Starbucks recently issued a statement defending its policy by citing concern for the safety of its employees. To prohibit the open carry of guns in its stores, says Starbucks, “we would be forced to require our partners [employees] to ask law abiding customers to leave our stores, putting our partners in an unfair and potentially unsafe position.”
Mr. Henigan goes on to draw the obvious inferences from that mention of putting the staff in an unsafe position, all of which touches on the very sensitive question of what percentage of so-called lawful gun owners are truly responsible and trustworthy. Some people think 90% is good enough; I disagree.
The other revealing reaction – from leaders of the “gun rights” movement – is to suggest that the “open carry” people may be hurting the gun rights cause. For example, Bob Barr, my erstwhile debate opponent when he was in Congress, recently suggested that “firearms advocates might be better advised not to press the issue publicly by pointedly visiting Starbucks establishments with firearms openly displayed. Sometimes quiet advocacy speaks louder than waving a red flag in someone’s face.” Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (generally considered more extreme than the NRA) told the New York Times, “I’m all for open-carry laws. But I don’t think flaunting it is very productive for our cause. It just scares people.”
Henigan goes on to describe the huge strides gun-rights advocates have made in concealed-carry laws, suggesting that much of that "progress" could be placed in jeopardy by the open-carry movement. I agree with that. It makes perfect sense to me.
Finally, he talks about one of the most prolific distortions being repeated over and over again by the pro-gun folks: that more guns means less crime.
The evidence is overwhelming that the “shall-issue” concealed carry laws have been a disaster for public safety. They have allowed dangerous people to obtain concealed carry licenses, those people have committed grievous crimes, and the scholarly research shows that the laws generally have been “associated with uniform increases in crime.” But the danger becomes evident to the public only episodically – when someone with a concealed carry license shoots someone accidentally or commits a violent act, such as the six multiple shootings committed by concealed carry licensees in 2009 alone. What if concealed carry licensees had to reveal they were packing whenever they entered Starbucks or other public places? The debate over guns in public would be far different.
“Gun rights” advocates like Barr and Gottlieb have good reason to fear that their “guns anywhere” agenda would be threatened if the open carry movement starts causing the public to understand the true danger of guns in public – the open danger, and the concealed danger as well.
What's your opinion? Please feel free to leave a comment.