Monday, February 20, 2012

Open Carry by Right. Good Behavior a Responsibility

by Steven Nelson

Friday, February 17th Nick Smith and Jim Beal with Washington were the featured guest speakers at We The People – Vancouver's bimonthly meeting.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term Open Carry, it means to carry a firearm in the open on your person.  Some may of heard of Nick and Jim over the last couple of years due to their efforts to make Open Carry a more understood movement in the state of Washington. Jim and Nick made headlines in the Seattle area when they decided to start practicing their right to open carry as protected by both the State and Federal Constitutions.
Starbucks and Open Carry  
I know what some of you are thinking.  What is this the Wild West?  Do these guys think that it’s alright to endanger people on the streets?  I know, I thought the same thing myself a few years ago.  In fact 10 years ago when my first son was born I sold the gun that I did own in an effort to make what I thought was a more secure home.  So what are the odds you’d find me sitting with Nick Smith and Jim Beal in a local Starbucks having coffee with my Smith & Wesson M&P strapped to my hip in plain view?

Jim Beal sharing his views on  O.C.
That’s the funny thing that happens when you spend a few years reading the history of our Republic and how we’ve come to enjoy the freedoms we have in this country.  You find yourself challenging many of the things you’ve been taught to believe by the media, Hollywood and yes…even your government.
I don’t open carry on a regular basis but Nick and Jim do every day.  For them it’s a way of life and even more, it’s their life’s mission.  So the question that always comes up is why?  Nick Smith addressed that very question from an audience member at the We The People meeting.  Nick responded by reading an essay he had written some time ago.   
It follows:

My View on Open Carry
Author:  Nick Smith

“I would appreciate if you weren't 'opposed' to open carry, but rather indifferent to the practice.  Because a practice is not customary does not make it wrong.  I believe, in the sense open carry has become less customary, it has been gun owners who have capitulated to the anti gun movement.  We have been asked to hide our firearms.  We have been asked to behave as criminals have behaved in the concealed carry of our firearms.
"It does scare some people" 
Every day I get up and drive in Seattle-Tacoma traffic and there are times it scares me and other drivers.  However, it is not the vehicle that scares me or others it is the behavior of the driver of that vehicle.  I think you will find that it is the behavior of an individual that chooses to open carry that scares others not the firearm.  I have met some who concealed carry whose behavior scares me and others.  I am sure that you have met people whose behavior scares you on a regular basis.  In the state of Washington approximately 1 in 20 are carrying a concealed firearm.  Wouldn't you rather see the firearm on a person whose behavior is poor and inappropriate then guess which of those 20 people is the one?
For the last couple of years I have carried openly and I will say that 95% of the people in public do not see my firearm.  Why?  Because I am polite, courteous, and professional.  Furthermore, my behavior invokes trust, not fear in others.  I go about my business as though I was concealed.  I carry openly for that small percent that do ask and are genuinely curious about the practice and then I am willing to educate and be a positive face to gun owners.
I have chosen to come out of the closet and be transparent in my behavior and actions.  I cannot be a jerk to the clerk at the grocery store.  I cannot be inconsiderate to the next person getting on the bus or elevator.  I have chosen to be open and honest by carrying my firearm openly.  I have chosen to engage in a movement to normalize the practice.  I have chosen to educate others and also to correct the behavior of others who open carry whose behavior is not polite, courteous, professional and kind.  It is a burden that I actively engage.”

Nick Smith responds to the question "Why do you open carry?"
You see that is what you learn when you study our history.  There are two sides to Liberty, freedom and responsibility.  Most people have forgotten about the responsibly part.  Nick and Jim defiantly have not.
As for myself, I don’t see open carrying as a regular thing for me but on occasion I will exercise that right.  After all, our rights are like muscles.  You use them or lose them.
So the next time you run into someone with a firearm strapped to their hip going about their business like everyone else, don’t be alarmed.  They may just be the most professional courteous person you ever meet.  


  1. Good job guys! You should have had security!

  2. Security? That was the safest place in the County that night.

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