Open Carry Civility, Part 2



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By Nicki Kenyon, April 29th 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

Here we go again.

"See my gun? Look, I got a gun and there's nothing you can do about it," crowed a man at a Forsyth County, Georgia kids' baseball game a few days ago, as he stalked the parking lot while open carrying his pistol in a holster.

The man caused such a disturbance, that park users flooded 911 with 22 calls, and parents stopped the baseball game and took the children into the dugout.

Is this how mature, respectful adults behave?

Is this arrogance and puerility something we want to display as typical of peaceable gun owners?

I have previously discussed simple decorum when open carrying defensive tools, but apparently this gun owner didn't get the memo.

Look, this is not about your rights. The police in this case confirmed that the man had a carry permit and had every right to attend the game carrying his firearm. Forsyth Sheriff Duane Pipe said the man was acting inappropriately, but did nothing illegal. The man had every right to carry his gun in that park.

But there's a difference between simply exercising your rights and being an obnoxious tool, and this guy crossed the line. He didn't just cross it. He pole vaulted over it, and did a little victory dance after the fact. Parents confirm that no one would have batted an eyelash had he simply exercised his rights without the drama. "I don't think the parents would have been nervous had he just had the gun in his holster and was just watching the game," said one parent.

What was the point of swaggering around and drawing attention to himself?

What was the point of alienating even staunch supporters of Second Amendment rights?

What was the point of making a spectacle in a place where people are simply gathering to watch their kids play baseball?

Make no mistake – the man had every right to be there and to proudly carry his firearm.

Parents knew this, and they appear – at least from the story – to be Second Amendment right supporters and gun owners.

So why the obnoxious performance?

There's no tactical advantage to loudly proclaiming your defensive posture to anyone within earshot.

There's no sense in attempting to provoke those who already support your right to carry.

Part of being a responsible gun owner is showing good judgment.

Does taunting and intentionally provoking children and parents at a park demonstrate respect for others? Does it show discerning, judicious behavior?

Not in my estimation.

What it shows is an infantile stunt – the equivalent of an insufferable, ill-mannered child sticking his tongue out in public and screaming "NEENER, NEENER!" at passersby for no other reason than because he can.

No, this man threatened no one, and did not appear to be dangerous – just immature and intolerable.

The police rightfully confirmed his right to be at the park with his firearm and assured nervous parents by increasing their presence and visibility at the park. That's the good news.

The bad news is that the national media picked up this story, and it is quite likely that the gun grabbers will use this man's behavior as an excuse to paint gun owners with the broad brush of malice.

We are better and smarter than this, ladies and gentlemen.

We are classier, more sensible and more astute.

And we should understand that a long-term strategy requires us to put our best foot forward.

This man certainly did no such thing.

Instead of seizing the opportunity to generate a constructive discussion which may have arisen from calmly exercising his rights...

...He offered our opponents the opportunity to paint us as childish and uncouth.

Instead of helping give confidence to those around him that a responsible, judicious person was among them...

...He made them nervous and uncomfortable.

Simple decorum and maturity could have transformed his assertion of his rights into an opportunity to foster productive dialogue and maybe even changed some hearts and minds.

But instead, while we may have won on the legal front, we lost the public relations battle.

All thanks to one gun owner, who had no concept of tact.

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Nicki Kenyon has been an avid gun rights advocate since she returned to the United States from an overseas Army tour in Germany. She began writing about Second Amendment issues in 2001 when published her first essay, "The Moment.". She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Arts degree in National Security Studies from American Military University. Her area of expertise in those fields is European and Eurasian affairs. When not writing about gun rights or hanging out with her husband and son, she practices dry-firing her M1911 at the zombies of "The Walking Dead."

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