Guns and Restaurants – Part Two

The advisory I sent about guns and restaurants last week generated more email than any other Self-Reliance Institute Advisory to date.

Thank you!

As you recall, the advisory addressed the fact that a small number of individuals recently have taken it upon themselves to test how various restaurant chains would react to a group of “patrons” openly carrying guns – in most cases, long guns – as they attempt to enter those restaurants and be served.

I noted that the incidents were causing confusion on the part of everyone involved, especially the press.

I thought I’d share a few of the representative emails I received so that we all – especially me! – can learn from the many experienced constitutionalists and gun owners who are members of the Self-Reliance Institute.

As always, I protect the identity and privacy of members who write me by just using their initials and truncating any employment information.

Significantly, everyone who wrote to me agreed with the two major points I made last week:

1) “As a Second Amendment purist – in fact, as a Bill of Rights purist – I support the right of any individual to openly carry a firearm. I will support the right of that individual to openly carry a firearm in almost every circumstance and every location that I can imagine.”

2) “Having stated that, I think anyone who openly carries a firearm (hand gun or long gun) into a restaurant (or most any other public establishment) is a fool.”

I then went on to explain my reasoning by pointing out that:

If you are openly carrying a firearm in a public establishment that might be a target for robbery – in other words, almost any business in America – you might as well paint a sign on your forehead that says, “SHOOT ME FIRST.”

Even without the possibility of a robbery, you are openly (pun intended) inviting trouble with some idiot who decides he’s going to challenge your right to openly carry. And if that challenge becomes a physical confrontation, well, that’s not a good situation for anyone.

So let’s apply a bit of common sense.

When it comes to your personal safety and your ability to tactically defend yourself against an assailant who places you in imminent fear of death or serious bodily harm – the legal reason to employ deadly force – you are far better off carrying a concealed handgun than openly carrying a firearm.

Why? Because you have the element of surprise and that is always to your advantage.

In short, while you may have the legal right to open carry, concealed carry is the right thing to do.”

Here’s what several of you had to say (I’ve done some editing for clarity and space, but the context is preserved):

I am a former police captain and I agree with you wholeheartedly about open concealers setting themselves up as targets. Rule #1 from the police academy: I cannot protect others if I have emitted the “Shoot Me First!” message.” –V.R.

I agree 100 percent. All this gun (displaying) does is give anti-gun nuts something else to gripe about.  A low profile is always better.” –P.S.

Rob: I totally agree with you. It’s “PURE STUPIDITY” to openly carry any firearm in public. You’re asking for unwanted trouble if you do. The people who do that are the ones that give us “LAW ABIDING” citizens a bad name. I strongly think that every American should own and carry. That would drop the crime rate drastically if the criminals know that everyone is armed and willing to use their weapon. Criminals are “COWARDS” and look for easy targets not wanting to get hurt or killed themselves. But when you get down to the “BRASS TACKS” of it all, not everyone owning a concealed permit should be allowed to carry. You need a MATURE RESPONSIBLE MIND. There are too many people that are hotheaded or quick-tempered that would pull their weapon out and use it when they are NOT justified in doing so. I’ve had my permit for 15 years now and have never seen an occasion where I would need it.” –B.J.

“You are right. Anyone who openly carries a gun into an eating place is a nut and is just looking for a fight.” –B.R.

Rob: I totally agree with you to only practice concealed carry and not even attempt open carry in a restaurant.” –C.P.

Rob: I fully and completely agree with every word that you said in your blog. Ironically, we had a conversation on this topic this morning here at work. All of the men I work with are avid 2nd Amendment supporters, myself included. The feeling among all of us was that the recent incidents involving men carrying long rifles into eating establishments is one of the dumbest things I have seen in many years. It only takes a few of these sort of incidents to give the anti-gun people all the ammunition they need to persuade those who don’t care one way or the other about the topic to move against our 2nd Amendment  rights. Why people choose to act out in such a manner is beyond the comprehension of the vast majority of people with even one ounce of common sense. Simply put, it causes the millions of decent people who believe in our right to own firearms to lose years of hard work trying to stand up for our constitutional rights. It is too bad that a background check does not include some way of finding out if you are just plain stupid.

“These FEW individuals have done more to alienate the public against gun rights, in only a few minutes, than the rest of us could do unintentionally in a hundred years. So next time we try to convince someone who is riding the fence when it comes to the 2nd Amendment, we are going to have to apologize for the actions of a few really stupid individuals.

“Thanks for allowing me to vent. I’m really angry with these people and would love to spend 5 minutes with all of them out behind the wood shed. And you know what I mean.” –J.M.

I agree 100%. Some people are very afraid of guns. When they see long guns, they probably would not go to that particular restaurant or business. Why advertise that you have a weapon. I conceal carry everywhere here in south Florida. My personal advice to anyone: Lay low and do not advertise you have a weapon.” –D.P.

“As we have a situation in our country which has developed over a century, almost, whereby the vast majority are programmed – just like Dr. Pavlov’s dog – to react at the sight of a gun – “He’s got a gun (scream, panic), Horrors!” – so we are definitely at the center of a problem when we openly carry.  In the Constitutionally pure U.S. (used to be), it wouldn’t be that way. Folks would feel more secure in the company of an armed individual. Were we able to miraculously recreate that world, it would be a very safe one, what with every fifth or sixth person carrying openly. No criminal with any wits would attempt to rob or assault. Meanwhile, in the real world, it would be great if one out of five would be carrying concealed, and that folks would be aware of this. I believe the effect would be generally the same. But, we mustn’t allow gun-free zones, as these would only make folks within defenseless.” –B.P. (retired military and airline pilot)

As you point out, surprise is generally a strong element in a good defense. Elementary, Mr. Douglas.” –J.M.

Elementary indeed, J.M.! And thank you to everyone who took the time to write to me and share their thoughts! There were many others, but I felt these were representative of the entire volume of email I received this week.

As you can see, this topic – open carry of firearms into public facilities – generated a lot of interest and many great opinions. Interestingly, not a single email was received that agreed with the group that is causing the controversy when it comes to how they are comporting themselves while openly carrying firearms into restaurants and other public establishments.

I think that’s a sign that the Self-Reliance Institute is composed of mature, responsible adults who are very serious about their Second Amendment rights while also realizing that with rights comes responsibility.

And the responsible thing to do when it comes to your personal safety and your ability to tactically defend yourself against an assailant who places you in imminent fear of death or serious bodily harm – the legal reason to employ deadly force – is to carry a concealed handgun and keep it concealed until the moment that you’ve determined that you need to employ it.

Be safe and secure,

Rob Douglas

[email protected]

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