Just a question asked by a gun-owning reader and Walnut Creek business owner. He’s reacting to the latest demonstration February 6 by members of Bay Area Open Carry, who advocate the legal right to openly bear arms. Around 100 members of Open Carry, wearing unloaded guns and ammuntion clips strapped to their belts, turned up at Buckhorn Grill in Plaza Escuela that day for lunch. This was their latest “meetup” at a location in the Bay Area suburbs.
Although this business owner, whose company is celebrating its 60th year of operation in town, is asking this American Idol-audition-related question in jest, he has more serious questions about whether the Open Carry guys (and gals; there were a few pistol-packing gals at the Buckhorn Grill meetup) are hurting the public’s sense of safety and opening a legal and public safety can of worms:
“As a gun owner I don’t feel it appropriate to wear guns around for the main reason it would make non-gun owners feel anxious. I know I would not allow it in my business and can you imagine, I hate to stereotype people but, a ‘Pants On The Ground’ type coming into your business wearing a gun or for that matter walking around downtown ? They have the right to do it, too, but why do they feel the need is the bigger question. I would also ask if they saw a robbery going down would they load the gun and shoot ? Isn’t illegal to load the gun? Would they be liable if they shot someone? Just opens a can of worms that I wouldn’t like to get involved in.”
In an editorial published Tuesday, the Contra Costa Times raises similar concerns:
It appears some Bay Area residents feel that simply having a right to bear arms is not enough. They also feel they must exercise that right in a public display that conjures visions of a modern-day Wild West.
We hope those carrying the weapons are more judicious with their firearms than they are with fashioning political statements. This one misses the target. Instead of some grand public lesson, this action is seen by many Bay Area residents as childish machismo.
Needless to say, many customers of the coffee shops and restaurant — who had chosen not to exercise their right to bear arms — were taken aback by such displays. Some patrons left immediately, while others summoned police officers.
With regard to people summoning police officers, the Times editorial goes on to say that these demonstrations lead to police getting sidetracked from other work they need to do. The editorial also raises questions about whether Open Carry advocates are enhancing a sense of public safety in other ways:
Police have been pulled off the streets to check Open Carry members to make sure their weapons are, indeed, unloaded. … Members of law enforcement are not enamored with this open carry trend either. It doesn’t help them; it makes their job tougher.
We will grant that members of groups such as Open Carry likely are well-trained with a weapon. But it is unlikely that they are well-trained in police work. Besides, how are average, coffee-buying suburbanites expected to know who is trained and who is not.
The Times also applauded the right of the owners of restaurants and coffee shops to deny service to people openly wearing firearms into their establishments. The Buckhorn Grill owners later issued an apology to customers to allow the Open Carry meetup to take place in their restaurant.