Tag: open carry

Will Oklahoma Become The 15th Constitutional Carry State?

Tom DiGennaro | United States

Less than two weeks ago, South Dakota joined the ranks of constitutional carry states. Oklahoma may be following suit. The Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee passed HB 2579, which allows for constitutional carry, nine votes to two. The Oklahoma State Senate is also working on a similar bill.

Last year, both houses of the Oklahoma State Legislature passed a similar constitutional carry bill. Former Governor Mary Fallin vetoed it. However, current Governor Kevin Stitt states he is absolutely going to sign the bill if it passes. In that case, Oklahoma will be the 15th Constitutional Carry state in the United States.

Constitutional Carry allows for the unlicensed purchase and carry of a handgun. This legislation removes the government mandated training which is part of the carry permit process. Many supporters in Oklahoma have expressed that the government mandated training is unnecessary, as most people will get training regardless of any law.

Stitt has expressed that business owners will still retain the right to ban the carry of firearms on their property. Obviously, carry will also be prohibited in public buildings, professional sporting events, casinos, and schools.

The growing number of states that are allowing constitutional carry is very promising for gun rights advocates. One of the most appealing features of Constitutional Carry is that it eliminates the government’s power to pick and choose who can carry. It also eliminates their power to discourage people from purchasing and carrying through application fees, mandatory training, and waiting periods. Constitutional Carry has its obvious benefits and hopefully, more and more states will allow it.

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Interview with Open Carry Texas Founder CJ Grisham

Indri Schaelicke | United States

I had the amazing opportunity to interview the founder and current president/CEO of Open Carry Texas, CJ Grisham. We discussed the organization’s goals and feats so far, as well as some of the current gun-related issues in the news today.

Schaelicke: What is Open Carry Texas? What is your Mission Statement?

Grisham: Our purpose is to: 1   Educate all Texans about their right to carry in the State of Texas; 2   Condition Texans to feel safe around law-abiding citizens that choose to carry; 3   Pressure elected officials to repeal restrictive and unconstitutional gun legislation; 4  Foster a cooperative relationship with local law enforcement in the furtherance of these goals  with an eye towards preventing negative encounters, while defending our rights.

Schaelicke: What was your motivation for creating this organization?

Grisham: On March 16, 2013, I was falsely arrested for the lawful carry of a firearm and the NRA refused to help me with my case. It was that moment where I realized that Texas needed an organization to defend our gun rights more aggressively and unapologetically. I also realized that our gun laws were too restrictive for law abiding citizens. At the time, we were one of only six states that banned open carry of handguns.

Schaelicke: What do you do to achieve your agenda? Do you hold events or lobby for specific legislation?

Grisham: We held rallies, encouraged people all across the state to openly carry their rifles since that was legal, and then lobbied our legislators to pass less restrictive gun laws like open carry and campus carry.

Schaelicke: Do you view gun control as being pushed for by both parties, or is only one responsible for the drastic reduction in American gun rights?

Grisham: To some degree, both major political parties are responsible to some degree for gun control legislation. Without a doubt, the Democrat party is more offensive to gun rights, but the Republicans are very good at caving to them to appear compromising. When the Republicans compromise, it means we lose more liberty and rights.

Schaelicke: Why do gun rights matter to you, both personally and as an organization?

Grisham: Personally, gun rights matter to me because as a combat veteran, I’ve seen what happens when the populace is disarmed. Government is capable of doing whatever it wants. Additionally, I have a fundamental and inalienable right to life, which means I have a fundamental and inalienable right to protect that life. Gun rights are the great equalizer between predator and prey. As an organization, it’s important because defending rights on a larger scale matter. We can accomplish more when we come together as a common cause and goal.

Schaelicke: Obviously, running such an organization requires large amounts of funding. How is Open Carry Texas financed?

Grisham: We don’t require large amounts of funding because we have no overhead. No one in Open Carry Texas is paid and we don’t have physical offices. We are a truly grassroots organization. We are funded through donation from supporters, typically between $2.23 to $30.06 per month. We do not have any major sponsors or donors outside of those individual donors. Every year, we also hold a raffle to raise money for our operations. When we need to purchase a big ticket item, we’ll also hold a crowdfunding effort to do so. If we don’t have the money, we don’t do it. So far, we’ve been able to raise money for all of our needs.

Schaelicke: Does this financing method present any challenges to the organization, or is it promoting its growth?

Grisham: It’s definitely difficult because we never know exactly how much we have from month to month. Our donors come and go. We circumvent this problem by paying most of our bills (internet hosting, website, email, insurance, etc) in five-year increments. We are looking into growing the organization through a paid membership that will allow us to hire a full-time employee, but that is resource and time consuming.

Schaelicke: What is the biggest struggle OCT has faced and overcome so far?

Grisham: Learning how to handle media and understanding optics of our events. When I started OCT, I just assumed people understood what we were fighting for and underestimated how the media loves to twist and distort facts. We were frequently presented in a much different light in the media compared to the reality on the ground and we were a little slow in adapting to a way of countering that. Once we realized how to control our own narrative, things have gone much smoother.

Schaelicke: Is your work specifically related to second amendment issues, or do your efforts concern other civil rights?

Grisham: We are a civil rights organization focused on the 2nd amendment. However, we also fight against violations of our 1st and 4th amendment rights which tend to coincide with our activism. For example, in order to push our agenda, it’s important we be able to exercise our 1st amendment right to protest and seek redress from government. As we exercise our 2nd amendment rights, it’s also important that we protect and defend the 4th amendment right to be free from illegal searches and seizures. So, we educate our members about when they are required to get licenses for protests and when they don’t; when they have to provide their identification or not resist a search. It’s also important that they understand the scope of their 5th amendment rights when being questioned.

Schaelicke: What is OCT’s proposed solution to ending school shootings? Why is this the best proposal out of the many out there?

Grisham: There is no single solution to ending school shootings. However, there are ways to greatly reduce them, beginning with controlling entrances and exits at schools. We support allowing teachers and administrators who choose to do so to arm themselves in self-defense and defense of their students. We fight to end all gun free zones so that our schools are hardened targets. Even hardened targets get attacked, but with much less frequency than soft targets, like gun free zones. We also need to re-introduce gun safety training into our schools. This doesn’t mean we train kids to fear guns, but to respect them by teaching them how to safely handle them as well as the consequences of handling them irresponsibly. If we take away the fear aspect, we regain the respect aspect.

Schaelicke: Why should people care about gun rights?

Grisham: Because if people pay attention to history, societies that are disarmed are much more turbulent and violent. When a society is armed, government is held in check and is less likely to become tyrannical. We gained our independence from tyranny because of the right to keep and bear arms. We overcame slavery because of the right to keep and bear arms. Gun rights ensure that we are capable of being responsible for our own safety instead of having to rely on government to do so for us. Police cannot be everywhere at once and don’t prevent crimes; they merely respond to them. It is incumbent upon us to be our own first line of defense against violence.

Schaelicke: The work of Defense Distributed, the company famous for selling the code to produce 3D printed guns, has caused many to question the legitimacy of working within the framework of existing laws. Is there a degree of moral or pragmatic right in breaking the law to secure gun rights?

Grisham: Nothing Defense Distributed did broke any laws. We don’t support breaking any laws, provided they are constitutional, at which point people need to assess the risk/benefit gained from ignoring unconstitutional laws.

Schaelicke: If someone would like to get involved in pro-gun activism, how can they do so?

Grisham: They can go to www.opencarrytexas.org or their local, grassroots gun rights organization and sign up to learn more. They can join us at our events, follow our social media, or help us through other forms of activism like sending emails or making phone calls. Additionally, they can financially support organizations like ours who are fighting hard to protect the rights so many have died to protect.

Schaelicke: Is there anything you would like to share with the readers that you have not had a chance to speak about so far?

Grisham: More than anything else, the 2nd amendment is about self-DEFENSE. The use of force is NEVER legitimate when used in the offense, but is always right in defense of it. Modern society is no more or less dangerous than other times in history; the difference is simply the means of creating danger. I and Open Carry Texas never condone violence except in self-defense. We believe that to lower violent crimes, our justice system needs to be drastically overhauled. Prison should be a place where no one wants to go, but today’s prisons are practically resorts where people go and will be fed, clothed, housed, and taken care of. Instead of having cable TV, crunchy peanut butter, and other niceties, prison should include hard labor and sentences should fit the crime. Then, once a person has served their time, all rights should be restored so that they can be re-integrated into society. The problem we have is that criminals get out of prison and our society treats them as criminals the rest of their lives. They find it hard to get jobs that allow for advancement in quality of life. Many people find that the only way they can survive is returning to illegitimate sources of income – crime. If we don’t fix our justice system, we will never fix the violence problem in our country. We also need to stop coddling kids and pretending that there are no losers. Kids need to grow up understanding disappointment and that not all people are created equally. No one is special and everyone has different talents – some have none. This will teach kids to deal with emotions like sadness, anger, and defeat more productively instead of resorting to violence. We need to teach more conflict management.

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BREAKING: Yeti Releases Statement on NRA “Break-up”

By Clint Sharp | United States

The popular outdoor brand YETI Coolers has made headlines over the past few days over allegations regarding their relationship with the National Firearms Association. The notorious right-wing interest group posted a letter to one of their many NRA sites Saturday morning, stating:

“Suddenly, without prior notice, YETI has declined to do business with the NRA Foundation, saying they no longer wish to be an NRA vendor and refused to say why,”

(Read the full statement here)

Impacts of the Statement

This statement has caused great uproar amongst YETI consumers as many of them are sympathizers, if not full-fledged members, of the NRA, resulting in calls to boycott the brand entirely for their alleged actions. This is not the first call to boycott as other companies such as Delta Airlines and Enterprise Rent-A-Car have confirmed that they will cut their ties with the NRA. This sudden abandonment of the association is due to the association’s recent stance regarding guns following the shooting at  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida two months ago.

YETI had yet to release a comment on the NRA accusations until Monday afternoon when it posted this statement on the company’s Twitter page:

The aftermath of YETI’s statements have yet to be seen, however, it is uncertain if the proposed boycotts will continue to follow through, or if YETI will retain its position as a sporting goods giant. Until then, the National Rifle Association has a bit of explaining to do regarding their vicious and unchecked libel, bringing to question their motives and goals as an interest group.

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Facts, Gun Violence, Walkouts and Feelings

Isaiah Minter | United States

As millions of Americans across the country prepare for the March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24th, I expect the event to be little more than mass virtue signaling masquerading as youth activism. The truth is, millions of individuals carrying colorful signs and slandering those who agree with them does not make gun control good policy. Rather, it shows the foundation of gun control argumentation: emotion. Not facts, but feelings. And when discussing an issue as serious as the safety of our children, this approach does absolutely more harm than good.

If we are serious about improving the safety of our children and reducing gun violence, it is imperative that we pursue truth and evidence, not emotions and foolishness.

Therefore, I hope that this piece, in addressing common myths on the matter, functions as a resource for all Americans to understand the good intentions behind gun control are no substitute for its inability to yield positive results.

All in all, the American people have a right to facts. So here they are.

No, there have not been 18 school shootings this year.

When we think of school shootings, we usually think of students and teachers being killed by a shooter. We picture Columbine, Newtown, and Parkland, not a simple firearm being discharged on school grounds. By rejecting the sensationalized media view of the definition of school shooting, this statistic clearly is fake news.

America does not have a mass shooting problem.

Despite all the media hysteria, America isn’t even in the top ten of countries with the greatest frequency of mass public shootings and the annual death rate from them.

From 2009 to 2015, there were roughly 25% more per capita casualties from mass public shootings throughout Europe than the US.

Moreover, one study done in early 2017 found that all of the worst public mass shootings since 1970 have occurred outside the US. Of the worst 44, 40 have occurred outside the US and of the worst 67, 59 have occurred outside the US. Looking at the US specifically, from 1982 to early 2018 there were 98 mass shootings that resulted in 816 total deaths, or 23 deaths a year. While there has been a slight uptake in the frequency of mass public shootings, mass shootings account for just 12% of mass killings, which account for less than 1% of annual homicides.

Even when looking at homicide rates between US states and the rest of the world, America is not a haven of unimaginable violence.

In comparison to the rest of the world, the US does not stand out. There are clearly some state outliers, mainly Washington D.C., but keep in mind that the nation’s capital has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.

We can all agree that homicides and mass public shootings are tragic, but the notion that a country ranked 28th in international homicide has a gun crime epidemic that can only be solved by swift gun confiscation is clearly false.

More guns do not equal more crime.

Because guns are killing machines, more guns mean more crime. Unfortunately, the claim runs contrary to the evidence.

The plain fact is, gun crime, and violent crime, in general, has been falling for decades in America despite increases in gun ownership of roughly 10 million per year. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics:

“U.S. gun-related homicides dropped 39 percent over the course of 18 years, from 18,253 during 1993, to 11,101 in 2011. During the same period, non-fatal firearm crimes decreased even more, a whopping 69 percent. The majority of those declines in both categories occurred during the first 10 years of that time frame. Firearm homicides declined from 1993 to 1999, rose through 2006, and then declined again through 2011. Nonfatal firearm violence declined from 1993 through 2004, then fluctuated in the mid-to-late 2000s.”

Even if we compare rates of gun ownership and homicide state by state, the claim is not supported by data. Moreover, with respect to homicide and firearm ownership rates outside the US, a positive correlation remains to be seen.

In the event that a country, we’ll call it Nation A, has a high gun ownership rate and a high level of crime,  it does not logically follow the high level of crime must, or even can, be explained by the high level of gun ownership. It may even be the case that the level of high crime exists in spite of the high level of gun ownership.

For instance, the nine European nations with the lowest gun ownership rate have a combined murder rate three times that of the nine European nations with the highest gun ownership rate. It may very well be the case that firearm ownership explains very little of the disparity in murder between the two groups.

In any event, because crime is influenced by many factors independent of firearm ownership levels, the gun control side remains unfazed by hard evidence. For if they had any concern for the evidence, they would find that gun control has saved more egos in the last month than it has human lives in the last century.

Guns save lives.

As gun control pundits lament over the lives taken by guns, they ignore the massive disparity between the lives taken by firearms and the lives saved by them.

In 2016, some 16,459 murders were committed, with roughly 11,961 of them committed by firearms. Now, based on a study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, US citizens use guns in defense over 989,883 times a year.

If in one year, 11,961 people were killed by guns – we’ll round up to 12,000 – and 989,883 people had their lives saved by guns – we’ll round up to 990,000 – that means  each year in the United States firearms are used to save lives at least 80 times more often than they are used to take them.

The CDC offers a lower figure, finding that Americans use guns in defense of the home roughly 500,000 times a year.

Ultimately, estimates of defensive gun usage range from 500,000 cases a year to 3 million. In any case, guns are used significantly more often to defend a life than to take one.

Years after Columbine, the state of Colorado passed the 2003 Concealed Carry Act, allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms. According to the CATO Institute, this law helped halt a massacre in December 2007 when an attacker who opened fire in the New Life Mega Church was shot by a volunteer security guard with a concealed handgun.

Elsewhere, three school shootings were thwarted by adults with firearms. In 2015, a 62-year-old man who had fired at several people was shot and wounded by an armed civilian. In the same year, an Uber driver shot a gunman who had opened fire in Logan Square. On the whole, armed citizens kill roughly twice as many criminals as police do, but one would never know this from the media.

The NRA does not bribe politicians.

When it comes to campaign contributions and lobbying, the NRA is not that influential. In 2012, the top 20 lobbying spenders were as follows:

  • US Chamber of Commerce: $136,300,000
  • National Assn of Realtors: $41,464,580
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield: $22,569,532
  • American Hospital Assn: $20,123,200
  • Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America: $19,260,000
  • General Electric: $18,970,000
  • National Cable & Telecommunications Assn: $18,890,000
  • Google Inc: $18,220,000
  • Northrop Grumman: $17,540,000
  • AT&T Inc: $17,460,000
  • American Medical Assn: $16,505,000
  • Boeing Co: $15,640,000
  • Southern Co: $15,580,000
  • Lockheed Martin: $15,347,350
  • Verizon Communications: $15,020,000
  • Comcast Corp: $14,750,000
  • National Assn of Broadcasters: $14,510,000
  • Royal Dutch Shell: $14,480,000
  • United Technologies: $14,454,750
  • Business Roundtable: $13,890,000

*The NRA spent $2,980,000 in comparison*

The truth is, the NRA is not some sort of lobbying terrorist organization. In 2016, the organization spent just $1.1 million, ranking them 488th in campaign contributions for groups spending more than $1 million. In the same election cycle, the Republican party spent $638 million, or 580 times what the NRA contributed.

Since 2000, the NRA has spent $203 million in campaign contributions. While it is true they do give a lot of money to politicians, the NRA exerts more pressure on the political process by motivating their base, sending voter guides to their members in support of favored candidates. Moreover, they spend more money on independent expenditures than campaign contributions.

Contrary to what the media is pedaling, the gun lobby is not a greedy organization that condones the senseless murder of children. Rather, it is a genuine grass root group in Washington composed of millions of law-abiding citizens that value gun rights.

Me funding you because you support a position – what the NRA does – is not the same as me paying you to support a position. The latter is bribery. 

International gun control did not work.

Britain, Australia, Mexico, all the international cases of gun control that liberal pundits love to use are not as successful as they are made out to be.

In Australia, the firearm homicide rate was declining years before the gun buyback program in 1996. In the 7-years before and after the buyback, the homicide rate declined at the same rate. 3 years after the gun ban, armed robberies and firearm-related murders had increased by 69% and 19% respectively. Additionally, a decade-long study concluded that the gun measures taken by Australia had no effect on crime rates.

In 2000, 3 years after the gun ban in Britain, crime rates had drastically increased: sexual assault by 112%, assault by 130%, and armed robbery by 170%. Half of the areas with the lowest number of legal firearms had a gun crime rate above average, compared to just 10% of the areas with the highest number of legal firearms.

Mexico has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and yet in 2012, the country’s gun homicide rate per 100,000 people was over three times higher than the US. All of this comes in spite of the fact that Mexico has one legal gun store, compared to nearly 65,000 n the US.

Gun crime was declining in Australia before the gun buyback; crime in Britain has risen since the ban, and Mexico remains a country stricken by violence despite the gun control.

American gun control did not work.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban didn’t lower crime. California’s strict gun-control laws failed to prevent San Bernardino. Connecticut gun control legislation since Sandy Hook has proved ineffective. Gun control failed in Chicago, it failed in Washington D.C., The Orlando nightclub Pulse was a gun free zone, as were Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland.

For all the talk on the dire need for tighter gun laws, more signs and tears are offered than cases of hard evidence supporting gun control. And the reason why is clear: American gun control did not do what it was intended to do.

Image Source Matt Baldry

Concealed Carry vs. Open Carry: Which is Better?

By Osh | United States

Without a doubt, most conservatives and libertarians can agree: The 2nd Amendment protects both concealed and open carry. However, many will debate on which is ultimately more effective. Though both have their merits, it is clear that concealed carry is by far superior.

Concealed carry, for those who do not know, is concealing a firearm on your person. Concealed carry is my preferred method of carrying, for several reasons. First, I believe that concealing gives someone the element of surprise. If a criminal is trying to harm someone, they most likely will not be expecting an armed victim, especially if the weapon is not visible. Also, it is less likely to agitate a peaceful group of people, who will not know about the firearm.

Open carry, on the other hand is the act of carrying around a firearm in plain sight. This type of carrying is more common among police officers than civilians. I am not a fan of open carry, to be quite frank. First of all, I fail to see the appeal of lugging around a 6 – 7 pound AR-15 . It also may make surrounding people uncomfortable. Some may argue, on the contrary, that an open carry makes it easier to fend off an attacker in a public place, such as a bank robbery. However, in that event, the armed robber is more likely to initially target someone with a visible firearm. If the same person hid it, they would be more able to defend themselves without the attacker killing them.

Clearly, both are constitutional rights, which the state has no right to infringe upon. Despite this, what is legal is not always what is right. Undoubtedly, concealed carry is by far preferable. It may save more lives, while allowing for the public to remain at ease.

(Image from KWCH.com)