Open carry of guns is virtue signaling. Yes indeed. The statement is not a negative against those who open carry, but it is what it is: Virtue Signaling. When my brother or sister in arms goes grocery shopping or to the store with a visible and open firearm, they are sending a message for all who see them. “I support the right for an individual citizen to keep and bear arms.” It is right out there for the whole world to see. My view on open carry is neutral.
I do not open carry when out in public. That is a personal choice I have made for me. I do open carry at the gun range to which I am a member. However, the range is a private organization and I am among, “fellow travelers.” I am not going to denigrate anybody’s personal choices to open carry. I respect my fellow citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.
Now, here come the comments from the angry, moral high horse folks who engage in name-calling and other pejoratives because people open carry…Which is indeed, virtue signaling. Very negative virtue signaling.
What the Hell is Virtue Signaling? Virtue Signaling is the practice of publicly expressing opinions and views. Virtue Signaling knows no limits to a particular ideology, lifestyle or culture. Virtue Signaling literally engulfs us.
I personally virtue signal. An American flag, a United States Marine Corps Flag and a Swedish flag prominently flap in the breeze outside my home. I am communicating (Virtue Signaling) that I love America, I served in the Marine Corps and I am of Swedish heritage, the proud offspring of immigrants to this great nation. T-shirts and apparel emblazoned with guns, gun brands, pro-2A memes are yet another form of Virtue Signaling. Yes indeed! Guilty as charged.
I am a regular wearer of such apparel. I will further confess that I perceive myself an honest arbiter of appropriateness for the wearing of my virtue signal-wear. I rationalize in my own mind that wearing this, “there,” will be okay, while wearing it other places might not be okay. Once certainty is that, somebody will completely disagree with my own self-assessment.
Virtue Signaling is not one of those things the virtue signaler will get right all the time. If people are virtue signaling with anything on their bodies, conversations about being the gray person in society are all but moot.
The open carry of guns is virtue signaling. Many within the Second Amendment community have very strong opinions about open carry. For those who oppose open carry, “idiots, losers, dumbasses or ignorant,” are just a few of the pejoratives fired at those who open carry. That opinion expressed publicly is indeed, “Virtue Signaling.” When one virulently steps into the role of opinionated loud mouth to talk about how bad it is to open carry, that person has appointed himself or herself the arbiter of a tangible and existing component of the pro-second amendment culture. Often couched as moral declaration, those strident opinions expressed do little if nothing at all, to flesh out why a person chooses to open carry. One constant about Second Amendment community is that everybody is an expert and nobody knows anything about which they are talking. That gets old real quick.
There have been benefits to open carry. First, many Free Staters came to the Granite State and actively open carried firearms. They got hassled and were the folks on the front lines who literally, “took one for the team.” Consequently, with all the press, media and discussions surrounding the topic, society becomes inoculated against hoplophobic hysteria at the mere sight of a firearm strapped to a person’s hip. Just the other day I was in Hannaford and saw a young gentleman pushing a shopping cart. He had a Springfield XD in a holster strapped to his side. I also observed the other shoppers around him paid him no attention.
There was a time last year I was in the same store. A young woman with three kids in tow was at the checkout with a basket full of groceries. She had a Walther PPQ strapped on. An older woman asked her why she was carrying a gun. I had to listen. The young woman was amazing. She was friendly, engaging and articulate. She comported herself extremely well. The older woman, who asked about the gun, appeared to walk away with a very favorable impression of the young lady.
Open carry also brings with it, negative views and negative consequences. We have among us those brethren who get very emotional about people who openly advocate (virtue signal) the outright ban on firearms. Shannon Watts, Michael Bloomberg and all the other shrill anti-gun partisans who face time the major networks with their screed, draws the ire of the emotional snowflakes in our midst. As a direct result, we see the news photos of dudes in coffee shops with AR pattern rifles and AK pattern rifles slung over their backs. This, in turn, amps up the anti-gun hoplophobes to category five proportions.
Nevertheless, the right to keep and bear arms! Why should we give a hoot? They are all just anti-gun hoplophobes. Is this not true? It is all true. No dispute. Let us then look at carrying rifles as a practical matter. Because of their size, weight and proportion, they must be handled constantly. Handled, adjusted, and moved. With the handling of the firearm, comes the reality that the possibility of a negligent discharge increases. As a personal exercise, get your AR-15 rifle and walk around your house with it slung. Vacuum, clean, prepare a meal, pass through doors, and sit on the couch. Keep count how many times you needed to place hands on the rifle, adjusting its positioning on your body.
Second, there is law enforcement contact. Today, officers are well versed in making contact with individuals walking around with rifles. Still, the end results are mixed. The cultural gun view of law enforcement varies so widely, the negativity scale can be from zero to lethal as a measurable spectrum.
Third, People are purposefully ignorant of rifles. They have signed up to be card-carrying Hoplophobes. There has never been a time when information about all things guns is so bountiful. Despite this plethora of data, The solipsistic industries like Moms Demand, Everytown for Gun Safety, The Brady Campaign, continues to lie, confabulate and create their truths out of whole cloth. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Ultimately, open carry of AR platform rifles and the like is legal. There is little any of them can do about that. However, we have seen countless times where these folks manage to bend the ears of policy makers.
I might be wrong, but on its face, it seems like those who open carry a rifle are virtue signaling to the extreme, “in your face,” way to do it. It was necessary for me to include this. Had I only talked about pistols, some dumb ass would likely conflate the whole open carry argument to Machine Guns or Assault Weapons, and today, I have run out of Rolaids and I have a headache from rolling my eyes.
Forth, open carry of pistols also brings with it degrees of negativity. As a society, we all have our own personal prejudices and paradigms about what is communicated by the way we dress, how we comport ourselves and our attention to our personal general appearance. Strap a firearm onto a person of one of the stereotypical categories and the negative stereotype exponentially increases. Some might respond they do not maintain such stereotypes so I will call, “Bullshit,” on them right here and now.
Lastly, the type of gun and manner in which it is carried will demonstrate to fellow 2A advocates whether or not one is the proverbial joke or whether or not one has his or her act together. Seeing a cheap firearm in a crappy holster and/or a poor choice for a belt, invites consternation. Small of the back carry, cross draw or shoulder holsters in open carry communicate volumes about the lack of knowledge possessed.
Cheap guns with checkered and well-documented records of reliability (or lack thereof) tells me the person is more about the personal statement of he or she carrying a gun, than about the lifestyle choice of carrying a gun. In my classes, I frequently hear from people who did not fully grasp all the responsibilities that come with carrying a loaded firearm on one’s person. When to deploy a firearm? When NOT to deploy a firearm? Personal Firearm retention, appropriate use of force. As armed RESPONSIBLE citizens, we contemplate and learn those principles and ingrain them in one’s personal choice of training.
Finally, there are those who will insist that a tactical advantage is foreclosed with open carry. Many hang their hat on that one aspect alone to argue against open carry. I do not. I do not think criminals are monolithic thinkers and the anecdotal evidence supports that assumption. It is no less a valid argument, but not a cornerstone argument either. Some criminals will completely avoid the person with the gun. That is not to say that other very hardened criminals will not see the gun as an opportunity.
I support and defend my fellow citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. Additionally, I support my fellow citizen’s right to open carry. The support of that right also gives me the right to ask my brother or sister, “Why open carry?” In addition, my fellow citizen can decline to engage me in that very meaningful conversation.
I do not denigrate open carry, nor do I advocate for open carry. I choose to conceal carry, meaning one cannot see my firearm. I have made the commitment to use a reliable proper holster with level II retention (not using a Serpa or Blackhawk) holster, a proper belt and proper clothing that effectively conceals my firearm. I have thousands of hours of training as both a student and as a Firearms instructor. I organize my life to avoid trouble and be responsible and I understand my responsibility as a citizen with a gun.