I recently attended a sporting event which was abruptly cut short in the second half. The players left the field as did the coaches and officials. The spectators began filing out of the stadium, and I had no idea what was going on. So I asked, “Hey, why is everyone leaving?” I was told a man had brought a gun into the stadium, so school officials were ending the game for the safety of the players and fans.
I looked around at the people leaving. They were excited and all abuzz about what had just happened. No one seemed afraid or even a bit concerned. As I was getting into my vehicle a woman struck up a conversation with me. It went like this:
Woman: “Did you see that man with a gun?”
Skip: “No, I didn’t see anything.”
Woman: “They asked him to leave and he seemed upset.”
Woman: “Why would anyone bring a gun to a school?”
I didn’t answer her. Truth be told I was in legal possession of my concealed Glock Model 22 at that very moment. She just didn’t know it, and I wasn’t about to tell her. I thought to myself, Why scare the sheep? They’ve already had enough excitement for one night. Besides, I wouldn’t want the poor woman to soil herself. So I let her go home to her FaceBook page where she could tell all her friends about her harrowing near-death experience.
The next day I read several news articles about the incident online. Turns out the man was openly carrying his firearm in a legal fashion, according to Michigan statute. So what was his sin? Only this – He scared the sheep. In the news, the coach was quoted as saying: “I thought it was necessary to clear the field of players and parents. It is regretful that the boys on both teams could not finish. I am sorry for the inconvenience, but I thought it best to err on the side of caution.”
So, according to the media and the school, the pariah becomes the man who is openly exercising his Second Amendment rights.
Despite the social stigma, I sometimes choose to open carry. Sure, I hear all the arguments against open carry, but I choose to do it selectively at a time and place of my own choosing.
Argument: “If you are carrying openly, then you give away your tactical advantage.”
Skip’s answer: Maybe in some cases that’s true. If a bad guy sees a little old lady openly carrying, then he might think, Hey, look! There’s a free gun! But most open carriers I see are middle-aged men with heightened awareness, retention holsters, extra training and would be viewed as hard targets and not free firearms for the taking.
Case in point, I’ve advised my wife to carry concealed unless she’s with me for that very reason. If you’re going to open carry, then you need the training and physical and mental ability to protect that firearm. On the other hand there are very few documented cases of people being targeted while open carrying. When there are so many sheep grazing about, why take the chance?
Argument: “People who open carry are just show-offs, people looking for attention!”
Skip’s answer: I used to think that, too – until I got to know a number of people who routinely open carry. From my experience, most of them are not show-boaters. They just have a different perspective on civil rights as well as a different personality.
Civil rights perspective – They view carrying a firearm as a fundamental human right whether concealed or exposed. Why should it matter whether or not people can see it? Most of them view it as an exercise in First Amendment rights as well. They have taken the Second Amendment “out of the closet” so to speak. A common saying among open carriers is “A right not exercised is a right lost.”
Personality difference – Open carriers tend to be less concerned about what others think of them. They are free spirits, controlling their own destiny, refusing to go back into the closet for the comfort of the flock. They also tend to be bold and are not afraid of sheep or law enforcement confrontations.
But what does Skip Coryell think about it?
In the first edition of my book Blood in the Streets: Concealed Carry and the OK Corral, I made the following statement: “In my very humble opinion, in most scenarios, open carry is a bad decision. Open carry is stupid carry.”
After educating myself and experiencing open carry firsthand on several levels, I revised my book to read: “I firmly believe that carrying a firearm is a choice, and whether you conceal it or openly display it is no one else’s business. It’s your God-given right whether hidden or revealed, so wear your gun with pride.”
Now, more than ever before, gun owners are under attack by a unified and tenacious political enemy, backed up by an organized mainstream media more than willing to put the final death nail in the coffin of the Second Amendment. Open carriers have long been referred to as “The red-headed stepchild of the right to keep and bear arms family.” I believe if we are to survive this assault with our basic human rights intact, it’s time for the RKBA family to stick together and watch each other’s backs. After all, you can pick your friends, but you’re stuck with your relatives.
Image: Source: Four Cowboys?; uploaded by Gary Dee; author: anyjazz65 from USA; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license