Sunday, July 6, 2014

[Follow-up] Should people run away from open-carry activists? A response to a thousand comments.





Last week I argued that people encountering a gun activist who is openly carrying a weapon should leave restaurants immediately and make the activist pay for their meal. This struck a chord. As of right now, that post has been shared by over 70,000 people and there are almost 1,000 comments. By the time you read this, there will be more. First and foremost, THANK YOU! Thank you to everyone who read it, shared it, and commented on it. Even if we disagree, I am deeply honored that you all took the time to consider what I wrote and I look forward to continuing the discussion. Here is my response to all those who took the time to post their thoughts. It is long, but 1,000 comments are a lot to consider. 


The response to my open-carry argument was overwhelming and I intentionally stayed out of it so that people could talk amongst themselves. I think it is time, now, to respond to those comments that I think were the most philosophically interesting, because, of course, this is a philosophy blog and not one that defends a particular public policy.

By philosophically interesting I mean that I am responding to those comments that refer to theoretical issues that lie at the foundation of the debate. They tend to be definitional or general in scope, and they usually apply to other debates as well.

This means that I will pass over the insults, the misogyny, and homophobia. I will ignore the anger and the recriminations, although I suspect I will end up writing about the rhetoric sometime in the future. I will also pass over the people who claim Hitler took away everyone’s guns as a prelude to the holocaust, although I did write a separate post about that.


I was not writing about gun control.

Only a portion of the respondents actually discussed my open-carry comments. Many, if not most, discussed gun control in general, but that was not my focus. One of the hardest things for non-philosophers to understand is that we philosophers like to talk about one thing at a time. We don’t always succeed and we do consider the consequences of our positions, but we are interested in analyzing single issues before we move on to other things.

For those interested in the more general discussion, I do indeed talk about gun control here and here, and I even have a 90- minute debate with a formal president of the NRA that many people enjoy (video here and opening statement here).  

In short, my point was not about gun control in general nor about the morality of guns in themselves. It was only about open carry and nothing more.


Open carry and conceal carry are different things.

Lots of commenters pointed out that more people conceal their guns than open carry, and that to be afraid of only those whose weapons we can see makes no sense. The two activities, they claim, are essentially the same, but I disagree. Those who conceal their guns are ready for trouble, but open-carry activists are looking for it. In general, I don’t trust anyone who is looking for trouble

There are many ways to protest gun laws. On my campus the group Females for Firearms protests once per year by wearing empty holsters to class. They inform the administration in advance who, in turn, notifies the teachers. As a result, we are all prepared. We respect their protest and in return, they respect our safety concerns. Open carry activists are not doing this. They do not warn people in advance and they give up symbolism for loaded weapons. At best, they are trying to shock and frighten, and at worst, they have an itchy trigger finger, daring people to interact with them negatively.  It is often difficult to draw lines in philosophy, but one of the classic ways is to focus on a person’s intent. In the issue of open versus conceal carry, intent makes all the difference. (And for the record, I am also afraid of those who conceal their guns too, but that is a topic of another time.)


“Dine and dash” is illegal but this isn’t dine and dash.

Many people pointed out that not paying for one’s meals is illegal and claimed that using open-carry activists as an excuse to not pay a bill is thievery. I agree. Again, this is an issue of intent and I’m not talking about liars here. I’m discussing people who are legitimately concerned about guns and are genuinely afraid. Responding non-violently to their fear is not unreasonable.

The fact of the matter is that in most states, private businesses can decide whether to allow guns on their premises, and where they have that choice, they should face the consequences of their decisions. Even when businesses are prohibited by law from excluding weapons, they are still free to request that people not carry them. A sign on the door asking people to leave their guns outside is neither illegal nor rude. All my proposal is doing is holding business owners responsible for their own decisions.

I do concede that a single person leaving a restaurant may be arrested if he or she leaves, but this is why I think it is incumbent for everyone to act this way. When twenty people leave a restaurant simultaneously, the business owner will understand the point. Some commenters called this civil disobedience and it may be. This means that for many, the punishment of being arrested may be worth it, if their actions change the law and behavior, and make everyone safer. But I'm still on the fence as to whether it is civil disobedience or not, because running for one's life is not stealing, and what the open-carry activists refuse to accept is that we are, indeed, running for our lives.  


Isn’t leaving provoking people with guns?

Patrick Blanchfield wrote an excellent blog entry in response to mine, suggesting that the open-carry activists are most dangerous when they imagine themselves enforcing a law. He documents instances in which gun activists become vigilantes, and he points out that if they perceive people as stealing, many will think they have the right to shoot the thief.

Patrick is right, of course, and these dangerous vigilante tendencies are much the problem. Again, we face the issue of intent. If open-carry activists were genuinely just bringing their guns to protest, then they would be less dangerous. But they aren’t just protesting; they are looking for trouble. The violence and implied threats in the comments to my previous post provide even more evidence for their hair-trigger hostility.

The only solution I have for Patrick’s concern is, again, getting everyone to do it together. Sheer numbers will protect people best and no one should be required to be a prisoner of a gun-owner, even in a restaurant.


I’m not scared of the police.

Some people asked why I’m not as scared of the police as I am of the activists since they carry guns too. My response is that both groups have guns but only the activists have neither oversight nor accountability. Police have training. Their backgrounds are checked. Their guns are registered and in most (if not all) police departments, every gun and bullet is accounted for. If they discharge their weapon, they have to record it after the fact. They also have a community that is attentive to their psychological states and needs. As imperfect as police bureaucracies may be, if open-carry activists would consent to meeting all the conditions police have to meet in order to carry their guns, I would be willing to change my mind on this matter.


Gun owners are not victims; they are not oppressed.

A common theme in many of the responses is that by leaving the restaurant, we are oppressing gun owners. Several people claimed that if I did the same thing when a person of a different color walked into a restaurant, than it would be acting intolerantly. My comments are bigoted, they say, and anti-American.

And this gets to the heart of the nonsense. There is absolutely no scenario in which gun owners are oppressed. Gun laws have become more permissive, not less. Gun ownership is thriving and the gun lobby has more power than any other group in this country. It’s unclear how many members the NRA actually has, but even if we take them at their word and assume the unlikely number of 4.5 million, they still only represent 1.4% of the American population. This tiny portion of people controls gun policy and terrifies elected officials. They are the oppressors not the oppressed.

Furthermore, we leave places when we find things uncomfortable all the time. We leave when movies are inappropriate, when someone is being unpleasantly rowdy, and when we don’t want to see a coworker whom we don’t like. If a scantily clad couple were to walk into a restaurant, he wearing a dog chain and a leash, and she, holding his leash while wearing a 12-inch strap-on dildo, many restaurants would empty immediately. But the couple in question is not dangerous at all, nor are they doing anything illegal. Remember, there is a huge population in the United States that uses their discomfort in discussing gay marriage as a reason to deny other people the right to get married. Gay marriage isn’t dangerous, but people with guns are. In short, leaving is neither abnormal nor intolerant. 


Really, I mean it. They aren’t oppressed (the really controversial bit).

Finally, I believe there is something else going on that hasn’t gotten the requisite attention. Much has been made of liberal or white guilt, the guilt that many Caucasian liberals people feel for past wrong-doings that they had no part in, but may benefit from. But little has been made of what I will call “conservative envy,” the jealousy that white (often Christian) conservatives feel about the oppression that others have experienced. Many conservatives regularly compare themselves to African Americans and Jews when someone is challenging their point of view. They decry affirmative action for their lot in life and hope to dismantle entitlement programs because, they feel, it is these that have prevented them from being super-wealthy, or famous, or in power, or cool, or whatever else they want but think they don’t have. Libertarians have built an entire philosophy on the notion that any restriction on freedom is tantamount to slavery, and many conservative Christians hold the untenable position that those who don’t abide by their rules are oppressing them. Right-wing politicians and pundits suffer from conservative envy when they claim that black Americans were better off under slavery.

Obviously, not every conservative is guilty of this, just like not every liberal feels white guilt. Furthermore, libertarianism and conservatism both have a great deal to offer political debates. I am sympathetic to many of their individual claims and all of my books defend philosophers who are conservative or libertarian icons. Nevertheless, what I suggest is that open-carry activists do seem to suffer from conservative envy. They either believe (or purport to believe) that they are victims because they want the “advantages” that they imagine marginalized people get. But there are no such advantages, and any gun owner who claims to be oppressed, or who invokes civil rights or the holocaust, is either being disingenuous or knows nothing about history.



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39 comments:

  1. Your response in the "dine and dash" section still doesn't get around the fact that what you are advocating is theft, plain and simple.

    You can say you felt threatened all you want, but your irrational fears do not give you the right to steal from honest businesses. If everyone does it, that just means everyone there needs to be arrested and charged.

    I'm a cop myself and I can assure you that saying "I was afraid of the lawful peaceful people carrying guns who have not threatened anyone" is not going to earn you a free pass if you skip out on paying for the services any business has provided you. You will be arrested and charged, and rightfully so. Your paranoid fear of inanimate objects is not a free pass to steal.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I edited the section to clarify my position on Dine and Dash based on your comments. I still do not think that you will agree with me, but it will more explicitly address your remark.

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    2. Your new edit simply represents a further attempt at rationalization. Leaving a business without paying for services is not "running for your life", nor is it "civil disobedience". It is theft, pure and simple. You are stealing from honest businesses and trying to cover up your crime with your political views. If you don't like a business' policies, you have the right never to patronize it and convince others to do the same. You don't have the right not to pay for services they have already provided.

      The real practitioners of civil disobedience would be appalled you would use the term is such an absurd manner. The people who practiced civil disobedience in dining establishments during the civil rights era did so for the purpose of achieving patronage, not stealing it. Their goal was to make businesses accept their money, not avoid paying for services businesses provide. They also didn't run from the consequences of their actions. They stuck around and willfully submitted to arrest when the police showed up.

      Again, your paranoid fears of lawful peaceful gun carriers do not give you a license to steal. Skip out on paying for services and the bill won't go to other people who are there to pay for themselves. It will still be on you and you will be arrested and charged for your actions. I assure you it will cost you a lot more then the diner loses in the lost sale of a meal.

      But really, the key issue here is that your stance shows the absurdity of your position. You claim open carriers are a threat when they are being peaceful and lawful, but you advocate theft and lawlessness as a response to them. You are showing who the people really are that have no respect for the rule of law.

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    3. to the staplegunkid, you're missing a few points here. the people who would walk out without paying did not go into the restaurant with the intention of committing "theft of services", which is the technical legal term for "dine and dash". They went into the establishment fully prepared to pay for their meal. In fact, the civil rights activists of the 60's in the South went into the luncheonette with the full intention to break the law (they could have chosen to stay out of a whites only restaurant, and go to a colored only one), and they didn't sit in the whites only section of wherever because the colored section was full. and the goal was not to make businesses accept their money, you dingbat, it was to change the racist laws of the states and counties they lived in; the racist KKK member proprietor of a whites only luncheonette was being a peaceful, law abiding citizen, exercising his constitutional rights to refuse service to whomever he chose...and he was still am ideologically dangerous blight on both the USA and humanity.

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    4. "the people who would walk out without paying did not go into the restaurant with the intention of committing "theft of services""

      That only means that by leaving without paying, they are committing a crime of opportunity instead of a crime that was pre-meditated. That may be a mitigating factor during the sentencing phase after they are convicted, but that's not a free pass to commit the crime in the first place.

      "In fact, the civil rights activists of the 60's in the South went into the luncheonette with the full intention to break the law."

      Yes, but as I said, they did so with the intension of paying for their food. Their goal wasn't steal from diners, it was get the diners to accept their money. They wanted diners to accept their business the same way they accepted business from white customers. It was the exact opposite of what this author is advocating. Furthermore, they didn't run from the consequences of their actions. They stuck around until the police showed up and made no attempt to avoid arrest.

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    5. If I were in a restaurant with my family and some otherwise peaceable gentlemen entered with loaded long guns, I would be concerned for the safety of my kids. I would be especially concerned if I could not see if the chambers had been cleared, or if the gentlemen ordered alcohol with their meal. It is difficult to safely stow a long gun at a table or booth in a crowded restaurant. I would probably stand up and leave, keeping myself between the armed gentlemen and my children as we leave. Accidents happen. If I had not yet paid, I would leave cash or my business and with an IOU note on the back or I would tell the hostess that I would be back later to pay. I would not wait patiently for the bill and I would not avoid responsibility for the bill, even if that meant arrest. I would much rather face the penalty for theft of services than risk an accidental discharge, I think my reaction would be similar for other immediate risks of bodily harm. If another patron was behaving violently, if I noticed structural damage to the restaurant, or something similar, I would remove my family from that risk of harm immediately.

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    6. Officer Staplegun, it's unfortunate that so many cops think they are lawyers. Especially since your weapon give you the ability to enforce your flawed understanding. "Simply failing to pay a bill when due is generally not a crime in most circumstances or jurisdictions. It is a contract debt, and the act is civil rather than criminal in nature. However, there are often laws that apply specifically to restaurants, hotels, and other circumstances, where the presumption is that the customer never intended to pay their bill and therefore obtained the valuable services under false pretenses, a form of criminal fraud."

      You are clearly confusing the issue with that of 'shoplifting'. Almost all states have laws that specifically make shoplifting from a retail establishment a criminal and arrestable offense. These laws only apply to retail stores where merchandise is displayed for purchase.

      When you order food, you have entered into a civil contract. Even if your state has laws against 'dine and dash' they are laws against fraud. It's not classified as "theft". Even if you ate the food.

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    7. If I see someone carrying a weapon, my first assumption is trouble's abrewing and I'm going to get as far away as fast as I can and then call 911. Sorry, but I'm not equipped with special powers that allow me to discern someone carrying with bad intent from someone just carrying to prove a point. If I'm in a restaurant and I feel threatened, I'm leaving.

      However, I would also feel an obligation to return to the restaurant afterwards to discuss with the manager how much I owed for my interrupted meal. If asked to pay the full fare, I absolutely would, but depending on how far into the meal I was, I might not be inclined to return in the future. The point is anyone who walks from that restaurant has a moral obligation to return to negotiate a settlement of their bill.

      Of course, that raises another philosophical question, doesn't it? If I've fled from fear, do I still have an obligation? My answer is yes, since up until the moment of departure, I had received some benefit and the restaurant had certainly delivered the opportunity for me to experience some or all of that benefit. The only issue is what was the interrupted benefit worth under the circumstances.

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    8. When you express that the "key" is non payment you intentionally shifted the proposal from "running for your life" to one of "punishing the innocent business owner".

      When you disregard the business owner's rights explicitly with such a flippant attitude "If the business loses money, so be it. They can make the activists pay." you make it clear that this is only about punishment of the innocent third party in an attempt to coerce that person into applying some action of punishment onto the gun nuts. It is dishonest.

      Your only real relation of your position to any fear if it even exists at all is explicitly stated as secondary to the "key" act of punishing the only innocent party involved. It is simply twisting said fear real or feigned into simply an excuse to ease one's conscience about intentionally harming an innocent party.

      Tell people to punish innocent business owners if you think it is called for, but at least be intellectually honest about it. Wrapping the act in a dishonest rationalization to assuage your conscience is simply a weak attempt at justifying your questionable means to an end.

      I would think that a prosecutor could even use your original post and call to act in convicting someone of intentionally not paying their bill. Intent to not pay not based on fear, but on the "key" act of punishing the business explicitly and with clear intent to do so.

      Incite protest if you will, incite people to not pay if you will, but be honest about what you are asking, what your goals and agenda are.

      Here the goal, the "key" as you put it is to instantly punish any business owner who allows a man bearing a gun to step in the door anywhere and everywhere it happens without regard to the business owner's rights or the law. Have some resolve and courage and be up front about it. Wrapping it up into cheesy rationalizations is weak and dishonest.

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    9. Once you have removed yourself from the unsafe situation, feel free to call the establishment to arrange any payment that might reasonably be due.

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  2. I think what's missing from the suggestion of walking out of the restaurant is that as soon as you are out you should call 911 and report that a potential shooter was seen at the restaurant. Inanimate objects are as active as the person holding them. While it may be irrational to have fear of a parked car, I would not consider it unreasonable to have fear of a car (inanimate object) speeding in your direction. This might have been discussed in the replies to the previous post, but why do you need a gun when you go out to eat at a restaurant anyway? Is it self-defense? If so, where do you draw the line and consider that someone looks like/is a threat and should be shot? Cause for thousands of people, that line might get crossed when someone walks into a restaurant openly carrying a gun...

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    1. The issue isn't need. Open carry rallies are about a peaceful display of rights. I strictly practice concealed carry myself, but I understand what open carriers are doing and don't hold it against them (though at times they could use some better tactics)

      Anyway, calling 911 to report a "potential shooter" when you see someone peacefully and legally open carrying is the same as reporting a "potential drunk driver" every time you see another safe non-reckless driver on the road. It's a flat out lie and a waste of police resources. The police have real crimes to solve. They would rather go after real criminals who create real victims. Instead, you want them to waste their time going after people who have harmed no one.

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    2. Falsely reporting a (non) crime is, in itself, a crime. Without actual evidence of wrongdoing, you are violating the rights of the people you appear to have an irrational fear of.

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  3. I wonder if calling this a "philosophy" blog excuses you from relating your arguments to empirical reality? I am really quite surprised by the baseless assertions in this entry. I am particularly interested in your characterization of Patrick Blanchfield's blog response, since I had some issues with that as well.

    (1) Specifically, "Patrick Blanchfield wrote an excellent blog entry in response to mine, suggesting that the open-carry activists are most dangerous when they imagine themselves enforcing a law."

    Perhaps you and Blanchfield have access to the imaginations of open-carry activists in a way I do not, but I have to base my assessment on what actually happens. As I have followed this story, I know of no cases of OPEN-CARRY ACTIVISTS attempting to ENFORCE A LAW, such as theft. If this never happens, what does that mean for your assertion that they are most dangerous in that circumstance? After all, if pigs could fly there would be a tremendous danger of getting hit by a flying pig.

    (2) You continue, “He documents instances in which gun activists become vigilantes.”

    The only instances I can find that you might be referring to as “vigilantes” that Blanchfield documents are the 2012 case of Greyston Garcia in Florida and the 2007(!) case of Joe Horn in Texas. I have no idea on what basis they are classified as “gun activists.” Horn had a shotgun and knew the law. Does that make him an activist? Garcia didn’t even use a gun in his incident - he used a knife. (And does that make him a knife activist?)

    (3) You continue, “and he points out that if they perceive people as stealing, many will think they have the right to shoot the thief.”

    Certainly people can misunderstand the law. As I pointed out in my comment on Blanchfield’s blog, Blanchfield himself misunderstand the Stand Your Ground law. Texas is the rare state in which lethal force can be used to defend property. That misunderstanding notwithstanding, if “many will think they have the right to shoot the thief,” where are the examples? Where are these “many” people who you dismissively assert are “looking for trouble” and have “hair-trigger hostility”? The 2007 case of Joe Horn is the best you can do? Or a 2012 case in which the person didn’t even use a gun? Or, wait a second, do knives have triggers too?

    (4) “Patrick is right, of course, and these dangerous vigilante tendencies are much the problem. Again, we face the issue of intent. If open-carry activists were genuinely just bringing their guns to protest, then they would be less dangerous. But they aren’t just protesting; they are looking for trouble. The violence and implied threats in the comments to my previous post provide even more evidence for their hair-trigger hostility.”

    Again, what dangerous vigilante tendencies? Evidence? What examples of looking for trouble? Evidence?

    As I noted at the outset, perhaps calling this a "philosophy" blog excuses you from relating your arguments to empirical reality. If so, it would be best if you stopped making weakly supported empirical claims.

    P.S., If you want to count online comments (and Tweets and Facebook wall posts, etc.) as evidence, then there is plenty of evidence for “hair-trigger hostility” on both sides of the gun debates. Just Google it.

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    1. You knocked it out of the park on this reply to the authors defense of his original article. One of the best rebuttals I have heard point on point.

      The original article was bad enough and full of stereotypes and fact-less assertions about open-carry activists. This one was was even worse in trying harder to defend his unfounded fear and justification for theft of services (and worse, calling others to do the same).

      Once again, like the original article, he again failed to tell the whole story as to why these stories are even making the news in the first place. It's not because anyone is being hurt or even directly threatened by these activists. It's because those that are pushing for more gun regulations are selectively posting pictures (like the author has once again done) of open carry activists carrying more intimidating looking rifles without context: Texas law forbids the open-carrying of less intimidating handguns. Why are the pics or stories of the open carry movements in the numerous other states that have them not mentioned?

      The real philosophical question is how should gun rights activists react when we are being lied about or painted, by stereotype, as mass-murderers or vigilantes when evidence clearly shows the opposite of lawful gun owners? How should we react to a crowd that lies and exaggerates to scare and confuse the uninformed about our civil right to own and carry (keep and bear) firearms? This stereotyping, exaggerating, and lying have obviously worked on the author. It's actually scarier to think people that are this easily manipulated consider themselves to be answering the philosophical questions of our day!

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    2. You want an example where a guy with a gun saw it on himself to enforce laws regarding theft? Google the Saleh csaw in Porterville, CA. Upon seeing his car being broken into while at the cash register of office max, he rushed outside, struggled for his back pack (with 40k+ cash!). Upon losing the struggle he retrieved his gun from the car and shot both robbers dead in the crowded parking lot. By all accounts, Saleh, a young man, had no prior record and was engaged in a legitimate business and was respected in the community. His trial is pending.

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  4. Why are you suggsesting this?

    but this is why I think it is incumbent for everyone to act this way

    Why should I get up and leave the restaurant because you have an irrational fear of guns? Maybe I'd prefer to finish my meal and pay for it.

    No matter how you slice it, you're still advocating theft. In your previous piece, you said, this "forces the businesses to really choose where their loyalties are." Yeah, it forces the business to choose between serving paying customers, and serving "dine-and-dash customers" who eat a meal and leave without paying their tab, or "customers" who abandon shopping carts full of merchandise in the aisles of the store. Are you sure you want to force a business to make that choice?

    You really hit the solution, although you failed to recognize it here:

    "The fact of the matter is that in most states, private businesses can decide whether to allow guns on their premises, and where they have that choice, they should face the consequences of their decisions. Even when businesses are prohibited by law from excluding weapons, they are still free to request that people not carry them. A sign on the door asking people to leave their guns outside is neither illegal nor rude. All my proposal is doing is holding business owners responsible for their own decisions."

    How about you take responsibility for your own irrational fears. You could look for those signs, frequent the restaurants and stores that display those signs, and ask the hostess or the manager or the shop clerks if you don't see the sign. Tell management where there is no sign that you will take your business elsewhere, and do that. If you are traveling in unfamiliar areas, and you can't find a restaurant that is closed to armed patrons, let your waitress know up front, and offer to pay with your order. People who are "on call" do this when they might be called out by an unexpected emergency at any minute. You don't even have to tell the waitress why, just say, "I might have to leave quickly, so I'd prefer to pay when we order. Don't worry if we get up and leave before we finish, that happens sometimes."

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  5. i live in richmond ,former murder captial of california. in my neighborhood we have had car jackings, walkin robberies in grocery stores and restaurants, drive bys, and also just crazy people threatening to go home and get their guns . sometimes the police catch these armed criminals in the act and shoot the crap out of them. Sometimes we citizens have to confront the crazy people and call the cops later. If any of you open carry nutballs come into my village packing an AR you will probably be shot on sight. if you make it out of the village and walk by the chevron refinery you may also be shot on sight. so when you come on over and visit, be sure to walk slow and keep your finger on the trigger the whole time. have a nice day.

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    1. Your village sounds charming, and like a place where you need to have a gun handy. Nice anonymous post, pussy.

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  6. I've seen many comments here that point to Prof. Weinstiens "irrational fear of guns", and his advocating theft. So, Cents, you have no problem being in Dennys, eating your Grand Slam breakfast with your daughter, when a young man carrying what you can only presume to be a loaded M1A1 rifle sits at the table across from you...how about if it was me, carrying an unloaded rifle, and I take out a box of ammo and begin loading up my clip there, looking around the restaurant? Would that raise you concern? How about if I started humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic, while snapping rounds into my 30 round clip? What if I have a swastika tattooed on my forehead? at what point would your irrational fear kick in?

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    1. Anonymous wrote:

      "So, Cents, you have no problem being in Dennys, eating your Grand Slam breakfast with your daughter, when a young man carrying what you can only presume to be a loaded M1A1 rifle sits at the table across from you."

      Are you aware that Denny's has a company policy against open carry? Only uniformed law enforcement can carry openly in Denny's. The official company policy is that any law enforcement can carry openly in their restaurants, but there are numerous media stories about off duty and even on duty plain clothes detectives being refused service at Denny's locations. So in your hypothetical, the "young man" carrying the rifle and sitting down at the table across from me would be a uniformed police officer, or he would be asked to leave by management. Neither would be frightening to me.

      As for the rest of your question, your hypothetical about loading up a 30 round magazine in the restaurant, I would have no irrational fear from anything you described. I seriously doubt anyone in any restaurant where I might eat breakfast would have any problem with what you described. If you install that loaded magazine in your rifle, you'll have a lot of eyes looking at you, and some people in the restaurant might take a more defensive posture at that point.

      If you do anything seriously threatening, you would discover you're not the only armed person in the restaurant as others take a more serious defensive posture. "Anything seriously threatening" would include chambering a round, pointing the barrel of your rifle anywhere other than straight up or straight down (stick with your first choice), fiddling with the safety or putting your finger inside the trigger guard. Hard to say whether I'd be one of the people taking the defensive posture at that point, but in the restaurants I frequent, I would have no "irrational fear" because I know you wouldn't fire a shot.

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  7. The freedom of our country wasn't won by talking the British to death, it was won by shooting them by the armed citizens.

    To all you pussies that would run from the restaurant, grow a pair and man up. You are far safer than before. No 2-bit punk would dare enter the place to rob the cash register and threaten patrons with armed civilians present. No different than if armed cops are in the place.

    Guns are inanimate objects that don't just go off in the hands of trained shooters, particularly when no round is in the chamber.

    Finally, if you are so worried or paranoid about your family's safety, then you actually should be armed to protect them (Concealed or open, your choice) and not have a thing to worry about. Strike up a conversation with your fellow citizens, talk about going to the range one day, and thank them for taking action to stand up for your 2nd Amendment rights in a proactive way.

    CAPT D.
    US Army Retired

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  8. no Cents, I wasn't aware about the gun policy of Dennys; I was using Dennys as a standard commonly known name of a family type restaurant, just dropping it in as a substitute for any "family type"restaurant that would allow open carry riflemen thru their doors...you can substitute Red Lobster, The Olive Garden, Howard Johnson's, Red Top, Stuckies, Jimmy James' Ribs and wings, any name will do. For the purposes of the hypothetical, it's a restaurant you would take your kids into (so not a Hooters, or a Twin Peaks kind of place) and it allows open carry...
    I had to stop before I'd finished my previous post, but what I was going to get to is the repetition of the word "irrational" to describe the professors feelings about being around civilian strangers armed with assault rifles. You would have no irrational fear of me, I can only assume since you automatically assume that a stranger loading up a rifle across from you in a restaurant is a law abiding citizen, practiced and trained in the use firearms and is just peacefully exercising his rights. making that assumption is a little...well...irrational, if you ask me. You go further and say if I loaded the magazine, and or then chambered a round, and flicked off the safety, some folks would assume a more defensive posture...now, why is my doing that infront of you worthy of a more defensive posture, but my having done all that in the car before walking in not a problem for you? "Hard to say whether I'd be one of the people taking the defensive posture at that point, but in the restaurants I frequent, I would have no "irrational fear" because I know you wouldn't fire a shot."...so, I wouldn't get off a shot because all the good guys in the restaurant would get me first, huh? is that what you're implying? If so, I can see why you have no "irrational" fears, cause you've got the whole scenario figured out, Cents...can't argue with someone as confidant as that, as irrational as they may be. Actually, that sounds kinda like silly teenage bravado...
    ok, lets play another hypothetical...we're in a fast food type place when six Latin American men, mid twenties, stroll in laughing and joking, wearing gangsta droopy jeans, bandannas and jail house tattoos, all armed to the teeth with AK-47's and 9mm autoloaders...any irrational fears now? or have you got that under control too, if things get a little dicey?

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  9. ehhh, don't bother, Cents, I'm sure you would coolly and calmly asses the situation, maintain point-guard awareness, assume defensive postures as needed and contain any eventuality...of course. See Cents, I think what the professor is stating is that it would be irrational of him, or anyone else, to assume they can know what a openly heavily armed individuals intentions are, and that the safest course of action is to haul ass out of there, and don't stop to pay if you haven't paid yet, it's not worth the risk; he's not going to wait for whoever it is to snap off the safety and start blasting, he doesn't want to man up and start packing heat himself, and he's not as dag-burn sure as you that he'd get the bad guy first and save the kids even if he did...but wait! what if there's a a kook who's concealed his weapon! what if its just a law abiding citizen! show me the statistics! yes yes yes, what if, what if, thats not what the professor is talking about, and what he is advocating does not come from "irrationality". what you are espousing does; ordinary folks taking tooling up with AK-47's to go get ice cream down on Main Street is not a rational, or close to fucking sane society, Cents. Your overconfidence, your bravado, your handling any eventuality..that it is is a irrational Alpha-male role play fantasy view of the world, where a gunfight is always a possibility in these here badlands, there's good and evil in the world and the King of England is just waiting to invade all over again...over the years I've "debated" , if you could call it that, alot of pro-gun folks and after awhile of peeling the layers of the onion away, American history, Constitutional law, international comparisons, statistics, religion, thats what you get down to...the role play fantasy of frontier justice and defending the homestead.

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    1. So, you're saying you should just surrender and hope the bad guy doesn't kill you because otherwise you might hurt his feelings

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  10. " if their actions change the law and behavior, and make everyone safer"

    Without reading all these comments which would take awhile, I'm going to respond to this qoute you said. If their actions change the law and behavior, and make everyone safer.... how exactly is stopping open carry making people safer? Have any of these extremist ever misfired their weapon while eating at a resturant? Just because a gun is there doesn't make the place not safe nor does it make it safe honestly.
    On the subject of what you said in your video about how the gun owner has the right and the customer has the right to walk out if they fear for their life... sure I agree with you that those people have their rights but so does the owner of the establishment that provided a service to both parties. If a person wanted to do the right thing... you leave as you "fear for your safety" and you return at a later time to pay what you owe because you did receive a service.

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  11. Professor, personally you should be far more frightened by hypertension and diabetes than big bad scarey guns.

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  12. How do I know what the intention is of a patron entering the restaraunt openly carrying a weapon ? I do not know. Therefore, to protect my family, I will draw my concealed .38 and ask them what their intent is. Assuming they will say they have no criminal intent, how am I to know if they are telling the truth ? To be safe, and to alleviate my worry - yes fear - I will keep my gun pointed at them while my wife pays the bill and we quietly leave. Problem solved.

    In a room full of fully armed patrons, how do you differentiate those that have criminal intent from those that are law abiding. The answer is you can't. Then the safest course of action for you is to have your weapon at the ready to use. The wild west.

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    1. "How do I know what the intention is of a patron entering the restaraunt openly carrying a weapon ? I do not know. Therefore, to protect my family, I will draw my concealed .38 and ask them what their intent is. Assuming they will say they have no criminal intent, how am I to know if they are telling the truth ?"

      So you do this when a police officer with a holstered handgun walks in the restaurant where you are eating? Really?

      If not, how can you be sure the uniform and badge are real, and not just from some costume shop?

      Here's a clue for both you and the other "Anonymous" poster who has been posting here.

      If a handgun is holstered, pointed at the floor, or if someone has a rifle on a strap slung over their shoulder, with the rifle pointed at the floor against their back, that weapon isn't a threat to anybody.

      If you draw your concealed .38 because you see a holstered handgun, or you see a rifle carried safely, with the muzzle pointed at the ground (even if you have a "concealed handgun license" or some flavor of "concealed carry permit"), you're breaking the law, committing assault with a firearm.

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    2. No I would not do this if it was a police officer, and I agree that an open carry weapon should be in a non threatening position - handguns holstered and rifles pointed up or down preferably on a shoulder strap. It is not those I worry about. It is the aggressive yahoos like this one:

      http://blockthat.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/ee8ba0a3b7a1a01d45dcc21d088cd0df.jpg

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    3. Those that hold the weapon in their hand pointed forward, hand on or near the trigger guard. What is the purpose of carrying this into a Starbucks ? Do you feel the need to be at the ready to defend yourself ?

      That is why I ask this: why are you carrying a weapon to a restaraunt ? What is the purpose ? Would you take your toolbox into a restaraunt ? No, because you would not have a need to use it. So if you bring a weapon to a restaraunt, you must have a purpose. You must think you will need to use it. Otherwise why bring it. The only other reason I can think of is for you to make a political statement.

      I am a hunter and own several rifles and two shotguns. I have never thought to bring any of my weapons into a restaraunt. I do not see a reason or purpose, so I leave them at home or in the car. I could also bring a baseball bat, a tire iron, a sledge hammer, but I do not because they serve no useful purpose in a restaraunt.

      But if I were trying to make a political statement that I have the right to carry all of these things, I could bring them all along with my shotgun and .38 and then laugh at anyone who feels scared.

      I suggest everyone watch A Clockwork Orange if you want to see intimidation

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    4. "No I would not do this if it was a police officer, and I agree that an open carry weapon should be in a non threatening position - handguns holstered and rifles pointed up or down preferably on a shoulder strap. It is not those I worry about. It is the aggressive yahoos like this one:

      "http://blockthat.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/ee8ba0a3b7a1a01d45dcc21d088cd0df.jpg"


      So the picture has all the elements you describe as "safe carry." In the picture I see two holstered handguns, and I see one rifle being carried with the muzzle down, supported by the base of the magazine, and for added safety, with the palm and wrist covering the trigger area so nothing can get caught and accidentally pull the trigger. As long as that man has the cup of coffee in his other hand, he's not firing that rifle at all. There's no threat there.

      That's actually safer than on a strap over the back, where the open trigger can catch on something and cause an accidental discharge.

      What do you see in that picture that you describe as "aggressive"?

      "That is why I ask this: why are you carrying a weapon to a restaraunt ? What is the purpose ?" ... "I am a hunter and own several rifles and two shotguns. I have never thought to bring any of my weapons into a restaraunt."

      Funny you should mention hunting. That's the most common time that my friends and I carry a rifles or shotguns into a restaurant or store. If we take a break for coffee or brunch or lunch, or if one of the wives calls and tells us to pick something up on the way home, and we're in an open topped Jeep with no roof or doors, we carry our hunting weapons with us when we go in the store, coffee shop or restaurant. You're suggesting leaving them unlocked in an open vehicle with no roof or doors?

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  13. OK that is a reasonable response. And in an open carry state (not all are) you can bring your weapon in the store or restaurant unless they have a stated policy. But what does a hunter do in that situation who does NOT live in an open carry state (like me) or the store has a policy ? They don't go in the store. They go home first. Which is what I do when I go hunting, wash up (including cover scents) and then go back out to eat or shop. For a lunch break, I always bring a bag lunch. Unless you're one of those wuss hunters who don't stay in the woods all day.

    But back to the question at hand: Is it reasonable for a patron to feel fear ? The answer is yes it is reasonable. An AK47 is designed to shoot bullets which will wound or kill many people quickly. It is not a hunting rifle. It has no other purpose. If a patron feels fear then they can, and should be expected to, take actions to make themselves feel safer, including leaving. I would act as I stated earlier, taking a defensive posture, or I would leave quickly and return later and pay for my meal.

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    1. actually, the round the AK 47 used is suitable for hunting deer. The 7.62X39 mm round has ballistics similar to the 30-30 Winchester round, which has been taking deer for over a century. You may need to use a 5 round magazine for hunting in some states, and the semi automatic functioning allows for a quick second shot if you mess up the first one and only wound the animal. By the way, a lot of rifle rounds used for hunting were originally developed for military use. Seems like someone familiar with hunting and firearms should know that.

      and no, the fear is unreasonable, because, how many mass shootings has the shooter come in and stood around with his firearm? they come in shooting, so you wouldn't have time to run.

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  14. Actually, Jack, you've got a serious problem with your proposal. Mass shooters generally don't travel in packs and display their firearms. They are usually lone shooters who come in shooting. The mere fact you could walk past this person without being shot is pretty solid proof this is just someone carrying a firearm, not someone intent upon using it. Given the number of times the US Supreme Court has ruled the law enforcement duty to protect is general and not for individuals, it only makes sense for rational people to respond by being prepared for the worst case scenario while hoping they never encounter it.

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  15. I think everyone is missing the point (perhaps including the original author). I came up with almost the exact same solution several years ago, but thinking about it more I realized this is not a gun or safety related question at all. It is an economics question. We live in a capitalistic society. I make a lot of money and I spend it freely at places that cater to my needs and wants. If there is a local establishment that allows open carry and I see people sitting or walking around with assault weapons I will never spend my money there. If everyone who disagrees with civilians carrying loaded assault weapons during normal everyday transactions does the same, the issue eventually solves itself.

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  16. "The difficulty of knowing other people’s intent is a classic philosophical problem. It is epistemological in that it involves the limits of our knowledge. We can’t really know what anyone else hopes to do..."

    "Those who conceal their guns are ready for trouble, but open-carry activists are looking for it."

    Care to reconcile these two statements for me? In the first, you tell us we cannot know other minds. In the second, you definitively ascribe a particular mindset to said other minds.

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  17. It is indeed an irrational fear. Someone intent on shooting will open fire immediately and target those who attempt to flee with priority. If an armed citizens intentions are not apparent after 30 seconds and you are still experiencing fear, tell yourself "if he was gonna shoot he would've already" take a deep breath and finish your meal. The next time the situation arises you will be better prepared and less fearful and in the event of a shooting you will be calmer and more capable of surviving. Dining and dashing will not only land you in legal trouble, it will reinforce your misguided emotions and leave you vulnerable in the event of a real attack. If you do decide to "dine and dash" knowingly violating the law, I assure you that you will not be shot by anyone who isnt already intent on shooting you. The first thing your average open carrier does is research the local use of force laws. No locality in the nation permits deadly force for "dine and dash". Even if the OC noticed you leaving he would not shoot. As for OCs "looking for trouble" the majority are simply people who are allowed a firearm but live in a locality that unreasonably restricts concealed carry permits (research Los Angeles for an excellent example of this). Many "Activists" openly carry at rallies in an attempt to preserve their other firearms rights in general and do not do so as frequently in public.

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