How to Respond To Open Carry Activists

We’ve never really known precisely how to respond to open carry activists. We get angry. We write up endless articles about the issue. We’re certainly fearful when these nuts are with us in business establishments.

But other than get angry, how can we best respond to them? Jack Russell Weinstein, a philosophy professor at the University of North Dakota, offers a fresh idea — and the rationale behind it.?His simple solution to being fearful in a situation where other patrons are heavily armed:

My proposal is as follows: we should all leave. Immediately. Leave the food on the table in the restaurant. Leave the groceries in the cart, in the aisle. Stop talking or engaging in the exchange. Just leave, unceremoniously, and fast.

But here is the key part: don’t pay. Stopping to pay in the presence of a person with a gun means risking your and your loved ones? lives; money shouldn’t trump this. It doesn’t matter if you ate the meal. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just received food from the deli counter that can’t be resold. It doesn’t matter if you just got a haircut. Leave. If the business loses money, so be it. They can make the activists pay.

In his recent viral blog post?about this topic, Weinstein received thousands of responses and comments, mostly from gun activists, who felt that this was theft — and even some form of “discrimination and intolerance.”

But no. They can’t do this. This issue can’t be compared to discrimination, Weinstein?says. Gun owners are not a protected group. They do not have a history of institutional discrimination — being denied the right to marry, vote, go to school, etc…

Gun rights have expanded in America — not?contracted.

Dude digs deep. He says he’s “concerned about your intentions” and approaches this from the theoretical level and is?”concerned about what’s going on in your head.” He maintains that if you leave because you’re afraid, that’s moral. Simply leaving because you don’t like the sound of a crying baby or that you don’t want to pay the bill, that’s not moral.

Weinstein?notes that?the fear is legitimate.

As many have pointed out, there is no way for bystanders to know whether the people with guns are ?good guys? or ?bad guys.? It is rational to be afraid of someone with a weapon, especially if you know nothing about them.

Furthermore, as Jon Stewart has pointed out better than anyone else, since people are often legally permitted to use guns to protect themselves when they are legitimately afraid for their lives, there is no predicting when someone is going to see the activists and shoot before they ask questions. This will happen. It is just a matter of time. And, in many cases, it will be a legal and rational act. None of us want to be victims of the crossfire.

These guys want to be “celebrities, heroes, and the centers of attention.” Reacting in this way (leaving) is actually a win/win. Weinstein says:

So, let’s give them what they want. Let’s take them as seriously as possible and run like hell. They?ll feel important and if they really care about gun rights, they won’t mind paying for the hundreds of meals that they inspired the innocent bystanders to leave behind.

Go in-depth on his philosophical rationalization for this on his blog. Watch the video below and prepare to be mind-blown.


Tiffany Willis Clark is a fifth-generation Texan and the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America and An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she had a long and successful career actively working with at-risk youth, people struggling with poverty and unemployment, and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. In 2011, she made the decision to pursue her dreams and become a full-time writer. Connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.