A facebook acquaintance of mine, not an aggressive type at all, posted pictures of himself “open-carrying.” Here is my brief little plea I sent to him against doing so.

I am a firm supporter of 2nd amendment rights. The Heller decision was correct. I also support concealed-carry laws. But my beef against open carry is that it is a symbol. It announces loud and clear to your fellow citizens, “I don’t trust you, and we live in a society where any of us might be attacked at any time.” Self-defense is a natural right, and the 2nd amendment allowing of hand-guns is pragmatic application of that, and of long-standing in the American tradition. However, we must remember that the hand-gun is not the symbol of true liberty. Rather, the town-meeting is. The unlocked door is. True, few of us live in communities healthy enough, that is, free enough, to enjoy those symbols. But symbols always matter. So unless and until things go real bad in your area, it is better to keep the gun hidden. There are subtle ways of signalling its possible presence to the eyes of alert criminals, particularly around the home. But to society at large it is better to not to send the message that “we need this,” so long as it is passably plausible that we don’t. Children see it. The depressed and fearful see it. Angry liberals, who are our brothers and sisters, see it. I don’t think it reassures more persons than it disturbs.

open carry image

For pomocon readers, I’ll add that open-carry is basically like going around with a megaphone announcing to one and all that: HOBBES IS RIGHT!

Well, what do you think? I suppose some of you will argue that it is pointless to pretend. I do admit the irony that if we all pretend too well to not need guns, then crime would rise. All of us are made safer in our own homes, and elsewhere, by criminals knowing that Americans in general own a lot of guns. But still, I think open-carry is anti-republican symbolism, and especially for a republicanism at all Christian in its inspiration.

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Articles by Carl Scott

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