May 13, 2007

Carry On

I've been looking for an excuse to post some reggae & to my surprise a Texan provided it. This isn't my favorite Marley tune, but it adheres to the title appropriate rule. Here's a vid of I Know A Place (Where We Can Carry On).

Kim du Toit wrote a post on open carry (titled coincidentally Open Carry) where he pondered that perhaps open carry may not be such a great thing.

"I know, I know: I’m generally not in favor of the precautionary principle when it comes to laws, because I believe that people, by and large, will tend to do the right rather than the wrong thing—and for those who do the wrong thing, we in Texas have excellent jails and a marked affection for the death penalty.

But this is one situation where it seems to me that experience and common sense of 'a lot of assholes' rub up against the unfettered idealism of 'shall not be infringed'. The compromise (concealed carry) seems to be not an unreasonable one, under the circumstances."

Kim seems to rest his hesitation about open carry on the rambunctious nature of Texans & the effects of alcohol on same. Being the militant libertarian that I is I simply must point out what I think are the counter-arguments.

To start off with carry of any kind in bars is prohibited in most states that do not prohibit open carry. It is not that difficult to enact a law prohibiting carry in bars where open carry is otherwise allowed. Of course I don't think that the state has (or should have) the authority to make such proscriptions. It should be up to the individual bar owner, just as it should be up to the bar owner to allow smoking or any other activity that does not directly harm another.

I grew up in NC where open carry was not prohibited. I later lived in SC where (until the 90's) carry of any kind was prohibited & currently only concealed carry with a license is allowed. In both places bars were off limits for carry by the respective state laws & this was a mistake.

When I was a musician I was a musician in the South. I played from Virginia down to the Florida panhandle & as far west as Nashville. For the majority of the gigs I had at least a pistol that I traveled with & seldom left it in the car. Usually it was in my guitar case behind my amp not more than 20 feet away. Most of the places I played this was an unnecessary precaution, but a few joints I was ready to make the dive as it were. I never experienced any trouble (that required a firearm at least) but a few folks I know or know of did.

In particular this one pal of mine got his gear stolen from him & most of his teeth knocked out after a gig one night. He was loading his equipment in his car & got jumped by a couple of guys. They beat the hell out of him & injured him permanently. He wasn't carrying (truth be told I'm not sure he even owned a gun at that point) & if he would have been he'd have probably been prosecuted for it.

I admit I'm not quite a typical musician; the majority of the times I've been in bars I've walked in sober & walked out sober. When I was younger I'd at least have a drink or two over a few hours but as I grew older I just didn't see the use in it. But by law I was required to be disarmed, despite my sobriety & despite the hazards of working late nights in less than pristine environments.

Before I digress too much I'll just sum up this point by saying that carry, open or concealed in bars would not be problematic for most people, & in some situations laws prohibiting such are detrimental to an individual's safety. Bars should not be victim disarmament zones despite the increased risk of an asshatted patron doing something stupid (especially since said asshatted patron could just pack illegally).

The "bar" objection to open carry could be handled by a law (or preferably a policy implemented by the owner of such establishments) prohibiting someone from drinking while packing. That way those folks who are in bars or restaurants that serve alcohol wouldn't be prevented by law from carrying.

The other argument to Kim's ponderings is one of economy; CCW permits cost money. In some states a lot of cash, in others less. It's true that some states require a permit for open carry (NY comes to mind) but most states that do not prohibit open carry don't require a license for it. In NC I never had to pay a dime in order to carry openly. Ditto for Colorado. To carry concealed in either place it'd run me over $100 not including the class. $100 or even $200 may not seem like a lot, but from my musician days I recall when it was. There are a lot of folks without the discretionary budget to allow for CCW permits.

There are also folks who bristle at the suggestion of paying $0.01 to exercise a Right. For example with a Colorado CCW permit not only am I out cash, but I have to take a mandated class going over laws which I find constitutionally questionable, carry said permission slip on my person like I was a 7th grader in the hall during class time & to add insult I'd be included in a criminal database as a known gun carrier. It's not that I don't like concealed carry - it's the conditions required to carry concealed legally are a bit much for me to bear, & a good many folks have similar objections to any licensing system.

But in NC, Colorado & a few other places I have the "free" option; open carry.

As for Texans being more prone to rumble than folks from other states - I think that's more reputation than actuality. If it were true in general & it were problematic when weapons were thrown into the mix then after Texas passed its CCW law the anti's would have been making it front page news. It's simply an ungrounded fear on the whole. Sure; there are some folks who shouldn't be trusted with dull spoons & they'll make trouble no matter what they have at their disposal, but the inappropriate actions of a small group are not just cause to limit the Rights of everyone.

The first laws prohibiting concealed carry were enacted in the late 18th/early 19th centuries. The rationale was usually that folks carrying concealed were up to something. There's even some case law in Wisconsin where they cite that concealed carry was historically prohibited for that reason & to prevent folks with rash tempers from pulling a gun while drinking & in an excited state. I just published a post related to concealed carry in Wisconsin where I read those cases & it's somewhat ironic to see a variation of that argument used to question the wisdom in open carry.

So if open carry in bars is really objectionable then the proper response would be for bar owners to not allow open carry in their bars. But if open carry is such a hazard then concealed carry in bars should be proscribed by the bar owner as well. I won't support a law that prohibits any kind of carry on private property, but that's another avenue that's been employed by many states with open or concealed carry laws. I would suggest though that carry should only be prohibited for folks actually drinking, or drinking to a certain point (say having a BAC of .08%). There's no sense in turning any place into a victim disarmament zone where a deranged person or a terrorist could try to set another "most killed in a single incident" record.

Other than a restriction on carrying while intoxicated I can see no other real concerns about carrying openly from anyone who supports CCW permits. There are advantages & disadvantages to both open & concealed carry. Ideally one would not have to procure a permission slip to engage in either; instead an individual could size up his/her situation & carry in the manner he/she thinks best.

As an aside I've been shopping around (albeit half heartedly; I do like Colorado) for another state to move to. One of my friends suggested Texas (coincidentally she lives there) as an almost ideal place. I gave it a little thought but Texas is just too damn warm for my tastes (I moved from Carolina to get away from the heat) & their gun laws are too restrictive. The ban on open carry coupled with their (until recent) ban on carrying in a car just seemed a bit too harsh for my tastes. Not that I dislike Texas, just that it doesn't seem a great place for me to live. If they'd liberalize their gun laws & drop the average temp by about 20 degrees then I'd probably reconsider.

Just to be clear I'm not trying to slight Kim. I've known the fellow over the net for a while & had a chance to meet him & shoot with him a little over a year ago. I don't agree with all his politics (nor does he agree with all of mine) but he's a good bit away from falling into the enemy camp. All of us at times look at examples of stupidity displayed by our fellows & are tempted to support laws to prevent any damage caused by said rocket scientists. But laws just won't ever negate "stupid" no matter how much we'd like them to. I think Kim knows that deep down which is why he was merely speculating that open carry could have its downsides. & to be fair it could, it's just that it'd be no more disadvantages on the whole as concealed carry is now.

Course personally I think he just looked at all his handgun options, quickly tallied the expense of an every day rig & a Bar-B-Cue Rig for each one & tried to find some justification for that frugal whispering in his ear. :)

Posted by Publicola at May 13, 2007 04:16 PM | TrackBack

It would be worth looking in Virginia as well. has good background, as well as

One of the biggets current fights is to repeal the "restaraunt ban" which prohibits concealed carry in any establishment licensed to serve alchohol. Open carry is permitted essentially everywhere (except K-12, courthouses, jails - IANAL-YMMV), and only a few restaraunts (by law, there are no bars in VA) are even marked as prohibiting firearms.

As a customer, I don't mind too much. I've yet to have any issues open carrying, but many people have. As a former (college) bartender, I'd prefer the open carry requirement so I know who I'm not going to serve.

As long as open carry is permitted free and clear, I've got more important things to worry about.

Posted by: Chris Pugrud at May 17, 2007 02:23 AM