skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Escondido Group Carries Guns In Starbucks


Aired 9/16/09

The movement to openly carry unloaded firearms in public places in San Diego County is centered in Escondido. Escondido Open Carry will appear at 19 events this month. We look at what's been happening, why they do it, and find out what law enforcement thinks about it.

Open Carry is an organization that advocates for citizens' right to carry wea...
Enlarge this image

Above: Open Carry is an organization that advocates for citizens' right to carry weapons in public.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. The way you feel about the Open Carry movement kind of depends on how you feel about the guy next to you wearing a .44 Magnum or a Glock semi-automatic pistol on his belt. Some people feel comforted by the fact that law abiding people can legally carry unloaded weapons freely in San Diego. Others are not so crazy about the idea, especially considering that the gun wearers are also legally allowed to carry ammunition. To members of the Open Carry movement, their right to carry weapons is an essential part of the freedoms that all Americans enjoy. And in the spirit of 'use it or lose it,' the Open Carriers are determined to exercise their rights to carry unloaded weapons individually and at various events planned around San Diego. Here to explain more about the Open Carry movement and what the law says about carrying weapons in San Diego are my guests. Gerald Reaster is co-founder of Escondido Open Carry. And good morning, Gerald.

GERALD REASTER (Co-founder, Escondido Open Carry): Good morning.

CAVANAUGH: Robert Amador is a deputy district attorney, San Diego County. Robert Amador, welcome.

ROBERT AMADOR (Deputy District Attorney, County of San Diego): Thank you. Good morning.

CAVANAUGH: And Bryan Wildenthal is professor of law at Thomas Jefferson Law School. Bryan, good morning.

BRYAN WILDENTHAL (Professor of Law, Thomas Jefferson Law School): Thanks very much.

CAVANAUGH: And we invite our listeners to join the conversation. Would seeing a citizen carrying a weapon in public disturb you? Or make you feel more protected? Give us a call with your questions or your comments. The number is 1-888-895-5727, that's 1-888-895-KPBS. Gerald, first off, for our listeners who are unfamiliar with the Open Carry movement, tell us, first of all, what it actually looks like. What kind of weapon do you have and how do you display it?

REASTER: Well, I'm – Myself, I have a Ruger SP101 revolver in 9mm. I've got a small black holster, actually it's part of a shoulder rig but I've converted it to wear on my hip.

CAVANAUGH: And where do you carry this weapon?

REASTER: On my right hip.

CAVANAUGH: No, I mean actually out in public.

REASTER: Oh, oh, oh, anywhere except within a thousand feet of a school or in a federal or – building, that type of thing. Any place else, it's legal.

CAVANAUGH: Why – Now you have started, as I said in the introduction, Escondido Open Carry. Tell us about what that organization is.

REASTER: Well, it's a grassroots organization that I started in my home. I keep seeing the erosion of our Second Amendment rights by the lawmakers in Sacramento and I'm thinking, you know, I did 20 years in the navy and I've always kind of considered myself as a patriot and I've always believed in the constitution. And now I see it's being treated as just a worthless piece of paper and it really upsets me at times. That's my main motivation for this.

CAVANAUGH: And what do you – do your members do? And how many are there in Escondido Open Carry approximately?


CAVANAUGH: And what do you guys do?

REASTER: Well, we've got maybe 48 to 50 right now, all right. And we try to – I'll – I schedule events where I can. A lot of times people are working. A lot of people work. See, I'm retired military and actually I retired from San Diego County also. So I'm retired totally and I can go where, you know, any time I want.


REASTER: But a lot of my members work during the week and I try to schedule things on the weekend for them. But currently, I've been going to the Cruising Grand event they have here in Escondido and to their farmers' market. They have that on Tuesdays, and the Cruising Grand is on Fridays.

CAVANAUGH: And tell me what your understanding is of the law surrounding the open carrying of guns, unloaded guns, here in San Diego.

REASTER: Well, it's legal. That – You know, I mean, if you follow the certain restrictions about the schools and federal buildings, okay. Other than that, basically, I'm carrying a gun out there to – it's a symbol of the erosion of our benefits under the constitution. It's not – it's not a – it's unloaded. It's a symbol. It's not used for protection. Actually, I carry pepper spray for protection.

CAVANAUGH: I understand. We are talking about the Open Carry movement in San Diego, and the number is 1-888-895-5727. I'd like to bring Robert Amador, he's deputy district attorney of San Diego County, into the conversation. Well, after a February open carry event in Pacific Beach, Robert, you sent a memo to law enforcement in jurisdictions across the county about how the law relates to carrying guns. So what are some of the issues that law enforcement faces with people carrying firearms even if they're unloaded?

AMADOR: Well, I think the first part is, is they have to know what the law is regarding carrying firearms in public, and I think that a lot of police officers, at the time, did not necessarily know that it was legal to do the open carry type situation. So there were a couple incidents and we wanted – my job is to do training and so I sent out a training bulletin which informed them of the Open Carry movement, what they were about, and how it was legal to carry a firearm which is unloaded in an open holster.

CAVANAUGH: And so what are – what is the discipline that police have to use when they see someone carrying a gun on their belt? What do they do? What does a police officer do?

AMADOR: Well, they have the right under Penal Code Section 12031-E to inspect the weapon to see if it's unloaded or not. Now every situation is going to be different for a law enforcement officer. Some of those situations may be, based on their training and experience and what's going on, that they're going to make a detention and there may be a situation where they're making that detention with their guns out. There may be other situations where they are coming up and having a contact with the individual and it's low key, so it will run the gamut.

CAVANAUGH: And I want to ask you, Gerald, have you been basically stopped by a police officer?

REASTER: Oh, yes. Yes, we – Our first Open Carry here in Escondido, Escondido Police Sergeant Cramer, he came and he did the 12031-E check on us, all right. But here's my thought, that, you know, I've yet to see a criminal that carries their gun openly. I would assume that the police, if they see someone with a open carry gun on their hip, why don't they consider that to be a law abiding citizen rather than even considering some sort of a hot stop with a drawn gun?

CAVANAUGH: Do you want to take that one, Robert?

AMADOR: Well, I think what happens is that when they – They don't just normally see a person wearing a gun. What they normally will get is – Well, two situations. One, many of the open carry individuals have notified law enforcement that they're going to be doing an open carry.

REASTER: Yes, we do that also.

AMADOR: And so that has been very beneficial to law enforcement. The problem is, is where you have an individual who's walking around a store, they have a gun, the customers don't understand what's going on, they start complaining, and the call comes in to the police department that there's a suspicious person with a gun. So that becomes what the problem is and so the police are going to have to handle it tactically and making sure that they're safe.

CAVANAUGH: We are talking about the Open Carry movement, the movement to carry unloaded weapons in public in San Diego and in other areas of the country. 1-888-895-5727 is the number to call to get in on the conversation, and Jennifer is calling from San Diego. Good morning, Jennifer. Welcome to These Days.

JENNIFER (Caller, San Diego): Thank you. I just wanted to make a comment. I was shot in Chicago when some nutjob was going to try to kill his girlfriend, and I think that it's just going to make it easier for criminals to carry loaded guns because cops don't have the time to check out everybody that's wearing a gun. And let me tell you, sir, the criminals where I come from, they wear their guns where people can see them.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, thank you for that, Jennifer. Thanks for that comment. I want to bring Bryan Wildenthal into the conversation. He is professor of law at Thomas Jefferson Law School. Let's get some grounding here in what we're actually talking about, about what the Second Amendment actually says, how pro- and anti-gun factions have interpreted it.

WILDENTHAL: Yeah, well, thanks for inviting me, and it's a – it's been a fast changing area of law in the last year or two. I think Mr. Reaster's comments and Mr. Amador's comments both reflect that ordinary citizens and law enforcement have both been kind of getting up to speed in understanding the law better. At the constitutional level, there is the Second Amendment which says, quote, a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Now just last year, just a little more than a year ago, June of 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, a 5-to-4 decision, showing that they're split just as the country is split, ruled that that amendment does guarantee an individual constitutional right to keep and bear a weapon at least to some extent. That case involved a District of Columbia law almost totally banning even possession of a gun in the home even and requiring a person to keep it totally unloaded and inoperable even in the home. So it didn't address all these issues about carrying a weapon in public. Furthermore, that decision only applied to the federal government or federal entities like the District of Columbia so it's not yet been clarified whether this right to bear arms could be restricted by state law or local regulations. However, most lawyers, and I would say as a professor of constitutional law, I think it's very likely that this right will be found to apply to state and local laws. Indeed, there's a case working its way up in the lower courts from California which initially said that there is a constitutional right to keep and bear arms and that the state and local governments cannot interfere with that. That was a three-judge decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It's now temporarily on hold as the full 9th Circuit takes a look at it. If you're a betting person, I would say they're probably going to uphold a right to bear arms.


WILDENTHAL: Now the question is what does that mean as applied to open carry in public, loaded, unloaded, that type of thing. It's not clear. We'll have to see how the case law develops, but I think it is certainly valuable, as Mr. Amador notes, for law enforcement, for police officers to start getting more familiar with the law and frankly, also, citizens, both those who are in the Open Carry movement and other citizens like the caller who may be alarmed by it. They should also become a bit more familiar with the law because there are law abiding people who will assert this right, and people need to become educated about that so they don't fly off the handle or get nervous or overreact when they see someone in a situation like that.

CAVANAUGH: We are talking about the Open Carry movement. The number is 1-888-895-5727. Let's take another call right now. Eleanor is calling from Encinitas. Good morning, Eleanor, and welcome to These Days.

ELEANOR (Caller, Encinitas): Yes, I really appreciate the professor's clarification of the ruling, of the Supreme Court ruling. I have to say at the outset that I was familiar with the Supreme Court decision, the 5-4 decision. It disturbed me very much because I can't imagine a society with everyone who feels they have the right under the constitution to carry a weapon walking around in the open with an unloaded weapon. If I were sitting on the trolley or on a bus and saw people carrying guns in the open, I would be very intimidated, very frightened. It's like going back to the wild, wild west. We do have a militia. We have a police force. We have a national guard. We don’t need to carry around weapons for our protection either as a symbol or as a way of asserting our rights under the constitution.

CAVANAUGH: Eleanor, thank you for your comments. And I'd like to get some reaction from Gerald Reaster.


CAVANAUGH: He's co-founder of Escondido Open Carry. Gerald.

REASTER: Well, I'd start off with first off to say that it's been upheld quite a few times that the police have no right to protect the individual, just the public at large. Our own self-protection is best served by us. The police, you generally are reactive after the fact. And, you know, if I'm going to be held up, I would like to at least have a chance to defend myself rather than wait for the police to come around and draw the chalk mark around my body and, you know, send the (unintelligible). Okay, that's my reasoning. Now if I could get a concealed carry permit, I wouldn’t be out there carrying openly.

CAVANAUGH: I see. What…

REASTER: They won't…

CAVANAUGH: …what about Eleanor's concerns, though? What about the concerns of people that are really, really – other law abiding citizens who are really going to be made uncomfortable by what they see as the intimidation of your carrying a gun…

REASTER: I would…

CAVANAUGH: …on your belt?

REASTER: I would ask them this: Would they be intimidated by someone at a political rally holding up a sign? That's all this unloaded gun on my hip is. It's a symbol, just like a, you know, a sign of yes, no or whatever at a political rally. It's a symbol. It's not meant for intimidation. I'm trying to increase public awareness to that fact. Her reaction tells me that a lot of people don't understand the law and the need for self-protection.

CAVANAUGH: Well, I wonder, Robert Amador, deputy district attorney of San Diego, what – when a policeman does stop someone and asks them to present their weapon to see whether or not it's loaded, is the officer treading on risky legal ground there?

AMADOR: Not at all, no. The officer – The Penal Code specifically allows to check the weapon so they're perfectly within their rights and their responsibilities to do so.


WILDENTHAL: There is – there is actually…

CAVANAUGH: Sorry, Bryan.

WILDENTHAL: …an issue there. Yeah, the – I certainly defer to Mr. Amador that the – as far as what the state law specifies, that it purports to authorize the check whether the weapon's loaded. Under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, however, if there is – if the courts do perhaps confirm that there is a Second Amendment right to carry a gun either openly or concealed, like I said, let's take the open carry situation, it's certainly debatable whether the police, without any reasonable suspicion or probable cause would have a right to stop an apparently law abiding person…


WILDENTHAL: …just because they appear to be carrying a weapon. Now the courts will presumably sort that out and certainly, as I suspect Mr. Reaster would agree, anyone who is carrying a gun would be well advised to cooperate, of course, with any…


WILDENTHAL: …law enforcement. You don't want to question a law enforcement agent in the moment but there could well be some follow-up litigation about that and perhaps some lawsuits involving that, so it's not actually totally clear cut that the police would be within their rights in that situation.

CAVANAUGH: And, Robert, I did want to follow up on a comment that Gerald made, and that is that the police are not required to protect individuals. Isn't one of the mandates of the police to defend and protect the citizenry?

AMADOR: Absolutely. And I didn't really understand what he was trying to say by his comment. It seemed introductory to the other comments he wanted to make, which are essentially that, you know, people have a right to defend themselves in case a certain situation arose. I don't know whether carrying that – those guns are going to protect you or they're going to cause problems in a variety of ways. If someone is going to be an open carry individual, some law enforcement are concerned that they're the ones who may end up becoming victims. It's going to take a bit of a time for them to get their gun loaded, and it certainly makes them a potential target for someone who wishes to steal a gun. A couple weeks ago we had a trolley officer who was shot and his gun stolen, and here's an individual who comes up and robs someone who's armed to get the gun. So people who, it it's unloaded, they certainly face certain risks.

CAVANAUGH: Let's take another call. We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. And Mike is calling from Fallbrook. Good morning, Mike, and welcome to These Days.

MIKE (Caller, Fallbrook): Hello. Thank you. Yes, I have a couple points. Your guest says his gun is symbolic but if he just wants a symbol why doesn't he carry a toy gun? And it becomes less symbolic in about two seconds it takes him to load that thing. And my second point is the Second Amendment specifically uses the words 'well regulated' and gun proponents always seem to – they never mention that little 'well regulated' part, and I think it needs to be well regulated. Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you, Mike. And a lot of that was directed towards you, Gerald, so you get a chance to respond.

REASTER: Well, the well-regulated militia part was basically not applied in this as far as the Supreme Court.


REASTER: And I can't cite them right now but there've been at least two or three court issues where it's been resolved that the police do not have a right – or a mandate to protect any specific individual in a society. They have to protect the society at large. But if I got robbed, I couldn't sue the police for not protecting me because they do not have a mandate to protect me, specifically, just the public at large. It's been appealed in a couple of cases. I could probably dig up some research for you…


REASTER: …in a day or so.

CAVANAUGH: Well, we got a no on that from Robert, and Bryan is shaking his head as well so that seems not clear.

WILDENTHAL: Well, what Mr. Reaster's referring to perhaps is that if in a situation where the police for some reason lack the resources or can't respond in time, you may not be able to sue the police and impose a duty on them, make them, you know, pay damages for not showing up. I think the police within the limits, and Mr. Amador can correct me or follow up on this, I think within the limits of their resources and availability, they do have a charge and do do their honest best to protect all members of the public. You can't protect the public generally without protecting the individual members of the public, person by person. Now it is a fair point – Advocates of open carry will point out that the police can't be all places at all times, and so they do make the point that, and Mr. Reaster made it effectively, that there could be an argument for individual self-defense. I did want to step in – the caller had mentioned and then Mr. Reaster mentioned this issue of the well-regulated militia. Now there's certainly a very healthy debate about that and reasonable people can and do disagree about what the Second Amendment means when it has that preface, that clause saying it's for the purpose of a well-regulated militia. Rightly or wrongly, the Supreme Court has ruled and this is now the binding law of the country. The Supreme Court has ruled that that militia clause merely explains the reason that the Second Amendment guarantees the people generally the individual right to bear arms. That is, it is so that there will be a well-armed populace available to serve in a militia and so it doesn't – that, in itself, doesn't mean that the right only applies in a well-regulated militia. Now having said that, the Supreme Court, in that ruling, did not endorse an absolute right to bear arms by any means. The court very carefully and specifically said they were only striking down a law totally banning any possession of a gun, or almost totally, in the home. And if I can quote from the opinion, the court said, 'nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons, the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places like schools or government buildings.' And there are some other reasonable regulations they suggested. The court interestingly did not speak to the issue of open carry or concealed carry. They did note that courts have generally upheld concealed carry laws but they didn't tip their hand as to whether they agreed with that because it simply was not an issue in that case. So in – So it is an interesting problem and, of course, I'm sure the advocates of open carry say, well, as long as concealed carry's restricted then our only other option is to open carry.


WILDENTHAL: If you have a right to bear arms, you obviously have to either carry it openly or concealed. Maybe there is an argument to liberalize concealed carry so that people don't get as alarmed by the open carry and there will be less of a chance to grab a gun, as Mr. Amador said to steal a gun, if someone has it secured in a body holster or something.

CAVANAUGH: But, of course, the concealed weapon is another problem in and of itself, isn't it Mr. Amador?

AMADOR: It is. There's few people who are able to have concealed weapons permits. If you carry a gun concealed, it is a crime by itself whether it's loaded or unloaded.

CAVANAUGH: Right. I wanted to point out with you, Bryan, that this recent Supreme Court decision, which sort of upheld the individual right to bear arms, was a reversal of precedent that the Supreme Court was in the process of building towards basically saying that the right to bear arms was for the purpose of having a well-regulated militia.

WILDENTHAL: Actually, there was no clear Supreme Court precedent. There – At the Supreme Court level, there were precedents saying that the right did not – whatever the right was, it did not apply to the states and that's because historically the Bill of Rights did not historically apply to the state and local governments. There was a case from the 1930s saying – involving a federal gun regulation, saying that the right to bear arms did not include the right to possess a sawed-off shotgun but that case – in fact, that case, according to the Supreme Court's recent decision, implied that if it wasn't a sawed-off shotgun or an unusual dangerous weapon, that you would have an individual right. So actually the case was the first case in a long time to really address the issue but there was no prior clear Supreme Court precedent on the meaning of the Second Amendment itself.

CAVANAUGH: I see. I see. There are a lot of people who want to join the conversation. Let me try to get some more calls in. And, Shawn, is calling – Shawan (as pronounced) is calling from La Jolla. I'm sorry if I mispronounced your name. Good morning.

SHAWN (Caller, La Jolla): It's Shawn.

CAVANAUGH: I'm sorry?

SHAWN: Good morning. It's – Good morning, my name is Shawn.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, hi, Shawn.

SHAWN: I have three points. First of all on the issue of whether he's carrying this as protection because he feels the police can't protect him and it's, you know, it's not the same as carrying a sign. A loaded gun is protection. A non-loaded gun isn't much protection unless you're going to whack somebody over the head with it. So for him to be able to use it to protect himself against someone who's trying to accost him or rob him, he's got to take the time to load that weapon. So that argument doesn't fly with me.


SHAWN: But if the police are taking their time to check these guys who are open carry to make sure that they're not loaded, then that's time that they're taking away from their regular duties, which may be protecting the rest of the public. And number three, if I'm in public, especially myself as a woman or with my children, I see somebody with a gun, I can't tell by looking at them whether they're law abiding or whether they're a criminal. I'm going to call 911 and I'm going to get out of that area. So I really don't buy his arguments and I don't see how that gets him anywhere.

CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you very much for your comments. Robert, I wanted to ask you, what – we've heard Gerald say that basically his feelings about exercising his rights under the Second Amendment being very important to him, well, I wonder what you think the point of the Open Carry movement is.

AMADOR: Well, they have their rights under the Second Amendment. They want to be able to wear the guns in public, and what their reasons are are their own, and there's a variety of reasons they can be. One may be that they want to show it as a symbol. One may be they want to be cool. They want to be wearing a gun around. I can't tell you why these individuals want to do that.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, let's take another call. Frank is calling from El Cajon. Good morning, Frank.

FRANK (Caller, El Cajon): Morning, good morning. I – My concern is what about my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? I take my children to a Home Depot, I see somebody walking down the aisle with a gun in it's holster. I have no idea if that person's law abiding or not. In fact, most of the people in San Quentin were law abiding until they committed their first crime. The shooter at Virginia Tech was law abiding until he killed 21 people. The fellow that killed the three police officers in Pittsburgh was law abiding until he pulled the trigger. So we don't know that until after the fact. Must I wait until my kids get killed…


FRANK: …to say, oh, he wasn't law abiding? I should've called 911?

CAVANAUGH: Thank you for that comment. Gerald, what about that? What about the feelings that people have seeing you carrying a weapon?

REASTER: Well, to me, like Frank just said, he doesn't understand his constitutional rights and doesn't understand, really, the meaning – If he's got children, he needs to protect his children. If he's so horrified by the sight of a gun, I would think that he would educate himself and his children on the subject. I'd – As I said earlier, the lady Shawn who called in, I don't carry the gun for protection. I carry pepper spray for protection. It's a symbol for me. I don't carry it because I am trying to feel cool or anything like that. I'm doing a political protest.

CAVANAUGH: And, Gerald, finally I wonder do you think there should be restrictions on gun ownership or gun carrying? And what would those restrictions be?

REASTER: Well, I'll put it to you like this, if it were possible for me to get a concealed carry permit, I wouldn't be doing this. I wouldn’t be carrying openly in public. But it's – In San Diego County, the sheriff doesn't think that my personal life is worth giving me a CCW for it. Now Dianne Feinstein, she has a concealed carry permit and I always wonder why is her life worth more than mine.

CAVANAUGH: No, but what I'm saying is do you think there should be any restrictions on gun ownership or gun carrying?

REASTER: Oh, yes, certainly, people that are mentally defective, felons, you know, there may be some other categories that would have to be decided but, yes, I don't think there should be any restrictions. Like I said, I could live with a concealed carry. I think that's a restriction, too, but I could live with that because it allows me the right to have that God-given right for self-defense.


CAVANAUGH: Bryan, yes.

WILDENTHAL: …step in for a moment. Yeah, I'm a little bit surprised by many of the callers kind of stating if they would see someone, you know, just walking in public somewhere that they would call 911 and assume this is a lawbreaker or something. One could ask – Again, the common sense question, why would someone who has nefarious intentions…


WILDENTHAL: …be carrying the weapon open and holstered. The other thing is, law enforcement is – we have a principle under our constitutional system which is innocent until proven guilty. Unless there is some affirmative probable cause to see that someone is committing a crime or threatening a crime, it's not really, seems to me, the most appropriate social reaction to leap to the assumption that this is a mass murderer about to go on a spree. And law enforcement operates under that same rule; they can't, you know, again, arrest someone unless they have probable cause that someone has committed a crime. And I – People should consider whether they're misusing 911 if they are making those calls without really a solid basis.

CAVANAUGH: Well, we might call 911 if we saw somebody carrying a hatchet in a park, too.

REASTER: Well, the statutes at…

WILDENTHAL: Depends if they're chopping wood, I guess.

CAVANAUGH: Well, we have to leave it there, gentlemen. I'm so sorry. Gerald Reaster, co-founder of Escondido Open Carry, Robert Amador, deputy district attorney of San Diego County, and Bryan Wildenthal, professor of law at Thomas Jefferson Law School. Thank you so much. I want to tell everybody whose calls we couldn't get to, you can carry on this conversation online. Please post your comments, And stay with us for hour two of These Days coming up in just a few minutes.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.


Avatar for user 'DavidLipsky'

DavidLipsky | September 16, 2009 at 10:33 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

I may have missed it, but was there any discussion on how Arizona has handled allowing citizens to carry firearms. Has crime gone up? Has it gone down? Does anyone have accurate information?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'skish'

skish | September 16, 2009 at 10:37 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Reaster and Professor Wildenthal expressed their surprise that an ordinary citizen seeing an individual openly carrying a gun in public would be concerned enough to call 911. It was stated that a citizen calling 911 upon just seeing a weapon being carried in public may be an improper use of 911 that we should assume innocence until proven guilty. Furthermore, they stated that a criminal would not likely carry a weapon openly thus implying that the public should assume that an openly carried weapon should indicate that a person is law abiding. I disagree. It is not the societal norm for individuals to carry a gun in public. A gun is a dangerous weapon and I think most people upon seeing one being carried would feel concern and fear. It is not possible to tell by looking at a person whether or not they are law abiding and sane, whether or not their weapon is loaded, and what their intentions in carrying the weapon are. If you wait for a person to actually brandish their weapon or commit a crime, then it is too late to call 911, a crime has already been committed, maybe someone is seriously injured or dead. Personally I would call 911 and I would get the heck out of Dodge, which is apparently what these folks want to turn our society into.

Should carrying a weapon openly become the norm, then criminals would feel comfortable carrying their weapons in public as it would be a socially acceptable thing to do. Under these circumstance we would have no idea who the good guys are. Maybe we should go back to wearing black and white hats too.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'trackerpacker'

trackerpacker | September 16, 2009 at 11:07 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

Arizona has always had open carry, as that is the unlicensed exercise of the 2nd amendment. Concealed carry is the new kid on the block and is the taxed privilege.

To answer your crime questions... crime is much lower in places that have guns. FBI statistics show that quite well.



( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'rbgaynor'

rbgaynor | September 16, 2009 at 11:17 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

Skish - the problem with your hypothetical is that we actually have considerable experience in this country with loaded open carry in places like Arizona, no mass of criminals openly carrying, no rash of panicky 911 calls, no problem. If I said I found it offensive for women to vote would you also argue that they should be denied their franchise for my comfort? I think not.

The big problem here in San Diego, and in much of California, is the may-issue system for concealed carry permits. Permits may be denied for any reason - or no reason at all. Here in San Diego county the sheriff routinely refuses most applications - leaving unloaded open carry as the only option. This is not the norm for most of the rest of the country where shall issue systems require the issuance of a permit to anyone who qualifies (background check, training, test).

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 16, 2009 at 11:28 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

Imagine the time when the second amendment was written. Most of America was an untamed wilderness, the country was young and a bit vulnerable. We didn't have the kind of professional police force or military to protect us then that we do today. Weapons could be fired once and it might take another minute to reload, and even then it might not fire if the gun powder was wet. It made good sense then for people to have firearms for personal protection, for hunting for food, and for the defense of the country if called by the proper authorities. Today that argument just doesn't carry much weight. And if you want to read a debate on this subject go to a website called "Intelligence Squared." The pros and cons of gun ownership in today's world are laid out there very well - you decide. Like the above person commented, I agree it is not normal to walk around with a gun on, and I too would assume the worst seeing someone like this, especially in light of all the shootings we have in this country. Personally I think this recent fracas is just another fine example of how racist America still is. We have a president that is black, and for some of the fringe right, they are just beside themselves. They are doing everything they can to show their disapproval: Showing up with guns on to protests; disrupting town hall meetings with nonsense; not allowing the president to be shown at school; saying he isn't an American; calling him a Muslim; calling him a Nazi; calling him a Socialist; everything but calling him the "N" word. And none of this stuff has anything to do with really debating a subject, it's all just a means to disrupt, create fear, and obstruct progress on the real issues that our president is trying to address.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'skish'

skish | September 16, 2009 at 12:08 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

Read the blogs from Arizona on open carry and you will see that it is not all that common. Not everyone is walking around with a gun, and the proponents of open carry themselves even talk about feeling uncomfortable in public when they carry or see others carrying (which is rare). Apparently rural areas are more accepting of open carry, not Phoenix.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'trackerpacker'

trackerpacker | September 16, 2009 at 12:08 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

Police are not legally obligated to protect you. That has been upheld in SCOTUS three times now. Click link below to inform yourself.

There are sheep, sheepdogs and wolves. You have chosen to be a sheep and I a sheepdog. When the wolves come, I can at least not be led to the slaughter.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'trackerpacker'

trackerpacker | September 16, 2009 at 12:09 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

Skish, I feel more comfortable with a citizen carrying than a cop, hands down.

Even in the most liberal gun states, only about 2-3% of people take it upon themselves to carry a weapon.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'rbgaynor'

rbgaynor | September 16, 2009 at 1:42 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

randolphslinky - You're constructing a straw man here. This story had absolutely nothing to do with showing up with guns at protests, disrupting meetings, etc. This is about day-to-day carry where the state and local authorities refuse to allow concealed carry (with a license), leaving the only options of either open carry or no carry at all. Dicta from the Heller case makes it seem very unlikely that the Supreme Court will allow the no carry option to stand (except in sensitive places), so if open carry makes you squeamish I suggest you push for reform of the concealed carry system in California.

As for racism it is an element in gun control, but probably not what you think. Early gun control was born during reconstruction following the civil war out of fears of seeing the newly freed slaves able to arm and protect themselves. It is the gun control side that has the ugly racist pedigree.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'rbgaynor'

rbgaynor | September 16, 2009 at 2 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

skish - it's common enough that I haven't made a trip to Arizona in recent years where I haven't seen at least one person open carrying, even in and around Phoenix. .Don't forget, it's also relatively easy to get a concealed carry permit in AZ (if you are a law abiding citizen) - in fact according to the Arizona Republic there are over 135,000 permits state-wide.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'RightsNow'

RightsNow | September 16, 2009 at 5:38 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

The Right to Keep and Bear for self defense in public is coming to CA whether or not you like it (likely summer of 2010).

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'RightsNow'

RightsNow | September 16, 2009 at 5:42 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

The guests, the law professor and the SD DDA, should brush up on the "POLICE HAVE NO DUTY TO PROTECT INDIVIDUALS" doctrine as found in the Supreme Court cases Warren v DC (1981) and Castle Rock v Gonzalez (2005). The citizen guest knew about it but they didn't?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Coolusername2007'

Coolusername2007 | September 16, 2009 at 9:37 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

skish, fixed it for you... It is not the societal norm for individuals to carry a gun in public IN CA. But it will soon be. Societal norms have nothing to do with inalienable rights that are protected by the Constitution. Guns in the people's hands create a polite and peaceful society. Just look to other state's crime rates where the people's rights aren't being infringed upon, then compare to New York, DC, and CA...places where gun control is out of control, and so is the crime.

randolphslinky, the framers didn't put the 2A in the Bill of Rights to protect people from bears, or for hunting purposes. Research your history, the 2A exists so the people can protect themselves from the dangers of big government.

We the People have no constitutional right to police protection regardless of restraining orders or even gross negligence. Nor do we want it. History has proven again and again that living in a police state is neither desirable, safe, or free from tyranny.

“The history of the law for centuries proves this to be the case. ...But no instance can be found where a civil action has been sustained against [the Sheriff] for his default or misbehavior as conservator of the peace by those who have suffered injury to their property or persons through the violence of mobs, riots, or insurrections.” SCOTUS, South v Maryland, 59 U.S. 396 (1855)

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 17, 2009 at 8:37 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

I think you guys are right, I really believe America would be much safer if everyone wore guns and owned guns. A society of peace loving people but always ready to blow someone's head off should they bump into them while having a coffee, pulling too quickly in front of them while driving, being a bit too loud at home, or any number of greivances that we might have with someone. And unlike training for hours in a dojo studying the martial arts, or military training, or police training, and learning how much responsibility comes with the power you possess, not to mention the responsibility and accountability that comes with it, a person just needs to know how to load the gun, point and pull the trigger. It's just that easy! Why I don't know why we didn't think of this sooner! Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! YEEEEHHAAA!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Coolusername2007'

Coolusername2007 | September 17, 2009 at 10:44 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

Wow, you really went off the deep end didn't you, randolphslinky? You equate responsible, law-abiding gun ownership and exercise of our inalienable right to self protect with total, stark raving madness and lunacy and overall nutjob wackado. Nice. If you think this is what gun ownership and the 2A is all about, then maybe you're not ready to start open carrying, just saying. Relax a little there SpongeBob, you're going neurotic on us.

Oh and yes, self protection is supposed to be easy, very easy. If you choose to spend years training in the martial arts, then you're free to do so. My guess is a martial artist would much rather walk away, not confront, and not fight. Funny, so do open carriers. We only differ in our choice of method for self protection. The 2A says nothing about guns, it says "arms". You have the freedom to choose your preferred "arms", whether its a knife, a gun, pepperspray, tazer, stick, or whatever. And to assume open carriers don't train and aren't proficient is uninformed to say the least. We value life, over everything else, which is why we carry.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 17, 2009 at 1:06 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

I know what you mean, we all hear about those mass killings from pepperspray attacks all the time. As well as dozens killed by someone walking into a place weilding a knife, or tazers, or wacko martial artists clearing a room with the foot fist way. What's a gun compared to all that right? The point I was making by being over the top in my last comment - is that you guys are over the top, and unrealistic. The real data, not the data from the gun lobby shows that gun ownership increases your chances of dying from a gun by 30%. Usually, by your own gun. The bad guys aren't going to ask you to walk to the middle of Main Street and draw when you're ready. That's why they're bad. You're wearing a gun, oh, good, now they know who to shoot first. While everyone else is making a quick exit, you're fiddling around with your holster, maybe even shooting yourself in the leg because rounds are whizzing by your head and your urge is to attempt to draw rather than get down. I'm sure you all think you're a bunch of tough guys. Do us all a favor, keep your guns in the safe and be careful when you go hunting or at the range - just stop the nonsense and posturing around town. It's silly and you waste the cops time having to answer the public's calls.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Coolusername2007'

Coolusername2007 | September 17, 2009 at 4:14 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

That's OK, you can think we're unrealistic. That's the beauty of living in a Constitutional Republic and not a democracy, we are as free to reject mob rule group think as you are. And no I won't keep my guns locked up in a safe, and your attempts to control my rights doesn't fly. Should I now attempt to control your free speech due to your irrational fears? Or am I only granted protection for the rights you think I need, nevermind what I think? And as far as mass killings go, you can bet I'll be hitting the deck. The difference is I'll be able to defend myself. Will you? If you did a little research outside of the anti-gun movement you might find some of your data is suspect. And if you're going to put forth "real data" you should really cite the source, otherwise its just more fear mongering. Never mind the federal crime stats of states with less gun control and lower crime rates than say NY, DC, and CA. But that's not real data to you is it? And why would anyone call the cops because of someone's holstered sidearm? What's more why would cops show up for a holstered sidearm? Shouldn't they be out investigating crimes?

The real problem with gun control, is its not about guns, its about control, as you have so willingly demonstrated.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'kirkf'

kirkf | September 18, 2009 at 11:27 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

Open Carry Advocates,

I do tend to agree that carrying a loaded gun may even things out. Maybe grandma doesn't want to go through 20 yrs of intense martial arts to protect herself :)

Perhaps you can answer some questions for me.
1) Open carry with unloaded gun. How does this make you safer? A criminal decides to come at me with a hatchet, knife (or even a loaded gun). Will the criminal wait while I fumble around for ammo and load my gun. I'm not sure how unloaded open carry makes you safer and more likely to defend yourself.
2) Or is open carry strictly a protest to push for simplifying rules for concealed carry? Concealed (loaded) carry being the real method for enhancing personal safety.
3) Criminal decides that he wants your gun. You don't have ammo, the criminal does have a weapon. What happens next?
3) What do you feel are the limits (if any) on open carry at a political rally, a couple of protest groups shouting at each other. A football game? Walking into the airport to pick up grandma?
4) I don't think anyone addressed the "what prevents criminals from openly carrying". If the odds of police checking my gun are small because everyone is openly carrying (but law abiding citizens guns aren't loaded) why shouldn't I have it handy. If I come up to you with a gun on my hip, my hand on the gun and "ask you for some money" and you are with your kids or have your hands full what do you think happens next.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'rbgaynor'

rbgaynor | September 18, 2009 at 1:54 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

kirkf -

I think the unloaded open carry movement is a little both, it is in part a protest against the arbitrary rules for CCW - but it does have defensive value as well (an open carrier in Virginia recently shot and killed a robber who had opened fire on a convenience store clerk). With practice the transition from unloaded to loaded can happen very fast (I see these scenarios all the time in competition).

In an ideal world loaded concealed would be the preferred carry for most of us - much better to be able to surprise the bad guy, but that option is not available to the average law-abiding citizen in San Diego county.

The history of concealed carry in other states is very positive - according to a Florida study their CCW holders are much more law abiding than the public as a whole. Given that, I have no problem with people carrying in non-sensitive places - including rallies, football games, and the non-sterile portion of airport terminals. The reality is this is already happening across the country, except for a few places, and there has been no Armageddon.

As for bad guys, we face this problem all the time but, in a free society, until someone has acted with criminal intent what do you do? We don't stop and frisk everyone who passes by a bank because we can't tell potential bank robbers from shoppers, nor have we outlawed cars because they are the getaway vehicle of choice for robbers. Besides, bad guys will carry regardless of any law. It's not like they will stop using guns if open carry is made illegal and they can't get a permit to carry concealed.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'kirkf'

kirkf | September 18, 2009 at 4:21 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

rbgaynor -

Thanks for a thoughtful, civil response.

But I think, unlike a car, carrying a handgun in public has one of two purposes offense or defense. Again, unlike a car, that is its primary purpose.

Also, for every open carrier story doing a good thing, I think we can find another story about someone walking into location X with an open gun and blazing away. So lets set aside the corner cases.

Lets also set aside any back and forth about the right to bear arms, well regulated militia...I think everything needs a counterbalance and that includes government.

Can you cite your studies that open carry makes an area statistically safer to live in? Unfortunately in these times, everyone throws out study data w/out backing them up. This is certainly true for this issue :)

Lets go back to the car analogy again relative to allowed open carry locations. Sure, we grant people licenses to drive after some training. But just because a space is public and they are a good driver doesn't mean they can drive just anywhere. Even though my car can jump the curb and I'm a good and legal driver doesn't mean I can drive through the middle of a public baseball field or neighborhood park :) And especially I shouldn't be driving through said baseball field while a game is in progress. I think the same is reasonable for certain events.

Here's a scenario. Beloved by most politician X is giving a public speech to 10,000 people. All of them are wearing guns. How do you defend against beloved politician X getting shot when you can't identify the danger? Of course the converse is guns are outlawed at Rally X, or public space Y and that slowly extends to everywhere. So its a balancing act in my opinion.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'jukklore'

jukklore | September 18, 2009 at 4:49 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

By the way, criminals by definition do not listen to law. So any law put in place to hinder the carrying of weapons concealed or openly does not apply to criminals, it only applies to us who would be able to defend ourselves against criminals.

Nothing stops criminals from walking around with guns in their pockets. Though there is something to stop us law abiders to carry some sort of weapon as defense and that is called the law.

Once everyone can accept that there will always be guns and there will always be criminals, only then will they be able to see clearly. If you think you can get rid of guns, tell that to the drug smugglers and gun runners that run millions or dollars worth of illegal stuff into America every day, and they will laugh in your television induced life. The argument that if everyone could walk around with guns would create chaos, because guess what, everyone can walk around with guns already in their pockets illegally.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'jukklore'

jukklore | September 18, 2009 at 4:50 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

The argument that if everyone could walk around with guns would create chaos is a fallacy, because guess what, everyone can walk around with guns already in their pockets illegally. ***

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Coolusername2007'

Coolusername2007 | September 18, 2009 at 5:37 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

Hey kirkf, I'll attempt to answer your questions. Here goes...

First, its important to note that we do not want to open carry unloaded, we only do so to comply with the law. The unloaded statute is ridiculous and is racially based. It comes from the Black Panthers protest in '67, its a very ugly law. However, having a loaded magazine on your person is legal, therefore you can transition from unloaded to loaded very quickly with practice, so its better than being unarmed. Realize that the bad guy wants to live as much as you do, so it's not likely that he will attack an armed person, rather he will attack the defenseless. Open carry is a visible deterrent, conceal carry is not.

No, open carry is not strictly a political statement for conceal carry. There are those who choose open carry and those who choose conceal carry, its a personal decision. I prefer loaded open carry, just like law enforcement. Why? Because it offers the best possible deterrence from becoming a victim and it offers ideal access in an emergency.

An open carrier would never carry without ammo readily accessible. The criminal will have to weigh the risks and benefits of trying to take an armed person's weapon. I believe they'll choose life over lead breathing steel any day of the week, they’ll choose a more defenseless person to attack.

Our founders believed the right to defend one's self and property was absolute. I believe the same. Limits on gun carry only establish defenseless zones of which bad guys take advantage. Laws created in vain attempts to create "safe zones" only criminalize the law-abiding and put the defenseless in danger, because by definition criminals don't follow the law. Further, because we value life more than anything else, we would only take a life as the absolute last resort to preserving ours. Only a lunatic would attempt to solve an argument or disagreement with a gun.

What prevents criminals from committing any crime? Right now criminals are carrying concealed loaded guns without permits and with criminal records. If confronted by one how will you defend yourself? Sure you can give them everything you have, but that doesn't mean you’ll live. You established with your question why unloaded open carry should be repealed so we can go back to loaded open carry. The current laws have given criminals an advantage by disarming you. Of course the politicians get their conceal permits just for the asking.

As our founders stated in their own words...
"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'triplem'

triplem | September 19, 2009 at 4:57 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

I believe another famous man said 'those who live by the sword, will die by the sword".

I also think that just because you have a right - doesn't mean it's the course of wisdom to exercise that right.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Nopal'

Nopal | September 21, 2009 at 6:59 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago


That same man also said, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."

Your quote refers to Jesus admonishing Peter for attempting to escalate a situation into violence. My quote referes to Jesus advising his followers to prepare to defend themselves from violence with violence.

Funny, how a wise man can speak against those who engage in violence offensively, and yet also speak in behalf of those that are prepared to use violence defensively.

You speak of wisdom, so I humbly suggest that you are going to quote someone it is wise to understand the context of that which you quote.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'kirkf'

kirkf | September 21, 2009 at 8:11 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

I can buy some of the open and concealed carry arguments. I'm going to do some historical research though. If everyone was safer because they all had guns, why didn't that persist in the west for example? I'm not buying any argument until I do some research. But if anyone has references, I'll gladly look.

Any comment on requiring strict training and even registration before allowing open carry? We give most of the populace access to a powerful weapon, cars. But we also require licensing, training and testing. We also spend alot of time policing the drivers and put up with a lot of death and injury due to mistraining, drunken driving, violent use...We WILL have to put up with that with everyone walking around with a gun too. That may be the price for open carry and presumed additional safety.

BTW, would love to get some sources citing increased safety statistics in areas where open carry is prevalent?

I don't buy the argument that guns should be allowed anywhere, just like I don't buy that cars can be driven in an open park.


( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'gracielas'

gracielas | September 22, 2009 at 4:48 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

well our so called constitution was written over 200 years ago by a quite a few slave owners(which by then were also legal). Since we take the words of our forefathers sooooo seriously, maybe we should reinstate slavery again? wouldn't that be "honoring" their vision? take away women's right to vote? now wouldn't that be the america they've always imagined to establsh....

wake up folks, the 2nd amendment is stupid in today's terms, just like how slavery and segregation have been outlawed. Yes the writers of the consitution were brilliant leaders, they also however wore stockings and heeled shoes to their meetings. It made sense then, but not now. the 2nd amendment is no longer needed and we should be confident enough in our law enforcement to not carry guns ourselves everywhere...

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Nopal'

Nopal | September 23, 2009 at 4:51 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago


I'm sure that you are aware that the 13th ammendment very specifically and directly abolishes slavery. The 19th very explicitly prohibits the denial of the right to vote on a gender basis. In both instances, the constitution has been ammended in order to clarify or rectify itself.

I, along with a bunch of other folks, some of which wear black robes and work in court houses, take every word in the constitution seriously and that includes the 13th and 19th ammendments that you are so concerned about.

So keeping all of this in mind, which newer ammendment are you talking about that spells out that the 2nd ammendment is, in your words "stupid"? I thought I knew the constitution, but obviously you know something about it that has not only escaped me, but the rest of the country as well. So please, enlighten us.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Nopal'

Nopal | September 23, 2009 at 5:09 p.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago


You can start by checking out if you want to know about the relationship between gun laws and crime. It's choc full of studies and hard data. If you want to know specifically about open carry, is a good place to start. I'm sure that you'll originally approach these sites with a heaping of salt because of their names, and that's a healthy thing to do.

Still, I suggest that you read through some of the studies they contain, and peek around into some of the forums. The information there will point you to other sources where you can keep learning even more about the subject. I'm sure you'll fnd the reading more than just a bit stimulating.

Happy learning!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'RichardRider'

RichardRider | September 24, 2009 at 10:28 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

About 40 states allow some or most of their citizens to carry loaded weapons. Every time a state okays such a plan, the usual warnings about "shootouts over traffic accidents" emerge -- primarily from police chiefs and politicians.

Thing is, the predicted calamities seldom if ever happen. Indeed, a definitive study of the 170,000 Texans licensed to carry weapons (a fairly simple process to qualify for) found that these pistol packin' mommas (and papas) committed far fewer crimes involving firearms than the rest of the population that was FORBIDDEN to carry guns.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'RichardRider'

RichardRider | September 24, 2009 at 10:32 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

What DOES happen in a state when RTC laws are passed is that crime goes down. The criminal is less confident that his crime will not be interrupted by some citizen packing a weapon.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 25, 2009 at 10:08 a.m. ― 7 years, 6 months ago

The statistics are often spun on this issue to reflect a particular belief despite the difficulty in making true comparisons on data because of the way it is collected, and what it may or may not represent in light of the circumstances. I lived in Japan for some time and it was about as gun-less as you can get, and I felt really safe there. While I realize a comparision to Japan and the US has some problems, we are a very violent nation. We are violent despite, or because of all the guns? Again, you can spin the data and make it say whatever you want - just like the Bible by the way, squeeze it hard enough and it will say whatever you want it to as some of you have shown. At the end of the day though, while I may be taking some risk by not walking around with a gun, I think the hassle and the unease it would create for myself and others in the public arena far out weighs the margin of extra security it might provide me.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'mawickline'

mawickline | September 30, 2009 at 8:13 a.m. ― 7 years, 5 months ago

The problem with "open carry" for me is that, as an unarmed citizen, I can't tell by looking at a gun on someone else's hip whether it's loaded or not. It's not a symbol like a sign; it's a threat. The wearer is 1 second away from being able to draw the gun. And just like a bank teller or anyone with a cash register facing a person with a gun, I wouldn't stand there and say "hey, is that thing loaded?"

Personally, I'd get the hell out of any business or public place where I see someone carrying a gun. Maybe that's the real intent -- chase people out of businesses.

( | suggest removal )