The results were astounding – at least to someone as out of touch with America as MSNBC. Only 8% said "no." 92% said "Yes," with 4% of those being conditional. The results from almost 100,000 respondents were as follows:
88% - YES! The Second Amendment guarantees it.
4% - Only for self defense.
8% - No, it’s too dangerous.
So it looks like an overwhelming majority of Americans support the idea of letting people walk around in public with a pistol or a rifle in open view. There are currently 22 States that allow unlicensed open carry: Alabama , Alaska ,Arizona , Colorado , Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. Texas is about to join them with HB 195, which is currently before the Texas State Legislature.
Despite the fact of public support, there are those who are against people walking around with weapons visibly displayed. Their reasons for this position vary from "It will increase gun violence" to "It's just scary."
Although there have been many studies on the relationship between crime rates and open carry, the conclusions are confusingly contradictory – because most of them, from both sides of the controversy, were launched with the agenda of supporting a pre-conceived conclusion. One thing is clear, however – in none of the 28 States where licensed or unlicensed open carry is legal has gun violence increased.
So, is the public display of firearms "scary?" To some people and in some situations, yes, it is.
Some years ago, my wife and I were having lunch in the Chinese restaurant in Belleville Texas, when the town constable came in for lunch. Now, my wife is not anti-gun. She enjoys going to the range and burning up a box of 9 millimeters as much as I do. But to see a man she didn't know walk into a restaurant with a staggered magazine 9 mm naked on his hip unnerved her – almost as much as the young man we saw at the Houston Greek Festival one year sauntering down Harold Street with his pet python draped around his neck.
Now, I can understand how the sight of a live python in public might be startling to many people (including me), and I can see how the sight of a man packing heat in a restaurant might conjure up visions of Luby's in Killeen. But is that enough cause to restrict a man's right to walk around with his pet python around his neck or his favorite pistol holstered at his side?
That thinking is dangerously close to the reasoning that would restrict the placing of roadside crosses at the scenes of fatal traffic accidents because it might "offend" atheists.
While I would never walk around carrying a live python, I would not restrict another man's right to do so as long as it did not physically infringe my rights. And I would expect the same courtesy from those who might dislike guns as much as I dislike pythons.
Yes, Pythons and firearms can be dangerous, but so can automobiles if misused. Yet no one is suggesting banning driving because there are people who have driven recklessly. So long as a man is driving responsibly, or has his python under control, or is not using his weapon offensively or dangerously, he should have the right to drive or carry his python down the street or wear his gun.
The strongest argument for open carry, of course, is its deterrence of aggressive behavior, whether criminally motivated or not. There's something about the sight of a man wearing a gun that tells you he is prepared and willing to use it. As science fiction writer and political philosopher Robert A. Heinlein once said, "An armed society is a polite society."