfuffle at NRA over the issue of open carry. At issue are the political activities of a group which supports openly carrying firearms in public, Open Carry Texas. Despite the Lone Star State’s reputation for cowboy antics it is illegal to openly carry a handgun down there. It is however legal to openly carry a rifle or shotgun. Open Carry Texas wants to change so that folks can carry handguns openly and organizes demonstrations, protest, public gatherings, etc. where their members show up carrying a variety of long guns.

I have written on this topic before in these “pages” expressing my disagreement with their tactics while at the same time supporting their efforts. This view is in fact the consensus opinion among most gun owners and trainers, at least judging anecdotally form my FaceBook messages. It turns out I am not wrong. A post (no longer available but you can get the gist here) on the website for NRA-ILA, the NRA’s legislative arm, echoes these same sentiments.

The undisclosed writer of these comments makes the very clear headed case that this approach has the tendency to frighten onlookers and to make otherwise gun friendly businesses less so. Indeed, similar efforts in California resulted in an outright ban on unloaded open carry altogether. Unfortunately the anonymous author of this editorial also wrote that these protests/demonstrations were both “weird” and “scary.” Guess where the media focused?

News outlets rushed to broadcast these unfortunate words and congratulate NRA and even express surprise at the reasonableness of the NRA and its willingness to take on it “most extreme elements.” There was an immediate backlash from aggrieved gun owners against NRA and an almost just as fast retraction of the statement and apology from NRA-ILA head Chris Cox. Looks like Christmas came early twice this year for left wing media because they then used the retraction as proof that NRA is full of insane people with no modicum of rational moderation.

But did the NRA really cave in and change their position under pressure from extremists? The answer to anyone who follows gun politics is an obvious “no.” Among and within the majority of gun rights groups, NRA included, there has always been disagreement on tactics. This is the case with any organization, political or otherwise. The goals however always remain the same, to advance the rights of all gun owners. Chris Cox was 100 percent correct in his clarification that it is not the role of the NRA to criticize the lawful activities of other gun owners. This has been the NRA policy for a very long time and it does not represent a “cave” or change. The author of the since redacted opinion piece had indeed overstepped and expressed a personal opinion where it did not belong.

The “controversy” over this incident is no different than that over so called “assault-weapons.” There are obviously gun owners who are traditionalists and who don’t care for modern firearms. Some have gone so far as to publically call for their regulation. The gun owning community is not monolithic in their views and opinions or tastes but we have reached a broad consensus that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. The notion that if we don’t stick together and defend one another then our opponents will simply take us down one at a time is not a new one.

A disagreement over tactics is not a disagreement over policy and no one should be fooled by the spin the media is placing on this issue.

Jorge Amselle is a certified firearms instructor and writer covering all aspects of the industry from military and law enforcement firearms and training to the shooting sports. His youtube channel is http://www.youtube.com/amselle.