Guest Post: Open Carry, Closed Minds

The Incident

On the morning of October 31, 2015, a deranged individual in Colorado Springs, CO decided to commit a horrible act of murder on the streets of the city sitting in the shadow of Pikes Peak. We won’t name the shooter, because we do not want to add to his notoriety or give motivation to potential copycats. In the wake of this terrible crime, three people were murdered before police finally stopped the shooter, bringing to a close yet another tragedy involving unstable people and guns.

The immediate reaction of the local media and progressive activist groups was not to push for more resources to help people in trouble and  spinning out of control as the result of substance abuse or mental illness, but instead was to begin pushing for yet another assault on legal gun ownership in Colorado. Fresh on the heels of a new tragedy, the far-Left, aided by their sympathetic friends in the press, have opened a new front in the battle for civil rights with a new push to ban “open carry.”

What is open carry, or “OC”? In general, open carry is defined as “The act of publicly carrying a firearm on one’s person in plain sight.” Colorado has a long history of safe, legal open carry, and in fact open carry has been legal in Colorado longer than carry concealed has. Concealed carry became legal in Colorado in 2003.

In the Colorado Springs spree-killing incident, a 911 caller told a police dispatcher that she saw someone walking into a building with a rifle and a can of gasoline. The dispatcher informed the caller that Colorado is an open carry state, and that a person is allowed to walk with a firearm in plain view. Put another way, what the 911 caller saw – a man walking into a building with a rifle – is not an illegal act, and the dispatcher informed the caller of this fact.

The dispatcher had the presence of mind to keep the call open and direct units to the scene to investigate. Sadly, what happened afterwards was the death of three innocent people and the suicide-by-cop of a despondent individual. Initial reports indicated the shooter suffered from prolonged alcohol abuse, possible untreated mental illness and had been in a downward spiral, evidenced by his paranoid and delusional rantings on social media.

Instead of focusing on the shooter, the mainstream media and the gun control lobby have determined that the central issue in the Colorado Springs spree-killing was that the gunman carried his rifle in plain view, and that this act was legal. Now, gun control advocates are recommending a ban on open carry.

This editorial in the Denver Post states unequivocally that, in their opinion, the key issue in the Halloween murder spree is the Colorado open carry law. Interestingly, the editorial is titled, “Give top-priority to gun alert calls”, yet the piece never mentions how to provide top priority to gun alert calls and based on the actions of the 911 dispatcher and the police, it is clear that law enforcement gave the call adequate priority given the totality of circumstances. Instead, the editorial focuses only on the so-called “evils” of openly carrying a firearm, betraying the publication’s reflexive institutional bias that gun control is the only acceptable remedy for any and all gun-related tragedies.

The Editorial Board went on to praise the City of Denver’s open carry policy, in order to bolster their case against this latest societal menace:

“Denver has the best policy for a big city — banning the open carrying of all firearms.”

Yet, the reader is left to ponder why the Denver policy is the “best,” because the Editorial Board presents no evidence, other than its own “wisdom” cloaked in politicized opinion. The Editorial Board fails to tell us by what measure they consider Denver’s policy “the best”.

Ironically, the Denver Post’s editorial might actually hold some water if 2015 wasn’t on track to be the deadliest year in the past five for gun-related homicides in the city, based on data from the Denver Police Department. If Denver’s rising body count isn’t the correct measure to assess the effectiveness of the city’s open carry law, then we wonder what measures the Editorial Board was thinking of. Thoughtful observers are left with no other conclusion that the Denver Post editorial was a thinly masked attempt to exploit the Colorado Springs tragedy for political purposes.

The Aurora Sentinel, a far-Left leaning Denver-area newspaper, also hopped on the ban-open-carry bandwagon with an opinion piece in which editor Dave Perry labeled law-abiding firearm owners as “gun nuts.” It is noteworthy to point out that in the minds of gun control advocates, “gun nuts” is an epithet that is appreciated only by extremists, many of whom are incrementally pushing for outright civilian firearm confiscation, similar to what has occurred in Australia or the United Kingdom.

Thankfully, this view is still very much in the minority in America. But to gun control extremists, the slur of “gun nuts” is designed to paint lawful gun owners of all races and identities with one broad stroke in an effort to objectify them in the same way that hateful racial and gender epithets are used to marginalize minorities and women.

Never mind that legal gun owners come from all backgrounds and identities. They are women, men, black, brown, white, LGBT, straight, married, single, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, hunters, recreational shooters, competitive shooters, and so on. Gun control advocates prefer to suggest that only crazy, racist, young white men who display Confederate flags own guns. In the world of identity politics, the term “gun nuts” is supposed to stigmatize legal gun owners as strange, weird or evil, and not like the rest of civilized society. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mike Littwin with the so-called Colorado Independent, a left-wing Internet opinion factory that frequently advocates for far-Left Progressive views, wrote an anti-open carry piece for the Sentinel adding more fuel to the gun control fire. He called the murder spree the “Open Carry Killing.”

If you read these opinion pieces, it almost seems that to the left-wing media the idea of carrying openly is worse than the act of murder itself. The stunning omission in all of these opinion pieces is that no mention is made of the state of mind of the shooter or his physical, emotional or mental condition. To believe that banning open carry will somehow get those suffering from untreated mental illness, substance abuse, or a combination of the two the care and treatment that they need is not only sweeping the root cause under the rug, it is a deadly red herring that does nothing to address incidents like the Colorado Springs shooting.

They Despise Us

One point is abundantly clear from this and other gun-control efforts:  Left-wing gun control advocates despise guns and gun owners. The reflexive first reaction from far-Left talking heads and editorial staff is predictable. They do not argue in good faith, and they are not interested in hearing any other perspective or taking a balanced approach. The call for yet more laws and restrictions on legal firearm ownership is their only prescription to a complex, individual-based problem.

The outrageous ad shown below by progressive activist group ProgressNow Colorado attempted to smear Republicans and gun owners as aiding criminals by opposing ineffective gun control laws. No serious person believes that elected GOP representatives want criminals to have guns. Based on the rising Denver gun murder rate, none of the gun laws passed by anti-gun Democrats on a strictly partisan basis in 2013 have made a positive difference anyway.

PNC Ad about Colorado Republicans

Then there is this tweet by the taxpayer funded Twitter account for the Colorado Senate Democrats, betraying not just ignorance but contempt for those who legally own standard capacity magazines.

COSenDem tweet about LCM

What the spree killing in Colorado Springs cynically represents for the Left is an opportunity for the anti-civil rights radicals, who despise guns and gun owners, to get another “win” – banning open carry statewide – even when there is no realistic safety benefit demonstrated by this ban, especially when it regards a deranged individual bent on murder. Gun control extremists simply expect everyone to believe that banning open carry, based on this single incident, is just “common sense,” and if you fail to go along with their schemes, then somehow you want criminals to have guns. Fortunately, most Coloradans can see through this deceptive political posturing.

There is good reason not to trust the paid left-wing gun control lobby and their allies in the media. While they push for ever-more curbs on legal firearm ownership, the Left has never articulated a limiting principle on how far it seeks to restrict the Second Amendment.

The typical rebuttal from the Left when confronted with the idea of the “slippery slope,” that their efforts to install yet more gun control will eventually lead to the confiscation of civilian firearms, is to basically belittle Constitutional concerns by saying that “only one more law” is needed to make everything better, that they would be quite happy with whatever legislation is currently in the queue.

Yet, history demonstrates that they are never satisfied. They do not humbly submit to laws and reason, and recent statements by Democrat presidential candidates indicate that they will not be satisfied until the United States essentially eliminates the Second Amendment and confiscates all civilian firearms. This is not an abstraction or conflation, it is what they say in public.

This tweet by a Colorado Democrat is representative of how gun control extremists and their political allies view legal gun ownership, and their apparent distaste for Constitutional rights.

House Gallery tweet no limiting principle

If we ban open carry and/or confiscate civilian firearms, then what’s next? Restrictions on the First Amendment and freedom of worship? Are we guilty until proven innocent with speech the institutional Left may not like? Without a limiting principle, the slippery slope to marginalizing ALL civil rights is very real and should concern those on both the Left and Right.

Proof that the Left is more interested in leveraging tragedies for political gain than making our schools and communities safer is their predictable reaction to the NRA’s calls for more security around the nation’s schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. The gun control lobby and their sympathizers in the media excoriated the NRA for making the pragmatic suggestion that schools should have armed security. Yet, after all the shouting had died down, Newtown followed the NRA’s recommendation and requested armed security in its schools. More recently, concerned parents have brought suit against the city of Newtown, citing that lax security at the school contributed to the carnage.

Back to open carry

The gun control extremists and their media allies, or “activists with bylines,” are spinning the narrative that if open carry were banned, it would have given the police a tactical advantage in arresting the shooter before he could fire a shot. This is a giant leap of faith, because it ignores several key variables.

To believe that banning open carry would have changed the outcome of the incident in Colorado Springs presupposes a static situation in which the shooter would have acted in exactly the same way under a different set of laws. If open carry was banned, and the shooter knew that police would be immediately dispatched to intercept him, would he then have concealed his weapon in a gym bag or under a coat, only to commit a worse act of violence had the 911 caller noticed nothing  strange?

Those who would ban open carry ignore other fundamental questions.

For example, would lives have been saved if the police had arrived five minutes or even ten minutes sooner? Maybe. Maybe not. If they had arrived earlier, would the spree killer have run from them, only to resume his plan at another time and location? If law enforcement arrived more quickly because open carry was banned, would the shooter have shot police officers as they arrived on scene, eliminating the immediate attempt to apprehend him? Would he then have killed more innocents? Also, the shooter had more than a rifle. What about the two handguns the killer had concealed in addition to the rifle he carried openly? This fact only gets in the way of the new narrative: We Must Ban Open Carry!

A key fact is that the initial call to emergency responders was not prompted by the discharge of a firearm, but by a citizen phoning in concern after seeing someone open carrying a rifle in an urban setting. Is it possible to argue that open carry led to a quicker resolution of the incident by law enforcement? If the rifle were concealed in a case, then the caller would have been none the wiser until actual shots were fired.

We believe thinking people will see it this way and place blame where it belongs – on the murderer.

The gun control lobby and anti-gun media have no answers for these dynamic and fluid situations, because in their closed-minded and binary world of “guns are bad, no guns are good,” having open minds and considering any measures that do not involve more restrictions on legal gun ownership simply do not compute. The minds of the far-Left are closed to measures that might not only prevent future tragedies, but also improve the quality of life for those who live with mental illness and substance abuse.

We suspect gun control activists plan to keep momentum on this issue alive until the January start of the 2016 legislative session. Then we predict they will use this issue to compel the legislature to attack “gun nuts,” meaning the law-abiding citizens who did nothing wrong, in an effort to show that they are doing “something.”

Like the radical gun legislation they unilaterally crammed down Colorado’s throats in 2013, the far-Left will continue to use the “common sense” and “public safety” euphemisms to advance their agenda to take yet another small step towards confiscating civilian firearms, which many openly admit is their ultimate objective.

The far-Left and their mainstream media allies are overtly laying the groundwork now with editorials and becoming increasingly active on social media. If you oppose them, they will employ smears such as, “then you are for the slaughter of innocent people going about their daily lives on a Saturday morning.” It is absurd, outrageous attacks are coming. It is predictable and it is also time for Colorado voters and legislators to stand up and just say “no” to the coming assault of extremist rhetoric and childish smears.

This is how the Left leverages negative emotions to argue in bad faith, and it is a constant feature of their activism. They have no limiting principles or any self-governing humility for the law of the land. They create a moral dilemma and assign themselves the role of the morally superior do-gooder, while they ignore the root causes of violence. They are outraged if one dares to oppose the so-called “good” that they wish to do, even if it has serious unintended negative consequences for legal gun owners and civil rights, supported only by opinion and anecdote.

The gun control lobby’s misplaced disdain for gun owners does nothing to stop the next killer. The next criminal spree killer may decide to conceal his gun, or his can of gasoline, or his knife, machete, or bomb. What then? Do the radicals who despise guns and gun owners apologize and admit they miscalculated?

We aren’t going to hold our breath.

By @terriblezdog, @JamesViser and @RichardDaleT

November 24, 2015

 

 

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