The June 2012 edition of Playboy, which hit the newsstands last Friday, features an article by Pat Jordan entitled “Armed & Dangerous: Has Gun Culture Gone Too Far?” In the article, in which I am quoted, Pat discusses the open carry movement and the concerns that some have expressed about gun owners “baring it all.”
Jordan, an admitted concealed carrier and believer in self-defense rights, clearly has a problem with open carry. He stereotypes, generalizes, and often just plain gets it wrong. Despite the fact that I am inordinately proud to have been quoted in Playboy, I feel duty bound to offer a point by point rebuttal to his article.
I should start by noting the premise of the article. Jordan is writing about his experiences as he accompanies an open carrier going about their day. The open carrier he chose is Jerry Henry of GeorgiaCarry.org.
The primary theme running throughout the article is that he thinks open carry is all about “fantasy” fulfillment. Interwoven throughout the article he waxes poetically about macho imagery, invoking the names of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and Dirty Harry. He also brings up the OK Corral and the Battle of the Bulge. And he returns repeatedly to this theme throughout the article, growing ever more insulting each time.
But that’s not all. He gets it wrong on multiple fronts. Let’s look at some of the other problems with his views on open carry …
Open Carry is All About White Guys
Jordan seemed to revel in categorizing those who open carry as “the Caspar Milquetoast set” of “average white guys.” It seems that he just hasn’t kept up with the times. In reality, open carry is as diverse as America itself and the only requirement to participate is a love of individual civil rights.
Let’s have a look at just a few of the dominant figures in the open carry movement who don’t match his insulting stereotype.
Yep … Jordan seems to be bringing his own prejudices and preconceived notions to the table. And he appears to be enjoying himself as he peddles his distortions. Let’s see where he goes next.
Open Carriers Live by Cliches
Throughout the article he presents a number of incorrect facts concerning firearms, ammunition, and carry in general, apparently gleaned from comments made by those he met during the day. These include:
1) The 1911 is the hands-down gun of choice for open carriers.
2) Hollowpoint ammunition is “exotic” and “finicky.”
3) 45s are so powerful that they do not ever need to be loaded with hollowpoint ammunition.
I have to believe that he knew these were not correct factual statement and was taking a not-so discreet jab at the intelligence of open carriers when he finished one section by noting cruelly that “aphorisms” are “what passes for truth” amongst open carriers.
Reporting on Open Carry Apparently Diminishes Math Skills
And like so many other reporters down through the years, he managed to get the number of states which allow open carry wrong as well, despite the fact that I went over the numbers repeatedly during the interview.
As you can see, open carry is available in one form or another in 43 states, not the “30-odd” states reported by Jordan. And this number will increase to 44 on November 1 of this year when the newly passed Oklahoma open carry bill becomes effective.
Out of fairness however, he may have used the term “30-odd states” to refer to the 29 states which allow some form of open carry with no government permission required whatsoever. However, this ignores the 14 states, soon to be 15 with the upcoming addition of Oklahoma, where legislators have made the public policy decision that permit holders should be allowed to carry openly or concealed as they see fit.
Most States do Not Have “Open Carry Laws”
Perhaps the thing that bothers me the most about the media’s treatment of open carry is the constant reference to “open carry laws.” As noted above, in 28 states, there is no “open carry law” per-se[1. California is an exception to this rule, only allowing rural open carry hence the fact that we are down to 28 instead of 29]. Rather, open carry is legal in these states because it has not been made illegal in much the same way that it is legal to wear a blue shirt because there is no law against it. But you don’t hear reporters going around talking about “blue shirt laws.”
While it is understandable for laymen to be uninformed if they are not gun owners, I always expect better of reporters covering what is, essentially, a legal topic. He does explain the difference somewhat when he turns to the genesis of the open carry movement but then goes right back to using “open carry laws” as a general term of art to refer to both the presence or lack-of open carry legislation.
I suppose I can only sigh and move on …
Open Carry “Scares” People
Jordan finishes off his article by listing places where open carry demonstrations have occurred. He cites these as examples of times that the public has been “scared” by open carry. He mentions that there have been cases of people open carrying near the president “under the watchful eyes of the Secret Service.” I can assure you that, despite recent embarrassments, the Secret Service takes their job very seriously. Anyone open carrying at a presidential event will be staged in a “free-speech area” far away from the President and carefully watched.
In truth, citizens and law enforcement alike both know that bad-guys do not invite the scrutiny from law enforcement that open carry can bring. To use one of the aphorisms that Jordan insists are all we know in the open carry community, “it isn’t the gun you see that you have to worry about.” As the FBI reported in a 2006 study entitled “Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers,” criminals go to great lengths to conceal their firearms, do not wear holsters, and do not open carry under any circumstances.
Jordan wraps up with a litany of insults for us at OpenCarry.org, calling us a “liability”, “a wild card”, and the NRA’s “redheaded stepchild.” But I have always said that, so long as they report what you actually said … and you didn’t say anything stupid, there is no such thing as bad publicity.
And think about it from another perspective. We have Playboy running an article in which open carry is presented as the extreme alternative to the “righteous” activity of carrying concealed.
Think about that … We may not have finished our mission of normalizing open carry in every state, but we sure seem to have moved the bar a long way toward making concealed carry the new normal. And that’s not a bad place to start … when you’re winning the culture war.
Now go out and buy yourself a copy. And when your significant other asks you why you bought Playboy, tell them “It’s for the articles.”
UPDATE: OpenCarry.org Co-Founder Mike Stollenwerk writes about this article and takes some fun jabs at yours truly in his latest DC Gun Rights Examiner column.