What follows is a short essay I wrote (when we lived in Cincinnati) for the premier gun rights organization in Ohio. In late 2008, the editors of the Ohioans for Concealed Carry (OFCC) hard-copy newsletter wanted someone to write a piece advocating open carry, which is legal in Ohio. The issue also included a piece– ironically written by someone using a pseudonym– which was anti-open carry. The issue generated a lot of discussion. I won, by the way. From a commenter:
In my opinion the winner of the debate is-
Marica Bernstein, by an intellectual knock out. She logically explained her position, and won me over.
Haven’t gotten my newsletter yet but I’m already biased by the fact that one author wrote using her real name, and the other chose not to.
With minor edits, here it is. (I’ve not checked the validity of the links yet, and I *think* OFCC has helped to make restaurant carry laws more friendly. I live in Mississippi now so unless I’m traveling to Cincinnati– where my carry permit isn’t recognized– I don’t pay too much attention now to what’s going on in Ohio.)
(Authorʼs note: Every law-abiding Ohio citizen is free to choose to carry his or her gun openly, or to obtain a license from the state in order to legally carry a concealed handgun. This is an individualʼs decision. My task was to present arguments and reasons in favor of open-carry, and to motivate each reader to examine his or her choice. Thus, this short essay has two parts: the first presents a moral argument in favor of open-carry, the second offers practical reasons to open-carry.)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Your newspaper is well-known for its anti-gun position and advocacy of strong gun regulation. This position is in stark contrast to the beliefs of many readers. I am writing to strongly oppose all government regulation of gun ownership.
Specifically, I vehemently oppose… .
… Our great nation is a Republic.
… The Second Amendment … .
… A natural right CANNOT be infringed….
Anonymous is a doctor, a lawyer, a professor. He is a clerk, a stock-boy, a college student. Anonymous is a teacher, a mother, a nurse. She is a city-council woman, a chief executive officer, a small business owner. Anonymous has associates, clients, students, peers, and friends who know and respect him. They seek his opinion, they ask her for guidance when troubled. He sits on boards and she coaches games. Anonymous truly and deeply cares about citizensʼ natural and inalienable right to keep and bear arms, but youʼd never know it by looking. Those closest to Anonymous, his family and dearest friends, suspect he might have a gun under his robes as he delivers the sermon, but his congregation is none the wiser. Anonymous is a coward.
What we care about makes us who we are. How we act defines us. We all want our actions to be consistent with our deepest cares. No one wants to be a coward in his own or anothersʼ eyes. Cowardice is a vice. On the moral spectrum, it is the opposite of rashness. Somewhere, between rashness and cowardice, lies the virtue of courage.
Anonymous is certainly not rash. Were he rash, his letter would have been peppered his letter with four-letter words and would have included his name, address, and phone numbers. Were he rash, he would have brazenly thrown open the swinging saloon doors, barged in à la Liberty Valance waving his ar15, and shouted that he had the right, guaranteed by the United States Constitution, to take his gun where ever he wants, regulations be damned!
Anonymous is neither rash nor courageous. We must therefore conclude that in the face of his deepest fears, Anonymous acts as a coward.
“The open carry of firearms is a legal activity in Ohio” (Ohioʼs Concealed Carry Law, Office of the Attorney General, revised 8/2008, p.19). (Note: Ohio Revised Code restricts this legal activity in some circumstances, e.g., in “liquor permit premises.” See References, below, for additional information.) There are sound arguments supporting open-carry (OC). (See, for example, OpenCarry.org). A quick look at the posts on the OFCC Open Carry Discussions forum reveals there are about as many reasons to OC as there are gun owners. In their own words, this is what the courageous men and women of Ohio said when asked “Why open carry?”.
Tactical advantage: “Quicker to draw.”
Deterrence: “Some hood walking down the street is more likely to confine his targets to ʻeasy, defenseless preyʼ.” “It’s a good idea for women in the woods to be [openly] armed.” “You could avoid even more trouble if you carry openly. If I were going to hold up a store and saw someone armed, I might reconsider and leave. In that case, you would be safer.”
Desensitizing and educating the public: “It lets people see that guns can exist peacefully among law abiding people.” “They never see the positive side because CCW ʻkeeps our light hidden under a bushel basketʼ.” “We allowed people to politicize, demonize, and emotionalize guns far too much.” “Exposed firearms on ordinary citizens aren’t something most people are used to, but should be.” “If more of us carried openly, more people would come to understand and accept.” “OC gives me a tool to help change the gun-grabber mindset.” “Isn’t there a line in the Bible about ʻnot hiding your light under a basketʼ?”
There is. Matthew 5:15 (King James Version): Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Financial: “Because I don’t really have the money for a CC license, making OC my only legal option.”
Self-image: “Although I mostly conceal I, for some unknown reason, feel like I’m a bad guy. I feel ashamed or nervous about my gun. When I OC I don’t have that issue.” “I’ve only been OCing a couple months now & its liberating. I didn’t like the feeling I had that I ʻshouldn’tʼ do something that is my right over concerns for other people opinions, including the police.”
Appearance: “I WILL NOT wear a shirt untucked.” “I donʼt want to look like a slob with