Open Carry Rally this Saturday in Texas [corrected]

Updated: Whoops. Turns out I didn’t check the date on the DMN article — the event was this last Saturday and has already occurred. Mea culpa. Additionally, it looks like the group didn’t have permission from Home Depot and may have violated Home Depot’s “no solicitation” policy, which might end up getting open carry banned at Home Depot. Way to go, guys.

In the army we had a name for people who screwed over their buddies: “blue falcon“. It’s fair to say that applies to these guys.

Original post continues below:

Heads up to any readers in Texas: according to the Dallas Morning News, there’ll be an open carry rally in North Richland Hills this Saturday:

Starting at 11:30 a.m. supporters will fill the back of the parking lot at the Home Depot on Precinct Line Road to listen to speakers, have an open-carry education session and hold a raffle. Prizes include revolvers, an AR 15 rifle, over 1,500 rounds of ammunition and Rangers tickets, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Rally organizer Kory Watkins, 30, wants to make it clear that Saturday’s event is not a protest.

“Protesters are angry; and we are not angry people. If you come up to us, you will see we are smiling and friendly,” he said. “We are demonstrating, demonstrating our rights and demonstrating how the law lets you carry a long gun, but you can’t open carry a pistol.”

While I personally find the open carry of rifles in built-up areas a bit off-putting, so long as things are cool with Home Depot that sounds like a fun event and a good use of a large, otherwise-unused section of parking lot.

When you’re having a big event, it makes sense to coordinate with the property owner rather than just showing up. Doubly so when people are openly armed.

However, it’s not quite clear if that’s the case:

Watkins said his group has been meeting at the Home Depot for almost a year, and unlike other businesses and cities like Arlington who have clashed with the group, the home improvement giant has “stayed neutral.”

“They respect the rights of the people and we realize that,” Watkins said. “Their parking lost are always huge so we can park in the back and not bother nobody.”

A representative for the North Richland Hills Home Depot said he had no information about the rally.

“That’s not something Home Depot sponsors,” said the man, who declined to give his name. “They are not going to on the Home Depot property.”

Stephen Holmes, Home Depot’s corporate communications director, told Forbes, “Our feeling is that, ultimately, the voters direct the laws on gun carry issues, so we defer to the prevailing ordinances in states and communities.”

Emphasis mine.

Good for Home Depot to stay neutral, but it sounds like the group — even though they’ve met there regularly — hasn’t really coordinated with the store itself. That’d probably be a good idea.

Fortunately, they’ve let the police know ahead of time so there shouldn’t be trouble from the cops:

[A]ccording to Watkins, the North Richland Hills police have been helpful with the planned rally.

“The police department has been notified and is coordinating with us,” he said. “Everything is legal, as always.”

Naturally, the Demanding Mommies and a few others have posted to the Home Depot Facebook page saying they’re unhappy about the situation and will not shop at the store until they change their rules.

Honestly, Texas really should just allow open carry of handguns like Arizona and other states: with few exceptions, very few people notice or care a handgun holstered on a belt but they sure as hell will notice a slung rifle. It’d benefit gun owners in Texas and take the steam out of MDA by removing a point around which they can rally support and get media time.

How to do Rifle Open Carry Right

The New York Times reports on a rifle open carry event in San Antonio, Texas.

As I’ve said before, I’m not so keen on rifle open carry, but this seemed to be pretty reasonable: it was an organized, coordinated event (not just random guys showing up at a coffee shop), they’re using rifle open carry as a means to an end (in Texas, open carry of a long gun is legal but open carry of a handgun is not — they’re looking to change the law regarding handguns), people are well-dressed, polite, and not being idiots.

Well done.

On Starbucks

This. Sebastian hits the nail on the head, as usual.

I get where Starbucks is coming from, but I think they handled this situation somewhat poorly. Some better wording (“display” vs. “bring”, as Sebastian puts it) would have made it clear that they weren’t so keen on being an unwilling focal point of the open carry debate while still allowing people to carry discretely in accordance with local laws.

The current wording alienates all law-abiding, peaceable gun owners who carry concealed and disturb nobody, not just those who were pushing the bounds of civility by openly carrying rifles into a coffee shop where such behavior is not customary. Change the wording slightly to ask people to not carry openly and there’d be significantly less controversy.

I don’t drink coffee so I pretty much have no reason to ever go to Starbucks, but if I did then I’d definitely have second thoughts about any future business there based on their handling of this situation.

Interesting Quirk of Permitless Carry

According to an email I received from a state legislator, the permitless concealed carry law doesn’t apply to…get this, people who have a permit to carry a concealed firearm.

Basically, if you have a CCW permit in Arizona, you must continue to have the permit on you while carrying, as the new law does not affect or supersede the existing one regarding permits. If you don’t have a permit, you can — once the law comes into effect — carry concealed without a permit.

Go figure.

As always, open carry remains unaffected.

One Step Closer to Permitless Concealed Carry in AZ

From AZCDL:

SB 1108, the Senate version of the AzCDL-requested Constitutional Carry bill, passed in the Senate Third Read, by a 20-10 vote, on Monday, March 29, 2010.

From here, SB 1108 will be sent over to the House.  Since the House has already voted for an identical bill, HB 2347, during their Committee of the Whole (COW) debate, we are expecting SB 1108 to be substituted for HB 2347 during the House Third Read.  We are also expecting the House Third Read vote to be as early as Tuesday, March 30, 2010.  This will be “the” final vote on Constitutional Carry to determine if it will be sent to the Governor!

Things are moving quick on this.

Of course, I think it’s rather silly that so much legislative time (even as fast as things are going) is spent to make it legal for people to untuck their shirts while carrying (permitless open carry is already legal here) while people could carry without a permit so long as their shirt is tucked in. Permitless concealed carry should be a no-brainer.

On Prohibitions

As many readers may know, Costco prohibits the carriage of firearms within its stores. As a private entity, they are perfectly within their rights to do so, and while I may disagree with their decision, I respect it.

Naturally, there are those who do not agree with their decision and will carry anyway. This is prohibited by Costco’s policy, and Costco can ask them to leave (and failing to do so is trespassing). Even so, I’m sure there’s not a few people who think “concealed means concealed” and don’t worry about it. I may disagree, but I understand.

Then, there’s the guy who walked in to the local Costco tonight: baseball hat on backwards, tag still attached to it, oversized t-shirt, with a Ruger semi-auto pistol (exact model unknown) openly carried in a cheap, nylon holster with no retention other than a small velcro strap. Oh, and he’s there with his wife and four kids. He totally took “classy” to a whole new level.

It’s one thing to carry discretely where it’s not permitted, but it’s another thing entirely to do so brazenly and openly.

Don’t be “that guy”.

Man With A Gun

A man, openly armed with a Glock 19 and accompanied by a female friend, went to Lowes Home Improvement this evening.

He purchased a $4 tube of epoxy.

He and his friend then went to IHOP, where they had tasty pancakes.

When paying the bill, another patron waiting to be seated inquired if the man “was an officer”, to which the man replied, “no”. The other patron then asked if the man “just carried a pistol around”, to which the man replied, “Yes. It’s a free country.” The patron laughed pleasantly, said “That’s cool.” and the two bid each other good night.

No further incidents were noted.

Does Arizona have an image problem?

That’s the question asked by the Arizona Republic in this article.

Let’s go through their article, shall we?

First off, this picture:

Jack Kurtz/The Arizona Republic

Jack Kurtz/The Arizona Republic

What’s with the media and not including actual pictures of Chris? It’s almost as if they don’t want to reveal the fact that he’s a well-dressed, tie-wearing, bespectacled black man, not some frothing-at-the-mouth nutjob. Of course, the color of one’s skin is irrelevant, but I can’t help but suspect that the media isn’t showing those pictures because it might cause some people to reconsider their worldview.

Just as local and state tourism officials tried to shed Phoenix’s unbecoming title as the “kidnapping capital of America,” another national moniker has emerged: gun-crazy.

I’m not sure that Phoenix was ever labeled the “kidnapping capital of the world” — maybe in the US, and maybe if you’re involved in the illicit narcotics trade, but certainly not for everyday persons.

As for the “gun-crazy” thing, says who?

A man carrying a pistol and semiautomatic rifle outside the Phoenix hall where President Barack Obama spoke this month ignited a media firestorm, reinforcing the stereotype of the Grand Canyon State as a gun-loving vestige of the Wild West.

Being a “gun-loving vestige of the Wild West” is a bad thing…why, exactly? The Old West was not nearly as “Wild” as movies make it out to be.

The firearms display, later revealed to be a publicity stunt, was legal under an Arizona law that allows most citizens to openly carry guns in public without a permit.

ZOMG! People can lawfully carry arms, and some choose to do so openly!

While this may come as a shock to some people, particularly urban New Englanders, almost every state in the union allows their citizens to carry arms, mostly concealed. Several states, including Arizona, don’t prohibit the open carriage of arms so long as the gun itself is not concealed (e.g. secured in a holster on the waist).

But the spotlight cast by cable-news pundits, newspaper editorials and blogs – including censure from a world-renowned travel writer – raised questions about whether Arizona’s lax gun laws make it safe to travel and do business in the state.

I can’t imagine how having law-abiding persons carrying arms makes the state any less safe.

“We’re an urban city, and there are individuals trying to hold on to the old ways of the Wild West,” said Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski, himself a gun owner. “We’re going to lose a lot of conventions because of one knucklehead.”

While I admit that carrying a rifle to a public event may not be in the best of taste, what’s the big deal? Rifle or pistol, a huge number of Arizonans — many in Phoenix — carry arms on a regular basis.

I seriously doubt that Phoenix will lose many conventions or tourism: unless one is an activist or enthusiast of some sort, a state’s gun laws are not likely to enter into one’s thoughts when planning a convention. I’d suspect that location, number of nearby hotels, proximity to an airport, cost, and city life will be much higher priorities for convention planners and goers.

Before the gun stunt, tales of Mexican drug cartels abducting rival smugglers and immigrants and holding them for ransom in Valley homes had already painted Phoenix as a city under siege.

See, those are criminals. Chris, and others like him, are law-abiding citizens. Big difference.

The most visible [armed protester -AZR] was Phoenix resident Christopher Broughton, who verbally sparred with Obama supporters and gave media interviews with an AR-15 rifle strapped to his back and a pistol holstered at his side. A libertarian radio host, also sporting a pistol, said later that he and others cooked up the media stunt to draw attention to Second Amendment rights and Arizona’s open-carry law.

While I’ve said that such a stunt is probably not in the best of taste, what’s the big deal?

National news outlets, however, portrayed it as a disturbing trend, given America’s history of presidential assassinations.

Obama was inside the convention center, surrounded by a veritable army of Secret Service agents and police, behind a cordon of metal detectors and x-ray machines. I sincerely doubt that anyone meaning the president harm would be able to get within visual range of him. Chris, and the other protesters, were outside, on a public street, with a few cops and a Secret Service agent in the immediate vicinity.

“It is hard to know what is more shocking: the sight of a dozen Americans showing up to flaunt guns outside the venue for President Obama’s speech in Phoenix on Monday, or the fact that the swaggering display was completely legal,” the New York Times wrote Aug. 20.

How is any of this shocking? Outside of New York, there’s a (mostly) free country.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve visited New York (both the City and the State) several times and enjoyed my visits, but urban New Yorkers tend to be rather insular and unaware of the goings-on in much of the rest of the country. I’d imagine that for someone who was born and raised in a highly-urbanized area where restrictive gun-control has been the norm for several generations, the sight of ordinary citizens with guns could be shocking…but so what?

Founder of the Frommer’s series of travel guidebooks, Frommer wrote that he would no longer visit Arizona, fearing for his personal safety after reading accounts of protesters carrying loaded weapons on the streets of Phoenix.

Frommer’s an idiot.

Frommer, who sold his company decades ago, was unavailable for comment. But he told NPR last weekend he was disturbed police officers stood around “like scared rabbits” while armed protesters tried to “threaten” and “intimidate” Obama supporters.

Fortunately Frommer doesn’t speak for the company that bears his name, so I’ll have no problem purchasing their excellent travel guides.

The police were certainly not “scared rabbits” — they were there to ensure the public order. Since the armed protesters previously informed the police that they’d be showing up, so as not to needlessly surprise and alarm the police, and were peaceable and law-abiding at all times, it’s hardly an issue.

I’ve seen videos of the event, and I can’t find a single example of armed protesters threatening or intimidating anyone. Anyone care to provide such evidence?

“Open-carry laws have to take second place to public order and to life,” said Frommer, a New York Democrat and Obama campaign contributor.

The lawful carriage of arms, including doing so openly, can help preserve and defend life.

When NPR host Guy Raz suggested Frommer was making Arizona sound like war-torn Mogadishu, Frommer responded: “Well, it’s getting that way. . . . The number of guns that are now being carried by citizens in Arizona is becoming frightening.”

Really? Law-abiding people carrying legal guns in a safe, legal manner is somehow “frightening”?

To quote Sgt. Hulka from Stripes, “Lighten up, Francis.”

Mayor Gordon has pointed out that Arizona is just one of 11 states where citizens don’t need a license to carry a firearm in public as long as it is visible. In fact, there are only seven states where openly carrying guns is unlawful.

In short, the majority of states allow open carry. Hardly a big deal then. Why, then, is this a huge news story?

But this year, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law three major bills that expanded gun rights, a step proponents said makes the state a safer place. Beginning Sept. 30, one of those laws will allow people with a concealed-weapons permit to carry guns into restaurants and bars, though they can’t pack heat while consuming alcohol.

Sounds good to me.

Another new law will restrict property and business owners from banning guns from parking areas so long as the weapons are kept out of sight in locked vehicles. A third allows gun owners to display their weapon when they feel threatened by unlawful force.

Again, a step in the right direction. The law that clarified when it was legal to display firearms in self-defense was a big deal.

“Every time we loosen gun laws to make it easier for citizens to carry guns in Arizona, we see a drop in the crime rate,” said Tucson resident Todd Rathner, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. “These people have to get over the emotional, ignorant and insane reaction to law-abiding citizens with firearms.”

Well-said, sir.

If Mr. Rathner wishes to contact me, I’d be glad to buy him a drink of his choosing. (Within reason, of course. My budget is not unlimited.)

Tourism officials said crime has already been on the wane.

The number of violent crimes across the Valley fell in 2008 to 16,832, a 6 percent drop over the previous two years, according to FBI statistics.

The number of law-abiding persons carrying arms is increasing, yet crime is dropping? Shocking.

According to that link, there was an 18.4% increase in the number of permits issued from 2007 to 2008 and a 16.4% increase from 2006 to 2007. From 2006 to the present, there’s been a 58.9% increase in the number of concealed carry permits issued.

Basically, there’s no direct correlation between the number of law-abiding people with guns and the amount of crime? (If there was, you’d see crime numbers increasing as the number of law-abiding armed citizens increases.)

Awesome.

“We have a great, positive story to tell,” said Arizona Tourism Office Director Sherry Henry, who took part in last week’s meeting. “We just need to reassure the general public that loves Arizona and is interested in Arizona that it is safe to be here, that it is beautiful.”

Arizona is indeed a safe, beautiful state. I highly encourage people to come visit and explore.

If you choose to visit and lawfully openly carry a firearm whilst exploring this great state, more power to you.

Isn’t freedom grand?

Man with a Gun

This evening, a man with an openly-carried gun went to the grocery store with a fellow scientist.

While there, he came in close proximity to alcoholic beverages on shelves, yet did not go on a drunken shooting rampage. During his time in the store, he passed by numerous women and children, and encountered a co-worker and his cousin.

After placing numerous items of microwaveable food1 in his cart, he paid for his purchases using a MasterCard and returned home.

Film at 11.

  1. I normally eat better, but I’m going up to the telescope this weekend to observe, and they only have a microwave. []

Carrying Responsibly

No doubt people have read the article from the Arizona Republic about Obama’s speech at the VFW national convention.

Unfortunately, the story about the convention seems to be taking a back seat compared to the national health care debate and, unfortunately, a fellow that the Republic describes thusly:

A man, who decided not to give his name, was walking around the pro-health care reform rally at 3rd and Washington streets, with a pistol on his hip, and an AR-15 (a semi-automatic assault weapon) on a strap over his shoulder.

First off, can the health-care folks (on both sides) give it a bit of a rest? The president was speaking to the VFW. Your efforts would probably be better spent rallying your supporters and waiting for a better opportunity. Just saying…

Next, I’d like to address the folks who carry. I’m a strong advocate of carry, both concealed and open. I routinely open carry a pistol in public places, like the movie theater, grocery store, and so on. So far, I’ve had only positive interactions with people.

Now, while one certainly has the right to carry in public in Arizona, this right also comes with responsibility and common sense. It should be common sense that openly carrying a firearm, particularly a rifle, near a function where the President of the United States is speaking will cause a fair bit of alarm and attract attention (almost certainly unwanted) from the public, the news media, the police, and the Secret Service1.

One certainly can openly carry firearms, including rifles, at such events, but it’s probably a bad idea. The best response one can reasonably hope for is being portrayed poorly in the media. Most likely, one’s actions will also reflect poorly on other gun owners. If one is particularly foolish, one might get arrested. At worst, one might get shot.

Fortunately, the police in this situation recognized this individual as a person not presenting a credible threat and, while closely supervising him, let him go about his business. Major kudos to the police and Secret Service. I don’t think we’d see such a reasonable, measured reaction under Bush.

I don’t fault anyone for wanting to carry a gun at public events — tensions have been growing high and there’s been a lot of strong words exchanged at such events. I’d just rather see people do so in such a manner that doesn’t call attention to the fact that one is armed (e.g. concealed), nor reflects poorly on other gun owners.

  1. You know, the guys on the roof with rifles who are interested in keeping their principal alive and unpunctured. []