Most People Seem to Be Comfortable with Firearms

Apparently there’s a very slight uproar because gun rights activists here in the Twin Cities are planning to openly carry their firearms at the Open Streets event. For those of you unfamiliar with the event it’s a day where several major streets in Minneapolis are shutdown to motorized vehicles so bikers, skaters, and pedestrians can traverse them unopposed. As a biker and a gun rights activists this story intersects two of my interests. While a few people have been rather hysterical about the fact that there will be people openly carrying guns at the event, the president of the Minneapolis Bike Coalition demonstrates the general response I’ve noticed to open carry:

The idea that the events were being turned into a gun-toting event came as a surprise Tuesday to Ethan Fawley, president of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, which first hosted Open Streets two years ago. This year, Open Streets joined with the city for the series of events.

“It’s an open event,” he said. “It’s a family friendly, fun, kid-oriented event and we want healthy, active living to be the focus of the event. We don’t want sideshows. We want people to be out enjoying their neighbors and playing in the streets.

“My initial reaction to this is that it’s a distraction and it’s unfortunate from that perspective. We hope people will come out and be safe and have fun.”

“We’re expecting thousands of people at each event,” he said. “We had 10,000 people on Lyndale last year.”

Priem said Open Street organizers will not ask the gun owners not to attend. “Everyone is welcome at Open Streets,” she said.

People openly carrying firearms should be a non-issue and Mr. Fawley seems to be treating it as such. I open carry whenever I ride my bike, not because I’m trying to be a gun rights activist on the trails but because concealing a firearm while riding a bicycle is an exercise in futility. My act of openly carrying a firearm on bike trails has been met with no negative interactions. Nobody has screamed in terror, ran off the trail, or otherwise acted in an irrational manner. Some people have asked me for directions and made small talk with me while we waited for cars to pass at street intersections. Most people ignore my existence just as they ignore everybody else.

Open carry, at least in the Twin Cities area, seems to be becoming a non-issue for most people, which is great in my opinion. Since Minnesota created a legal means for individuals to carry firearms no notable incidents have arisen involving permit holders using their firearm in a violent manner. Minnesotans are learning a lesson that was well-known in history, just because somebody is armed doesn’t mean they’re violent.

I think this general acceptance of, or at least willingness to ignore, armed individuals is due, at least in part, to years of open carry activism. Some gun rights activists like to bitch about open carrying harming gun rights in general but, based on what I’ve seen, the opposite appears to be true. People are paying far less attention to armed individuals and that was the goal from the start.