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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New York Times: Concealed Carry on School Grounds Causes Rift Among Gun Owners in Michigan

The New York Times has a story this morning about legislation in Michigan that, according to the Times, has split gun owners.
When Kenneth Herman visits his daughter’s school, the handgun holstered to his right hip is visible to anyone. And that has caused him problems.

School officials have denied Mr. Herman access to school buildings, asked him to wait in the principal’s office and called the Sheriff’s Department on him. So Mr. Herman, a paramedic who grew up in this semirural community 85 miles northwest of Detroit, sued Clio Area Schools for the right to carry his weapon openly on school grounds, and in August he won the case. The district has appealed.
 
Now his dispute with the school district has become part of a statewide debate over guns in schools that has exposed a rare split among firearm owners. It pits proponents of widespread open carry like Mr. Herman against other gun owners who believe concealed weapons are more appropriate in some settings.
 
The two sides are divided over legislation introduced by Republicans in the State Senate that would allow people with the proper permits to carry concealed weapons at schools, but would ban open carry there. The measure could come up for a vote before the end of the year. 
The Times notes that Mr. Herman and other open-carry proponents oppose the legislation, and that they have formed an alliance with gun ban activists who oppose the legislation because they do not want any weapons carried on school grounds, openly or concealed.
State-level gun owners’ groups have come down on both sides of the issue. Michigan Open Carry, which publishes a guide on how to legally carry a gun in schools, is campaigning against the legislation. The Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners — another prominent pro-gun group, whose board of directors includes Mr. Meekhof and another Republican sponsor of the legislation — supports the legislation. 
On political battles over gun laws, concealed-carry and open-carry groups are in agreement “99 times out of 100,” Mr. Meekhof said. But the debate over his bills reveals how the two camps sometimes embrace conflicting views on displaying firearms in public. 
Michigan Open Carry advocates the visible carrying of holstered handguns, similar to what an on-duty police officer might wear. Its members cite a variety of reasons — practical, legal and symbolic — for choosing to display their guns in public.
Regarding that reference to "symbolic" I go back to what Master Firearms Trainer Massad Ayoob wrote on the topic of open carry.
A few years ago, Mark Walters hosted a three-way debate on the topic on his show “Armed American Radio.” The “pro” speaker came, IIRC, from Georgia Carry.  The “anti-open carry” speaker was a cop from the Midwest who, though generally pro-armed citizen, thought open carry was counterproductive to both the public peace and the Second Amendment cause. I took the middle ground, which I still hold. One the one hand, I would like for every state to allow any citizen who has a clean record and hasn’t been adjudicated mentally incompetent to be allowed to open carry a holstered, loaded handgun. First, because there are some jurisdictions where if the wind blows your coat open and reveals the gun you are legally carrying concealed, a genuinely frightened citizen or vindictive anti-gunner can combine with an anti-gun prosecutor to create a perfect storm of criminal charges for illegal open carry. Second, because if a good person suddenly becomes a stalking victim or the target of death threats, I don’t want them to have to wait up to 90 days (gun-friendly Florida) or six months (the time it takes before a new resident can even apply for a concealed carry permit in California, which for the most part is decidedly non-gun-friendly).  But on the other hand, I don’t think we win any friends for gun owners’ civil rights by flaunting deadly weapons in the face of a general public conditioned to fear guns and their owners by generations of anti-gun media and political prejudice.
He followed up that piece with this:
Gun-banners will never convert most who read this blog, and we who support a responsibly armed citizenry will never win over the Pelosis and Bloombergs of the world. The battleground lies with the vast majority of people who are in the middle on this polarized issue.  I am old enough to remember when Massachusetts and California each held a referendum on whether possession of handguns should be banned in their states.  Neither state had a majority of gun owners in the voting pool, but in each case our side won the referendum, because “the people on the fence” didn’t want to go that far.

Doing things that alarm those people in the middle will do nothing to help the pro-gun side.  Fear is the key ingredient that creates hatred.  Doing things that put the general public in fear will cause more people to hate us, and anyone who seriously thinks flaunting rifles around schools in cities and suburbs will somehow acclimate the public to an acceptance of armed citizens is simply delusional.
The fastest way for us to loose our rights is to let the antis divide us and have us fighting among ourselves.  It seems they may have found a way to start that process in Michigan.

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