Finley: Open carriers hurt 2nd Amendment
I hold the Second Amendment nearly as sacred as the First Amendment, believing any intrusion on an individual's right to bear arms places that freedom at risk.
And yet I cringe at this "open carry" movement that has followers strapping pistols outside their clothes or slinging rifles across their shoulders and sauntering through schools and other public places to make the point that they have the right to do so.
Of course they do. But just because you have a right doesn't mean it's smart to exercise it in such a provocative manner.
My fear is that these defiant displays of weaponry will kick the hornet's nest of gun paranoia and invite another onslaught of regulation aimed at placing the Second Amendment in a tight box.
And in Michigan, it's doing just that.
After open carry advocates in Ann Arbor, Madison Heights and elsewhere flaunted their firearms in schools, officials at both the local and state levels are moving quickly to place limits on where guns can be openly displayed. If the result is more gun control laws, the open-carry folks will have brought it on themselves.
Guns make a lot of people uncomfortable. Guns in schools, in light of Columbine, Sandy Hook and other places where children were slaughtered, make even a lot of gun owners uncomfortable. And when people get uncomfortable, they push for laws to restore their comfort level.
Open carriers are hell-bent in particular on making their stand in schools, I imagine, because that's where the emotions around the issue are most intense.
But walk into a concert in a high school auditorium, as one open carry proponent did in Ann Arbor, with a handgun and two extra clips that you nonchalantly place on the seat next to you and the other people in the hall are not going to relax. In fact, they aren't going to take their eyes off you.
And who could blame them?
The anxiety caused by guns in full public view is most often misplaced. But still, what's the point? Michigan makes it fairly easy for anyone who wants a concealed weapon permit to get one. That covers the personal protection bases.
It's extraordinarily naive and perhaps narcissistic — maybe moronic is a better word — to stroll into a school toting a rifle and expect to be treated to a warm welcome. Schools naturally are going to throw the place into lock-down and call for SWAT teams. That's what they're trained to do. Principals and teachers shouldn't have to guess whether you're a patriot airing out your rights or an aggrieved lunatic fixing to go off his nut and shoot up the place.
Guess wrong, and children die. Perhaps your children.
We're in an era when gun owners must be hyper-sensitive to the reality that a whole lot of people would rather they didn't have the right to own guns. Gun haters may soon be in the majority. That means as firearms enthusiasts we must take every precaution to exercise our right responsibly. Getting all dolled up in Army clothes and hoisting your rifle inside a school doesn't meet that test.
Needless provocation is not the smart way to defend the Second Amendment.
Follow Nolan Finley at detroitnews.com/finley, on Twitter at @nolanfinleydn, on Facebook at nolanfinleydetnews and watch him at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays on "MiWeek" on Detroit Public TV, Channel 56.