Whenever there’s some kind of tragedy involving guns, it’s inevitable that the “gun debate” will dominate the news. I’m not really sure what it is, but there’s something about guns that renders people who are otherwise sane to act completely irrational. We have this belief in this country that guns are what keep us safe and free. Except we’re not the only free country on the planet (there are many others) and we lead the world in gun violence. So I’ve still never understood how guns “make us safer.”
If anything it seems our love for guns has made them a necessity in our society. Since we’ve allowed millions of guns to saturate our neighborhoods and flow easily into the hands of millions of criminals, to “defend ourselves” we now need more guns to protect us from guns.
And I’m not saying all gun owners are “gun nuts,” but there’s a clear difference in my opinion between a gun owner and a gun nut.
Let’s look at two laws gun nuts absolutely love, “stand your ground” and “open carry.” Stand your ground laws essentially state that a citizen has the right to defend themselves with deadly force if they feel threatened. Open carry advocates believe that citizens should be allowed to carry their guns practically anywhere, in full sight of every single human being they encounter. Because nothing says “I’m sane” quite like carrying military style assault weapons into local restaurants like Chipolte.
Or there was the case in Georgia where a man went around in a public park, where children were participating in sporting events, flashing his gun at people who walked by and telling them that there was nothing they could do about it.
My question is, what if “stand your ground” collides with “open carry”?
What if, as a gun owner, I’m out with my family and I see someone wearing a kevlar vest carrying a loaded AR-15 stalking around a park filled with children? If I lived in a state with “stand your ground” laws, couldn’t I conceivably shoot this individual and claim that I felt threatened? I had no choice but to stand my ground and defend myself and my family.
In a world of open carry, what this person was doing wouldn’t be illegal. Should we first wait to see if they shoot a child or two before we become the right-wing cliché of “a good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun”?
Because in a world where open carry is legal, you know what a potential mass shooter is called right before they unload 20 rounds into a crowd of children? An American citizen exercising their legal right to carry their assault rifle out in the open.
Take for instance this recent shooting. What if Elliot Rodger was just walking around carrying a loaded weapon in plain view of the public? Up until the shooting, if he were in an area that allowed for open carry, he would have been legally able to do so. So is it really illogical that someone might feel threatened by someone who feels the need to carry around a military style semi-automatic weapon? Personally if I see someone walking around a local store with a loaded AR-15 strapped to their back, the first thing that comes to mind is “this person isn’t mentally stable.”
And don’t give me this, “Well if people were openly carrying, Rodger would have probably not have done what he did.” Actually there’s a distinct possibility that he could have targeted the person, or people, who were openly carrying first. It makes more sense to have concealed carry laws because then a potential shooter doesn’t know who has a gun. But again, a “good guy with a gun” can’t stop a “bad guy with a gun” until that bad guy opens fire – unless “stand your ground” collides with “open carry.”
That’s why I’ve always mocked the “only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” propaganda gun nuts like to use. It essentially says we need to let a few die in the initial attack so that we can allow the “good guy” to identify the target and take them out. Wouldn’t it make sense to do more to keep the bad guy from getting the gun to start with?
Because until the “bad guy” starts shooting at people, they’re technically not breaking the law. And in places that allow for open carry they can blatantly roam and stalk their future victims right out in the open – legally.
Mark my words, it won’t be long until some state that allows for both “stand your ground” and “open carry” will see the two collide in some kind of public shootout that could have been avoided had guns nuts used even the slightest bit of common sense. But I guess common sense is just too much to ask for when it comes to anything involving guns these days.