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Open Carry Activists Win Victory!

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The open carry activists did not win the open carry victory in Texas because of public opinion, at least not on the superficial and transitory image of public opinion that is usually measured.   It was won because the activists developed means and methods to communicate around the elite establishment, grew their own organizations and vision, and exerted raw political power to bend the government to their will.

They had several advantages.   The facts were on their side;  the Constitution is on their side; and the culture is on their side.  Against them were the big government elites, big media, and big educrats from the university system.  They were not asking much; just to right an injustice perpetrated a 160 years ago, to reclaim something that was their birthright; it cost no money, and it was at no risk to the population. 

It was not done by politely asking politicians if they would “pretty please” restore their rights.  I am not saying that proper manners are not effective.  They are a good tool, used properly.    Activists in the political arena quickly learn to threaten political defeat very politely.   That is what has happened with the open carry activists.


Their long gun open carry marches, facebook pages, and media coverage created tens of thousands of dedicated activists that were focused, knowledgeable, organized, and persistent.   These are exactly the things that politicians fear in opponents.  This is why the hypothetical “public opinion” means so little.

For an ordinary person, an article about an open carry event is an interesting tidbit in an endless stream of news, entertainment, and images that enter and leave her consciousness with virtually no impact.   It will make no impression on the way that she votes a year from now.   She does not understand the primary process, and is not interested in it.   The idea of studying the political landscape and searching for weak pressure points has never occurred to her.

But the same article will notify members of the gun culture that there is a way to restore their rights, that there is a movement, organization, and tasks for them to do.  It creates activists, and activists matter. 

Activists had strong impacts in the last election cycle.  Many opponents of open carry were defeated in their primaries.   Many others faced opposition that they had not expected, and had to overcome it.  Both candidates for governor felt the power of the open carry movement.   Gregg Abbott welcomed it.  The Democrat candidate tried to half-heartedly co-opt it.   It is easy to understand why.   Open carry activists had created the biggest social movement in Texas since Civil Rights.  In the last 18 months, they had over 2,500 open carry marches.

The army of open carry activists did not stop with marches and defeating opponents in primaries.  They watched the legislative process.   At first, day by day.  Then, as the elites attempted to use the system to delay the bill until it was too late to pass it, hour by hour.   At the last, they were watching live feed from the legislative chambers, and directing their outrage against offending legislators on the phone lines and email servers in real time.

Finally, they prevailed.  Yesterday, 13 June 2015,  Governor Abbott signed HB 910 into law.  Licensed open carry of modern pistols will be legal 1 January, 2016.

It was the open carry of rifles that forced the politicians to act.  Not by itself.  The carry was always strong, symbolic, political, speech, an act that was the seed that grew into an army of activists.   It was common for open carry marchers to be cheered by members of the public that saw them as a force standing for the Constitution.  Their numbers increased geometrically with YouTube videos and facebook pages.

While the media tried to gin up “public opinion” against them with vitriolic articles and poison pens, it amounted to free advertising for a mass of gun culture people who were fed up, and looking for a way to restore their rights.

The smear job done on open carry activists had no noticeable effect on voters, but it helped create an army of activists, committed, communicating, and knowledgeable.   Those are the people that count.  There are no armies on the other side.  You need only look at opposing rallies to see that it is so.

A Bloomberg paid rally with free busing and preprinted signs might attract a couple of dozen half-hearted attendees.  A second amendment rally will attract a couple of thousand, paying their own way, making their own signs, and using their spare time to communicate and organize.

This is not theory.  It is fact.  If you want to understand how it works, read “Rise of the Anti-Media” by Professor Brian Anse Patrick.

Second amendment supporters and the open carry movement are not winning by creating and changing public opinion.  That is a positive, after the fact, byproduct.  They are winning by creating raw political power.    One activist is worth a hundred passive voters.  

Open carry, whether hand guns or long guns, is a combination exercise of the first and second amendments, and should be doubly protected.  I suspect that many who rail against it do so because they are uncertain if they have the intestinal fortitude to do it themselves.

It is, however, very effective. As Texans could legally open carry only long guns, they did so, creating a social movement that has shaken the political landscape.

Governor Abbott has signed their first open carry legislative victory. It will not be their last.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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