Free speech open carry protest
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, file)

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TTAG reader TheBear writes:

I have a habit of checking out a number of online news sources on a daily basis. I try to stay informed not only of current events, but also of the talking points for various political and social issues. So when I saw yet another pro Shannon Watts article, I was not exactly shocked.

It wasn’t until I read about 700 comments under the article (yes, I actually read that many) that I was mildly surprised. It seems that the anti-gun rhetoric has changed. Not only are gun owners uneducated, redneck, racist wife beaters with small penises who are afraid of the world, now we are all BULLYING, RIFLE-TOTING uneducated, redneck, racist wife beaters with small penises who are afraid of the world.

You see, the breathless hoplophobes have recently lumped everyone who is pro Second amendment in with the folks who open carry long guns at rallies. I think this is both a good and a bad thing.

It’s a good thing because having any kind of solidarity in our fight for our second amendment rights, even if the solidarity itself is a mistake in perception among our opponents, is positive. We have to stick together. We can’t have tacticool guys disparaging hunting or FUDDs asking why we need magazines with more than 10 rounds.

Boogaloo open carry
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

On the other hand, low information hoplophobes believing that all gun owners are open carrying rifles in their local Kroger is a bad thing for a very simple reason; open carriers’ message, and especially the message of Open Carry Texas, tends to get lost in the sensational photos taken of their demonstrations.

The average American does not have a really good way to be exposed to the message of open carry folks. The anti-gun crowd in some of the most recent comments I’ve been reading in gun-related news articles have been calling the open carry people, “gun bullies”. They honestly believe that people are open carrying rifles in an effort to intimidate and silence the opposition.

Unfortunately, so far this has been a win for PR maven Shannon Watts and her ridiculous #gunbullies campaign. I think the People of the Gun have been giving Shannon and her ilk a lot of ammunition (pun intended). I believe that without a clear message, pro-gun activists can do more harm than good. However, I think there is a simple solution to this problem.

Everyone who open-carries rifles during rallies, especially into business establishments should wear t-shirts that simply and clearly state what they are trying to do or say.

“I wish I could legally carry a pistol instead.”

“I’m a normal person, just like you.”

“I am not a threat to anyone’s safety.”

open carry protest capital
A protester carries his rifle at the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Slogans that define the open carry struggle printed on shirts would go a long way toward diffusing MDA propaganda and educating the public. This way there would no longer be context-free photos of people holding rifles at the low ready in Chipotle.

Activism without organization and clear communication just creates controversy. Perhaps it’s time for the People of the Gun to accept that collectively, we need to put a little more work into our PR efforts. I believe that if we do, rabidly anti-gun folks will have to fall back on their older caricature of gun owners: the original, bullying-free racist rednecks with small penises.

This article was originally published in 2014.

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