Monday, July 07, 2014

"I don't know why"

Over at TPM is a story about an Open Carry event in Richmond, Virginia that, frankly, flopped. The only people that showed up were the two guys who organized it, so they walked around town with their flags and guns by themselves:
They invited more than 300 people on Facebook to walk down one of the city's main streets openly carrying handguns, rifles and long guns, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Organizer Jason Spitzer, a Chesterfield County steel mill worker, was unable to explain the low turnout.

"I don’t know why," he told the Times-Dispatch.
As soon as I read that, I did.

Virginians aren't Texans.

Don't get me wrong, the state's redder than red. They elect a lot of crazy people - Ken Cuccinelli was too far out to be elected governor, but he was the attorney general. And it's perfectly legal to openly carry guns in public without a permit (though you do need one for concealed carry). But you just don't see people walking around with rifles slung over their shoulders in your local department store. Or fast-food place. Or even just around town.

I went over and read that Times-Dispatch story:
In Carytown on Friday, most of the people interviewed said they had no problem with Spitzer and his cohort, Scott Royle, 26, also of Chesterfield, exercising their rights.

But most questioned the motivation — and the time and place of the demonstration.

“People need to be aware that they can carry a weapon, but at the same time you’ve got to be mindful of your environment and who else you are affecting,” said Carytown merchant Christopher Turner, 29. “It’s not just about you.”

“It’s a little weird in Carytown on the Fourth of July,” said Bryan Walthall, 30. “I think they are a couple of dudes looking for attention.”
The organizer made that same old "safety" claim, plus a Fourth of July patriotism one (how the guns "honor" anybody he doesn't explain):
Earlier, Spitzer said that he wanted to honor the men and women who had died for the country “since 1775,” as well as promote “responsible gun ownership” and “peaceful awareness of the right of self-protection.”

Asked if carrying a rifle was central to his safety midday in Carytown, he said: “If you can’t tell me when the next crime is going to happen ... then I’m going to protect myself the way I see fit.”

The biggest threat Spitzer appeared to face Friday was being ignored in person.
Where he wasn't ignored was online, the reporter says; there, even open-carry supporters wonder why these guys have to walk around with rifles. The Virginia Citizens Defense League didn't comment directly, just saying things should be "safe and legal," but they have in the past expressed the opinion that most rifles aren't safe to sit down with, etc, unless you unsling them and that "could almost border on brandishing and is simply not as safe as not handling the long gun in public."

Also, of course, people generally don't gather to demonstrate just for no particular reason. As I said - you already can carry your handgun in Virginia, so the point of walking around armed to the teeth kind of eludes almost everyone.

But basically, then, yeah. Virginia isn't Texas.

PS: the reporter wrapped it up with this:
Richmond Police officer Patrick Warner, the community assistance officer for Carytown, had a brief chat with Spitzer and Royle near the Carytown shopping center, before the pair proceeded east down the street.

“I think this is their 15 minutes of fame,” he said, speaking less to the Second Amendment than to the First.

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