A grass-roots effort among some gun rights advocates is shifting attention to exercising the right to carry unconcealed weapons in the 38 states that allow guns to be carried in public view with little or no restrictions, reports the New York Times. The movement is raising alarm among gun control proponents and exposing rifts among gun rights advocates. The call to carry guns openly drew attention last summer, when opponents of the Obama administration's health care overhaul appeared at town-hall-style meetings wearing sidearms.
The practice has expanded as gun owners in California and other states that allow guns to be openly carried have shown up at so-called meet-ups, in which gun owners appear at Starbucks, pizza parlors, and other businesses openly bearing their weapons. “Our point is to do the same thing that concealed carriers do,” said Mike Stollenwerk, a co-founder of OpenCarry.org, which serves as a national forum. “We're just taking off our jackets.” One goal is to make the case for liberalized concealed weapon laws by demonstrating how uncomfortable many people are with publicly displayed guns. The tactic has startled business owners like Peet's Coffee and Tea and California Pizza Kitchen, which forbid guns. So far, Starbucks has resisted doing the same. “I'm all for open-carry laws,” said Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation, a gun rights advocacy organization in Washington State. “But I don't think flaunting it is very productive for our cause. It just scares people.”