The Corner

The NRA Was Right Before It Was Wrong

Per Talking Points Memo:

The National Rifle Association has disavowed its recent criticism of pro-gun demonstrations in Texas.

In an interview on Tuesday with the organization’s own news site, the head of the NRA’s lobbying arm blamed a staff member’s “personal opinion” for the content of an unsigned statement published Friday on the organization’s website, and he apologized for “any confusion” the statement may have caused.

“It’s a distraction,” Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, told NRA News. “There was some confusion, we apologize, again, for any confusion that that post caused.”

Not really, no. There was nothing “confusing” or “distracting” about the post at all. Eloquently and precisely, it said what needed to be said, which is that Open Carry Texas is an organization full of self-important drama queens who assiduously fail to observe the distinction between public and private property, whose righteous indignation is out of all proportion to the slights that they believe they are seeking to correct, whose root purpose has nothing to do with liberty and everything to do with demanding that the indifferent among us endorse them and their proclivities, and whose principal achievement thus far has been to turn typically friendly businesses against gun owners.

The phantom NRA employee’s statement said this:

Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places.

Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.

Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.

As a result of these hijinx, two popular fast food outlets have recently requested patrons to keep guns off the premises (more information can be found here and here). In other words, the freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior. To state the obvious, that’s counterproductive for the gun owning community.

Indeed so. As a host of generally sympathetic pro-Second Amendment writers have joked recently, Open Carry Texas is the most effective gun control outfit in the country. Keep this up, guys, and Michael Bloomberg will be able to retire.

This is not an issue of the law. I’m an advocate of what is termed “Constitutional Carry” — which is to say that I don’t believe that there should be many laws governing the carrying of weapons, whether open or concealed. In this regard, I’m with Open Carry Texas on the root legal question. But I’m also a private property guy, as anybody who considers themselves to be a libertarian should be. OCT likes to imply that it is fighting for freedom. It is doing no such thing. It is already legal to carry rifles openly in Texas and, if anything, this principle is likely to be expanded in the coming year. What OCT is doing is fighting a series of private businesses – businesses that have the right to establish whatever firearms rules they wish. Whatever they might claim, OCT’s members aren’t fighting to change the law; they are fighting to be loved and accepted everywhere in civil society. They don’t want to remove state-imposed penalties; they want families in Chili’s and Chipotle to drop to their knees and to acknowledge them as they see themselves. They don’t want to sell the proposition that firearms are merely tools and that they should be treated as such; they want to fetishize guns and to use them in order to cause a reaction — much, it should be said, in the way that the anti-gun brigade expects them to.

All in all, this is deeply unconservative and wholly impolite. Indeed, OCT’s recent behavior has reminded me of another story, currently in the news:

“For the record, I’ve always really loved Instagram.”

So says Scout Willis, who recently protested the social photo sharing site by walking topless through the streets of New York City and posting the photographs on Twitter.

Willis, the 22-year-old daughter of actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, wrote about her reasoning for her naked uprising

Willis explained that “Instagram had recently deleted my account over what they called ‘instances of abuse.’ Which in reality amounted to a photo of myself in a sheer top and a post of a jacket I made featuring a picture of two close friends topless.”

“My situation was in no way unique; women are regularly kicked off Instagram for posting photos with any portion of the areola exposed, while photos sans nipple — degrading as they might be — remain unchallenged,” Willis wrote. “So I walked around New York topless and documented it on Twitter, pointing out that what is legal by New York state law is not allowed on Instagram.”

It is not illegal in New York City for a woman to be topless in public as long as she is otherwise law abiding.

The young actress wrote that she understands that many “don’t want to take me seriously.”

Nor should they take her seriously. Instagram is a private company and it has every right to set whatever rules it wishes. If the company doesn’t want to allow photographs of people with their areolae exposed, that’s its call. If it doesn’t want to allow photographs of the Empire State Building, that’s its prerogative. If it doesn’t permit pictures of school buses, fair enough. This isn’t a legal fight. Settle down, Scout.

And settle down, Open Carry Texas. You’re not helping. The NRA was right. Before it was wrong.

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