Stop being a dick. You’re not helping.

So push came to shove and Starbucks went public with a stance on guns in their stores.

I can’t say I blame them. They got pulled into and caught in the middle of something they didn’t ask to be a part of. And let’s be real here; if you got pulled into a sticky messy issue caught between two warring parties, how would you feel? and how would you react?

Now of course, they could have reacted the other way, but I reckon either 1. they believe this is going to do less damage to their bottom line (they have shareholders to deal with, insurance and lawyers, etc.), 2. they are anti-gun (I do suspect a bit of this given how CEO Howard Schultz worded things), 3. some other third thing. I suspect it’s probably 1 and 2, but I’m guessing.  And yes, they have every right to do what they did.

So an article is going around about how we did this to ourselves. It struck me.

Now let me say, I’m conflicted on open carry. I think there are tactical issues and there are political issues. I can see both sides of it, and I don’t fall squarely in either camp (yet). I would like to see open carry be legal and not prohibited, but remember that legal doesn’t mean “good” or “moral” or that it’s a good thing to do (and illegal doesn’t mean bad or immoral or a bad thing to do). I would like to see a day where people carrying a gun openly isn’t considered a big deal; in fact, it may be seen as a positive and responsible act. But, is it always tactically sound to show your hand? Maybe; I’ve heard anecdotes on both sides that show how it can be good and be bad. And politically it can make a powerful statement, but you’ve got to be mindful of how you make your statement and the message you’re sending (here comes my undergraduate and graduate education in speech and human communication).

One reason open carriers do this as a political statement is to help normalize it. But some say it’s stupid and should be kept hidden. Well, politically or tactically? Tactically? Sure. But politically? Well, are you saying my parents – my white father and Korean mother – should have kept themselves hidden during the late 1960’s? They faced massive rejection and racism (even from within our own family). Should they have let all that stop them? Should they have kept themselves hidden? Granted, racism still exists today, but we can argue that we’re at least a little better than we were back then. To see people of other races, of other cultures, to have it always around… it’s normalizing. And so, yes I can understand why open carriers take this approach in their use of open carry as a political statement and action.

But when you make a statement, you have to choose how you make your statement and craft it in a manner that will make your audience receptive to your message; else, naturally, they will reject it.

And I think that’s really what we gun folk have done to ourselves:

We have turned the debate into a joke. Yes, we are all responsible.

Whether youre an (A) “in your face activist” as previously mentioned, or a (B) gun owner who doesnt agree with them but remains silent and thereby complicit, we are all responsible. Own it.

Personally I fall into the latter category (B). I think the first category are a bunch of fools, and open carry is a piss-poor method of carry outside of a few distinct instances. I have remained silent on the issue, but that ends today. I don’t want to be represented as a gun owner by those who choose to act as those described above. A tactical victory is never worth a strategic defeat. In the end this has hurt us in a battle where we are making progress. If we dont “eat our own” and correct these issues, the OTHER SIDE will. We have lost ground due to tomfoolery, chicanery, and general shenanigans. If we don’t get on the same page, we will continue to give up ground.

Much like how we get irritated when the “not terrorist” muslims dont come out and outright condemn muslim terrorist acts and organizations…we are taking the same track by not raising the bullshit flag when we ought to. We have to police our own. No successful organization, entity, or cause embraces personnel or spokesmen who damage the image and value of the brand.

If I can only choose between camp (A) and camp (B), I’m in (B). But I guess by my present writing, that’s stopping. I’ve felt the following for some time, but for whatever reason opted to be quiet about it.

Here’s the problem.

You’re being a dick.

I see this a lot by the visible pro-gun folk out there.

I see various bloggers, on Twitter, on Facebook. It’s really a problem. It’s really bad on Twitter. I see various pro-gun folk even seeking out anti-gun people, engaging them in “debate”, and being a total fucking asshole while doing it.

Oh sure, you are right. Your facts are sound. The other person is totally irrational and emotional. Yes yes, I’m not going to deny any of that.

But it’s your presentation that’s the problem; and that also cannot be denied.

When you tell someone “you’re wrong”, you force them to double-down more strongly on their (wrong) stance.

When you curse them, call them names, engage in the same childish behaviors that you call them out for, you’re making things worse.

I debated calling out some of these pro-gun folks by name, but I’m not ready to do that yet.

But really, think about it. You want them to see your side of things. How are you going to accomplish that if you treat your audience like shit? If you are rude, mean, condescending, and inconsiderate?

That whole “attract more flies with honey than vinegar” thing.

Or maybe better… learn how to win friends and influence people.

The reason these open carry things aren’t working out is because some of those engaging in the act are being assholes about it all. And so when you do this, when you act like an asshole, when the news reports you being an asshole (because face it, most of the mainstream media is anti-gun and so they will relish any opportunity they can to make gun owners look like stupid evil asshats that need to be controlled and broken and driven out of society)… what do you think that’s going to do? That’s going to reinforce the stereotypes, that’s going to strengthen the anti resolve, and it only makes things worse and more difficult to overcome.

Of course, the same can and should be said for anti-gun folk. When you engage in lies, sensationalizing, blood-dancing, knee-jerk reactions, suggestions that have been proven to not work to solve problems that aren’t there, what do you think that’s going to do? How do you think you’ll be perceived?

Maybe take one from LZ Granderson here.

There is no one enemy.

Thus there is no one solution.

Because like it or not, the folks spraying our cities with bullets are not NRA members or legal gun owners. And despite the tendency to tie it all together, they have nothing to do with the Adam Lanzas of the world.

And it’s too early to know how Alexis fits in the conversation.

According to a count by USA Today, more than 900 people have been killed in mass shootings since 2006. The thousands of other victims of gun violence over the past seven years died from many different circumstances, requiring different conversations.

This is why gun-control advocates need to abandon the routine of using mass shootings to turn law-abiding citizens into social pariahs and instead focus on something that could work.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what you are trying to do, what the debate is about, or what side you are on. You will never convince anyone to see your side of things if you’re a dick.

Stop being a dick. Start being more considerate of others.

Or if your whole point is to be a dick? Please grow up, or go away.

11 thoughts on “Stop being a dick. You’re not helping.

  1. I like guns, I’m for guns, I want to be able to keep my guns! You are completely correct in that nobody wins when they are an asshole! It only makes more people not like you and any and everything you stand for! We have very liberal gun laws here and open carry is allowed but I always wonder why people do it. What are you trying to prove? Do you just want to look cool walking around smallville with your gun strapped to your belt or tucked into your pants? I think you are an idiot for it because there is no reason to do it. Get a permit, carry concealed, get over yourself.

    • If you wonder, you could always ask them. Most gun folks are good folks (every group has assholes) and are willing to talk about things, if everyone’s willing to have civil and polite conversation.

      It varies as to why people do it. For some, it’s a convience or more difficult to be concealed (we’re not all built in a manner where concealment is easy). Some do believe or have experience that showing your gun prevents problems. There’s a book by Chris Bird (it’s not “Thank God I Had a Gun”… maybe, I read this book a long time ago) where he talks about a small town where the local barber open carried, and the fact he did certainly prevented a lot of bad things from happening. In fact, a couple years ago some people were open carrying in a Waffle House, some dude came in to rob the place, but left when he saw the people with guns on their hips (so they told after they were caught).

      So that’s why I get torn on the topic of open carry, from the tactical perspective. It’s not black and white at all. I can see instances where it can be useful, I can see instances where it can be a problem. This is why I would prefer us to not have laws prohibiting it, so we good folk can have options.

      And yes, some do it because they can. We might not agree with that reason, but there are a lot of things people do just because they can… and is that reason enough to say you shouldn’t do something? Maybe, maybe not. I may not choose to use that reason for myself, but as long as we’re not hurting someone else….

      But here’s something about permits. Why should we need those? Yes, this is another reason people open carry, because there’s generally less restriction (i.e. need permit for concealed carry, but anyone can open carry). To get a permit is costly, both in time and money. Not everyone can afford such things. Could this be considered a form of poll tax? Should then poor people be denied a right to defend themselves, and more useful tools enabling them to do so? And if that’s the case, maybe open carry is the only way they can go, because it’s the only affordable option they can pursue under the legal framework of your state.

      I’m not arguing one way or the other here, just presenting some rebuttals that show this issue really isn’t so cut and dry. There can be very sound reasons for open carry.

      But there’s generally not a sound reason for being a dick. 🙂

  2. A well-written and insightful piece John! Considering I knew and worked closely w/you at HCI while at JMU … I knew you had solid communication skills.

    A thought popped into my head as I read your blog … I myself visit a few firing ranges, know how to handle and care for several different weapons and feel strongly that women can carry as well as a man (hee hee had to say it).

    My thought was about weapon SAFETY if visibly armed. Bypassing all other arguments for now, I’ve heard far too many stories of police being in a skirmish and having the attacker reaching for their firearm. Lets face it, it’s the sad mindset of some individuals whether sain or not.

    I keep thinking of a parallel between a pick pocket/purse snatcher and this one. Now if your purse/wallet is taken most likely the thief won’t KILL you with it (unless they are incredible skilled, the victim is slow/can’t run or the purse is STUDDED – lol). But with a weapon, if it is successfully taken, you can be killed. Then I think we need finger print recognition on the trigger to enable the weapon to fire … I’m certain that’s nut far away.

    I also think of what may happen on our country’s ROADS!! Road rage is a real issue (especially where I’m from) and I refuse to engage but I’ve had projectiles thrown at my car WHILE I WAS DRIVING that almost caused me to get in an accident. Lets face it…it’s a tricky situation.

    I don’t know the answers, just thought I’d share my thoughts!! Thank you for blogging about the topic, it’s important.

    • People often bring up the issue of weapon disarmament if openly carrying. The reality is, you can be disarmed if concealed too. Being tangled up with someone, once it’s known there’s a gun, people are going to go for it: either to use it, or to prevent its use. Or, if you’re carrying off-body (e.g. purse), if your purse gets stolen, there goes your gun too. There are retention holsters that make it more difficult to remove the gun from the holster — all police use these, and they are available to the public as well. But one thing where police differ from non-police is the police MUST get close to and engage criminals (e.g. to handcuff them); we don’t. In fact, we should be doing all we can to keep people well away from us (and the guns on our hips). Perhaps what all this suggests is if one opts to open carry, to realize what it brings and take appropriate steps to mitigate it (e.g. proper equipment, retention training, awareness and mindset training, etc.).

      Fingerprint technology is not good. What we have now is unreliable (I can’t wait to see how new iPhone 5s users are going to struggle with phone unlocking, because if you have to press twice, that’s a fail). But it also disregards many of the ugly realities of gunfights. Yes, you may be bleeding, and if that prevents the scanner from picking up your fingerprint, now your gun is useless, and how can you fend off the rapist? What if the fingerprint only recognizes my fingerprints? what good does that do my wife when someone breaks into the house? I understand why people call for such technology, but I have not been convinced it will make things better (except for those who stand to profit from it).

      I think it’s important we discuss these issues, and do so like this – with an open and civil mind. It’s what will actually enable us to progress. 🙂

      Thanx for your thoughts (and I’m glad to hear from you).

  3. I’m on the fence on the issue of Starbucks and the Open Carry.
    One of the main things I see is we are eating our own and not bringing attention to the fact there were two sides of the debate going on at Starbucks.

    I agree with Starbucks; they just want to sell coffee and not be in the middle. Unfortunately they came down as being anti more then neutral. The CEO could have written the memo stating that any protest, demonstration, advocacy would be better off else where. He didn’t.
    He asked for firearms to be left out of their stores.

    Now everyone is blaming OC for the issue and I feel there is more blame to go around; mostly with those who failed to capitalize on what the OC crowd did. We could have, should have been adamant about asking those “scared” or “upset” by OC exactly what upset them?
    Someone drinking coffee with an inanimate object?
    “Hey, your iPad could be a club, if I’m scared that an otherwise normal person like you may go off and beat me about the head and shoulders, can I get you kicked out?”
    We had the opportunity to point out that the “Visibly Armed Jerks” did nothing threatening, nothing rude or wrong – so what is the problem.

    Should people be less of jerks, yep. Should we defend those jerks also; absolutely. Search and Seizure laws didn’t get protection because Susie Soccermom or Minivan Dad but because Tommy Thug and Wendy the Streetwalker were illegally searched.

    Society is made up of all types — Gay Cynic has a great post which explains much of how I feel — we need to point out that fact and not bemoan it.

    If you want to throw the OC crowd under the bus, let’s see some Anti-Rights Advocates on the tarmac with them, eh?

    • I do think Starbucks came down on the side of the anti-gun crowd because they certainly could have responded in a manner of “guns are fine, everyone stop whining, drink coffee”. But they didn’t. Even tho they aren’t really prohibiting guns (no §30.06 signs posted around here yet?), it’s evident what their stance is on the matter.

      Is OC to blame? I don’t think so. I think it’s people being dicks about it. And yes, there are people that do OC for political reasons that are dicks about it all. I’m not saying it’s not within their rights or whatever, but how one carries and presents themselves matters a great deal… and they’re not carrying themselves like good ambassadors.

      Consequently, who would want to engage in a conversation with them? If someone’s being rude and obnoxious and is carrying a gun, are the sheep really going to want to walk up to them and ask questions? Or are they going to be open to a conversation with the rude OC’er when he sticks his nose in their face to say “HEY! Why so scared looking?!?! I’m not going to hurt you!” Do you honestly think that’s going to work? I don’t. I think it will backfire because again, consider your audience. Consider not the message you wish to send, but consider how what you’re sending is being received. That message received is FAR more important than the message you’re trying to send, and so it behooves YOU, the sender, to shape your message and the delivery of it in a manner that enables the receiver to actually receive the message you wish to send.

      We’re being more concerned with shouting our message than ensuring anyone can hear us.

      At your prompting, I looked up Gay Cynic’s posting on this topic. I have to agree with it. I do think there’s something important about open carry as a normalizing event. As I wrote, should my mixed-race parents have kept themselves hidden away? But Gay Cynic gets to the same point: being rude about it all, not being ambassadors.

      And it really flows both ways. I see so many anti-gun folk that are dicks about their stance too, thus why should they expect anyone to listen to them?

      So I hear you… we’re on the same side about this, really.

      • Hsoi,

        I do agree with you that we are both on the same side. I also think you missed my point.

        r are they going to be open to a conversation with the rude OC’er when he sticks his nose in their face to say…

        It isn’t the person Openly Carrying or the person seeing it that I’m calling out; I’m calling out those of us who when talking to someone about the rude jerks.

        How many times did we, as gun owners, say “Yeah, they are rude. They shouldn’t Open Carry there” instead of “Hey, what harm did they cause other then being visibly armed jerks”

        How many times did we fail to push back; using your example “So my parents shouldn’t have…..isn’t this the same?”

        The “Gay and Out” crowd created thousands of conversation points the LGBT folks seized on and used to sway the argument. We failed that aspect miserably.
        We can’t Open Carry a pistol here in Texas so if I want to show what a normal person looks like Openly Carrying, it has to be a long gun. The very ones so many gun owners were bemoaning…..yet those same people are surprised that Texas doesn’t have Open Carry of pistols. Weren’t the Starbucks OC crowd doing something similar — letting everyone see what their doctor, mechanic, lawyer, teacher, massage therapist, computer programmer looks like with a firearm?

        • Oh ok, I gotcha.

          Here’s a thought then. How can we make this actually happen? Can we get the TSRA in on this in some positive way?

          • First we get the gun bloggers on this in a positive way. We have to police our own so to speak. Think of the multiplier available to us; we put this view point out there, ask readers commenters and others to adopt it.

            Second, we contact TRSA and other state associations with it– show them that not everyone agrees with the “because it might offend some one, we shouldn’t do it” philosophy. We point out how that is the verbiage of the antis.

            Third, we push the idea with our gun clubs, our classes, etc — we use the bully pulpit instead of the bully stick.

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