Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Two brief videos about the open-carry debate.


For those of you who are interested, the University of North Dakota asked me a few questions about the viral PQED entry:  

How should people respond to open-carry gun-rights activists? 

and my follow-up: 

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

I think they turned out well; thanks Craig for asking!

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35 comments:

  1. This looks like a sensible reaction and I agree in full.

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    1. Not if you're a criminal and don't want to be arrested for theft by the very people you're running from, some of whom may be po-po.

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  2. you have to inform the restaurant before you sit down that if a gun comes into the restaurant you are leaving imididately. they should know on the front end. so every time you visit a restaurant you have to tell them. if they say ok you sit down if they say no you leave. the talk should always preceed the action

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    1. I think that's a good idea. Then you would have a verbal contract of action/re-action between yourself and the restaurant which would make it hard to charge you with theft. If they said "okay" to your requirement for using their restaurant, and then they let someone in with a gun, they would have already agreed that you can leave immediately.

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    2. that's a great caveat; it sounds very much like informing the restaurant of any severe allergy or other requirement. It is not unreasonable for a restaurant to expect patrons to follow (and be agreeable to other patrons following) the laws in effect in that jurisdiction. That said, if you inform the restaurant of a peanut or shellfish allergy at the outset, and then see peanuts or shrimp on the table, it would also be reasonable to immediately vacate the area for your own safety. I think I would include phobias with allergies, be it hoplophobia, ophiophobia, arachnephobia, or any such thing. (I think I would exclude religious requirements, particularly because those don't tend to necessitate an immediate departure from the area without discourse or conversation usually.)

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    3. Why? Should I inform them that I will be leaving the restaurant on EVERY dangerous occasion? Do I need to negotiate a contract of social behavior with the restaurant when I sit down?

      "Hey, if the gas main explodes, I'm going to leave. I'll do so quickly so I won't be paying. Oh, and if the kitchen has a bad grease fire that catches the restaurant on fire, then I'll be in fear of my life and will leave quickly - probably without paying my bill."

      I figure I can come up with a list of reasons that I may fear for my life in a restaurant, and then leave. I'll bet I could get to 20 or 30 bullet points on that list easily.

      Why don't you do this already if you believe it to be the ethical thing to do?

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  3. I disagree. This is no different than the Stand Your Ground law (a law I vehemently oppose). If it is ok to shoot someone because I fear for my life and not be charged with murder, why would it be theft if I leave a place of business for the same exact reason?

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    1. You are an idiot! If someone was waving a firearm around and was agitated then yes you should get out immediately.

      However equating shooting a violent attacker with being scared of a holstered firearm is ridiculous and intellectually dishonest.

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    2. John, while I agree that the original comment seems to indicate a lack of understanding of the stand your ground laws, a lack of ability to judge actual threats of danger, and a lack of understanding of firearms/those who use them; I suggest that your approach is less than helpful. I can't think of a single situation where an abusive ad hominem approach has done anyone any benefit in supporting their position.

      For clarity, a "stand-your-ground" law removes a duty to retreat from the elements self-defense. Basically, you are not legally required to run away if attacked; that's it. If the presence of a firearm, in accordance with state and local law, is enough for a person to feel attacked or that their life is in danger, so be it ... just be prepared to justify to a jury how the situation caused you to legitimately fear for your continued ability to maintain a pulse rate above zero, the same as someone would in a "stand your ground" case. (see earlier comment about not confusing fear with political distaste)

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  4. What was missed on the topic of discrimination and open carry fanatics is a little quirk called CHOICE. You can choose to bring your AK with you. You can not choose to be black. You can choose what business you want to patronize, but you can't choose your birth gender. You can choose to make an ass of yourself by being careless and demonstrate failure of basic gun safety, but you can't choose how tall you are barefoot.

    Granted, we can take measures to correct flaws of ourself to adjust our outer character to reflect our inner identity. But even that comes down to choice (do you tough it out and do nothing? Do you risk surgery or hormones or chemical treatments?) These 'ammosexuals' make the choice to open carry. To bring discrimination into the debate is ludicrous because discrimination has been an issue of things you can't really change.

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  5. I think leaving the business our of fear is a great reaction. I would also scream, They have guns!" at the top of my voice to alert other people of the potential danger.

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  6. Please be aware: if you "walk out" on a restaurant tab, it is very common for the server to be charged for that tab. This is a VERY unfair (and perhaps even illegal) policy; however? It is widespread to the point of being "industry standard."

    Waiters and waitresses have little to no influence upon restaurant policy. It isn't your server's decision to allow guns on premise. In fact? The servers may not like it anymore than we do!

    Please, be aware: when you walk out on that tab, the server will, most likely, pay for it. That isn't philosophy: that's simply a cold, hard truth about the restaurant industry. Keep in mind, too: a server is likely to earn less than $3.00 per hour in pay; he or she relies on tips. When a server is required to pay for a "walkout?" That may easily wipe out her income for the entire shift, depending upon the amount of the tab. It could be that person's groceries for the week... it could be part of their rent.

    A restaurant walkout is not civil disobedience, it is theft. And you won't be stealing from the business itself: you will be stealing directly from a poorly paid employee.

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    1. Charging the wait staff for an unpaid bill is a violation of the labor code in California. I can't speak to other states.

      That said, if there were a grease fire in the kitchen and the place were going up in flames, would you queue up at the register before leaving? If not, how is this any different?

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    2. It's totally different! A serious fire is an actually dangerous situation whereas someone with a holstered firearm is rarely a danger

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    3. Not all open-carry practitioners are so courteous as to holster their weapons. Since we are discussing leaving in the presence of a threat, we are talking about the worst and least responsible of the open carry movement, so bringing up the best-behaved and least threatening is not on topic.

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    4. Actually, I would think that since this is supposed to be a philosophical discussion on the topic, that examines all aspects of the issue, and does not attempt to stereotype or vilify anyone on any side of the issue, I would disagree.

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  7. If you enter an establishment that Does Not have the "No guns allowed" sign, are you not signing a social contract? Before you enter, you are saying you are fine with the possibility of guns present.

    Can you argue the same thing about being afraid(in fear for your life) of police? The way someone is dressed? Long hair, makeup, visible tattoos? A really really tall/big/muscular person that you think could beat you up? A possible phobia or other medical condition (PTSD)?

    In a self defense case, you have to prove that you were in fear for you life or someone else's. Can you make that argument by calmly/coolly walking away? You can not argue self defense if the person is not actively threatening you/someone else.

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  8. I grew up watching westerns at the movies and on TV. A common theme of many was that the cowboys, upon entering the town limits, dropped off their guns at the sheriff's office before heading over to the saloon. The practical experience of the sheriff was that guns and alcohol are a bad mix. Fists and alcohol a somewhat better mix. Cowboys used guns on the job as a tool for hunting, killing predators, etc. They don't need the guns once entering "civilization".
    As a civilized society lets keep civility by writing laws that prevent the gun toters from bring their guns into public places. Or drop them off at the sheriffs office.

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  9. To be in fear of one's life at the sight of a weapon being carried into a restaurant is a reasonable fear. If I was in that same restaurant and saw an argument escalate and those arguing begin to fight, I would quickly leave. My meal interrupted I would feel no obligation to pay. If I heard loud voices from the kitchen and threats were being yelled, out I go. there is no obligation to remain where physical danger is imminent. the server loses money because the standard practice is in itself an immoral one....to make the server responsible for the immoral act of anyone who leaves

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    1. If we are going to agree to your premise, that it is reasonable to fear for your life at the site of a weapon, can we also agree to the premise that a person may be in fear for their life in the absence of access to a weapon as reasonable?

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  10. First, I believe the professor poses a rational, well thought out solution to an issue that won't be resolved to satisfy either side soon. With that said, I was reading some of the responses above, and want to comment on those. The idea that a patron should state they will leave without paying if a person comes in with a gun is not fair. Do I need to inform the restaurant I will run out if the building catches on fire? Should I inform them I won't be paying if I, or someone in my family, becomes critically ill in an emergency situation and needs to be rushed to the hospital? Am I required to provide a litany of reasons I may have to leave prematurely? Regarding the waiters and waitresses, yes, it would be hard for them. But don't they have the choice to work there or not? Can an employee claim they don't make enough tips if the restaurant doesn't bring in enough customers? What if the restaurant has other policies (non discriminatory) that limit the clientele? Another post speaks about a social contract if the restaurant doesn't have a "no guns allowed" sign. The lack of a sign in no way provides an agreement of social contract. Isn't there an assumption that when I go into a restaurant that I should feel safe, be treated courteously, and receive food that is safe to eat? Are my rights taken away if a restaurant has a sign that states "we are not responsible for food born illness"? Lastly, the idea that you can claim fear of anyone or anything is unjust. There is an obvious difference between being fearful of an unknown person who is carrying a weapon, which can kill you from across the room, then being afraid of a muscular person or someone with tattoos. Even if that muscular or tattooed person has the intent to harm people, they can not do it from across the room. They have to be right next to you. Also, they can't harm multiple people at the same time the way a person could who has a weapon.

    There are a few things we all need to remember in this debate between gun advocates and those that want to either tighten regulations or simply ban all weapons. First, the statement that we have a Constitutional right to have guns does not mean that the right can be amended as the Constitution describes exactly how that can be done. Second, when the Amendment was written, weapons and the world were completely different from today. There was no Federal military, hence the pre-amble to the Amendment of "In order to maintain a well regulated militia". The weapons of that time were single shot muskets that took a minute to load and fire. And let us not forget that the Constitution, and all Amendments, were written in the style of the day. During the late 1700's, the phrase "bear arms" had the meaning of serving in an organize state militia or fighting in war. To take arms against someone didn't mean to take their weapons, it meant to fight them. So one could surmise that our forefathers truly meant, that since there is a need in the newly formed United States to defend its sovereignty, the right to be called to duty shall not be infringed, and by allowing that, a well regulated militia would be kept.

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  11. Meredith McLaughlinAugust 1, 2014 at 3:09 AM

    In modern society, we have a belief that we can go into public and shop/eat/drink without getting shot. Part of the reason for this belief is that, even in America, it is not typical that non-law enforcement personnel go to these places with firearms. These "open-carry activists" -to use the polite term, or "gun nuts" to use the term I believe to be more accurately descriptive are not complying with this social covenant. The other group that has not complied with this custom are the people who have gone into public and started shooting people randomly. As Professor Weinstein pointed out, when you see a guy with an assault rifle, the distinction is in no way apparent. While I am completely against not paying for a product or service as a general rule, my wish to not die will trump my wish to pay what I owe every time. I believe that to be a reasonable reaction.

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  12. I live in a state where this has not yet become an issue, but I have to ask, what happens when these activists enter a federal building, or court? Would they be given this courtesy at The White House, even if just for a tour?

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  13. Gun owners are not being discriminated against, like blacks, lgbts, and other minorities have been, because it is not the gun owners themselves that people feel threatened by, but it's the presence of the gun in the public place that people are reacting to. People generally don't have a problem with someone owning a gun. They do usually have a problem when the gun is visible within their space and not knowing why.

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  14. There is no reason you can't come me back the next day, when it is safe, and settle your tab. You will have kept your life, voiced your opinoin , and still remained very much on the moral high ground. Even if 100% of the patrons settled in a timely manner, I would venture that the business would still care.

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  15. It has been my practice to stay away from controversial topics, but I decided to deviate from my norm. Let me preface my statement by stating that I am not anti-gun. I have in fact been compelled to drive around with a Glock under my seat. However, these pro-carry activists are just a bunch of nobodies engaging in buffoonery in an attempt to give some semblance of meaning to their otherwise mundane lives.

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  16. After seeing the videos I just had to come here and share because frankly the proposal and defense of it are silly. Is it reasonable to be afraid of weapons? Absolutely. Just like it is reasonable to be afraid of a large man, or a dog, or a car or any number of potentially dangerous things we encounter on a daily basis. But, the presence of a weapon alone is not sufficient to warrant fleeing for your life and leaving an unpaid tab. Unless that weapon is accompanied by threatening verbal or nonverbal communication you have no reason to believe you are in real and immediate danger. And without that you have no excuse for such a disproportionate response.

    That being said the majority of open carry activists are brutes who desire nothing more than to intimidate and cow the non gun owning people of the world. They carry big scary guns and get a kick out of making people uncomfortable. As an advocate of open carry this is the last thing we want. Genuine open carry advocates don't want to scare anyone. Rather we want to desensitize people to the presence of weapons. Most people have a great deal of false assumptions and we seek to correct their image of gun owners and show them that the guy with the gun on his side is last person they need to be afraid of. If I'm planning on going out to a restaurant or some other recreational activity I bring an overshirt to cover up my weapon so as not to ruin someone else's enjoyment and because I don't want to make myself a target while I'm distracted by what I'm doing. It's just polite.

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  17. Walking out of an establishment if you feel unsafe is a perfectly appropriate response. Refusing to pay is not. Fear for your personal safety in no way prohibits you from waiting in the parking lot for a server to bring you a check or coming back the next day to pay for your meal. If you only ate half before being scared off the premises, paying half the bill is acceptable. Stiffing the restaurant entirely is not about safety, it's about getting a free meal and (maybe) pressuring for social change in an unethical way (think shoplifting from Wal Mart to 'fight the corporate overlords'). Dr. Weinstein, you need to be more careful about not enabling people to rationalize self-serving behavior as being righteous.

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  18. Walking out of an establishment if you feel unsafe is a perfectly appropriate response. Refusing to pay is not. Fear for your personal safety in no way prohibits you from waiting in the parking lot for a server to bring you a check or coming back the next day to pay for your meal. If you only ate half before being scared off the premises, paying half the bill is acceptable. Stiffing the restaurant entirely is not about safety, it's about getting a free meal and (maybe) pressuring for social change in an unethical way (think shoplifting from Wal Mart to 'fight the corporate overlords'). Dr. Weinstein, you need to be more careful about not enabling people to rationalize self-serving behavior as being righteous.

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  19. Walking out of an establishment if you feel unsafe is a perfectly appropriate response. Refusing to pay is not. Fear for your personal safety in no way prohibits you from waiting in the parking lot for a server to bring you a check or coming back the next day to pay for your meal. If you only ate half before being scared off the premises, paying half the bill is acceptable. Stiffing the restaurant entirely is not about safety, it's about getting a free meal and (maybe) pressuring for social change in an unethical way (think shoplifting from Wal Mart to 'fight the corporate overlords'). Dr. Weinstein, you need to be more careful about not enabling people to rationalize self-serving behavior as being righteous.

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  20. I feel it is important to make the distinction between "fear" and "discomfort" or "dislike". I would venture to say it is at best irrational and at worst immoral to claim one when you mean the other.

    If you are actually afraid of firearms (in any context), or if there is something going on (as Gerald mentioned) where the behavior of the individual would lead "a reasonable person" to fear for their safety, then I'd say sure, duck out the back door (quietly, so as not to draw attention to yourself and become a potential target). I'd also recommend writing down notes on the events as soon as you feel safe and informing the police in case you are charged with theft of services (or, forbid, if someone does start shooting).

    If, on the other hand, you see an armed individual behaving normally, and duck out to make a political statement based on the presence of a firearm alone (regardless of if it was a plain clothes detective, fbi agent, or whomever), then I would be much less inclined to be supportive of your position, and would go so far as to question your understanding of the meaning of the word "fear" or even "danger".

    As a side note, fear (or hate) often stems from a lack of exposure and understanding. If you feel that you are legitimately "afraid" of guns, or anything else for that matter (as opposed to a dislike of some intensity), I would urge you to seek deeper understanding and educate yourself. I'm not saying go to the gun range (that would be like sending an agoraphobic to lolapalooza or something), but as they say, "the mind is like a parachute, it functions best when open." ;-)

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    1. Fear of a dangerous situation does not automatically translate into "fear of guns." I do fear a gun in the hands of an unstable person, of which I am sure there are many out there.

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  21. 4) I find it interesting that you only want to look at the last 15-20 years for gun rights, not the past 100-120... where gun rights contracted drastically, and only in recent years has that contraction started going the other way (but only barely). Once it was legal to own literally any type of gun or artillery money could buy. Anything we used in World War I was up for grabs. Machine guns, howitzers, you name it. Today, that is not the case. Some machine guns remain legal, but only guns that are on a government registry (that is closed and no new guns since 1986 can be added), may be possessed, and only after paying $200 and passing a 6-month background check can they be attained. The same restrictions are on rifles and shotguns with short barrels, as well as sound-suppresors. That doesn't sound like "expanded drastically" to me. All of these things that were once legal, are not legal any longer.

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  22. Reading some of the comments, and especially some of the Facebook postings, there are individuals by virtue of their threatening and vitriolic responses, should not in any way be allowed to own or carry a firearm. Their rantings reflect much of the rhetoric of the fringe lunatic element of the gun lobbies as well.

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  23. Let me first say I am a gun owner.

    I think a big part of this is the intention of the person leaving. I agree with you 100% that if a person really feels they are in a dangerous situation, it is moral to leave.

    You addressed the person who simply saw the open carry person as an excuse to leave without paying as theft, and I agree with that as well.

    But part of the way your plan for action was originally presented, as I heard it, was that leaving wasn't to save lives but a round-about way to put financial pressure on the businesses to ban open carry. I think that is what most people thought you were suggesting, and I think that is just as wrong. The reason I think that is because you stressed the financial angle. It was your second talking point on why leaving was the best response. The only way leaving without paying is moral is if it really is out of honest fear, with no extra bonus agenda of making a business choose. In fact, I read it as the financial pressure being the biggest point. After all, if someone asked about 'a bunch of black smoke billowing out of the kitchen...I fear a fire' no one would even consider 'and businesses will have a financial pressure to not have grease-fires in kitchen'.

    (I'd also say that if a person leaves a business with an unpaid tab because they feel they are in real risk, be it an open carry person, or seeing a bunch of smoke come out of the kitchen area, that action is moral but still leaves an obligation to pay sometime in the future when it can be done safely. This means estimate your bill and drop a check in the mail.)

    Let's talk about protected classes, but from a different angle. What about a person who sees someone enter and using race plus gender and plus age who comes to the conclusion that they are in danger and leaves? I am thinking of what Jesse Jackson said "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.... After all we have been through. Just to think we can't walk down our own streets, how humiliating" This is of course referring to seeing a young black male enter and a customer leaves without paying in fear. Post 9/11, it might also be toward someone who looks middle-eastern.

    If someone is going to skip paying and flee due to a perceived danger, is it moral to be reasonable about the reality of that danger?

    Martin Luther King Jr said "Do you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58% of its crimes?" While I am sure his 1960 crime statistic is no longer valid, it is true that different groups have different crime rates. For non-police who have permits to carry guns legally crime rates are extremely low...lower than police officers in general, and much lower than the average population.

    Fleeing and not paying because you are in fear for your life if either a young black male or an open carry activist walks in are equally moral if the fear is real. It is noteworthy that one is much more likely to be involved in crime, and so is a more 'real' threat. That is the young black male. Are you comfortable with that? After all, even if young black males are convicted of more crime than any other group, the chances of any one individual young black male being a threat either right then or at all is staggeringly small. For an open carry person, it's actually LESS.

    Is there some moral requirement to accurately judge the threat before fleeing without paying?

    Also, before any readers throw out 'but the gun is so capable of killing' think about every time you cross a street in traffic. Any one of those drivers if they chose to could hit the gas and kill you just as easily...actually probably easier...than the guy with the rifle across his back having a burger in the next booth.

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