As conservatives, we support Second Amendment rights. It's one of the characteristics that define us who we are politically. Yet, a few overly-passionate open carry supporters have generated negative attention, which prompted the NRA to call them out - and rightfully so.
In the great state of Texas, a group of open carry supporters decided to eat at Jack In The Box and Chipotle with their assault rifles slung over their shoulders. The NRA noted that nearly half the states in the country have unlicensed open carry laws, and that it's common and uncontroversial in some places. But, I would guess many would feel uncomfortable eating a steak bowl at Chipotle with a person carrying an AR-15 next to them.
Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places.
Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.
Let's not mince words, not only is it rare, it's downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one's cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.
As a result of these hijinx [sic], two popular fast food outlets have recently requested patrons to keep guns off the premises (more information can be found here and here). In other words, the freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior. To state the obvious, that's counterproductive for the gun owning community.
More to the point, it's just not neighborly, which is out of character for the big-hearted residents of Texas. Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners. That's not the Texas way. And that's certainly not the NRA way.
I'll add that this isn't tactically prudent either. If a madman decides to open fire on innocent people, and you're open carrying your AR-15, AK-47, or Ruger Mini-14; guess whom that person is going to target first. The NRA already made good points concerning drawing attention to yourself and your firearm.
So, open carry is fine, but you have to be smart about it. You're within your rights to open carry in the family establishments listed above, but is it the smart thing to do; is it the tactical thing to do; and how will this impact fellow firearm owners and supporters of the Second Amendment?
Suffice to say, if the NRA had to chastise you in a press release; you've probably done something to put this civil rights issue in a negative light.
You can let people take their families to eat burgers at Jack In The Box in peace – and exercise your Second Amendment rights – by getting a concealed carry permit.